12 Huge Things That Didn’t Suck About 2020

Let’s get one thing out of the way — 2020 sucked. It was an absolute shit show.

We don’t have to go into detail about the COVID-19 pandemic, because it’s something that has impacted the entire world. And the music and live entertainment industries felt that impact hard.

After March, all major tours were canceled. Albums were put on hold. People were being laid off left and right because companies couldn’t afford to employ them anymore with the future of live music left unclear.

Before the pandemic even hit, Neil Peart lost his battle with brain cancer. Rock pioneers such as Little Richard and Charlie Daniels died in the midst of it. Quiet Riot‘s Frankie Banali. Power Trip‘s Riley Gale. The almighty Eddie Van Halen, and many more were lost as well.

But with each of those atrocities, we saw how tight-knit the rock and metal community can really become. The outpouring of love and support in times of mourning, the fundraisers for live industry workers and the communal Zoom sessions were all heartwarming in times that felt ice cold.

Though there were times where it seemed like nothing could get any damn worse, there were certainly a couple of highlights that are worth noting. And for the sake of not always remembering 2020 as a bottomless pit of chaos, isolation, depression and loss, we’ve compiled a list of some of the good things that have come out of this year.

Check ’em out below, and remember that the tough times won’t last. “Nothing lasts forever, even cold November Rain.”

These 40 Smiling Rock Stars Will Make Your Day

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That Time KISS Got Duped by the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

When KISS appeared in the 88th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2014 it was anything but what the band was promised. Ultimately, the group known for putting on the most dazzling live shows in the business were dwarfed by parade floats of cartoon characters and led by two less-than-enthused escorts carrying a laughably small introductory sign, which made for one gigantic Spinal Tap-like moment.

No strangers to missteps and commercial flops, it was another infamous moment for “The Hottest Band in the World.” KISS made no attempt to hide their discontent after the 2014 parade appearance, though the “Starchild” Paul Stanley appears to be able to look back on the day with a laugh.

With Thanksgiving just a day away, Stanley recollected the event in a Twitter post, where he shared one of the most revealing photos taken throughout that day. The rock legend wrote, “We showed up at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade after being shown sketches of a HUGE float and told we would be surrounded by 100 baton twirlers in KISS makeup. Instead we got THIS!!! An SUV with a U-Haul attached and two unimpressed escorts. HA! HA! HA! Look how happy we are!”

Additional photos seen below offer various perspectives from the parade. Despite the lackluster setup, KISS still did manage to pull off some light pyrotechnic effects as they lip synched (expectedly — it’s a televised parade, not a controlled concert setting) to “Rock and Roll All Nite.”

There’s also a pretty big reason KISS got bumped from what they were initially promised down to the meager 25-foot stage being pulled by a truck…

“The worst thing we did was we played the Macy’s Day Parade,” said KISS manager Doc McGhee during a Q&A session on the ninth annual KISS Kruise (via Ultimate Classic Rock). “We were supposed to be on the Gibson float, which was this huge float. So, it was great; it’s just like KISS. Well, the night before we found out that they wanted Paul to play Gibson [guitars], and he doesn’t play Gibsons – because he plays Washburns. So, we couldn’t go on the float. They go, ‘Oh, we have another float for you.'”

McGhee continued, “So, we get there, and [the new float] is literally like, 25 feet long with two microphones on it. We looked like the shittiest thing on the Macy’s Day Parade. When I saw it I went, ‘Ohhhh, this is how you get fired.’ That was just a horrible time.”

Michael Stewart, Getty Images

The day after the parade appearance, Stanley voiced his disgust on Twitter, stating, “Bluntly, we were screwed over & misled by the exec in charge of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. We ALL deserved better.”

As seen further down the page, on the heels of KISS as they made their way through the streets of New York City was a massive float depicting Finn and Jake, the lead characters from the Cartoon Network animated TV show, Adventure Time.

Photos: KISS at the 88th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2014

The 15 Most Expensive Guitars of All Time

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See Photos of Bring Me the Horizon’s Oli Sykes Through the Years

It’s not often that a 17-year-old forms a band that goes on to become a household name, but Oli Sykes did it when he started Bring Me the Horizon in 2004.

Sykes was born on Nov. 20, 1986 in a town in Kent, England called Ashford. He played in a couple of bands in high school before founding Bring Me the Horizon, signing with the label Thirty Days of Night Records for BMTH’s first EP, This Is What the Edge of Your Seat Was Made For, as noted in Drowned in Sound. 

Sykes has noted Pantera and the Misfits‘ influence on him, among other bands, but none were as profound as Linkin Park and Chester Bennington. “I know we’ve lost a lot of great artists over the years, but no-one had the impact and influence on my life that he did. Him as a vocalist and his band are genuinely responsible for the path I chose in life.” he told Kerrang! after the singer died in 2017.

