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Everybody has an opinion about Mariah Carey. I find folks go to extremes of either loving her or disliking her a whole lot. For the first few years of her career, I veered toward the dislike side of the spectrum. I was not a big fan of her ballads or her attempts at danceable pop.

Then, one night in August of 1998, I was trying to keep cool in my sweltering Harlem studio apartment by lying on the floor in front of a fan. I happened to be listening to the radio, New York's ubiquitous urban hit factory Hot 97, and heard the song that changed my opinion of Mariah forever: "Breakdown".

The song is an R&B/Hip-Hop crossover ballad about the heartache of post-breakup unrequited love, something almost all of us have experienced. Mariah's lyrics shimmer with sadness as she asks, "Do you cling to your pride, and sing "I will survive"? Do you lash out and say, "How dare you leave this way?" Do you hold on in vain as they just slip away?"

The song also features Bone Thugs-n-Harmony who harmonize throughout, "Break, breakdown. Steady breakin' me on down" and pose the profound question, "Whose shoulder can a thug go cry on?"

I remember heading down to the Virgin store in Times Square to purchase the cd single of the song, the first and only Mariah record I've ever purchased. Although it's been many moons since I first heard "Breakdown" I still find myself occasionally pulling the cd single off the shelf to give it a listen. Today was one of those days. You can hear it and see the video here. Even though her latest work has been admired, to me "Breakdown" is Mariah at her best.

My AFI love continues unabated due to their live concert dvd, I Heard A Voice.

The actual concert was filmed at the Long Beach Arena last fall. I wanted to go to the show but I was a little worried I'd get smashed in a mosh pit or something.

Thankfully, I got the dvd as a birthday present so I can now watch the show from the relative safety of my living room. I've been watching parts of it every day for the past week.

To see why, you can watch the live performance of "Silver and Cold" from I Heard A Voice here. If you think you're going to have a hard time getting past AFI's tattoos, the theatrical makeup and the hair dye, just remember, both Little Richard and Prince wear make-up and James Brown straightened the heck out of his hair and wore a cape on stage.

"Silver and Cold" is one of my favorite AFI songs anyway, but this live version of the song really sucks me in every time I hear it, especially when everyone sings the chorus:

Your sins into me, oh, my beautiful one. Your sins into me, whoa.
As a rapturous voice escapes I will tremble a prayer and I'll beg for forgiveness.
Your sins into me, Your sins into me oh, my beautiful one.

I dubbed the audio of the entire concert onto cd so I can listen to this version of "Silver and Cold" anytime I want to. You may not want to watch the entire dvd, but go ahead, give this clip a listen.

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