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Archive for December, 2012|Monthly archive page

Dallas Cowboys Need Radical Changes to Compete in the NFC East

In Sports on December 31, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Romo Garrett

Another NFL season has ended with the Dallas Cowboys mired in mediocrity.  Unfortunately, the sad reality for Cowboy fans is that this cycle is not likely to end anytime soon with Jerry Jones at the helm of the most valuable franchise in football.

Once again, the Cowboys wilted in the spotlight of a must-win game.  All of the success that Tony Romo enjoyed over the last half of the season was washed away in one fell swoop with another subpar, big-game performance.  The seasoned veteran couldn’t compete with RGIII, the Washington Redskins’ extremely poised, rookie phenom who was playing quarterback at half-speed because of a knee injury.

Once again, Jones’ “chosen one” was out-coached when it mattered most, but Jason Garrett will return because he is just the type of non-threatening coach that allows Jones to be the face of the franchise.

They say that timing is everything, but it is rare that the stars align perfectly in professional sports.  It happened last season as the Indianapolis Colts were “luck-y” enough to draft Andrew Luck to seamlessly replace Peyton Manning at quarterback.  If this season is any indication of things to come for the Colts, it looks like they will be Super Bowl contenders for many years to come.  The Colts will enjoy continued success because they had the guts to make the tough decision to transition away from a surefire first-ballot hall of fame quarterback for the long-term good of the franchise.

The stars were starting to align for the Cowboys this season, but they did just enough to once again provide enough false hope to maintain the status quo.

At 3-5 at the halfway mark of the season, the Cowboys trailed the New York Giants by 3 games.  It looked as though the Giants would run away with the division, and the Cowboys would end up with a losing record.  But then it happened…

The Cowboys started winning, albeit in very unimpressive fashion.  They continued to win as the Giants continued to lose.  Most experts and football fans believed that the Giants would “flip the switch” when their backs were against the wall, but it never happened.  Somehow, someway the Cowboys ended up playing the Redskins for the division title in the final game of the season.

Romo’s poor play against the Redskins is not likely to dissuade Jones from giving him a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract extension that will tie him to the Cowboys for the foreseeable future.

Garrett’s ability to keep the Cowboys competitive will assuredly keep him around for at least another season, most likely one that will also end in disappointment for Cowboy fans.

We’ll probably never know what went on behind the scenes, but the timing of the Cowboys’ winning streak likely ended any possibility of bringing Sean Payton in as head coach to help put an end to the mediocrity that has become synonymous with the Cowboys.  And therein lies the problem…

The NFC East has two coaches (Mike Shanahan and Tom Coughlin) who are simply better than Garrett who is still “learning” on the job.  With Andy Reid’s firing, the Philadelphia Eagles are now searching for a new head coach.  The new head coach may or may not be better than Garrett, but that is somewhat immaterial at this point.  The bottom line is that the Redskins with RGIII and Shanahan, and the Giants with Eli Manning and Coughlin are in a better position to win the division for years to come barring an injury-marred season.

Unfortunately, the massive amount of injuries that the Cowboys sustained this season will give Jones a convenient excuse for their shortcomings.  While injuries may have contributed to the Cowboys missing the playoffs again, the Green Bay Packers won the Super Bowl a few years ago with more starters on injured reserve than the Cowboys had this season, so it really isn’t a viable excuse.

The Cowboys with Jerry Jones, Jason Garrett and Tony Romo leading the way will never be legitimate Super Bowl contenders.  But as long as fans keep filling “Jerry World” and spending money on Cowboys merchandise, Jerry the salesman will continue to peddle false hope and Super Bowl dreams while continuing to deliver a mediocre product on the field because he is determined to get the credit for winning a championship his way.

For the Cowboys to compete in the NFC East and become legitimate Super Bowl contenders, they must make radical changes, even if it means going through some growing pains.  There is nothing more frustrating for a sports fan than rooting for a team that is always in the middle of the pack.

