14 Things We Can't Believe Happened in Music in 2014
Despite not putting out a decent album in over a decade, Rancid shockingly released one of 2014's finest punk records.
Every year, the music industry brings us a wide variety of shocking moments. Whether it's a surprising death (Whitney Houston in 2012, Lou Reed in 2013) or a publicly off-putting/humiliating debacle (the VMAs, from almost any year), there are always a handful of moments that stick out each year that make you question whether they actually happened or if you're just imagining it.
Here's our list of 14 things we can't believe happened (or didn't happen) in music over the course of 2014.
See also: 20 Best Concert Photos of 2014
14. Rancid finally released a new (surprisingly good) album When the classic NorCal punk rockers broke up in 2004, we thought we might've seen the last of Rancid. The highly produced Indestructible just felt like the album that an aging punk band would put out before calling it quits. A couple years later, Tim Armstrong, Lars Frederiksen, and company were back to touring and even put out 2009's very mediocre Let the Dominoes Fall. Though Rancid's performances continued to feature primarily fan favorites from their classic albums like ...And Out Came the Wolves and Let's Go, we doubted we'd see another solid album from the iconic quartet. On October 27, ...Honor is All We Know proved us wrong. Maybe it's the ellipses, maybe it's the fact that only two songs are longer than three minutes, but something about Rancid's 2014 release was surprisingly better than anything they'd put out in well over a decade.
13. OutKast reunites (grudgingly) During a performance at Georgia State University's homecoming in October 2010, Big Boi implied that he was certain there would never be an OutKast reunion. It turns out, he was wrong. The reunion wasn't necessarily pretty, but the Atlanta-based duo took the stage for a festival-laden tour in 2014. We're pretty certain we won't see the two performing together anytime soon (Andre 3000 has already said he was unwilling to do the reunion in the first place), but it's nice that audiences got one last shot to hear a little Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik one last time. We didn't think it would happen in 2014, and if it wasn't for the live Coachella stream, we might not have believed it happened at all.
12. Neither Kanye West nor Kendrick Lamar released an album Remember in 2013 when Kanye West "changed the game" with the polarizing futuristic Yeezus album? What about when Kendrick Lamar dropped "good kid, m.A.A.d city" in 2012 and immediately put himself in the running for "Best Rapper Alive" awards? Well, both were allegedly supposed to drop albums in 2014 and (so far) neither did. Kendrick released a single ("i") to mixed reviews, but every other rumored release has just been proven false. Considering the speed at which mainstream rap superstars such as Drake and J. Cole have been releasing albums, we're all left wondering if there's a reason behind the delays or if both albums are just getting the "Detox" treatment.
2012 introduced hologram performers. 2013 upped the ante. Where were they in 2014?
11. Riff Raff & Katy Perry dress as Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears Good for Houston-based rapper Riff Raff for landing Katy Perry as his date to the VMAs. He probably should've just quit while he was ahead, because the whole "all-denim" look on the red carpet was just completely unnecessary. Sure, Britney and JT (kind of) pulled it off years ago, but at least it was somewhat original back then and done by two major stars. We really wish this hadn't happened this year, because while we appreciate the attempt at being "different" and "unique," it might just be time to let denim dogs lie.
10. Marilyn Manson & Courtney Love recurring roles in "Sons of Anarchy" The most popular biker show in history, "Sons of Anarchy," went out with a bang this year (or more of a splat, really), but not before featuring two formerly controversial rockers in guest starring roles. While Marilyn Manson's portrayal of a surprisingly intelligent incarcerated leader of the Aryan Brotherhood kind of made sense, Courtney Love as a responsible preschool teacher seemed like a little bit of an odd choice to us. To be fair, they both did excellent jobs with their (relatively large) roles, and both made way more sense than the random cameo from NBA star Carmelo Anthony. Creator Kurt Sutter clearly has a thing for aging rockers, as Henry Rollins played a rapist (and member of the Aryan Brotherhood gang) in an earlier season of the show.
9. A significant lack of hologram performers In 2012, Coachella dropped an eerily realistic hologram version of deceased rapper Tupac Shakur on the world and nearly broke the Internet. We figured that 2013 would be a little soon for the music industry to start cranking out holograms of our favorite deceased artists, but then Rock the Bells brought Eazy-E and Ol' Dirty Bastard back for performances. It seemed like 2014 would be a prime year to bring back everyone's favorite gone-too-soon musicians for festivals, award shows, and maybe even a tour. The 2014 Billboard Music Awards brought back Michael Jackson for one song off of his posthumous album, but that was it. We know it's probably super expensive to create such a lifelike hologram, but it seems like it should be happening for more than one song out of the entire year. No one really wants to see Sublime with Rome.
8. Ginger Baker outlives Jack Bruce Since rising to prominence as the drummer of the legendary rock group Cream nearly 50 years ago, Ginger Baker has been rumored to either be dying or have already passed away at least every other year (including in 2014). Had Baker died in 2014, the music world would've no doubt mourned the passing of a legend. But he didn't. Cream's bassist, Jack Bruce, passed away in October 2014, leaving behind a legacy as one of the most iconic bassists of all time. It's not Bruce's death that we can't believe (he was 71, with quite a bit of mileage), but the fact that Baker actually outlived one of his bandmates.
