The 25 most WTF music news stories of 2017

You already know 2017 was full of WTF.

The world miraculously continued to spin despite most news coming out of the United States seemed like it was written by the staff at The Onion; sexual misconduct was exposed en masse as women (and men) became empowered to come forward about alleged abusers; just like last year, music lost some of its finest, including Roland founder Ikutaro Kakehasi, Mika Vainio of Pan Sonic, Can member and sampling pioneer Holger Czukay, emo rapper Lil Peep and grunge icon Chris Cornell. Some of our heroes from the film world also passed away, like Tobe Hooper, the mind behind Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and the grandfather of modern zombies, George A. Romero.

When our phones are delivering us death and destruction with every push notification, we need some levity. We got that from people like the Florida man who tried to scam free music equipment by pretending to be a member of Nickelback and the Birmingham woman who was arrested for playing music by Ed Sheeran at deafening volumes. Remember Metallica and Lady Gaga’s Grammys collab or Pete Tong’s liquor “remix” 808 Whisky? You do now. Take a little trip down one of the weirdest stretches of memory with some of FACT’s news team and discover the 25 most WTF-worthy music news stories of 2017.

Flying Lotus’s directorial debut film Kuso is so disgusting, it triggered mass walk-outs at Sundance Film Festival

Flying Lotus’s first feature film is gross – or so we’re told. After reviews of a midnight screening from Sundance extolled the movie’s virtues – like full frontal nudity via an erect penis that is stabbed by a sharp metal rod! – we decided that the boil-covered acid-trip-via-fever dream trailer was enough for our stomachs and so did the movie-lovers, critics, and filmmakers who walked out of a midnight screening at the Sundance Film Festival. You can watch the film now on the excellent horror streaming platform Shudder – FlyLo says Netflix was too scared to take it – but, like, you can watch Prevenge on there, too, so… CL

Metallica and Lady Gaga performed a head-scratching collaboration at the Grammys

This was weird and riddled with technical failures, making it all the more confusing, but hey – it wasn’t as bad as Gaga’s David Bowie tribute from the year before. CL

Moby claimed to know for a fact that the alleged pee tape dossier was “100% real”

This was in February. It’s now December. Show us the receipts, Moby! CL

Blink-182’s Tom DeLonge won an award for his UFO research

Ten years after the release of Blink-182’s seminal (if you can call it that) album Enema of the State, which featured a song called ‘Aliens Exist’ seemingly full of SoCal skate punk cheekiness, the band’s bassist Tom DeLonge received the award for UFO Researcher Of The Year from The International UFO Congress. Like, I don’t know guys, I’m supposed to be writing jokes here, but this just is a joke, no? It’s not? Oof. CL

Florida man tried (and failed) to steal Nickelback drummer’s identity

Whenever you think the “Florida Man” meme has reached its peak, something happens to remind us that Florida either exists inside an energy vortex or they’re putting something in the water down there. In February, Florida man Lee Howard Koenig was arrested for attempting to impersonate Nickelback drummer Daniel Adair.

Koenig, a session musician who goes by Mr. Wooky and looks nothing like Adair, tried get $25,000 worth of free music gear using the Nickelback member’s name. He was eventually tracked down by the very person he tried to scam: Adair turned amateur sleuth, searched the internet for his own scammer and then handed his findings over to the police. ACW

BBC celebrated The Fall frontman Mark E. Smith’s birthday by mistakenly announcing he had died

Fans of The Fall were given the shock of their lives in March when the BBC erroneously reported on the death of their beloved, seemingly immortal leader Mark E. Smith, instead of wishing him a happy 60th birthday. “R.I.P. Mark E. Smith” read the literal fake news tweet, which was posted with a sad face emoji for extra comedic punch. According to a BBC Music spokesperson, the tweet had been a “genuine human error and the message was posted by mistake and swiftly deleted.” A cruel joke or unhappy accident, we’re sure Smith saw its funny side. ACW

Russian artist ::vtol:: created a synthesizer that runs on blood

Moscow-based artist Dmitry Morozov, aka ::vtol::, aka the avant-garde 21st century Dracula, reimagined the phrase ‘blood, sweat and tears’ when he crafted a sound installation powered entirely by his own blood – nearly eight whole pints of the stuff.  The 19th century-inspired creation, ominously titled Until I Die, operates on blood-filled “batteries” that power a small algorithmic synth module, which then creates “a tune” that plays through a small speaker. Ideal for the special vampire in your life, or that basement-dwelling corpse you’ve been meaning to reanimate! “This was not an attempt to create advanced technology, it was a symbolic act,” Morozov said. And let’s be honest, only when you’ve nearly died for your art can you truly call yourself an artist. ACW

