The Quick Seven: Seven Musical Hoaxes

It was 19 years ago this week (can you believe it's been that long?) that the Milli Vanilli lip-synching scandal came to a head "“ the duo were stripped of their Grammies after it was revealed that they didn't sing a single note on the Girl You Know It's True album. But they were hardly the first to pull one over on the music-minded: hoaxes and trickery have been going on since

platinumweird1. Platinum Weird. It's the greatest band that never existed. In 2004, Kara DioGuardi (yep, the American Idol judge) and Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics got together to write some songs for the Pussycat Dolls. Somehow, it resulted in songs that sounded like Fleetwood Mac. You can see how two wouldn't exactly mesh. Instead of scrapping the whole thing, Interscope Records chairman Jimmy Iovine told them to forge ahead with what they were doing. This involved creating a band to go with the songs and a making a whole backstory about what the band did in the "˜70s and how they eventually collapsed. A bunch of artists were in on the joke as well, recording clips reminiscing about the greatness of Platinum Weird. Contributors included Ringo Starr, Mick Jagger, Stevie Nicks and Christina Aguilera. When Rock Legends, a Behind the Music-type show, appeared on VH1, the network came clean about the band's origins (or lack thereof).

marauders2. The Masked Marauders. Can you imagine a supergroup of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Bob Dylan and Mick Jagger? Rolling Stone editor Greil Marcus could, so he created it for a review. Except none of the real artists were actually involved, and the record wasn't actually made. The review was hysterical, noting that Paul McCartney jammed with himself on the bass and piano simultaneously, and Bob Dylan had developed a killer bass voice which he displayed by singing "Duke of Earl." People freaked out and the letters started rolling in "“ when would the album be released? So, naturally, an album was created. Impersonators were hired and The Masked Marauders LP was released in November of 1969. It spent 12 weeks on the charts and sold more than 100,000 copies. The public was let in on the joke (if they hadn't already gotten it) when they bought the album "“ several references were made to the sham in the liner notes and in one of the songs.

3. Grunge speak. In 1992, The New York Times ran a piece about the proliferation of grunge music, and asked a Sub Pop Records sales rep if there was some grunge slang that they should know about. Irritated by the question and the attitude toward grunge (kind of like the Times was checking up on a remote tribe that the world didn't know about), the sales rep made up a string of words off the top of her head, including "big bag of bloatation," "cob nobbler," "lamestain," "swingin' on the flippity-flop" and "wack slacks." She said they meant, respectively, drunk, loser, uncool person, hanging out and ripped jeans. You can read the whole list (and the whole article) here (The Times got her record label wrong).

violin4. An Incomplete History of the Art of the Funerary Violin. According to this book, the funerary violin was an musical genre that was ousted by the Vatican in the mid-19th century and has rarely been spoken of since. It's a work of fiction "“ there is no such thing as that particular genre - but it's hard to categorize it as such, since it's written like a dissertation on the subject. And the author is quick to defend his work, saying that it's not necessarily a hoax, but that he intended to "expand the notion of musical composition to encompass the creation of an entire artistic genre, with its necessary accompanying history, mythology, philosophy, social function, etc."

5. Adélaïde Concerto. No doubt if an undiscovered piece by Mozart suddenly turned up "“ especially a 10-year-old Mozart "“ it would cause great excitement in the musical world. And it did. Too bad the piece was actually written by Marius Casadesus. He even forged a title page that showed "Mozart" had dedicated the piece to Madame Adélaïde de France, King Louis XV's daughter. It was suspected that Casadesus was behind the work for many years (he had claimed that he merely "˜edited' it) but it wasn't confirmed until he admitted it himself in 1977.

6. The Handel Concert and the J.C. Bach Concerto. Um, no wonder Marius Casadesus forged the Mozart piece "“ it ran in the family! His brother, Henri Casadesus, wrote these pieces and claimed they were by Handel and Bach (and there's a third unconfirmed piece as well).

7. Leck mir den Arsch fein recht schön sauber. If someone told you that Mozart wrote a little ditty whose title translates to something like, "Lick (or Kiss) me in the ass fine well and clean," I bet you would think they were putting you on. But it's true. Mozart had a bawdy sense of humor. But it's still part hoax "“ or part misunderstanding, perhaps. Although Mozart likely wrote the lyrics, scholars have uncovered that the tune itself was probably written by Wenzel Trnka.

I considered some of the more recent lip-synching incidents of late "“ Britney, of course, and Ashlee Simpson on SNL. But those girls didn't hire someone else to do the singing for them entirely, so I decided they didn't count. If you can remember another scandal of Milli Vanilli-like proportions, be sure to remind us of them in the comments!

10 Sweet Facts About Candy Canes

The sweet and striped shepherd’s hooks can be found just about everywhere during the holiday season. It's time you learned a thing or two (or 10) about them.


While the origins of the candy cane are a bit murky, legend has it that they first appeared in hooked form around 1670. Candy sticks themselves were pretty common, but they really took shape when the choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral in Germany got the bright idea of twisting them to look like shepherd’s hooks. He then handed them out to kids during church services to keep them quiet.


It’s no surprise, then, that it was a German immigrant who introduced the custom to America. The first reference we can find to the tradition stateside is 1847, when August Imgard of Wooster, Ohio, decked his home out with the sugary fare.


Candy canes without the red don’t seem nearly as cheery, do they? But that’s how they were once made: all white. We’re not really sure who or exactly when the scarlet stripe was added, but we do know that images on cards before the 1900s show snow white canes.