Rebuilding in the NFL doesn’t have to take several years anymore.  The time has come for the Cowboys to bite the bullet and part ways with Garrett and bring in a head coach who has enough gravitas to change the culture of the organization.

The Cowboys should not extend Tony Romo’s contract.  Let him play out the final year of his contract and see what happens.  There is time to work out  a long-term deal after next season, and if not, there is always the franchise tag to use if necessary.  However, if Romo cannot lead the Cowboys deep into the playoffs next season, then the Cowboys should not lock themselves into a long-term deal with a quarterback who puts up a lot of stats, but comes up short in crunch time.

Of course, all of this is just wishful thinking.  It would be an absolute shock to see the Cowboys start the 2013 season with anyone other than Garrett coaching, Romo at quarterback with an extended contract and Jones as the GM trying to prove that he can once again lead the Cowboys to the Promised Land.

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Adrian Peterson’s MVP Season: Best Ever by a Running Back

In Inspiration and Motivation, Sports on December 31, 2012 at 8:59 am

Adrian Peterson

Adrian Peterson entered the final game of the season needing 208 rushing yards to break Eric Dickerson’s record of 2105 rushing yards which was set in 1984.  The odds against any running back rushing for over 200 yards on any given Sunday are not great, but Adrian Peterson is not any running back and defying the odds is something that he has done every game this season.

After suffering a torn ACL in the second-to-last game of the 2011 season, no one expected much from Peterson this season.  Although the recovery time can be shorter, for most athletes, it takes 12 months to fully recover from a torn ACL.  Most running backs will be able to play the following year, but it usually takes two years to get back to their pre-injury playing level.  Peterson is not most running backs, but if he follows the recovery route of other running backs, he should be even better next season, which should send shivers down the spines of defensive coordinators around the league.

Many people want to reward Peterson’s incredible season with the Comeback Player of the Year Award, but he doesn’t deserve it because, miraculously, he only missed one game with his injury.  That award should go to Peyton Manning for coming back from a serious neck injury that sidelined him for the 2011 season, and resulted in his departure from the Indianapolis Colts.

Ironically, Peterson and Manning are also the two names that top the list for the NFL MVP Award.  While many think that Manning is deserving of the award because of his incredible season with the Denver Broncos, Peterson absolutely deserves to be the MVP.

Even though he fell nine yards short of breaking Dickerson’s long-standing rushing record, Peterson’s season was the best ever by an NFL running back.

In 2002, New York Jets head coach, Herman Edwards, famously stated…“you play to win the game!”

Because of Peterson’s unbelievable season, the Minnesota Vikings were in position to beat the rival Green Bay Packers and secure a spot in the playoffs.  They were put in the position to kick the game winning field goal because of Peterson’s 28-yard run that put him within 9 yards of the rushing title.  If the Vikings had no shot at the playoffs, they may very well have called a timeout and given Peterson the ball again to try and get the record.  They may have been content to have the game end in a tie so that they could give Peterson the ball again in overtime to try and break the record.  But that 28-yard run would be the last time that Peterson would touch the ball in the regular season.  When Blair Walsh’s kick squeezed inside the left upright, Peterson’s chance at the record was gone, but his team was in the playoffs.

What makes Peterson’s season the best ever by a running back is the fact that everyone knew that he was getting the ball because the Vikings have a very limited passing attack, and yet, no one was able to contain him.  The fact that he was tearing apart opposing defenses on a knee that was torn apart at the end of the 2011 season only adds to allure of his incredible season.

The record books will show Peterson rushing for 2097 yards in the 2012 season, 9 yards short of breaking Dickerson’s record, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story.  Peterson carried an entire team on his surgically repaired knee to a surprising playoff berth. Without him, the Vikings most certainly would not have made the playoffs, and quite likely would have been picking near the top of the draft in April.  With all due respect to Peyton Manning, who had an incredible season, Adrian Peterson is the clear-cut choice for MVP of the 2012 season.

