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LISTS: Best Uniforms In Music

LISTS:  Best Uniforms In Music (photo)

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I love uniforms–doesn’t matter if we’re talkin’ school, work, or sports! Go ahead, ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you that not only have I saved every uniform from every fast food place where I’ve worked, but at the beginning of every sports season I can tell you what stripe, outline, or font has been changed on a team’s uniform (and, yes, I think Uni Watch is one brilliant idea for a blog).

I believe that wearing a uniform–which some may argue takes away from individual creative expression–promotes unity. Win as a team, lose as a team. All for one, one for all, right?

And it’s not just postal workers, sports teams, and Catholic schoolgirls having all the fun. Uniforms have been used in music for many, many years–everyone from The Supremes to The Beatles to The Jackson 5 (even the Brady Bunch) have dawned them. Coldplay is a recent example of a musical act showing solidarity through wearing similarly stitched threads. Though I don’t necessarily care for their Wiggles-meets-marching-band uniforms, I do appreciate their effort.

Nine Inch Nails, as you probably know, also have a strict dress code. That’s why I thought it was hilarious last year, when they recruited former Beck bassist, Jason Mendel Johnsen, into their ranks. The usually flamboyantly dressed JMJ had to succumb to NIN’s serious black-and-grey road uniform. Career-wise he may be better off with Trent Reznor’s squad, but fashion-wise, it seems like he’d fit in more with cover-song kings, Me First And The Gimme Gimmes, who make a regular practice out of wearing brightly colored Hawaiian shirts on stage.

Today, we will take a good look at the all-time best uniforms in music. Just to be clear, a band can only qualify for the list, if all members participate. Andre 3000 and Karen O have sported some spectacular threads over the last few years, but the rest of their group–and maybe for good reason–haven’t mimicked their style (I don’t know if the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, Nick Zinner, would look good in an electric blue leotard?).

For fans of symmetry, balance, color codes, and playing dress-up, I give you music’s greatest on-stage uniforms ever:

Honorable Mention, Slipknot
Love ’em or hate ’em, you got to give Sklipknot some credit. It’s not easy performing in jumpsuits and masks–especially in sweatbox clubs or at outdoor summer concerts, when the temperature can easily reach triple digits.

10. Stryper
The least accomplished band on this list, but who can forget their black-and-gold, bumble bee stage attire? Being from Pittsburgh, I do admire their choice in colors, but what I really respect from this early 80’s metal band, is their courage to wear outfits that made them look like professional wrestlers wrapped in caution tape.

9. Alkaline Trio
Wearing black suits is nothing new to music, but Alkaline Trio deserve a special place on this countdown, because they were wearing suits and ties when the rest of their Warped Tour peers were wearing skateboard t-shrits and oversized shorts. In the mid-2000’s, countless bands–including Green Day and My Chemical Romance–adopted Alkaline Trio’s black-and-red dress code.

8. N.W.A.
How much money do you think the Starter Clothing Company made from the popularity of N.W.A.? Eazy, Cube, and Dre (and I can’t forget about Yella and Ren) represented their hometown west coast by wearing Raiders caps and Starter Jackets. Around the same time, the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings changed their color scheme from purple-and-yellow to black-and-silver, which (conveniently) made it a perfect accoutrement to N.W.A.’s uniform.

7. Devo
Devo’s onstage attire has become so iconic it’s even available as a yearly Halloween costume at Party stores across the country. Their headwear, the energy dome, is also one of the coolest souvenirs to own in music. (Don’t think of Devo as just an 80’s novelty act either, they performed at SXSW 2009 and are scheduled to release a brand new album later this year.)

6. The Beastie Boys
Whether it be in tracksuits, jumpsuits, silk-suits or lab coats, it’s no secret that the Beastie Boys like to play dress up. Years ago, old school rapper, Kool Moe Dee, gave the Beastie Boys a grade of A for sticking to themes–I concur.

5. The Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Chili Peppers have one of the most famous–and simplest–uniforms in rock and roll history: the sock. Besides wearing hosiery on their ding-dongs, The Red Hot Chili Peppers have also worn light bulbs on their heads, and have made classic, their simple shirts-off style.

4. The Ramones
Before The Ramones, a group of guys wearing tight jeans and leather jackets might be mistaken for a motorcycle gang. After The Ramones–well–a group of guys wearing tight jeans and leather jackets were either mistaken for The Ramones or a group of New York City punks on their way to see them.

3. Run-DMC
Stetson hats, black jackets, and adidas sneakers. Wear this combination today, and I guarantee someone will start singing a Run-DMC song.

2. The White Stripes
No matter how popular they got, or how critically acclaimed their albums became in the early 00’s, The White Stripes never broke from their red-and-white dress code–not on stage, not on their album cover, not in photo shoots. Like many sports team, Jack and Meg have recently included the color black into their stage get-ups (don’t know if this is to strike fear into their opponents, or if black is better at concealing sweaty armpits?).

1. KISS
The ultimate in rock and roll stage uniforms. KISS’ silver-and-black stage attire–with accompanying black-and-white face paint–is the most iconic look in music history (speaking in terms of bands). Some die-hard sports fans may even concede that the silver-and-black of KISS is more recognizable than the silver-and-black uniforms of the legendary Oakland Raiders football team.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.