Monday, October 10, 2011

Why is Metal Not Popular?

The term "heavy metal" was first used in a musical sense in the '60s song ‘Born to Be Wild’ by Steppenwolf when they referred to "heavy metal thunder."  The genre was derived from blues-rock and psychedelia of the late '60s and began in prototype form with Black Sabbath.

Metal is a hugely diverse genre which can incorporate the melodic, the atmospheric, the avant-garde, the complex, and the out-and-out pummelling. It is so varied that there is very little (sonically) in common between the full-frontal attack of death metal and the gentle hurdy-gurdiness of European folk metal. The genre is the most inclusive 'world music' bar none. Despite the lack of radio airplay or MTV exposure, metal remains a vital force in music today, with sell-out concert tours and CDs selling impressive numbers of copies.

Ronnie James Dio popularized the sign of the horns in heavy metal.
Given that other perceived niche genres such as dance or hip-hop are well represented, if tokenistically, you have to wonder why there is still such a stigma and snobbery around the canonization of metal.

Since its genesis, metal music has been an ‘outsider art,’ looking inside society from the basic position of ‘I don't like what I see.Metal appeals to the darker recesses of human nature. Society fears the outsider and aims to suppress or hide humanity's dark side.

The majority among the population just want a catchy beat- because it's easy, turn on the radio and there it is. Finding great music takes a lot of time to dig through and a good chunk of the people just don't care to do so. The top-40 radio is the poppy end of the scale, easily recognizable and simplistic, repetitive melodies, lyrics and concepts which your average, not particularly fussed, music fan can understand.

There are plenty of reasons why the mainstream press won't touch it though. For a start, the ten-minute epics, complex song structures, and odd timing used by bands like Tool or others, does not generally lend itself to radio play or the dance floor.

Most people don't really understand what metal is about and can't get past the noise, aggression and perceived lack of melody. It takes either a concerted effort or repeated exposure to get into and appreciate metal. Often with metal, the more commercial it is, it is inevitably a watered-down version; metal is an extreme and confrontational sound that if watered-down would simply not be metal anymore.

Distribution of Metal bands by countries

What is quite irksome is the sheer narrow-mindedness of people who say things like 'all metal is rubbish and nothing will convince me otherwise', or ‘metal is for dummies, it all sounds the same, it's for adolescent males, etc. I fail to see how people can praise ‘musicians’ like LMFAO who sing banal lyrics about partying or, syrupy slop of auto-tuned nothingness of Akon and Black Eyed Peas; yet say that bands like Gojira, who write music far surpassing mainstream bands in its virtuosity and complexity, are bereft of musical merit.

The general public has held a stereotype of metal fans being suicidically depressed and a danger to themselves and society in general. Not all metal-heads are sociopathic trench coat-wearing outsiders; people are often shocked when I mention my music tastes as outwardly I am pretty far away from most people's idea of a metal-head. No tattoos, no piercings- pretty ordinary, in fact.

In terms of skill, it is very intricate, and one of the most difficult forms of music to play. When it comes to bands like Opeth, the music can be like mini-symphonies, and the arrangements share a lot with classical music and jazz, including a lot of the keys and scales. It's not always easy to listen to, and like any genre, metal has some awful pap. The difference tends to be that those who are not into metal seem only to identify metal with some of the worst stuff. Metal is a genre that's easy to mock, but it's also hugely fun and welcoming. And the skill with which most musicians ply their trade is simply breathtaking.

Swedish extreme metal band Meshuggah playing at a concert.
Unlike other genres, metal bands have a tendency to be very long lived while most popular artists come and go. Now, imagine what it would mean for the music industry was forced to negotiate mostly with highly successful metal artists who have a large fan base. Such artists would have a much stronger position in negotiations than ‘one hit wonders’. I cannot imagine that the record industry likes this thought. There is longevity in most rock/metal bands, whereas the tripe in the charts is made just for a quick fix.