Protecting America’s Children

In Family, Life, Life Lessons on December 21, 2012 at 9:39 am

Sandy Hook victims

The sky was a flawless shade of blue on the morning of 9/11/01 in New York City, and everything was right with the world.  At 8:46am, everyone believed that a tragic accident had occurred with a small plane hitting the Twin Towers.  By 9:03am, when the second plane hit the towers, we all knew that wasn’t the case.  Instantly, the America that we once knew was gone.  From that moment on, every American had no choice but to accept the realization that terrorist attacks can happen on American soil.

We failed as a nation to protect innocent citizens on that day.  Shortly thereafter, we beefed up national security, and to date, we have not suffered any casualties from terrorist attacks on American soil.

Since 9/11/01 there have been over twenty school shootings, and yet, we have still not stepped up as a nation to address this problem.

We have successfully thwarted terrorist attacks by Muslim extremists on U.S. soil, but as a nation, we are failing to protect our most precious resource…the children of America!

There are many issues that need addressing if we are going to stop the terrorism that we are experiencing in schools, but one issue is paramount.

Should we ban assault rifles for private citizens?  It would be a good start, but it is not a cure-all.

Should we provide more help to people with mental illnesses?  Absolutely.  But again, not a cure-all.

What if we allowed prayer in schools?  It may make a lot of people feel better, but it will not stop a maniacal gunman from shooting up a school.

All of these issues should be addressed, but there is one step that should be taken immediately to keep our children safe in school.

The time has come for America to beef up security in our schools the way that we did immediately after the 9/11 attacks.  The terrorists that have succeeded in carrying out their missions over the past 11 years are not Muslim extremists; they are young, disturbed, heavily armed, white males who share the same disregard for human life as the terrorists who attacked our country on 9/11.  They have been able to carry out their missions against innocent, defenseless targets with little to no resistance, and we simply cannot sit idly by and hope that this won’t happen again.  We have to proactively stop it from happening.

Unfortunately, we must fight fire with fire, and that does not mean arming teachers and principals as some have suggested.  A teacher’s job is challenging enough without having to add the responsibility of becoming an expert marksman to the list.  However, the country is filled with people who can handle the job, trained policeman and military veterans to name a few.

On 9/11/01, we learned a valuable lesson about our nation’s security vulnerabilities.  Since that time, we have had multiple school shootings, but we still have not learned our lesson.   We shake our heads in disbelief when there is a shooting at a high school.  We are sad for the families who suffer losses and we pray that it never happens in our local high school.

What happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School has shaken the nation to its core.  Because the victims were so young and innocent, we cannot fathom how anyone can look into a terrified child’s eyes and pull the trigger without hesitation.  In many ways, this unspeakable tragedy is as bad as what happened on 9/11/01.  In some ways, it is worse.

On 12/14/12, in a tightknit rural community in Connecticut, the last bit of innocence that we had left in America was mercilessly taken away from us all in one fell swoop.  We MUST do whatever it takes to make sure that a tragedy like this never happens again!

Nothing that we do going forward will bring back the innocent victims whose lives ended way too soon.  The families that they left behind will never be the same, and no amount of time that passes will ever help to fill the void created by their passing.

The best that we can all hope for at this point is for this tragedy to serve as a wake-up call to America to do what is necessary to protect our children.

 

Please click here to learn more about each Sandy Hook Elementary School victim (slideshow in the middle of the page).

 

The Downside of Progress…The Upside of Simpler Times

In Family, Life on December 17, 2012 at 10:25 am

nostalgia

It was over 35 years ago on this date that my family and I moved to Long Island from Queens.  Although the people who bought the house from my parents have now lived there longer than we did, I will always consider it home.

I still remember my first day in the house.  We got there ahead of the movers, so there was no furniture in the house yet.  My siblings and I sat on the carpeted kitchen floor eating Hostess Cupcakes off of a small plastic outdoor patio table.  I was a bit nervous to go to a new school, particularly in the middle of the year, but I was excited about living in a nice house with a huge backyard.