Most candy canes are around five inches long, containing only about 50 calories and no fat or cholesterol.


The world’s largest candy cane was built by Geneva, Illinois chef Alain Roby in 2012.  It was 51 feet long, required about 900 pounds of sugar, and was eventually smashed up with a hammer so people could take home a piece.


Fifty-four percent of kids suck on candy canes, compared to the 24 percent who just go right for the big crunch. As you may have been able to guess, of those surveyed, boys were nearly twice as likely to be crunchers.


According to the National Confectioners Association, about 1.2 billion candy canes are made annually, and 90 percent of those are sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Which honestly begs the question: Who’s buying the 10 percent in the off season?


Bobs (that’s right; no apostrophe) Candies was the first company to really hang its hat on the sweet, striped hook. Lt. Bob McCormack began making candy canes for his kids in the 1920s, and they were such a hit he decided to start mass-producing them. With the help of his brother-in-law, a Catholic priest named Gregory Harding Keller (and his invention, the Keller Machine), McCormack was eventually able to churn out millions of candy canes a day.


December 26 is National Candy Cane Day. Go figure.


Here’s how they make candy canes at Disneyland—it’s a painstaking (and beautiful) technique.

10 Actors Who Hated Their Own Films

1. Sylvester Stallone, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. Sly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to his film career. Despite co-starring with the delightful Estelle Getty as the titular violence-prone mother, Stallone knows just how bad the film was:

"I made some truly awful movies. Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot was the worst. If you ever want someone to confess to murder, just make him or her sit through that film. They will confess to anything after 15 minutes."

2. Alec Guinness, Star Wars.

By the time he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope, Guinness had already appeared in cinematic classics like The Bridge on the River Kwai, Great Expectations and Lawrence of Arabia. During production, Guinness is reported to have said the following:

"Apart from the money, I regret having embarked on the film. I like them well enough, but it's not an acting job, the dialogue - which is lamentable - keeps being changed and only slightly improved, and I find myself old and out of touch with the young."

The insane amount of fame he won for the role as the wise old Jedi master took him somewhat by surprise and, ultimately, annoyed him. In his autobiography A Positively Final Appearance: A Journal, Guinness recalls a time he encountered an autograph-seeking fan who boasted to him about having watched Star Wars more than 100 times. In response, Guinness agreed to provide the boy an autograph under the condition that he promise never to watch the film again.

3. Bob Hoskins, Super Mario Brothers. He was in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. As far as I’m concerned, Bob Hoskins is forgiven for Super Mario Bros. Hoskins, though, doesn’t seem to be able to forgive himself. Last year the Guardian spoke with the veteran actor about his career and he summed up his feelings rather succinctly:

What is the worst job you've done?
Super Mario Brothers.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Super Mario Brothers.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wouldn't do Super Mario Brothers.

4. George Clooney, Batman & Robin. Sure, Batman & Robin made money. But by every other imaginable measure, the film was a complete failure, and a nightmare to the vast majority of the Caped Crusader’s most fervent fanatics. Star George Clooney recognized what a stinker he helped create and once plainly stated, “I think we might have killed the franchise.”

5. David Cross, Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. When actors have a movie out, it's customary that they publicize the film by saying nice things about it. Earlier this year David Cross took a different approach. When it came to describing his new film Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked, the veteran comedian — better known for Mr. Show and Arrested Development — went on Conan and called the film a “big commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines” and told people not to go see it.

6. Katherine Heigl, Knocked Up. Judd Apatow’s unplanned pregnancy comedy was a huge hit and helped cement her status as a bankable film actress. After the film’s release, however, Heigl didn’t have all good things to say. In fact, what she specifically said about it was that the film was:

"…A little sexist. It paints the women as shrews, as humorless and uptight, and it paints the men as lovable, goofy, fun-loving guys.”

7. Charlize Theron, Reindeer Games. The 2000 action film Reindeer Games starred Ben Affleck, Gary Sinese and Charlize Theron and was directed by John Frankenheimer. But it all somehow failed to come together. In the end the film lost a lot of money and compiled a wealth of negative reviews – including one from its star actress who simply said, “Reindeer Games was not a good movie.”

8. Mark Wahlberg, The Happening. Mark Wahlberg doesn’t exactly seem like a guy who lives his life afraid of trees. But that is the odd position M. Night Shyamalan’s 2008 film The Happening put him in. Wahlberg, as it turns out, doesn’t look back too fondly on the film. He went on record during a press conference for The Fighter when he described a conversation with a fellow actor:

"We had actually had the luxury of having lunch before to talk about another movie and it was a bad movie that I did. She dodged the bullet. And then I was still able to … I don’t want to tell you what movie … alright “The Happening.” F*** it. It is what it is. F***ing trees, man. The plants. F*** it. You can’t blame me for not wanting to try to play a science teacher. At least I wasn’t playing a cop or a crook."

9. John Cusack, Better Off Dead. John Cusack reportedly hated his cult 80s comedy so much that he walked out of the screening and later told the film’s director Steve Holland that Better Off Dead was "the worst thing I have ever seen" and he would "never trust you as a director again."

10 Christopher Plummer, The Sound of Music. The Sound of Music is considered a classic and has delighted many generations of fans. But the film's own lead actor, Christopher Plummer, didn't always sing its praises. Mr. Von Trapp himself declined to participate in a 2005 film reunion and, according to one acquaintance, has referred to the film as The Sound of Mucus.



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