Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Amazing YouTube Impression Artist Alex Jordan

I found this talented young British gentleman... I forget how I found him, he's been in my browser's bookmarks for a while.  He does dynamite impersonations of Stewie Griffin, Heath Ledger as the Joker, Jack Sparrow, and a host of others (including Orlando Bloom, as you probably see in the video's thumbnail image).  Here is a big sampling of most of his impressions, but browse his channel for longer and better impressions of individual characters.

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Other Blog

Yep, I have two of these bad boys.
Unlike this guy.
This side-venture will probably be a minor affair, just posting reviews when a new album excites me (of if one bothers me), or linking to my work with the school newspaper... oh by the way, I write for the University of Maine school newspaper now, the "Maine Campus."  As far as I know right now, I will be doing CD reviews and write a music column, with the possibility for me to write about sports in the future, we'll see.
Obviously, this means that the frequency of posts on this blog will have to decrease, so expect updates less often, although I will still strive to update a few times a week.  So, I have a small introduction post on the other blog, so you can check that out while waiting for the beginning of my tenure with the new blog and with the school newspaper...
Oh yes, the other blog: check out  As you may have noticed, I'll have a little feed on the upper-right of this page that shows what's happening on that site (and the same thing on the other blog), so you'll know when I do something on either site.  OK, enjoy yourselves, gang.

Friday, September 24, 2010

YouTube VOTW (September 24, 2010)

The Razorwire Maze.  The Reverse Beartrap.  The Deathmask.  The Magnum Eyehole.  The Needle Pit.  Great methods of torture and murder, all spawned from the series of "Saw" movies.  There is one torture so mind-bending, so painful, so unbearable that even the "Saw" makers couldn't conceive it.  It took the twisted mind of YouTube filmmaker Richard Gale and the rest of RichardGaleFilms to come up with it: repeatedly striking the victim with a spoon.

Introducing the video of the week, "The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon."  (Yes, the video is a bit of a long haul, but watching the entire thing is worth it: I did it twice yesterday.)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Katy Perry deemed too hot for Sesame Street

"Sesame Street" has had some insanely notable guest stars, including the Backstreet Boys, Denzel Washington, David Beckham, Alex Trebek, Johnny Cash, Jack Black, Ray Charles, Bill Cosby, Ray Romano, Adam Sandler, and the list goes on. They've also had many bombshells, including Tyra Banks, Jessica Alba, Eva Longoria-Parker, Beyonce, Heidi Klum, and Barbara Bush, all of whom managed to dress decently.
I know, a wasted opportunity to show a picture of Jessica Alba or Eva Longoria-Parker or Heidi Klum, I'm sorry...

There, now I can label this post "basketball." Two birds, one stone.

Then along came Polly Katy Perry and broke the combo. Have a look at this clip of Katy singing a slightly modified version of "Hot N Cold" to Elmo:

After complaints from parents seeing the clip online, it was announced that the song would be cut from the show, but will remain available online.
I don't see what's wrong with it: it'll be a nice flashback for the kids to their breastfeeding days. Who better to serenade my children than a Las Vegas prostitute bride? Then again, if I have kids, what they're watching on TV is among the least prominent of my problems.
All joking aside, her outfit is a bit ridiculous, at least for a kids television show: she ought to have the sense to dress a bit more homely for this type of situation. She's worn less risqué outfits in her often very provocative shows, for goodness sakes:
When I'm getting aroused watching Sesame Street, you know something is wrong. Good move by the Sesame Street people, this isn't kiddy material. It's fit for the streets, but not this one.
One last thing: they couldn't make Elmo's running (during the chorus) look more convincing than that? It looks like he's kicking his feet while sitting in an invisible powerchair (at little or no cost to him).
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Zdeno Chara-zard

I had been meaning to do this for a while:

Friday, September 17, 2010

YouTube VOTW (September 17, 2010)

Reggae is sweet. Rock is sweet. Rock covers of reggae songs are solid: take this video I recorded at the Eric Clapton concert I went to last year, of Bob Marley's "I Shot The Sheriff", for example. What is also top rate, and maybe even better than rock doing reggae, is reggae doing rock... or in this case, folk. The video of the week is the best reggae cover I have heard yet: Toots and The Maytals with their take of John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads."