Although starting in a new school is never easy, my first week was fun because it was the week before Christmas break.  Everyone was in high spirits, and the classwork was kept to a minimum because the school was in holiday mode.  It didn’t take long for me to start making friends, and by the time the break came around a week later, I was already playing outside with other kids in the neighborhood.

It was a long, cold winter that year, and though I had a lot of fun in the snow, I was happy for spring to arrive.  Before long, I was riding my bike down the block to go play sports with my friends, and playing little league baseball for the first time.  We didn’t need organized sports as much because we played on our own, but I enjoyed it just the same.

Our new house had a push button phone, a step-up from the rotary phone in our house in Queens.  Our family room had cable television, a step-up from the rabbit ears that we had in Queens.  Other than that, there was no other technology to make our lives “easier.”

When the phone rang, we all wanted to answer it, hoping that it was a call for us.  Today we use caller ID to properly direct the calls to the appropriate family member, or worse, to screen a call that you’re not in the mood to take.  The phone had a cord that kept you tethered nearby.  We didn’t have cordless phones, much less smartphones that are so addicting that you feel lost if the battery dies or you forget to bring it with you.

If we wanted to watch a particular television show, we made sure to be in front of the TV when it was on.  There was no DVR, much less on demand.  We had one shot to see the show, and if we missed it, the moment was gone.  Shows like The Wizard of Oz were special because they were only shown once each year, and it was usually an event that the family looked forward to sharing together.

There was no Internet.  If we wanted to know something, we had to go to the library to get the information.  We couldn’t just “Google it.”

We got our news from newspapers, television and radio from professional journalists who were more concerned with getting it right than being first, which nowadays leads to an incredible amount of misinformation spreading like wildfire.  We had the information that we needed not every graphic detail about a story because the news was about the highlights.  The 24/7 news cycle is probably the most detrimental “progress” that we have experienced in our lifetime, as it has done little to inform, but has contributed greatly to the divisive society that has engulfed America.

Social media has succeeded in connecting us to people who were once a part of our lives, but more importantly, it has failed us because it allows us to disconnect from actual face-to-face contact and phone conversations.  It has also become a place where bullying is very common, and it is not limited to kids in school.  Adults are equally as abusive to those who don’t agree with their point of view.  Before social media, we knew the views of those who we spoke to directly, but had no idea what our hundreds and hundreds of “friends” were thinking about any given subject.

In spite of all of the “progress” that we have made through technology, given the choice, I would gladly go back to the way life was when I was a kid.

Nostalgia has a funny way of removing the tarnish from every memory, leaving behind nothing by precious gems to be cherished, but I still wish that my children could experience the childhood that I had when things were simpler.

Was my life perfect?  Absolutely not!  But it was better for sure.

We were able to eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without worrying that it might kill one of our classmates who has a deadly peanut allergy, undoubtedly a result of the “progress” that we’ve made in making less expensive, processed food.

We played organized sports, but didn’t rely on them to be our only source of exercise.  We rode our bikes to parks and played with friends until dark.

We didn’t live in a state of constant fear, and we certainly never thought about getting gunned down in school.

We couldn’t possibly have imagined what life would be like for our kids back then, but I can say now that I never would have expected life to be like this.

This date used to be a happy one for me to reflect back upon my childhood and my life on Long Island, but today it’s not.

Today, I walked my kids into their elementary school with hesitation.  A lady whom I’ve never met gave me a smile of support as she saw me hug and kiss my little one goodbye and watch her walk down the hall as I always do.  When my daughter was out of sight, she came over to me and introduced herself as the new superintendent.  She clearly saw the anguish on my face that I’ve been trying to hide all weekend since the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.  She told me that she wants to build a fortress around the school.  I agreed that it would be a good idea.  We both had tears in our eyes.