Then there’s the fashion element. In metal, there is no requirement for fans to submit to it, nor is it changing fast. In other words: there is simply no pressure for fans to always buy the latest metal fashion and THAT is really bad news for fashion designers! The hip-hop fashion seems to be changing regularly while the two biggest developments in metal were the disappearance of spandex pants and the abandonment of ‘hair spray’. To me, this does not sound as if metal fashion could ever be a big earner.

The ‘proud to be ugly’ attitude that you find a lot in the metal scene only adds up to this. On a serious note, how do you want to get a music scene excited about ‘good looks’ when most fans could not care less about whether somebody has a pot belly or not? Different looking individuals and bands are thought of as just that - different. Image counts for very little in metal - the fans can see beyond the image where the music is all-important, something that in pop music by definition will never happen.

In spite of having clocked more than 40 years of existence, the genre has continued to captivate the attention of fans of all ages, all over the planet. It will continue to do so for a long time to come; a very long time to come.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Support File Sharing

Tired of the entertainment industry treating you like a criminal for wanting to share music and movies online? The entertainment industry has threatened innovation in P2P systems and many other tools that help you get more from your media. And it could get even worse - the industry is pushing Governments all over the World to ratchet up civil and criminal sanctions for file sharing and to restrict innovation.

And there’s no end in sight; new lawsuits are filed monthly, and now they are supplemented by a flood of "pre-litigation" settlement letters designed to extract settlements without any need to enter a courtroom. 

The music industry initially responded to P2P file sharing as it has often responded to disruptive innovations in the past: it sent its lawyers after the innovators, hoping to smother the technology in its infancy. Beginning with the December 1999 lawsuit against Napster, the recording industry has sued major P2P technology companies one after the other: AudioGalaxy, Morpheus, Kazaa, LimeWire and Pirate Bay. In short, suing the technology has never worked.

Every time you download something for nothing a record company boss has to adjust his lifestyle; especially in these trying times where it has become increasingly difficult for music industry executives to maintain a truly opulent lifestyle. RIAA and MPIAA offices are piled high with cheap bottles of glue and bags of chips. In fact, word was out last week that a record company executive had to cook for himself; at least he had someone to do the dishes.

People talk about it being a crime– at least technically; but taking money from the pocket of someone like Simon Cowell is about as close to a victimless crime as it’s possible to get, surely?

How can I, in good conscience, pay money for some music when I know that some of that money might ultimately end up supporting someone like 50 cent or Fergie? It’s a risk I’m simply not prepared to take.

Given the choice between paying for something, or getting the same thing completely free, is not much of a choice at all. Is it? If you have a situation where 90% of your population is doing something that is deemed illegal, then it’s not really a very good law.

I'm never going to pay for music downloads; therefore they have lost nothing from me. What they gain though is my love for certain artists I’d never otherwise listen to if I had to pay for it.

Why stop with music? Everything from movies, PC games, books, software programs, TV series are applicable for file sharing.

What next? Ban Wikipedia for informing the world?

I’ll end the article with these quotes:
"Music is everybody's possession. It's only publishers who think that people own it."
-John Lennon

“Since the dawn of time, human beings have felt the need to share – from food to art. Sharing is part of the human condition. A person who does not share is not only selfish, but bitter and alone.”
-Paulo Coelho, Brazilian novelist.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

PART III: Billy suggests little more new words

Continuation from PART II: Billy suggests some more new words 

and  PART I: Billy suggests some new words

41. The act of worshipping pointless animals such as cats and cows in ancient Egypt and modern India respectively.

42. To determine the exact amount of tolerance and patience limit of your significant other.

43. The delusion suffered by the masses that their vote will put somebody good into office for once.
44. The feeling of being slightly annoyed, but cannot pinpoint the reason.

45. Sneezing more than thrice in a row, thus appearing as a seasoned head-banger.

46. Moaning about the bleak fact of self-induced obesity while munching on a BigMac.

47. Strangers offering you unsolicited advice when least expected on pointless and meaningless aspect of your pointless and meaningless life.