Other reggae covers to consider:

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Design Your Own Shirts

I have a hard time finding t-shirts that I like in a store. Most of them have a brand that I don't care for on them, or the design isn't good, or they're too expensive. I love getting random shirts from thrift shops, but when you want something specific, that just won't cut it. So, as others before me have, I wanted to create my own custom shirts.

Yes, "make my own" shirts... in "America"... and pay myself a "reasonable wage"...

With that idea as a launching pad, I found, a great user-powered website with guides to making and modifying all sorts of things: I learned how to make home-made Kit Kats, wooden rings, and 6 ways that baking soda can help me get a date.

That'll impress her.

Thankfully, I also found how to put my own designs on a shirt (or any fabric, for that matter). I started out by drawing using the bleach pen method:

The design on this one is crooked because the shirt is oddly sewn. Yes, I added in the TIME TO PRETEND because I wrote it on the shirt after this picture was taken.

If you want to find something to draw, search Google Images for "[whatever it is you want] coloring page" and you'll get some very drawable images, like this koala. You can do like I do and add your initials or signature near the bottom of the shirt, so people know that it is an original.

Depending on the shirt you use, the bleach may turn the shirt funny colors instead of making it lighter. Sometimes, even if you didn't intend it to be that way, it comes out nicely, like in this shirt, depicting Hokusai's "Great Wave Off Kanagawa."

After bleaching a few shirts, I wanted something different, so I gave painting with stencils a try. This method requires more resources and time, but if done correctly, produces an excellent result. Instructables user bballantine has an excellent guide for stenciling your own shirts. Following her lead, here are the two shirts I made:

If you know your way around a computer well enough, you can give making your own stencils a shot, or search Google for stencils and find some pretty good ones. This stencil was made by me, from a photo I found on flickr.

You can get creative and tie-dye a shirt, or modify it any other way you see fit before stenciling your design on it.

In one case, there was a shirt I really wanted to make, but drawing or stenciling it wouldn't do it justice: it needed to be a large full-resolution image. You can use printer transfer paper, but I don't like how it turns out. So, I made the shirt using, which allows you to make a custom shirt (or many other things) of whatever you want, as long as the image doesn't infringe copyright. The Wikipedia Picture of the Day archive and Wikimedia Commons are great sources for high-resolution pictures, most of which are copyright-free. I usually wait for sales to get a shirt, and ended up getting this one for only $12 or $13 (that's with shipping):

Does this interest you in making your own shirt? Have you already made your own? If you have, I'd love to see it, show me in the comments. A shirt is a form of self-expression, showing the world what you like and through that, what kind of person you are, so be creative, and wear what you really want to wear.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Leon - Original Video

Before my buddy Nathan Lapointe and I left for the University of Southern Maine and the University of Maine, respectively, he wanted to film at least one last video. He had also been wanting me to write him a dramatic monologue, so to murder two birds with a rock, here is the result, a dramatic monologue entitled "Leon," written by me and primarily performed by Nate:

Other videos Nate and I have done together:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Internet and Music

For my CMJ106 class, "Introduction to Mass Communication," it is a requirement that we post in an online forum at least four times this semester, responding to whatever's up there or sparking a new discussion. Well, somebody started talking about how the Internet has impacted the music industry, and I thought it was a good pool for me to dive into. Here is what I posted, slightly modified for the blog:

The Internet is probably the greatest thing to happen to music. It allows artists to collaborate no matter where they are. It allows audiences to distribute their content to a much broader audience, including those who might be too busy to get their music at a record store. In fact, now-popular alternative rock band My Chemical Romance used MySpace to share their music and gain a wide following, wide enough to make their 2006 album "The Black Parade" sell over one million copies and go Platinum.

Don't worry, I was only pointing out supporting evidence, I don't care for MCR (just enough to know that "MCR" is an accepted abbreviation, that they don more makeup than Heath Ledger, and their singer looks like Jack White's corpse).