Bring Me the Horizon have gone through varying periods throughout their career. They’ve been both praised and ridiculed, but ultimately emerged triumphant after experimenting with different sounds and genres while growing a massively loyal fanbase. The impact Sykes and the band have had on modern heavy music is undeniable.

Explore the gallery below to see photos of Oli Sykes through the years.

11 Metal Musicians Who Killed It In Other Genres

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See Photos of Metallica’s Kirk Hammett Through the Years

If James Hetfield is the face of Metallica, Kirk Hammett is the blood that runs through its veins.

The guitarist was born in San Francisco, Calif. on Nov. 18, 1962. He developed a fascination for horror and rock ‘n’ roll during his youth, and eventually picked up the guitar at 15. “I learned by playing along to records hundreds of time. The first one I learned to play decently was [Jimi Hendrix‘s] ‘Purple Haze,'” he once recalled to Rolling Stone.

Hammett’s beginnings in the thrash metal scene of the Bay Area didn’t start with Metallica. He founded Exodus in 1979 with some high school classmates, and they released a demo in 1982. They opened for Metallica in San Francisco that same year, and that played a large part in what was to come.

When Metallica’s then guitarist Dave Mustaine was fired, Hammett received a call asking if he wanted to audition for them. He’s been their star shredder ever since.

Scroll through the gallery below to see photos of Hammett through the years.

November Rock + Metal Rock Star Birthdays

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25 Massive Rock + Metal Bands Ranked by Spotify Monthly Listeners

Streaming continues to be a growing trend in music listenership and Spotify continues its reign as a streaming giant. Loudwire contributor Ryan J. Downey has compiled a list of over 550 rock, metal, punk and hardcore artists and their monthly streaming numbers via his Stream N’ Destroy newsletter. Below we count down the Top 25 and share their monthly streaming listenership on Spotify.

There are certain bands you expect to be there. It should come as no surprise that AC/DC rank near the top, especially given the recent anticipation for their Power Up. Likewise, the 20th anniversary of Linkin Park‘s Hybrid Theory rallied a rush of nostalgia for the hugely influential band over the course of 2020.

Meanwhile acts like Queen and Guns N’ Roses both made the Top 10 for Spotify monthly listeners, showing that fans have followed them to streaming and continued to embrace their music there even without major 2020 plans. As intriguing as that may be, there are a few acts you might expect to be in the Top 25 overall who just missed the cut.

To see the full list of over 550 acts and their monthly Spotify streaming listenership, you can subscribe to Downey’s Stream N’ Destroy newsletter here. It’s full of hard rock and metal industry news. And also be sure to check out Downey’s Speak N’ Destroy podcast at this location.

Top 25 Rock + Metal Bands Based on Spotify Monthly Listeners 

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The Real Names of Over 50 Rock + Metal Icons

There are a lot of rock and metal musicians with stage names — and we mean a lot. The trend seems to have started in the late ’60s and early ’70s, with shock rockers such as Alice Cooper, David Bowie and KISS. Each member of the Ramones took on “Ramone” as their last name later in the decade.

There are many reasons people change their names. Sometimes, you just really don’t like the name you were born with. Other times, you’re on the way to becoming a superstar and want to be known as something else.

Stage names definitely became popularized in the 1980s, especially with hair metal artists such as Motley Crue.

But there are also lesser-known instances, like Chris Cornell, for example. As noted by the Guardian, the late singer was born with the name Christopher Boyle, but changed it to Cornell after his parents’ divorce because that was his mother’s surname.

Scroll through the images below to see the real names of over 50 rock and metal icons.

12 Rock + Metal Artists Who Had Other Careers Before Music

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Rock + Metal Virtual Performance Streaming Calendar

Updated Nov. 6

If you’re missing out on concerts and festivals because of cancelations over the coronavirus, you’re not alone. The live entertainment industry is taking a pretty big hit due to the illness, but musicians are coming together all over to put on streamable live performances for their fans in the meantime.

Dave Grohl and Billie Joe Armstrong have hosted concerts from their living rooms, where they play the classics everyone loves. Whether it’s an online festival in a game or a Facebook live, there’s something for all rock and metal fans alike. Some organizations and labels will be even be hosting a different artist every week.

We have compiled a list of virtual performances you can stream throughout the coming weeks while you continue to quarantine, and will update as more come up. Some will be recurring on a weekly basis, while others are one-time events. See them all below.

Enjoy, and stay safe!

Knotfest Weekly Live Streams

Knotfest’s website will stream a live performance from your favorite metal bands every Friday. So far, they’ve aired sets by Lamb of God and Megadeth, which both featured live chats with members of the bands.

Napalm Records’ “Napalm Sofa Series”

Napalm Records will host several bands on their “Napalm Sofa Series,” which take place in the form of live streams on their Facebook page. Be sure to stay tuned for updates, as they announce different performances every few days.

