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10 of the Most Ridiculous Rock-Star Stunts

Courtesy of Vade Retro; Getty Images

Fall Out Boy’s noble quest to reach Antarctica, high-five a penguin, and set a world record may have ended ingloriously, but the band deserves recognition for how straight-faced they played their stunt, even though we’re (almost) sure they realized how hilarious the entire idea was. The journey to Antarctica had a rare, almost magical combination of ridiculousness and awesomeness that few bands attain, and so there’s no shame in the band’s weather-related failure to see a Tauntaun up close.

Hilarious shenanigans — from the Beastie Boys breaking into Chuck Eddy’s hotel room, to the Rolling Stones’ fifteen-foot inflatable onstage penis, to Dylan’s conversion to Christianity — have always been part of rock and roll. So have attempted shenanigans whose outcomes range from lame to disastrous. After the jump, we’ve compiled ten rock-and-roll stunts that proved even less impressive than Pete Wentz’s journey to Antarctic ignominy.

10. Jamiroquai Break Six Underwhelming World Records (2007)
Jamiroquai should have walked away from a mid-air performance that broke six world records much cooler than when they’d taken off. But not only are these honors (including highest gig ever and fastest gig ever) the least demanding world records ever set, they’ll be broken as soon as we finish remastering our secret tapes of John Glenn’s crazy-ill Orbit Freestyle Sessionz.

9. David Bowie & Mick Jagger Dance Together in the Streets (1985)
David Bowie and Mick Jagger teaming up on a remake of Martha and the Vandellas’ “Dancing in the Street” for Live Aid: two rock legends, uniting on a classic for a good cause. Unfortunately, the song apparently triggered involuntary jazz hands, greatly undermining Bowie and Jagger’s reputations.

8. 50 Cent and Kanye West Stage September Showdown (2007)
Kanye West and 50 Cent stirred up a media frenzy and a grip of extra record sales during their completely staged 2007 competition to outsell each other. (West fessed up to the plan in GQ.) The craptacular thing about this stunt is that it made fans out to be a bunch of tools. The awesome thing about this stunt is that it made the media out to be a bunch of bigger tools.

7. Jack White Gets Wedded to Pretense (2005)
Marrying a model definitely helps to establish your status as a rock icon. Marrying a model in a canoe at the spot where the Rio Negro, the Solimones and the Amazon rivers meet, in a ceremony presided over by a native shaman implies a disturbing willingness to transform from likably grungy Michigan-born outsider to Dr. Mystic Crazypants Ph.D.

6. Krist Novoselic Eats Bass (1992)
Nirvana’s appearance at the 1992 MTV Music Video Awards looked like it was going to be a mythic rock performance on par with the guitar-smashing greatness of the Who — until Krist Novoselic decided to try to catch his bass guitar after lobbing it into the air. Unfortunately, it hit him directly in the grill.

5. Prince Becomes TAFKAP (1993)
In 1993, Prince changed his name to a rune, forcing music lovers everywhere to start referring to him using annoying acronyms, hand gestures, and strained nicknames. It was all an attempt to get back at his record label; years later he would try a different tack to greater effect, pseudonymously inventing Napster.

4. U2 Trapped in Lemon (1997)
When U2 decided to go ironic with their Popmart tour, they literally found themselves stuck inside of a 40-foot, malfunctioning, mechanical lemon multiple times. Bootleg video footage of the ironic lemon that was, ironically, a lemon, is widely circulated among cultural-studies graduate students.

3. Michael Jackson Enshrines Himself (1995)
Michael Jackson’s HIStory album was accompanied by one of the greatest hubris-inspired promotional campaigns of all time: erecting giant statues of the singer all over Europe and releasing a four-minute video of screaming fans in Budapest. Fun fact: Three of those statues have since seized control of Central Asian nations.

2. Madonna Publishes Sex (1992)
Simply put, Madonna’s tireless stunts (which also include crucifying herself, kissing Britney, and acting) strike a crucial blow for civil rights by consistently reminding us that being stupidly outrageous is not just for men.

1. Woodstock Burns the Motherfucker Down (1999)
Remember the mayhem that closed down Woodstock ‘99? Limp Bizkit performed “Break Stuff,” and fans broke stuff. The Red Hot Chili Peppers played Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire,” and the same mooks used candles that had been distributed for a peace vigil to set fire to everything in sight. The upshot? Thousands of future crimes were prevented when the Chili Peppers followed “Fire” with a tune called “Stop Getting in Bar Fights and Date-Raping People, You Morons.”
—Tammy Oler

10 of the Most Ridiculous Rock-Star Stunts