I suppose the Internet is bad for music if you are a nostalgist. From what I know, "back in the day," you used to watch television or subscribe to music magazines to hear about whatever albums were coming out, then wait until your local music shop stocked the record. Nowadays, you hear about every sneeze that comes out of Katy Perry's nose at the drop of a hat. Now you can browse iTunes' or Amazon's virtual record stores from the convenience of your armchair, and if something piques your interest, *click*, it's yours.

eBay, $7.48, free shipping, Buy It Now, *click*, mine. Buh-bye world, see you in two weeks (nah, I'm kidding... already have this game).

Most people say this instant access is a good thing (like myself), but the old-schoolers might argue that it takes away from the experience: the anticipation of a record and the journey of going out to a record shop and hoping what you're looking for is still in stock was a wonderful ordeal, days that music enthusiasts looked forward to with wet chops.

While I do agree that the Internet is great for music, it has ruined one part of it that I love: the album. When buying music, how often do you buy an entire album, as opposed to just the single or two that you heard on the radio? My guess is not very. What many casual music listeners fail to realize is that other songs on the record are not always just filler so the performer and record company can milk few extra dollars from your jeans. Singles (the songs that get rotation on VH1 and MTV) are what the record company and the artist think will appeal to the broadest group of people, not they are necessarily the best song. For example, on John Mayer's 2006 "Continuum" album, the songs "Waiting on the World to Change" and "Gravity" were released as singles, while to me, the non-singles "The Heart of Life" and "Vultures" are just as good as those songs, and "Stop This Train" is the best track on the album. Those are obviously opinions, but that's what taste in music is, and it illustrates my point.

Illustration of a point.

The record shops are expanding to accommodate this digital shift in the music industry by offering digital music products, like iPods and iTunes gift cards and such. I believe that these two communities can co-exist, and so do the people who organized Record Store Day, during which customers could access content exclusive to record stores, not available online, like special editions of albums and the soundtrack to the "Scott Pilgrim" movie. As long as each medium of music distribution maintains its own quirks and presents its unique advantages, both parts of the industry can thrive.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Unreleased U2 song makes live debut

The boys from the north side of Dublin have been getting adventurous as of late in their U2360 Tour, as this post's title could apply to any one of four songs: in the past month or so, U2 have introduced "Return of the Stingray Guitar," "North Star," "Flowering Rose of Glastonbury," and "Mercy," the prompt for this post.

"Mercy" is a song that first surfaced in late 2004, when it was apparently one of the last songs cut from the "How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb" album. Although how the song was thrust into the public is debatable, the a popular story is that a fan was given a copy of HTDAAB by Bono, a copy containing the extra track. Anywho, the song was uploaded to the Internet and shared on the Interference forums, and from there saw a grand reception from the U2 fan community (download the original song here). Fans speculated as to whether it would appear on the next album (we now know it did not appear on 2009's "No Line on The Horizon"), and now they suspect it might appear on the upcoming record, reportedly titled "Songs of Ascent."

These suspicions were pushed along when the song was performed in a soundcheck before a Zurich show, and bolstered when the song was actually played in the show yesterday evening. Have a listen:

If you've listened to the original, you'll immediately notice that the lyrics, structure, and length have been slightly altered, but it is definitely still recognizable as "Mercy" as early on as the first few notes.

I have always been a fan of the original track, and I'm a fan of its new incarnation for sure. It sounds more refined and better-written: although the rough and raw feel of the original was part of its charm, the new version is still tops, and the original will always be a great demo.

I tried working this into a post, but I couldn't find a way, and it's been in my bookmarks for too long now... this is a strange picture.

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Friday, September 10, 2010

YouTube VOTW (September 10, 2010)

Is anybody dirtier than Oscar?

Not the Oscar I meant, but yes, Meredith is dirtier.

I was talking about Oscar the Grouch, occupant of the only residential garbage can on all of Sesame Street. Oscar may have met his match in Mike Rowe, host of Discovery Channel's "Dirty Jobs," who made an appearance on Sesame Street on a date which eludes me.

Mike is searching Sesame Street for the "Dirtiest Jobs," and meets up with Oscar in this week's VOTW:

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Snuggie's Snugarena: ...