When I left the building, I stopped to speak to the teacher aide from my daughter’s class.  My wife and I grew very fond of her last year when she volunteered to walk my daughter to her Kindergarten class every day because of her separation anxiety.  She didn’t know my daughter, but she saw a little girl in distress and wanted to help.  Needless to say, my wife and I were thrilled when we found out that she was going to be in my daughter’s classroom this year.

I asked her how she was doing and she told me that she spent the whole weekend crying.  She has been in this school for nearly 20 years, and she still thinks of each kid in her classroom as “her kids.”  We talked about how she and I sat next to each other building gingerbread houses on Friday while the unspeakable tragedy was being carried out in Newtown, CT.  We talked about the innocence of the kids in the class, all of whom are the same age as the kids who perished in Sandy Hook Elementary School.  She told me that she would gladly step in front of her kids and take a bullet to protect them, and I didn’t doubt what she said for a second.  I know that she would, but I wish that it wasn’t necessary to even discuss this hypothetical scenario.  We both had tears in our eyes as we said goodbye to each other this morning.

There’s something to be said for the simpler times I enjoyed.

What if It Was Your Child?

In Family, Life, Life Lessons on December 15, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Disbelief

Every time there is a shooting tragedy, gun lovers immediately launch into their usual 2nd Amendment diatribe.  In light of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, where 20 innocent children perished at the hands of a gun-wielding maniac, I was hoping that we would be spared the “guns don’t kill people…people kill people” rhetoric, but that seems to be nothing more than wishful thinking on my part.

I’ve always stayed away from proactively taking a public stance on this issue because it is so divisive, but in light of the slaughtering of innocent children, I decided that it was worth the risk of ruffling some feathers.

I believe that people should have the right to possess a weapon for self-defense, but I see no purpose in stockpiling weapons or possessing assault rifles, both of which go well beyond the scope of self-defense.

To those who staunchly disagree with my position, I have one simple question for you…

What if it was your child?

Take a moment before you post another rant about the 2nd Amendment, or another pro-gun image, and put yourself in the place of the parents who lost their children yesterday in Newtown, CT.

Close your eyes and imagine dropping your child or children off at elementary school.  You give them a hug and a kiss, tell them you love them and to have a good day.  You go about your day business as usual, with the full expectation that you will see your child at the end of the day like you always do.

Now imagine that you get a notification from the elementary school shortly after the school day begins.  You find out that there has been a shooting in your town, and your stomach is instantly tied up in knots.  Then you find out that the shooting has taken place at your child’s school.

You get into your car and drive as fast as humanly possible to the school where you are given instructions to wait outside, not knowing whether your child was a victim or not.

You see a line of children walking together in single file, their tiny hands resting on the shoulders of the classmate in front of them to guide them because they have been told to keep their eyes closed as they exit to shelter them from seeing the carnage that has taken place moments earlier.

You wait and watch as parents are reunited with their children, hugging, kissing and crying uncontrollably (parents and children alike).  You pray that your child will be the next one out the door, and you wait.  And you wait.  And you wait some more as you watch parent after parent breathing an emotional sigh of relief that their child is safe.

Now picture that the school officials come out and tell you that there will be no more reunions, and you are amongst the 20 sets of parents that is left standing, knowing that you may never see your child again.  You pray in disbelief that there must have been some mistake.  It’s tragic beyond words what has happened, but you can’t imagine that it can happen to you.  Not to your precious, innocent child who has so much more living to do.  Not to your child who gave you a hug and kiss and told you that they loved you just hours before.  The world can’t possibly be that cruel…can it?

Sadly, the answer is “yes,” the world can be that cruel.  And now you are left to pick up the pieces to be there for your other children.

Do you go home, look at their room, their photos and every other reminder of them and crumble to the ground wishing that you had been the one to take the bullet so that they could have lived?

Or do you sit down at the computer, login to Facebook, and shout to the world that you lost your child because there are not enough guns in the world?

Do you stand on a virtual soapbox raging about how we need to protect the 2nd Amendment at all costs regardless of the increase in the number of senseless shootings that take the lives of so many innocent people?