Crush Coronavirus by Washing Your Hands to These Rock + Metal Songs

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Satellite Citi Share Support of Armenia With New Video ‘Antibody’

The growing war in Artsakh has been in the news of late as Azerbaijan has invaded the country, which neighbors Armenia and is filled with a largely Armenian population. System of a Down are the most well known act to have spoken out about the conflict, but they’re not alone. Up-and-coming rockers Satellite Citi are sharing their new video for “Antibody” as a way of bringing awareness to the latest attacks on the Armenian people.

The song, which is dedicated to the people of Armenia, features a guest vocal from Crobot‘s Brandon Yeagley. Satellite Citi features drummer/vocalist Anna Gevorkian and guitarist Shaunt Sulahian, both Armenian-Americans born and raised in Los Angeles.

Like many first-generation Armenians and children of immigrants, they have learned about the struggles their ancestors faced throughout their lives. They even launched their career in 2015 with the poignant track “Rock Bottom” to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.

With the latest attacks against their home country, the band teamed up with director Rosie Geozalian to create a video that showcases symbols of Armenian strength. In fact, the group has offered commentary on some of the shots and landmarks featured in the video that can be viewed at the bottom of this post.

“Our track ‘Antibody’ lyrically is about overcoming obstacles and silencing your enemies, no matter how hard they might try to bring you down,” Anna and Shaunt said. “We were honored to have Brandon Yeagley of Crobot sing on this track with us. His voice really brought the song together musically. The music video helps us connect the song back to our motherland, Armenia. With the recent war in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), and continuous war crimes happening to Armenian civilians, carried out by Azerbaijan and Turkey, we felt the need to let people know we are here, standing together, stronger than ever, and nothing will change that.”

Adds director Rosie Geozalian, “We had already started working on the ‘Antibody’ video when I woke up one morning to reports of the attacks occurring in Artsakh and Armenia. As members of the Armenian diaspora, the tragedies taking place consumed our thoughts and emotions; the visuals shifted to reflect that. Creating the video for ‘Antibody’ became a way of processing the ongoing cultural trauma we face as Armenians, while paying homage to our brothers and sisters risking their lives to protect the motherland.”

Crobot’s Brandon Yeagley continues, “We are all looking for a little extra boost in immunity right about now. Now, I’m no doctor but I know when Satellite Citi hit me up to be a part of their hard-hitting, slinky song ‘Antibody’ there was no hesitation. So come along for the ride—’cause if you ain’t part of the cure, you’re part of the disease!”

In coordination with the release of the song, Satellite Citi are also selling a T-shirt tied to the “Antibody” track with all proceeds going to the Armenia Fund. It’s available to purchase here.

The band is also directing people interested in learning more about the conflict and how they can help to sign petitions at Armenian Rights Watch and ANCA, while donations can assist the Armenia Fund and the Armenian Wounded Heroes Fund.

“Antibody” will be featured on Satellite Citi’s upcoming album Fear Tactics, which is being produced by Brad Wood and is expected to arrive in 2021. “It’s important to us to help people control and ultimately confront and overcome their fears by realizing they’re not alone in this crazy world,” the duo shared. “And so many of us are going through the same things, the same struggles and day to day anxiety. Especially during this pandemic, it’s been such a shift in reality for us and we’re realizing how important human connection is.”

In the interim, you can pick up “Antibody” via the group’s Bandcamp page. Stay up to date with the group via their website, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and Spotify accounts.

Satellite City, “Antibody”

Satellite Citi

Satellite Citi, “Antibody” (Featuring Crobot’s Brandon Yeagley)

Satellite Citi Share the Symbolism of the “Antibody” Video

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‘MTV Unplugged’ Episodes Ranked

One of the more vital music television series in the history of rock is MTV Unplugged, which really flourished in the ’90s as an outlet for acts to showcase their material in acoustic setting. In this list, we’re counting down 10 of the best MTV Unplugged episodes in the history of the show’s run.

The first episode was taped in 1989 featuring Squeeze, Syd Straw and Elliott Easton. Over the next year, bigger names would start to show and interest and by the early ’90s MTV Unplugged had become one of the network’s top rated shows.

The experience was so beloved by musicians that many of them decided to eventually release their Unplugged sets as live albums. Eric Clapton even earned Grammy Awards for his work during the taping of MTV Unplugged back in 1992.

Some acts like The Black Crowes and Pearl Jam used MTV Unplugged to springboard their careers forward while still somewhat in their infancy. Others like KISS and Jimmy Page and Robert Plant used it to provide true “moments” for fans of their legendary careers.

While MTV scaled back on music programming in the 21st Century, they have held onto the MTV Unplugged format and series welcoming artists to play acoustic for sets over the years.

Join us as we count down 10 of the best MTV Unplugged sets of all-time in the gallery below.

MTV Unplugged Episodes Ranked

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