The giant backwards robe that is the Snuggie has been making me sick for the past year or so. If you're too lazy to stick your arms out of a blanket, then you really don't want that hot cocoa you're reaching for that badly, do you? If you really do want it, but your arm muscles can't be inconvenienced in the slightest, then grab your robe, put it on backwards, and walk around like a mental patient in his hospital paper apron, blissfully unaware that his buns are being buffeted by the breeze (that's consonance, people).

Search Google Images for "hospital robe" and this comes up.

The product itself isn't really that bad: I may be over-exaggerating the Snuggie's uselessness a little bit. What leaves a sour taste on my tongue is the horrendous ads. I believe they held a casting call, picked the worst actors, then asked a crowd to give them a location, improv show-style, then filmed it.

-"OK audience, need a place and defining characteristic!"

I am now near-thankful for the original ad ever since I saw the new one... just have a look.

Wow. Analysis:

1. 0:03 - "Let's legitimize our product as something other than a joke... and use the Macarena to do so." People are already making countless videos parodizing the Snuggie ads (check 'em out), can you imagine what the YouTube community will do now that they have the Macarena to feed on?

2. 0:04-0:27 - Fact: wearing a Snuggie amplifies the fun of every activity exponentially. This is true.

Trust me.

3. 0:10-0:11 - I have a sneaking suspicion she knows she's being filmed. She is part of the 4% of people aged 60+ who recognizes what a camera looks like and doesn't call every electronic device a Gameboy, iPod, or Walkman.

4. 0:11-0:13 - Typical depiction of typical girls at a typical sleepover, hula-hooping and singing into hairbrushes and such: happens all the time.

5. 0:13-0:15 - The only clever part of this commercial. Notice how the Snuggie cult members are warm and comfortable in their wizard cloaks, while the other fans are at the base camp nearest the summit of Mount Everest.

6. 0:18-0:19 - "Hey old leopard lady, look more awkward and uncomfortable." "I-I-I can't!" "Ah, OK... carry on then, shake those hips."


8. 0:25-0:27 - Snuggie, perfect for looking at pornogr... oh, no, a centerfold of a woman who couldn't be more clothed if she was Middle Eastern, never mind.

9. 0:29-0:32 - ...and to wrap it up, they "raise the roof." They would have done the electric slide, the moonwalk, the YMCA, and Cotton Eyed Joe, but it's only a 30-second spot. They had a hard enough time with the roof raising anyway: the boy in blue up front is as rhythmic as Michael Jackson... right now (it's not too soon for "MJ's dead" jokes, I hope).

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Recent Music News Round-Up

A lot of stuff had gone down in the music world the past week or so, let me recap:

Music industry anxiously waiting for next Tal Bachman hit
It's only been 11 years since "She's So High"; take your time, champ. (Seems like just yesterday that was a socially-acceptable haircut.)

Killers frontman Brandon Flowers' debut solo album preview

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't one of the main purposes of a solo album to branch out and try things that you wouldn't have with your regular band? Brandon Flowers of The Killers put out an album recently (coming the 14th here in the states) that frankly sounds much like the synthy-rock his boys were putting out. Why he didn't just record these songs with his crew is beyond me, but regardless, SPIN had a full album preview of "Flamingo" about a week ago, you can check that out if you so wish.

Fan-made, multi-angle Radiohead concert available for viewing/download

In a 2009 show in Prague, about 50 fans equipped with Flip cameras positioned themselves at different spots in the arena and filmed the show; the resulting footage was then edited into the complete concert by four fan editors. If I had to describe the feel you get when watching the footage, it's halfway between a concert DVD and actually being there. Concert DVDs at times seem a bit overproduced, but being at the show doesn't always provide a great view, unless you're in a perfect spot. This production gives you multiple angles and great audio (the band gave the filmmakers top notch quality audio of the show to help in their production), while still retaining the experience of being at a rock show.

You can download the show here in a variety of formats, or watch the whole thing on YouTube. I was never a big fan of Radiohead, but I've started coming around recently; here's my favorite song from the set:

U2 fans did something similar to this during the band's Vertigo tour in 2005, but I can't find a clip of it; I'll update this post if I do.

