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Friday, July 28, 2006

100 Doses: A Long-Term Cure for American Idol, Part 2

Resurrecting this post seemed appropriate after the graphic in the previous post.

I don’t know what ingredients build a great song, but I do have my opinions about some songs that I consider to be great. And, one by one, I’m going to share 100 of those songs. They won’t be in any particular order (and Mark Lanegan might be a little over-represented), but they will be accompanied by MP3s and the reasons that I think the songs are so brilliant.

Some of the songs will be familiar, although popularity is no quick gauge of virtue.

Think of this as a cure for American Idol. A group of songs that make up a hell of a playlist with songs that you’ll hate and songs that you’ll love and a little bit of musical exploration for the class. The only two rules are that the songs have to have a prominent vocal, can’t be a cover of another artist’s music, and that I think that they are so damned good that they are worth sharing.

Dean Carter - “Jailhouse Rock”

I’m going to violate my own rule about cover songs because, after much thought, I decided that it was my freakin’ game and I could change the rules if I wanted to. Anyway, my original “two rules” were actually three rules which leaves me believing that I must have meant that the entries had to meet two out of three of the rules to qualify for inclusion. It’s a comfortable lie and I’m sticking to it.

You have all heard “Jailhouse Rock”; it’s as familiar as comfy jeans. What you probably haven’t heard is the terrifying psycho-billy rock version by Dean Carter, and almost nothing I can say will prepare you for it. It’s a jumble of styles, influences, instruments, and noise. The thing moves along at 100 miles an hour, bouncing off the walls like its gone completely out of control. It’s shocking and just plain weird.

Then there’s the demented buzz saw guitar solo dead in the middle of the song that must have been wild to see live. The man is a maniac who, while staying completely faithful to the thing, manages to utterly destroy the song. In a good way.

If you don’t like music that is loud, fast, and unpredictable, then you sure as hell won’t like this. If you don’t like stuff that is under produced, uneven, and hard, then just skip right past. For everyone else, this is a fun trip. Every time the crew on American Idol talks about their token “rock” singers, I think back to songs like this--the aural equivalent of teen rebellion.

Like teen rebellion, Dean Carter’s version of “Jailhouse Rock” is probably as useless, inexpert, and contentious as it is energetic, boisterous, and breathtaking. Sometimes, isn’t it fun to just go fast and hard for nothing but the joy of the moment?

And that’s Dean Carter’s “Jailhouse Rock.” (File will be removed early Saturday. Right click to download to your hard drive.)

The Previous Posts

100 - Mark Lanegan, “Judas Touch”

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