48. Misguided optimism when buying a can of Pringles, only to find that they are broken into sub-atomic fragments.

49. The questionable white stains left on your crotch while eating a Subway sandwich.
50. The act of living through the torture in a trans-Atlantic flight because the batteries in your iPod died soon after take-off.

51. Unfortunate ordeal of being behind a massive truck in a single lane road which you cannot overtake for the next 20 km.

52. The glare received from innocent by-standers when you fart in an elevator.

53. The moment your teacher hands you over a sealed letter addressed to your parents.

54. The bizarre phenomena of the handrails in the escalator traveling faster than the steps.

55. A cold so severe that it feels as though you are crapping your brains out of your nasal cavity.

56. The situation when nobody laughs at your joke you think is hilarious.

57. Waking up for the only morning class and impatiently waiting for 20 minutes, only to find out that it’s been cancelled.

58. The event of being mistaken for a celebrity whom you truly despise.

59. Annoying insistence of a vegetarian to eat only in strictly vegetarian restaurants.

60. The day when no one remembers your birthday.

Monday, February 28, 2011

UNarticle: The A - Z of U.N.

As the world rolls slowly on towards its almost certain doom, we leave far behind us the gentler era of our parents and grandparents, that era in which restraint was a virtue and saying exactly what one thought was simply not comme il faut.

But now, anger is given free rein, tongues are unleashed, the dogs of war are let loose to savage the ankles of any who cross us. Displaying equanimity in the face of adversity is a commendable quality and these are times when one has to give vent to one’s true feelings and come out openly and call a steaming pile of excrement a steaming pile of excrement without mincing words. With that in mind, let the assault commence:


I admit to the fact that I made up the last one to preserve the essence of the article.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

A Tribute To Rafael Benitez

Author's note: This is not my work so I can't take any credit for this.

A change, 2004, in our man came,
Uefa, and two La Ligas he'd claimed.
Rafael Benitez was the new man,
To win the league title, that was the plan.

Let's start from the top, new signings to come,
And out with a Judas, who later turned scum.
The first league campaign was no great success,
But please wait right there, while I tell you the rest.

The road was no easy towards Istanbul.
Some Greeks came traveling, Anfield was full.
Yet at half time, we're down in the dump,
But come 90 mins, we're back with a thump.

It was the Captain, who made us say wow,
Ya Beauuuty, take a bow son, take a bow.
Thats the group stages done, off they could trot,
Ready and confident, to take on the lot.

First were the Germans, six was the sum,
Lil Luis scored most, sucking his thumb.
Next some Italians, based in Turin,
Beaten by Luis, with help from big Finn.

Next came opponents back on home soil,
By the end of the game, tempers reached boil.
Did it go over? We'll never know,
What was to follow, thats just Mourinho.

Ghost goal maybe, but we didn't care,
Off to Istanbul, Milan waiting there.
First half was poor, and not without blunder,
But at 45, Rafa worked wonders.

Up till the pens, lead by a hero,
The score rose to three, from a pitiful zero .
Then came the pens, fans didn't dare look,
But those brave boys, good penalties they took.

And when that great Pole, saved from Shevchenko,
It cued the party, Liverpool went mental. 

So what a tale, and thats what you can achieve,
When you have that special man, who makes you believe.
So walk on Rafa, good luck, conquer the seas,
Because in our red hearts, you always shall be.

The Evolution of Balls

A lot of people are complaining about the current World Cup Balls. No surprise, like everything balls are constantly evolving.

I was reminded of this on a trip to my uncle’s house this weekend. If you walk in my uncle’s house the first thing you'll notice is my uncle's old balls on display up-front.

He's proud of the old heavy-leather things. Although a little fuzzy and worn from years of being played with, they're actually quite interesting to look at.

Compared with my own, the first thing you'll notice is how unsymmetrical they are, the second is the stitching up the side tied together with laces. This stitching again highlights their eccentricity.
My uncle talks of the old glory days when someone might get the painful sting of laces in the mouth if the ball curved unexpectedly.