Kings of Leon put out new song/video

My previously-written-about boys have a new album coming up ("Come Around Sundown," October 19 US release), and I'm getting tired of waiting. Luckily, KOL released the video for the album's lead single "Radioactive" today. I'm not quite sure how much I like the song yet, but I'll say that it sounds like a hybrid of their first two albums and their most recent two albums, probably swaying slightly more towards the latter, or maybe it's something new and I'm just trying to relate it to something preexisting, because that's what people do. Anywho, I enjoy it, but time will tell whether or not it's a grower. Have a listen for yourself:

Brooks & Done

Country legends Brooks & Dunn have decided to wrap up their 20 year career, ending it with a concert last Thursday. One less country artists I have to worry about, good riddance

Google to start online music store, become iTunes competitor

Not long after iTunes introduced a new version of iTunes, Google announced that they want in on online music sales. Many people have been looking to somebody to compete with iTunes, and Google seems to have a resources to do it. Google's gonna have something different to offer, otherwise they'd have no reason to try it out. I'm thinking they're gonna have either lower prices or some sort of innovative feature we can't even imagine, the kind of stuff you'd see on a tour of the Wonka factory.

Download entire MGMT Glastonbury 2010 performance

After a bit o' browsing, I found the entire show MGMT performed at this year's Glastonbury festival, and it is kickin'. It features riveting performances of songs off their debut album ("Electric Feel," "Time to Pretend"), new tracks from this year's album ("It's Working," "Congratulations") and "Destrokk," a cut from their 2005 Time To Pretend EP. So yep, download it here, and check out the album art I made for it, so it looks all pretty in your iTunes:

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Monday, September 6, 2010

Full-Length Standup Comedy? Yep, YouTube'll do.

YouTube is clearly a product of the "no-attention-span generation": it's millions upon millions of clips about everything from nostalgic video game intro videos to original sketch artists to sports highlights. You can go on YouTube and watch clips of Dane Cook talking about a glass of punch ruining the structural integrity of your home or hear the haunting falsetto of Jim Gaffigan when he sings "hooot pockeeeeeeet," but most people don't realize that you can watch entire shows of these standup artists.

For those of you who are attentive and patient enough to enjoy the 2.5 hours of mastery that is "Into the Wild" and other long-tenured activities, here are a few complete, 60+ minute comedy sets to whet your whistle. (Yes, that "Into the Wild" reference was a reach, but you should know, it's one of the best movies I've seen.)

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

"Society" by Eddie Vedder

I don't typically post on the weekends, especially Sundays, but I have two points I'd like to address. First, thank you guys for viewing my blog over 1,000 times in the first month. It's more than I expected, and I appreciate your appreciation of my writing. As I've said before, this blog is just a way for me to practice and improve my writing skills and to rant about what's on my mind, and anybody reading it is icing on the cake.

Imagine if this was a voodoo cake.

Point two: Have y'all ever seen the movie "Into the Wild"? It came out in 2007, is based on the book by John Krakauer, and stars the immensely talented Emile Hirsch. It tells the true story of Christopher McCandless, who, not to spoil the movie if you haven't seen it and wish to (which you should, it's one of the best movies I've ever seen), abandoned society with the ultimate goal of surviving the Alaskan wilderness alone. It is an excellent movie, I'm sure the book's great too (I haven't read it yet, but plan to), and a really touching story. Avid fans of McCandless' tale have ventured to the "magic bus" featured in the book and movie (and filmed themselves doing so) in hopes of getting a small feel of McCandless' journey. This is certainly an endeavor to add to my list of life goals; the list so far consists of going to Ireland (done), seeing U2 in concert (done), write for a newspaper or website (in progress), climb a mountain (will get done next weekend), other things I can't think of, and visit the magic bus.

The soundtrack is also top notch, serving as Eddie Vedder's (of Pearl Jam) debut solo album. It's written entirely by Vedder, except for what I feel are the two best songs, "Hard Sun" and "Society." The latter is the reason for this post: I edited together a music video for Society, which vaguely summarizes the movie. If the previous paragraph put the desire in your head to see this movie, then you might not want to watch the video. If you've already seen it or don't care about the spoiler, then have a look, and tell me what you think:

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Friday, September 3, 2010

YouTube VOTW (September 3, 2010)

Some crazy stuff happens in college, right? You attend a social event, you get intoxicated, you have relations with many partners ("you" do all this stuff, not "me"). Sometimes, you even pull a few pranks: who can forget when Streeter of College Humor had Amir convinced he won a halfcourt shot halftime contest?

