Climbing the Stelvio by bike

If there is a climb that every cyclist must have done once then it's the Stelvio. The Stelvio is 'the special one' (no, it does not resemble José Mourinho). Everyone who has seen the hairpin bends leading to the top has never forgotten this sight again. Enormously impressive. For some it's a dream, for the others a nightmare. But everybody is very happy once they reach the top. Usually after a long fight, because it doesn't matter how you ride it, fast or slow, you will be in pain! But isn't that a bit of what we are looking for as cyclists?

The hairpin turns of the Stelvio

Climbing Mont Ventoux by bike

The Ventoux is probably one of the most mythical bike climbs around. Logical, because the climb is tall, steep and full of history. If the climb is not heavy enough on it's own, then there still is the wind, who can be strong and unpredictable. And if it does not blow, the cold or the sizzling heat will cause difficult conditions. In short, this 'bald mountain' rarely gets a gift. The climb of the Ventoux is a challenge for many men and women to ever be done. Therefore, you never drive alone on the mountain's steep slopes. Everybody is a hero here.

The Ventoux honors its name, the word vent means wind in French, and wind there is. The locals have even a name for the strong winds in the Provence region, it is called the "Mistral" here. The mountain is closed regularly because it blows too fast. Wind speeds up to 300 kilometers per hour have been measured. If that wind was the only thing that made the climb tough, then it would not be that hard. But the Mont Ventoux is also terribly steep and that for it's total length of about 13 miles (21 kilometers), maybe not continuous but more than enough to make it hard for every cyclist. And just when you think the hardest part is behind you, that wind will catch up again!

Mont Ventoux
Mont Ventoux towering over the Provence

Oasis - Wonderwall

Written by Noel Gallagher in 1995, the meaning of "Wonderwall" became one big misunderstanding. When the press assumed it was written for Gallagher's then-girlfriend, Meg Mathews, he could only admit this. However, after Gallagher divorced Mathews, he told a very different story: "The true story of "Wonderwall" was taken away from me by the media, and how do you tell your future wife it's not about her once she's read it is? In fact it's a song about an imaginary friend who's gonna come and save you from yourself"

Best live performance
Oasis live in Manchester in front of a huge crowd

Radiohead - Creep

Lead singer Thom Yorke wrote this song while he was a student and recorded it acoustic. A few years later he let Colin Greenwood (Radiohead's bass player) listen to it, who joined him and helped put the band together while they still were in college. And so Radiohead was born.

The song itself is about about being in love with someone, but not feeling good enough. Yorke describes it as: "There's the beautiful people and then there's the rest of us.". The song was released in 1992, but flopped. It was re-released just one year later after Radiohead grew a fan base and became a big hit.

Best live performance
Some nice haircuts back in the 90's

Queens of the Stone Age - Make it wit chu

The song was originally a track on a Desert Sessions album in 2003, entitled "I Wanna Make It wit Chu". The Desert Sessions was a side project Josh Homme started in 1997 after his band Kyuss split up. Homme brought together musicians from different other bands at the Rancho De La Luna in Joshua Tree. The ranch is an old house filled with rare and unique recording equipment and instruments and can be used as a studio. Songs are written "on the spot", often in a matter of hours. In 2007, 'Make It wit Chu' made it into the Queens of the Stone Age Era Vulgaris album and became a single.

Best live performance
QotsA performing live on Rock Werchter 2011

4 Non Blondes - What's up

4 Non Blondes could have been famous earlier, but Mother Nature decided otherwise. A few hours before their first rehearsal was planned on the 17th of october in 1989, an earthquake hit their hometown of San Fransisco. Nonetheless they kept practicing and with success: a few years later they became America's best unsigned band. They eventually signed a contract with Intersope, and with their first album in 1992 they had immediate succes with a number 1 hit: What's up.

Best live performance
This show from Chicago’s Vic Theater instantly brings us back to the 90's with torn jeans and flannel.

Kings of Leon - Sex on fire

In 2008, the Kings of Leon released their biggest hit so far: Sex on fire. As soon as the intro starts, the public is going wild and girls get their panties wet. The funny thing is the working title of the song was "Set Us on Fire". Nathan Followill explains: "They were totally different lyrics. Depending on whether a song starts with a melody or starts with lyrics, you know if it starts with a melody you just keep playing the melody over and over until you get it down and just throw in any lyrics that fit the verbal flow. This is a melody song. One of the sound mixers in the studio walked in as we were playing and said, "Sex on Fire", huh?" And so it became a running joke, and we stuck with it."

Best live performance
It's sex, and it's on fire.

Metallica - Nothing else matters

In 1990, James Hetfield was on the phone talking with his girlfriend. Holding the phone with one hand, he plucked the four open strings of a standard E-minor chord with the other, which created the first two bars of the song. The intro lyrics "so close, no matter how far", were also dedicated to his girlfriend, indicating the bond they shared even when he was on tour. Since Hetfield composed the song all by himself, it is one of the few Metallica songs in which he plays the guitar solo, and not Kirk Hammett, who didn't even learn how to play the song until they were well into the tour for the album "Metallica" where the track was listed.

Dire Straits - Money for nothing

Mark Knopfler wrote this song after hearing delivery men in a New York department store complaining about their jobs while watching MTV. He wrote the lyrics in that same store, sitting in a kitchen on display. Many of the lyrics were things they actually said. Knopfler wanted to copy ZZ Top's trademark guitar tone, as their music videos were already on high rotation on early MTV. Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top's guitarist) later told that Knopfler had solicited his help in replicating the tone, adding, "He didn't do a half-bad job, considering that I didn't tell him a thing!"

Kaleo - Way down we go

Originated deep in rural Iceland, the very American influenced folk and blues sound of Kaleo comes as a suprise. Prominently featuring a distinctive resonator sound, the melanchonic "Way down we go" was picked up by several movies and TV-shows. This caused a Hot 100 debut in January 2017, almost 2 years after the orinal release of the song in 2015.