7. Suge Knight gets shot (again) Getting shot at a pre-VMA party is kind of an odd occurrence. It's probably not something you plan for when you leave the house that day. Getting shot at two separate pre-VMA parties nine years apart? Well, that's something only record label maven Suge Knight could do. There's nothing funny about getting shot six times at a party in a club, but we certainly admire Knight's attitude about the whole ordeal. "There's gonna be some times where you might get a few shots," Knight told Rolling Stone. He might not be as relevant these days as he used to be, but it's pretty clear that Knight's as tough as ever.
6. Scott Stapp declares bankruptcy What do you do a decade after your ridiculously successful Christian rock band hangs up their instruments? If you're Creed's Scott Stapp, you post a video on your Facebook page saying that you're now broke and homeless shortly after your second wife divorces you. The singer has seen his fair share of troubles since the breakup of his band (including the release of a sex tape also involving Kid Rock), but he clearly hasn't lost his confidence, as he asked his fans to crowdsource nearly a half-million dollars so he could record his new album. Frankly, we'd already forgotten Scott Stapp even existed, so maybe it was a good move to get his name back in the spotlight. Some would say that there's no such thing as bad publicity.
5. Last remaining original Ramone died In July, the last original member of the Ramones passed away. Tommy Ramone, the drummer, was replaced by Marky (who's still alive) after the first three albums, but we can all pretty much agree that replacement Ramones don't count. Tommy's death, at the age of 62, was another major blow to the rapidly dwindling list of living punk rock pioneers, but his name will forever be immortalized by the millions upon millions of pieces of merchandise with the classic Ramones logo on it. While it's not all that surprising, it's one of those things that punk fans everywhere hoped would never really happen.
4. Iggy Azalea winning best rap album Iggy Azalea beat out Eminem (and Drake) for "Best Rap/Hip-Hop Album" at the American Music Awards in November. Just let that sink in for a moment. Sure, we weren't the biggest fans of The Marshall Mathers LP 2, but we're not sure how Iggy even got nominated. The really terrifying thing about this is that she'll probably win the Grammy for it too. People were upset about Macklemore beating Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Drake for the Grammy in January, imagine how they'll feel now if Iggy takes out Childish Gambino, Common, Eminem, Schoolboy Q, and Wiz Khalifa.
Because taking over the entire pop culture world wasn't enough, Taylor Swift decided to take on the Internet in her battle against Spotify as well.
3. Pomplamoose's ridiculously expensive tour (and the complaining that followed) Have you ever wanted to go on a four-week tour and make almost $136,000? Yeah, us too. According to indie duo Pomplamoose, that's not nearly enough money. Not only did Pomplamoose drop nearly $150,000 on a 28-night tour, but they then had the audacity to write a whiny detailed log of their finances and post it online. No one ever said touring was cheap, but we know for a fact that it can be done significantly cheaper than they did it. Instead of playing as a duo (which, last we checked, means there are two people in the band), they brought six others along to help and perform with them, whom they had to pay, of course, to the tune of just under $50,000 for the four weeks. And since they really seem to have this whole "indie" thing down, they spent every night in a hotel room, sleeping with just two people per room (which cost just under $18,000). Based on rough math, had Pomplamoose decided to skip on the eighth tour member and double up in the hotels' queen beds (or spend a night or two in the giant Mercedes van they rented), they probably could've made a profit. If you're going to treat yourselves like royalty on tour, maybe you shouldn't bitch about the expense of it.
2. Taylor Swift against Spotify So maybe Taylor Swift and Lars Ulrich don't have that much in common, but they could certainly sit down and have a conversation about wanting to be paid more for their music appearing on the internet. Considering that her music appeals primarily to those who have grown up with free music on the internet for the majority of their lives, it seems a little odd that T-Swift, of all people, would be the one to lead the march against the popular streaming service due to poor album sales. Perhaps she believes that teenagers will be more likely to use their parents' credit cards to download her music through iTunes if it's not available for free on Spotify, but this one certainly feels like the pop star is falling on the wrong side of the debate. Perhaps she would've been better off to just shake it off.
1. U2-iTunes fiasco "Guys, you know what worked great for Jay-Z? Giving his album out for free. You know what will work even better for us? Forcibly shoving it into people's iTunes for free whether they want it or not." We'd like to imagine that's how the sales pitch went when some misguided soul decided to force U2's new album upon every iTunes user in September. Not only did this policy pretty much guarantee that the record wouldn't sell as well as it potentially could, but it also meant that a good portion of iTunes users now had a reason to dislike U2 (more than they already did). Although it's unlikely that either Apple or U2 will ever formally apologize for spamming half of a billion users with an album few wanted, Apple's creation of a specific link just to get rid of the album from users' iTunes is the clearest sign of how truly disastrous the release was.
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