This year’s hottest clubs were an Airbnb in Canonbury, a Nottinghamshire DJ class, a sewer in Newcastle and the London Underground

When we heard in March that renters of an Airbnb in Canonbury had turned the flat into a pop-up nightclub with tickets and a bouncer, we were impressed with their ingenuity. Then just a few days later it was reported that a Nottinghamshire DJ class had to be broken up at 3:30am because 250 people held an impromptu rave in the classroom. The very next day word spread another couple hundred people were caught holding a rave in a Newcastle sewer – three’s a trend, man! What sounded like an insane manifestation of SNL‘s Stefon was happening in real life. And it didn’t stop: in April, the London Underground become a nightclub, too. CL

Travis Scott fell in a hole on stage at a Drake concert

Drake named his European jaunt The Boy Meets World Tour, but when he invited Travis Scott out in the O2 Arena, it could have been remained La Flame Meets FloorCL

Morrissey would not stop saying very stupid things

When Morrissey sang, “I know I’m unloveable” on The Smiths’ album The World Won’t Listen, we never would have imagined those lyrics would transform from the relatable melancholia that makes him so beloved by his fans to a truism about a guy who thinks Harvey Weinstein is just “pathetic at courtship”. CL

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee is still waiting for us to laugh at his sick Snoop burn: “Poop Dogg”

Donald Trump had harsher words for a BADBADNOTGOOD video featuring Snoop Dogg that parodied his assassination that he did nearly anything else that had to do with gun violence in 2017: “Can you imagine what the outcry would be if Snoop Dogg, failing career and all, had aimed and fired the gun at President Obama? Jail time!” We were given a little levity when Mike Huckabee decided to back up Trump with some hard words for the Doggfather and rapper Bow Wow of his own:

Poop Dogg! You can’t even make this stuff up, it’s just that stupid. CL

Charles Manson released a charity vinyl of his 1980s prison recordings

Charles Manson finally shuffled off this mortal coil in November, taking his legacy of terror and torture with him to the grave… or so we had hoped. One story that went beyond bad taste and into the realms of repulsion was the announcement that this Connecticut record collector Malcolm Tent had plans to release a limited-edition vinyl of Manson’s prison recordings, under the auspices of ‘outsider art’. However, even worse than Tent’s appropriation of a term made infamous by the likes of Arthur Russell and Pauline Anna Strom, was his decision to donate all the proceeds to Air Trees Water Animals – an environmental charity founded by Manson himself. ACW

A Midlands mom was arrested for blasting Ed Sheeran

UK-based music fan and sonic-torturer Sonia Bryce landed herself a prison sentence last December for taking her neighbors to hell and back by playing Ed Sheeran’s trop-pop chart-topper ‘Shape Of You’ on a loop for half an hour – all while breaking a previous noise injunction. The Birmingham mother of three was given an eight-week sentence and told by the judge: “You must learn that you should behave as a reasonable and responsible adult and not make life for your neighbors the misery that you have”. ACW

This Australian rapper ditched a $600 bill by swimming away

The most ludicrous thing about the dine-and-dash story to end all dine-and-dash stories wasn’t that the rapper who did it is named 2Pec, or that he claimed to have ran off to help a pregnant friend who was in labor on the beach, but that he actually consumed two lobsters, a baby octopus, 21 vodka oyster shots, “a number of Coronas” and didn’t drown. Or get eaten by a shark, seeing as his escape route drove him straight into the jaws of the Great White-infested waters of Australia’s Gold Coast. It gives a whole new meaning to “drive it like it’s stolen,” eh? ACW

Pepsi tried to get woke and ripped off The Chemical Brothers in the process

There was nothing funny about a Pepsi ad that cynically appropriates and undermines the Black Lives Matter and other civil rights movements, but one that also appears to rip off the Chemical Brothers? That’s a plot-twist we didn’t see coming. After its release and subsequent backlash, writer Dorian Lynskey pointed out that this misguided, Kendall Jenner-starring commercial bears striking similarity to The Chemical Brothers’ video for ‘Out of Control’, released in 1999. But we were just scratching our heads over this weird coincidence – did the director ever feel as “really, really bad” about the whole thing as Kendall Jenner did, we wonder? ACW

US soap maker Dr. Bronner’s estate donated $5 million towards MDMA research

Castille soap boss Dr. Bronner was a US philanthropist who believed in a philosophy for uniting all humans on Spaceship Earth, so it came as no surprise to learn he had interest in psychopharmacology. In April, it emerged that his estate had plans to donate an impressive $5 million towards MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for PTSD, which is a pretty Good Thing™ if you believe in the healing potential of psychoactive substances. OK, so there’s probably more to this story than meets the eye, but it did temporarily make the shit-storm of music news in 2017 a little more bearable. (Drugs are, of course, still bad.) ACW