It's rare I've been given the opportunity to kick one of my uncle's balls. First thing I notice though is how heavy they are. You really need to kick them hard for them to move. Compared to my own more nimble balls, they really take a slogging - it gives you respect for the older generation- you couldn't be a pansy if you took to the field with balls like these.

My nephew has started playing football now. He doesn't have full-size balls yet, but he's learning how to play with them and control them. At first glance you'll notice they're more colourful than mine- but I think there is a lot more thought and cutting edge technology in his than mine will ever have- it's not just about how they look. My nephew’s balls have been through wind-tunnels and computer simulations to reach perfection.

So before anyone complains about their balls. Stop, they're constantly changing. Everyone is given the same opportunities, some are just better at controlling theirs than others.

I do recommend though, for you to respect your elders, if they even give you the opportunity to kick one of their balls, take it. It's a memory that will stay with you a long time- and give you a lot of respect for the heavy-unwieldy old things they had to lug around.

PART II: Billy suggests some more new words

Continuation from PART I: Billy suggests some new words

21. Commercial organizations attempting to diversify into a market inconsistent with the company’s reputation. E.g.: Davidoff selling chocolates and coffee.

22. When telephoning a large corporation, the short pause which tells you that your (limited) enjoyment of the lo-fi light music is about to be interrupted by a snotty-voiced recorded woman informing you that your call is important to them, but not important enough to be answered right away, or possibly ever.

A typical Starbucks menu that offers more than 223 varieties of
23. Offering a bewildering variety of options that it is impossible for the customer to get what they want. E.g.: Starbucks’ refusal to serve an ordinary cup of coffee.

24. The disgusting tactic of swapping price stickers at an upmarket clothing chain store.

25. The realization that cheap macho-WWF lines will not get you hooked up with a woman at a bar.

26. Indecisive and aimless shoppers pedalling back and forth across like ants.

27. Ready prepared meals which claim to serve two people despite containing less than half a mouthful of food. Their target market is tragic bachelors who don’t even know how to boil an egg.

28. The irrational feeling of shame inspired by accidentally producing the wrong loyalty card in a supermarket.

29. The feminine art of parking. Abandoning a motor vehicle in a convenient position which is out of the way of others rather than proving something which can’t quite be defined by maneuvering the car into a space so small that everybody has to get out through the sunroof or by shattering the windscreen.

30. The wounded look on the face of a techno-freak mobile phone owner who has just realized that someone else in the room has the same phone.

31. An acronym that everybody insists on repeating the last word of. See PIN number, ATM machine, HIV Virus or LCD Display.

32. The subtle vibration which indicates that you are using a mouse whose rollers haven’t been cleaned recently.

33. A person who derives inexplicable satisfaction from removing food from the microwave before it finishes the last beep.

34. Microsoft’s irresistible urge to release a pointless operating system platform every 3 years.

35. To discover by experimentation that a shatterproof ruler isn’t really shatterproof.

36. The glance of envy bestowed on someone who is using a parking spot next to the disabled zone.

37. The state of a dilapidated book, after repeated and drastic efforts to persuade the thing to lie open flat have resulted in the pages coming loose from the binding.

38. Guilty awareness that the hinges on one’s spectacles should have been tightened months ago.

39. Uncomfortable atmosphere generated in a telephone conversation, caused by the other party waiting for a segment of conversation predictable enough to allow him to change the handset to his other ear without missing something important.

40. To look oneself up on the internet- an entirely new form of self abuse for the digital age.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Twitter me this, twitter me that!

I don't Twitter yet – or Tweet, or Twit – but I'm told I should. I can't remember anything else ever sweeping the globe as quickly as this thing has. Two years ago, I don't know that I'd even heard of Twitter, now I can't watch five minutes of the news without someone mentioning it. As well as millions of average nobodies like you and me, celebs, politicians, terrorists, and who-knows-who else is Tweeting.
Call me a luddite, but I refuse to contemplate twitter. The clue is in the first four letters. Have I mentioned that I don't like twitter?

Anyway, I haven't blogged for a while. This could probably imply that I have an offline life or I couldn't think of anything to write for 6 months.