Wednesday, March 22

Music Madness: Announcing The Solvent Sixteen

by Madness Comissioner


You voted. Your friends voted. Your foes voted. And now we've narrowed our month-long Music Madness event down to just sixteen one-hit wonders. Today you'll be able to vote via our Facebook page to knock the Solvent 16 all the way down to the Final 8. Today the votes come from the '70s, '80s, '90s and '00s. It's all in play, and any of them could go away.

Of course the brackets sealed a while ago, but you can still enjoy gawking at everyone else's brackets in this thread. Some of those guessers might just win a real trophy at the end of this thing! And in case you're curious, a perfect bracket would look vaguely like this. Maybe a little prettier. Look, let's not dwell on the past any more, okay?

And now, are you ready to rock Round Three? Take a look at Scott and Kathleen with our cool bracket wall with the remaining contestants! And also the songs they want to win!

Already know the songs by heart? Go vote across all four decades! But if you wanna see what's left, don't worry. We've got the head-to-head breakdown happening below.

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Friday, March 17

Music Madness: Round Two:'80s vs '00s

by Madness Comissioner


It's time for Round Two in our month-long Music Madness event! Just to recap, we've created four brackets ('70s, '80s, '90s and '00s) and picked sixteen one-hit wonders for each one. Each Monday, Wednesday and Friday in March, you'll be able to vote via our Facebook page. You've all been nailing that part so far, and you've narrowed the field down to 32 candidates. Today we're voting on the '80s and the '00s!

Of course the brackets closed last week, but you can still enjoy gawking at everyone else's brackets in this thread. Some of those guessers might just win a real trophy at the end of this thing. You can find out what they all stand for on the master list right here.

Today's face-offs include the hits of the '80s AND the '00s. Take a look at Scott and Kathleen with our cool bracket wall and see the full list of contestants.

Know the songs by heart? Go vote across two decades! Need a refresher? No worries, we've got the head-to-head happening below.

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Friday, March 03

Music Madness: Round One: The '80s

by Madness Comissioner


Happy Music Monday! For those who don't know, each year we do a special March Bracket Event on our site. This year's rules are simple. We've created four brackets ('70s, '80s, '90s and '00s) and picked sixteen one-hit wonders for each one. Each Monday, Wednesday and Friday in March, you'll be able to vote via our Facebook page.

You can also play along at home with your very own bracket full of initials! We used initials because the song/artist combo didn't fit onto one page. You can find out what they all stand for on the master list right here. Use all that information to make your own brackets in advance, and post 'em to the comments of this thread. You might just win a trophy! Seriously! We're gonna give away real trophies at the end of this thing.

We'll be selecting trophy winners in three categories: Most Right Answers, Least Right Answers, and Prettiest Hand-Made Bracket. See? You can be right, or you can be wrong, or you can be talented. You've got until Monday to post your brackets in the comments of this thread for trophy consideration. Or you can just be lazy and play along by voting via our Facebook page every Wednesday and Friday. Follow your heart.

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Tuesday, December 27

The Debunker: Did America Hate "New Coke"?

by Ken Jennings

You're not just imagining it: the 1980s are back! It's not just Netflix drowning us in nostalgia with Stranger Things and Fuller House. Women are wearing scrunchies, Ghostbusters and Blade Runner are returning to the multiplex, Hulk Hogan is back showing off his moves on videotape, and Teddy Ruxpin is returning to toy stores. Just for fun, we even elected a 1980s curio as President of the United States! But is everything we remember about the eighties the totally tubular truth? "Just say no," says Jeopardy!'s Ken Jennings, so we've asked him to take us on a DeLorean ride back in time, separating the "Straight Up" facts from the "sweet little lies" of our foggily remembered Bartles & Jaymes youth. As they say, knowing is half the battle.

The Debunker: Did America Hate "New Coke"?

It's the go-to marketing textbook test case for "how to @#$% everything up at once." In April 1985, the Coca-Cola Company tweaked the flavor of its flagship soda for the first time since it got rid of cocaine in the 1920s. Everyone remembers this as a disastrously tone-deaf misstep by executives who apparently knew nothing about their own product or customers. By summer, Coke announced that its original formula would be coming back as "Classic Coke," and the much-touted "New Coke" was consigned to the dustbin of history. But maybe you can imagine a parallel universe where almost everyone preferred the taste of New Coke and sales actually rose in 1985? Well, my friends, that universe…is ours.

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Tuesday, December 20

The Debunker: Was Michael Jordan Cut from His High School Basketball Team?

by Ken Jennings

You're not just imagining it: the 1980s are back! It's not just Netflix drowning us in nostalgia with Stranger Things and Fuller House. Women are wearing scrunchies, Ghostbusters and Blade Runner are returning to the multiplex, Hulk Hogan is back showing off his moves on videotape, and Teddy Ruxpin is returning to toy stores. Just for fun, we even elected a 1980s curio as President of the United States! But is everything we remember about the eighties the totally tubular truth? "Just say no," says Jeopardy!'s Ken Jennings, so we've asked him to take us on a DeLorean ride back in time, separating the "Straight Up" facts from the "sweet little lies" of our foggily remembered Bartles & Jaymes youth. As they say, knowing is half the battle.

The Debunker: Was Michael Jordan Cut from His High School Basketball Team?

