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David Lee Roth Exits Van Halen: Wake-Up Video

Posted by Kyle Anderson On April - 1 - 2011

Could you imagine if Bono decided to leave U2 in pursuit of a solo career, and then the band carried on with the singer from Snow Patrol or something? It’s impossible to consider, and yet something exactly like that happened on this day in 1985. Van Halen were arguably the biggest band in the world at the time, and they were coming off their fantastically successful album 1984 (which contained the huge crossover hits “Jump,” “Panama” and “Hot For Teacher”) and were selling out stadiums around the globe. But frontman David Lee Roth was not getting along with guitarist Eddie Van Halen, and the solo bug had already bitten him (he had already released his cover of “California Girls” to considerable acclaim). So on April 1, 1985, Roth quit Van Halen and moved on.

The two entities — Roth and the rest of Van Halen — went in significantly different directions. Van Halen recruited Sammy Hagar to replace Roth, and the band ultimately became bigger than they ever were, dropping huge albums like 1986′s 5150 and 1991′s For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. Roth had less success as a solo artist, though he remained popular on the live circuit. (He eventually walked away from music entirely, taking a job as an EMT near the turn of the century.) Of course, Roth eventually came back into the Van Halen fold (twice), and a new album from the band — their first with Roth in 27 years — is expected soon.

It’s apparently an exit-centric day, as this is also my final day as the editor of the MTV Newsroom blog. It’s been a great run, and like Roth, I’d like to think I’m exiting on a high note (though I have much warmer feelings to my co-workers than Roth had for the Van Halen brothers). In honor of both of our exits, crank up “Unchained.”

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Kris Kross Get Totally Krossed Out: Wake-Up Video

Posted by Kyle Anderson On March - 31 - 2011

Wake-Up Video has been a staple of the MTV Newsroom blog since the summer of 2009, and each morning it delivers a little slice of music history alongside a music video that is meant to get the blood flowing in the first hours of the day. (Then again, sometimes it’s just a bunch of nonsense about how cool “The X-Files” was.) So how is it that the series has gone this long without an appearance by Kris Kross? Luckily, today marks the anniversary of the release of the pre-adolescent hip-hop duo’s debut album Totally Krossed Out, as it hit the streets on this day in 1992. Actually, it’s possible that the album may have dropped two weeks earlier on March 17, as research points to both dates being accurate. But considering how fast and loose everybody played with release dates back in ’92, let’s call it today.)

Kris Kross consisted of Chris “Mac Daddy” Kelly and Chris “Daddy Mac” Smith, a pair of juvenile rappers discovered by a not-that-much-older Jermaine Dupri in a mall in Atlanta. Dupri signed the pair when they were only 11 years old and not only produced their debut album Totally Krossed Out but also helped developed their individual personalities and their clothing styles, which consisted of wearing their clothes backwards. Though their rhymes were safe as milk (they had a single called “I Missed the Bus”), they were still skilled enough to be initially embraced by the hip-hop community and also sell as huge crossover stars.

Totally Krossed Out went on to sell four million copies, though puberty was not kind to Kris Kross. Their follow-up, 1993′s Da Bomb, sold respectably, their star was already fading, and by the time they got to 1996′s more adult-sounding Young, Rich and Dangerous, the luster had worn off. Both members of Kris Kross still work in the music business, but they still remain the kids who brought “Jump” to the world.

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Iron Maiden Unleash The Beast: Wake-Up Video

Posted by Kyle Anderson On March - 30 - 2011

Iron Maiden have built a career out of delivering fantastically savage riffs with a healthy dose of horror movie imagery and just enough tongue-in-cheek self-awareness. Of all the metal bands to take technical mastery really seriously, they are one of the few who also commit to crafting truly sharp songs, and they began the transition from robotic automatons to full-blooded rock icons on this day in 1982 when they released their third album The Number of the Beast.