Do you even for a minute think to yourself…guns don’t kill people…people kill people?

The End of the Innocence

In Family, Life, Life Lessons on December 14, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Sandy Hook Elementary

“It was the best of times…it was the worst of times.”

Today started off on a high note.  My little one was excited that we were invited to her first grade class to help build gingerbread houses.  While we were helping her with her gingerbread house, my wife and I whispered and laughed to ourselves at how rundown our house looked compared to others in the class.

I sang the lyrics to a song that we both like in her ear, and we laughed some more.  The song is called “The Crazy Ones.”  In the song it says “we march to the beat of a different drum.”  While our gingerbread house didn’t look good in the traditional sense, I was proud of my little one’s originality.

She didn’t compare her house to others, and didn’t seem to care that ours was messy looking.  All she cared about was having fun and eating candy.  In a perfect world, that’s about all kids her age should care about.

Tragically, today proved that innocence is not guaranteed for kids of any age.

I brought my daughter home from school early after the gingerbread decorating was done.  She was up in her room when my phone rang.  It was my father-in-law, obviously distraught as he told me about the senseless shooting that happened this morning at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.  He was warning me not to turn on the news in front of the kids.

My heart sank as we spoke.  As soon as we hung up, I went right upstairs to hug and kiss my little girl and tell her that I loved her.  We’re always very affectionate, so she thought nothing of it, but inside, I was still trying to wrap my head around this devastating news.

For the past few days, one of my daughter’s front teeth has been hanging by a thread, but it didn’t seem ready to come out yet.  Once I heard this news, I was hoping that she would just leave it alone because I didn’t want the loss of her first front tooth to come on the same day of the Sandy Hook tragedy.  But it wasn’t meant to be.  As I was watching the news, she came to the top of the stairs with blood dripping from her mouth.

I had no choice but to pull the tooth, and comfort her as she cried hysterically at the sight of the blood.  I held her tight and assured her that everything was going to be okay.  And it will be, at least as far as the tooth is concerned, but after seeing the news today, it’s hard for me to believe that everything will actually be okay.

The world is a fucked up place nowadays.  We lost our innocence as a nation on 9/11/01, and we’ve seen more school shootings than any of us ever thought possible.  But the shooting of little, innocent, elementary school kids goes beyond anything that our minds can comprehend.  The last safe haven that we had no longer exists, and this is truly the end of the innocence.

I keep thinking about all of the joy that I experienced today with fellow parents decorating gingerbread houses with our first graders.  Everyone was happy, smiling, content in our little corner of the world.  I can’t even imagine what would possess anyone to stare into the eyes of all of those innocent faces, point a gun at them and pull the trigger. I’m glad that the shooter is dead, but I wish that he would have killed himself before walking into an elementary school with an assault rifle in his hands and malice in his heart.

I pray for the parents of those who inexplicably lost their child today in this tragedy.  Their worlds will never be the same.  Quite frankly, none of us will ever be the same either.

Top 12 Hard Rock Songs of 2012

In Music on December 12, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Snap 2012-12-12 at 15.00.26

There seems to be an endless fascination with the fact that today is 12-12-12.  It is likely the last time that most of us will ever see the month, date and year the same again.  Years from now, this will be just another day, but it will be interesting to look back and see the Top 12 Hard Rock Songs of 2012

[1]  Pop Evil – “Purple”

Every once in a while, a song comes along that you can listen to over and over again without ever growing tired of hearing it.  Songs like this usually end up becoming a band’s signature song that is played at every live show (usually as an encore).  Pop Evil has some great songs, but there is something about “Purple” that elevates it above the rest of their music.

The imagery that is created in the mind’s eye with the opening poetic lyric sets the tone for the song…

“Such a beautiful color…you wear upon your skin…and the perfect shade of purple…on a flower permanent…and I’m constantly reminded of a past that never bloomed.”

The melody and infectious hook of the song is brilliantly accented by the band’s harmonies with Leigh Kakaty’s lead vocals.