I was browsing the good ol' YTube and I came up with a few funny things that went down in college classes, take a gander:

Well, I'm going home for this long Labor Day weekend, enjoy yours.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

iTunes and Celtics get updates

If you haven't checked for an iTunes update in the past two days, then you're missing out on a few new features. Yesterday, Steve Jobs announced version 10 of iTunes. The software gets a bit of a facelift, including a new icon, chrome side buttons, repositioned "x - +" buttons, and a new way to sort your library.

icons: old vs. new

comparison of iTunes 9 (above) and 10 (yes... below)

new library display mode

The reason that iTunes 10 is a big deal, however, is a new feature Apple is implementing called Ping. In short, it's a music-concentrated Facebook, minus the annoying friends asking for bales of hay for their farms. There's much more to Ping than that, and GeekGloss has an excellent summary of the service if you wanna find out more... or you can always just update to iTunes 10 and have a peek around for yourself.

Before I move on to the next piece of news, I have an iTunes (for Mac) addon that you all should have: it's called DockArt. It'll transform your iTunes icon to look like this:

It takes the artwork of whatever song that's playing (in this case, "It's Working" by MGMT from their "Congratulations" album) and does pretty much what you see: tilts the artwork and makes it your icon with a little iTunes badge in the corner. It's a very customizable addon, and an easily-installed one if you follow the directions given at the download site. It works for songs, movies, TV shows, and podcasts, like Bill Simmons' The B.S. Report, which was a horrible attempt at a segue into sports.

Yesterday, the Boston Celtics signed free agent guard Delonte West. If you didn't just hop on the Beantown bandwagon in 2007 when the Celtics got Garnett and Ray Allen and were cool to like again, then you'll remember that Delonte started his career with Boston in 2004, but was traded in 2007 as part of the flurry of deals that landed the Celts another banner. He was a promising young guard, putting up 12.2 points and 4.4 assists a game during his Celtic peak season of 06-07. Delonte, aside from a case of the crazies, provides a decent shooting option off the bench, a nice backup point guard to Rajon Rondo, and will probably (and hopefully) move into a 6th or 7th man role.

"OK Rajon, you're gonna wanna go there, then do the fake-behind-the-back pass because they fall for it every time (I know I probably will), then kick it to Ray for the trey-bomb."

...and that's all I have to say about that. UMO (University of Maine, my school) plays Albany in football tonight, so I'm gonna get some grub and go see that, so enjoy your night.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Monthly Music Playlist: September 2010

Near the beginning of every month, I'll post a playlist that I have either already made or a new one that pertains to a certain theme. Every playlist will consist of about 18-20 songs that can all fit on an 80-minute CD, and most songs should be available on iTunes or another online music retailer.

This month's playlist I made back in June, and it is a mix of what I was feeling then. It's also a great playlist to have going in the car, as it has a bit of rock stuff, pop stuff, hard stuff, and soft stuff; a diverse mix that'll satisfy whoever's in the car with you.

Playlist Page on YouTube (or watch/listen right below)

Tracklist (Artist - Song)
  1. Back Door Slam - Come Home
  2. Kobe Bryant featuring Tyra Banks - K.O.B.E. (not on iTunes, get the MP3 free here)
  3. MGMT - Electric Feel
  4. Eels - Fresh Blood
  5. The Doors - Break On Through (To The Other Side)
  6. The Stone Roses - Love Spreads
  7. John Frusciante - Dissolve
  8. Gorillaz - Stylo
  9. Led Zeppelin - Communication Breakdown
  10. Low vs Diamond - Don't Forget Sister
  11. Blind Melon - No Rain
  12. Jack Johnson - Better Together
  13. Badly Drawn Boy - A Minor Incident
  14. Jurassic 5 - What's Golden
  15. Blue Cheer - Satisfaction (Rolling Stones cover)
  16. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Scar Tissue
  17. The Jimi Hendrix Experience - If 6 Was 9
  18. Beck - Loser
  19. The Verve - The Rolling People

Standout Music Video:
(I was unable to embed the official HD version, so go watch it here if you wish.)