What’s your favorite non-guitar solo?

Welcome back to AVQ&A, where we throw out a question for discussion among the staff and readers. Consider this a prompt to compare notes on your interface with pop culture, to reveal your embarrassing tastes and experiences, and to ponder how our diverse lives all led us to convene here together. Got a question you’d…

In 1986, “Weird Al” gave bored office workers a song to call their own

On October 21, 1986, “Weird Al” Yankovic suffered his first major flop with the release of Polka Party!, his unsuccessful fourth LP. The lead single, the James Brown parody “Living With A Hernia,“ failed to catch on despite an excellent video, and the album tanked. But Polka Party! did contain at least one cult…

“How did I get here?”: Documentary Now!’s little Talking Heads tribute that could

There’s an oft-repeated Lorne Michaels adage about Saturday Night Live: “The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready. It goes on because it’s 11:30.” A similar sentiment was in the air on a Thursday night this past July, as another Michaels production was about to take the stage at the Mission Playhouse in San Gabriel,…

Fred Armisen’s Talking Heads parody band burns down the house in its debut

Documentary Now!’s much-anticipated second season will be here soon! How soon?! Tonight soon! The season debut of Fred Armisen and Bill Hader’s specificity-obsessed documentary parody series will air on IFC tonight, providing what’s certain to be an uncanny take on 1993’s The War Room. Unfortunately, we’ll have to…

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What piece of art stopped you cold?

Welcome back to AVQ&A, where we throw out a question for discussion among the staff and readers. Consider this a prompt to compare notes on your interface with pop culture, to reveal your embarrassing tastes and experiences, and to ponder how our diverse lives all led us to convene here together. Got a question you’d…

20 live versions of songs that slay their studio counterparts

Going to live shows can be amazing, but it’s rare that a live version of a song is better than whatever a particular artist has already laid down on tape. (Production takes weeks, costs fortunes, and requires producers for a reason.) It happens, though, and when it does—when a live song surpasses its original…

Watch this never-before-seen Talking Heads concert from 1980

Stop Making Sense, the Jonathan Demme directed “performance film” of the Talking Heads’ 1983 tour, is a musical delight and a visual feast that captured the band at the height of its popularity, but also already in a more settled phase. That’s a different look than this new, full-length concert by the Heads that’s…

18 spoken-word songs from artists that usually sang

Nothing rides the pretentiousness line for rock bands quite like a spoken-word track, but Pearl Jam’s “I’m Open”—from 1996’s widely underloved No Code—falls mostly on the right side of it. Eddie Vedder, in his distinctive mumble, describes a man lying in bed, trying to regain his own sense of childhood wonder, and…