“I’ve never been down this road before…as the days go by I only miss you more…I thought one day we would touch the sky…never grow up…never gonna die.  I never realized what you meant to me…til I tried drowning out your memory…but it burns red…like it’s not over…it only hurts when I’m sober.”

It’s rare that a song about regret and love lost can make you feel so uplifted, but “Purple” is the exception to the rule.

[2]  Slash with Myles Kennedy – “Anastasia”

Guns N’ Roses fans will always wonder what might have been if one of the greatest hard rock bands of all time didn’t fall apart because of drugs and egos, but if they were still together today, the hard rock world would have missed out on Slash with Myles Kennedy.  With all due respect to Axl Rose, Slash and Kennedy are a better combination.  It’s hard to believe that a singer as talented as Kennedy languished in relative obscurity until teaming up with Slash.

The brilliance of Slash and Kennedy as individuals shines even brighter when they are together.  “Anastasia” is the perfect song to showcase the Slash/Kennedy sound to those who still haven’t jumped on the bandwagon.  Kennedy’s four-octave range is not a studio enhancement; he sounds exactly the same in concert.

Many other songs by the duo were worthy of being in the top 12 of 2012, but as the saying goes…“variety is the spice of life.”

Hard rock fans would be well served to use “Anastasia” as a starting point to dig deeper into the Slash/Kennedy catalog.

[3]  Aranda – “Satisfied”

Passion, pain and vengeance may not be a recipe for happiness, but this lethal combination does make for a great hard rock song.  It takes a special talent to make a slow, relatively stripped down song about lost love into an edgy hard rock song, and Aranda has done so masterfully with “Satisfied.”

Dameon Aranda delivers the song with such pain and emotion that you start to feel melancholy while listening to it, but it is so moving that you don’t want the song to end.

“And I…no, I never want to see you smile… I…no, I never want to see you die…but I never want to see you satisfied.”

 

[4]  Halestorm – “Here’s To Us”

The raging pool of testosterone that is the hard rock genre does not make it easy for female rockers to shine, unless of course they can hang with the boys.  Lzzy Hale of Halestorm not only hangs with the boys, her vocal delivery has more balls than many of her male counterparts.  Hale is the Lita Ford of her generation.

A lot of consideration was given to putting “I Miss The Misery” in the top 12, but “Here’s To Us” got the nod because it is quite possibly the edgiest love song ever written…

“Here’s to us…here’s to love…all the times that we fucked up.  Here’s to you…fill the glass…cause the last few nights have kicked my ass.  If they give ya hell…tell ‘em go fuck themselves!”

This song has the makings of an awesome show closer.  Picture an arena filled with lighters swaying back in forth, the band pauses and the whole crowd shouts “Tell ‘em go fuck themselves!” in unison.  The perfect bonding moment for hard rock couples!

[5]  Five Finger Death Punch – “The Pride”

One of the hardest things to be in music is unique.  There are always a number of bands that have a similar sound in any given genre.  Every once in a while a band bursts onto the scene that doesn’t sound like anyone else.  Their sound is instantly recognizable even if you are hearing a song for the first time.  Five Finger Death Punch is one of those rare bands whose sound is so unique that they create instant recognition.

Vocalist, Ivan Moody, is one of the few singers who can mix a melodic singing style with a guttural growl and not miss a beat.  “The Pride” is a perfect example of the immense range that Moody can deliver.  You wouldn’t think that Billy Joel and Five Finger Death Punch would ever be compared to each other, but in this case it is warranted. Moody and Joel both have incredibly unique sounds, and “The Pride” is like “We Didn’t Start The Fire” on steroids!

[6]  Stellar Revival – “The Crazy Ones”

What do you get when you mix numerous clichés with a great melody and rebellious fun?  Stellar Revival’s “The Crazy Ones.”  The song is the first release from the band’s upcoming debut album “Love, Lust & Bad Company” which hits the streets on 1/22/13.  One listen to the infectious “The Crazy Ones” and you can’t help but sing the chorus in your head all day long, but the song offers more than just a catchy melody.