The Number of the Beast marked the vocal debut of Bruce Dickinson, who replaced former singer Paul Di’Anno (who was fired because of performance issues and drug and alcohol abuse). Dickinson had previously been the frontman of Samson, another band that came up as a part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, a movement that helped shape the worldwide metal community and inspired the likes of Metallica and Anthrax (among many others). While Samson was an excellent band, Iron Maiden was something else entirely, a group who had already embraced a visual aesthetic (solidified by their official “mascot,” an undead creature named Eddie) and delivered powerful songs built for maximum impact.

Though they wouldn’t grab a true crossover hit until 1984′s Powerslave (which contained the hit “2 Minutes to Midnight”), The Number of the Beast is not only considered to be Iron Maiden’s greatest album but also one of the greatest metal albums ever created. It contains the iconic tracks “Run to the Hills” and “Hallowed Be Thy Name” (both of which still pop up in most Iron Maiden set lists when the band plays live) as well as the title track, which had an absolutely killer video.

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‘The Crow’ Gets A Classic Soundtrack: Wake-Up Video

Posted by Kyle Anderson On March - 29 - 2011

The 1994 film “The Crow” is considered a cult classic for a number of different reasons. Star Brandon Lee (son of legendary martial artist and actor Bruce Lee) died during the making of the movie, creating an eerie parallel with his father and forever preserving Lee in the body of the Crow character. The film itself was a fantastically moody, violent supernatural revenge tale, full of noir touches that fully showcased the skills of director Alex Proyas (who would later go on to direct the moody sci-fi fantasies “Dark City” and “I, Robot”). But “The Crow” became notorious in rock circles for having one of the greatest soundtracks of the era. That soundtrack was released on this day in 1994.

The soundtrack to “The Crow” features some of the biggest rock acts of the era, including Stone Temple Pilots (who launched the single “Big Empty” from the album, which also appeared on their second album Purple, released several months later in 1994), Nine Inch Nails (covering the Joy Division classic “Dead Souls”), Rage Against the Machine (doing a re-recorded version of their b-side “Darkness of Greed”) and Pantera (tackling Poison Idea’s “The Badge”). The cumulative effect was an air of darkness and foreboding, which provided a perfect tag team partner for the movie itself.

Both the film and the soundtrack were a great success, and they each spent time on top of their respective sales charts. In addition to all the hard rock, the soundtrack also featured a ton of goth tracks from the likes of the Cure, My Life With the Thrill Kill Cult and Jesus and Mary Chain. In honor of one of the greatest movie-related collections of the ’90s, check out Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Happy When It Rains.”

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ODB Drops His Dirty Version: Wake-Up Video

Posted by Kyle Anderson On March - 28 - 2011

Of all the hip-hop icons who have died well before their time (and there are far too many), perhaps nobody is missed more deeply than Ol’ Dirty Bastard. The clown prince of the Wu-Tang Clan delivered a playful, unhinged energy that was both hilarious and dangerous, and personalities like that are far too rare in the current rap climate. Though his recorded output is by far the smallest among the core members of the Wu, his first two solo albums are both stone cold classics. On this day in 1995, ODB dropped Return to the 36 Chambers: The Dirty Version, his first solo album, the second solo joint from a Wu member following the release of Return to the 36 Chambers and one of the greatest rap collections of the ’90s (and of all time).

ODB’s delivery was uniquely unhinged, and he stood out among his Wu-Tang brethren because he was not a technical mastermind like Raekwon nor a math-obsessed wizard like RZA. ODB’s raps were full of absurd imagery, strange boasts, gritty street details and plenty of junk culture references. When juxtaposed with RZA’s sparse, jagged beats, the result was a sound that was constantly at odds with itself. The whole thing was held together by ODB’s boundless charisma, which overflows from Return to the 36 Chambers.

Just about all of the tracks on Return to the 36 Chambers are keepers in some way, from the eerie “Don’t U Know” to the playful “Raw Hide” to the claustrophobic “Brooklyn Zoo.” But the key track also happens to be the album’s biggest single, as “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” happens to capture everything that was wonderful about ODB in the span of three minutes.

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