Two words: Fyre Festival

It started with a glossy, supermodel-fronted promotional campaign and ended with a $100 million class-action lawsuit – you literally couldn’t make this shit up. One monumental story that refused to die this year was the blockbuster tale of a luxury festival gone horribly, horribly wrong. A litany of complaints ranging from 9-hour delays, mountains of rubbish and “refugee-like conditions” gripped our feeds and the lawsuits followed. Ja Rule and Billy McFarland’s Fyre Festival set social media ablaze and quickly became The Most Badly Organized Festival in The History of All Festivals. Who knows what the hell they were thinking but there’s certainly a lesson to be learned here – don’t fuck with rich people. ACW

Vin Diesel swore he’d “blow people’s minds” with an EDM track produced by Steve Aoki

It still hasn’t come out, but no way it’s better than this. CL

Pete Tong and Tommy Danvers tried to “remix whisky” with a TR-808-inspired liquor

Forget the Women’s March and the #MeToo movement – Pete Tong and Tommy Danvers arrived in May to kickstart the real revolution of 2017: with whisky! 808 Whisky, their liquor “remix”, is “the funky, sexy world of nightclubs and music” in a bottle and is being touted as both “the sub-bass of drinks” and “whisky, but not as you know it.” So, is it actually whisky? Does anyone know? Does anyone care? No? Well, things here are looking desperate enough, so we’ll take a shot. Or five. Anything so we don’t have to think about this anymore. ACW

Rihanna and Lupita Nyong’o signed on to star in a buddy heist movie based on a Tumblr meme

The gap between fan and celebrity never felt so close as when a Tumblr post suggesting a photo of Oscar winner and silence-breaker Lupita Nyong’o and pop queen Rihanna looked like a still from heist movie was bought by Netflix at the Cannes Film Festival. Fans on Twitter suggested Ava DuVernay (Selma, A Wrinkle in Time) for director and hoped for a screenplay written by Insecure star and creator Issa Rae. They’re on board, too. Let’s just make sure all these minds on the internet get paid for their ideas. This year Kayla Newman, the girl who coined the term “eyebrows on fleek,” was able to launch her own, well-deserved cosmetics line. We can only hope the original Tumblr posted is at least getting paid for the rights to her Tumblr post. CL

A SpongeBob SquarePants musical featuring music from David Bowie premiered on Broadway

We all love SpongeBob SquarePants, but does that smiley yellow sponge really need his own Broadway show? Only if David Bowie is involved, natch. When news broke in June that the late great sonic chameleon had contributed original music to the SpongeBob musical, we were left wondering – is there a lost Bowie/SpongeBob collab out there? Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Bikini Bottom, anyone? ACW

Marilyn Manson postponed tour dates after being injured on stage by a gun-shaped prop

Marilyn Manson has been espousing the horrors of America’s tenuous relationship to gun violence for decades, so when a prop gun knocked him out on stage a New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom, it was the definition of poetry in motion. Manson had to rearrange his touring schedule, but was able to get back on the road in time for a festival date in San Bernardino, California. The performance caused an uproar after the controversial artist, confined to a wheelchair, pointed a fake rifle at the audience – San Bernardino had been the location of a mass shooting in 2015. Some things never change. CL

Newbury Comics sold copies of Beck’s new album Colors signed by MC Hammer

You thought your record store had cool, weird shit, but you can’t touch this. CL

Sónar Festival tried to contact aliens by sending music into space

The electronic music community let out a giant gurgle last month when plans for Sonar Festival’s extraterrestrial meet-and-greet came to light. The ambitious 25th birthday present, dubbed “Sónar Calling GJ273b” and described as the first radio message ever sent to Luyten’s Star with the help of the EISCAT (European Incoherent SCATter Scientific Association) antenna in Norway, has signed up a number of FACT-friendly artists for the challenge, whose music will be pumped into a nearly habitable planet. Apparently Autechre have composed a piece of music based on the first 449 prime numbers – ‘nuff said. ACW

We learned China has its own knockoff Fabric

Just when we thought there was nothing left to boggle our minds in 2017, it was discovered that Shanghai has a knock-off Fabric, down to a swiped logo. We can’t be mad – the dancefloor is a place of love. Plus, this is a great omen for weird news in 2018. CL

Read next: The 10 best video game soundtracks of 2017



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