Many people want to fit in and live a “normal” life, but there are those who are looking to blaze their own trail regardless of what others may think.  This song is for “the mavericks, the dreamers and the forgotten sons” who “color outside the lines for fun” and for the “badass, outcast, son of a guns” who “march to the beat of a different drum.”

[7]  Three Days Grace – “Chalk Outline”

Broken relationships have always been a great source of inspiration for songwriters, but few have used imagery as powerful as Three Days Grace in “Chalk Outline.”

“You left me here like a chalk outline…on the sidewalk, waiting for the rain to wash away…wash away.   You keep coming back to the scene of the crime, but the dead can’t speak and there’s nothing left to say anyway.  All you left behind…is a chalk outline.”

The power, emotion and energy that singer, Adam Gontier, showcases in the song will make you feel the pain that most feel when a relationship ends.

[8]  Accept – “Shadow Soldiers”

Many of the hard rock bands that reached their peak in the 80’s are still performing, but most are catering to the same fans that grew up on their music.  A few notable bands such as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest have bridged the generation gap, but most 80’s hard rock bands are not relevant to this generation of hard rock fans.  Accept’s “Shadow Soldiers” captures the magic of their “Balls to the Wall” heyday and combines it with a modern-day hard rock feel that will allow them to bridge the hard rock generation gap.  Frontman, Mark Tornillo, sounds like Udo Dirkschneider in his prime, so old-school Accept fans will feel like they are back in the “Balls to the Wall” days when they listen to “Shadow Soldiers.”

[9]  Nonpoint – “Left For You”

Although Nonpoint has been around since the late 90’s, this incarnation of the band is relatively new.  The only members of the band that remain are singer, Elias Soriano, and drummer, Robb Rivera.  While it is a bit unusual for a band to have a self-titled album beyond their initial release, it makes sense in this case since the majority of the band is new.  If “Left For You” is any indication of things to come, it seems that this may be the right mix to put the band over the top.  Fans of Nonpoint should definitely follow them on Facebook.  They truly understand what it takes to use social media to their advantage.

[10]  Another Lost Year – “War On The Inside”

The end of each year brings many “best of” lists (like this one).  It’s a way of recapping what happened and capturing a moment in time.  This time of year can also be a painful time of reflection for those whose didn’t have a good year for one reason or another.  It comes as no surprise that a band with a name like Another Lost Year has the ability to tap into the painful aspects of life and put them into their music.  “War On The Inside” does just that.  You can feel the anguish in the song as Clinton Cunanan belts out the lyrics…

“All these voices calling my name…keep reminding me of all of this pain…cause I am stuck here out on this ledge…can you save me tonight…from the war on the inside?”

[11]  Fozzy – “Sandpaper”

Hard rock music and professional wrestling have always gone hand in hand.  The music is often featured on WWE video games.  But Fozzy takes the marriage between wrestling and hard rock to another level.  Frontman, Chris Jericho, may have made his name as a professional wrestler, but singing is his true talent.  While wrestling’s ass-kicking may be fake, Fozzy’s ass-kicking music is the real deal. “Sandpaper” is proof positive that Jericho has what it takes to make it outside the ring.

[12]  Shinedown – “Bully”

Bullying has always been a problem.  And though there is a movement to stop bullying, the problem still runs rampant in schools across the country.  Shinedown’s “Bully” nailed what every bullied kid must be thinking…

“It’s 8am…this hell I’m in…seems I crossed the line again for being nothing more than who I am”

In this song, the bullied kids band together and fight back…

“We all know that life ain’t fair, but there is more of us, we’re everywhere….we don’t have to take this back against the wall…we don’t have to take this…we can end it all!”

The song also features some very harsh and sobering lyrics from the viewpoint of a bullied kid…

“No one’s gonna cry on the very day you die…you’re a bully!”

 

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