It was the most shocking high school failure since Einstein flunked math. Looming large in Michael Jordan's legend is the 1978-79 basketball season at Laney High School in Wilmington, North Carolina, where 15-year-old Mike Jordan famously did not make his varsity team. No one mentions this more than Jordan himself, who says the sting of the rejection motivated him for his entire career. The Bulls MVP even used to check into hotels using the name of "Leroy Smith," his sophomore friend who did make varsity that same year. At this point, it's pretty much his superhero origin story.

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Tuesday, December 13

The Debunker: Did "Patient Zero" Spread AIDS to North America?

by Ken Jennings

You're not just imagining it: the 1980s are back! It's not just Netflix drowning us in nostalgia with Stranger Things and Fuller House. Women are wearing scrunchies, Ghostbusters and Blade Runner are returning to the multiplex, Hulk Hogan is back showing off his moves on videotape, and Teddy Ruxpin is returning to toy stores. Just for fun, we even elected a 1980s curio as President of the United States! But is everything we remember about the eighties the totally tubular truth? "Just say no," says Jeopardy!'s Ken Jennings, so we've asked him to take us on a DeLorean ride back in time, separating the "Straight Up" facts from the "sweet little lies" of our foggily remembered Bartles & Jaymes youth. As they say, knowing is half the battle.

The Debunker: Did "Patient Zero" Spread AIDS to North America?

One of the most memorable elements of And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts's best-seller about the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, is the case of Gaëtan Dugas, a flight attendant from Quebec whose coast-to-coast travels—and recklessly prolific sexual habits—spread AIDS across the continent. Shilts called him "Patient Zero," and the media ran with the story, calling Dugas "the Columbus of AIDS" and taking it as fact that he was the index case, the disease's vector from Europe to America.

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Tuesday, December 06

The Debunker: Is "In the Air Tonight" about Phil Collins Watching a Man Drown?

by Ken Jennings

You're not just imagining it: the 1980s are back! It's not just Netflix drowning us in nostalgia with Stranger Things and Fuller House. Women are wearing scrunchies, Ghostbusters and Blade Runner are returning to the multiplex, Hulk Hogan is back showing off his moves on videotape, and Teddy Ruxpin is returning to toy stores. Just for fun, we even elected a 1980s curio as President of the United States! But is everything we remember about the eighties the totally tubular truth? "Just say no," says Jeopardy!'s Ken Jennings, so we've asked him to take us on a DeLorean ride back in time, separating the "Straight Up" facts from the "sweet little lies" of our foggily remembered Bartles & Jaymes youth. As they say, knowing is half the battle.

The Debunker: Is "In the Air Tonight" about Phil Collins Watching a Man Drown?

This rumor, in one of its dozens of variations, is so persistent that no less a scholar than Eminem cites it as fact in his hit "Stan":

You know the song by Phil Collins, "In the Air of the Night" [sic]
About that guy who coulda saved that other guy from drownin'
But didn't, then Phil saw it all, then at a show he found him?    

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Thursday, September 05

Watch This First: Criss Angel Rocks, 1989

by Jason Toon

When '80s stage magic meets '80s hair metal, what could possibly go wrong? How about "everything"? What makes this slice of spangled, AquaNetted cheese even more delicious is that the dorky frontman pulling rabbits from totally rockin' hats is none other than Mindfreak megawanker Criss Angel. "Don't You Want My Love" starts with an onscreen alert that "All the Magic that appears in this video is genuine and not aided by trick photography" and gets funnier from there. Bravo to Metal Injection for the find.

 


Watch Watch This First first, every weekday morning. Because the best way to start the day is to start it a few minutes later.

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Wednesday, April 25

The Trivial Eye: 80s Music Videos

by Jason Toon

Until the 1980s, the main way for a musical act to present any kind of visual element to their audience was through album covers, an art that finally came into its own in the '70s. But then came MTV, and suddenly every band had to give as much thought to their visual aesthetic as to their sound. Looking at them now, '80s videos are always naive, often scattershot, sometimes tedious. But the trackless wilderness of this new form encouraged all kinds of goofy experimentation, and produced some memorable images. Can you identify these mini-masterpieces from the dawn of the pop-video age?

Answers are here. Please post your guesses, speculations, or arguments, below! But know this: the Trivial Eye is presented for public amusement and no prizes are offered other than that familiar feeling of aggravation that so much of your mind is occupied by useless trivia.

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Wednesday, March 21

The Trivial Eye: 80s TV Themes

by Jason Toon

If you spent as much time watching TV as I did during the 1980s, we should start a support group together or something. On my deathbed, I'll be bitterly regretting the many, many hours I spent in the company of Arnold Jackson and Judge Harry T. Stone. Here are eight images from the opening theme sequence of '80s TV shows. Name them all, if the post-traumatic stress disorder doesn't get you first.

Answers are here. Please post your guesses, speculations, or arguments below! But know this: the Trivial Eye is presented for public amusement and no prizes are offered other than that familiar feeling of aggravation that so much of your mind is occupied by useless trivia.

Hey, science types: I'd like to do some science-oriented Trivial Eye quizzes. But I've always been more verbal than clinical. I'd appreciate any suggestions for scientifically trivial subjects that can be shown in pictures - please post them below. Thanks!

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