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November 06, 2008 - Image 12

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-11-06

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4B - Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4
4

MUSIC NOTEBOOK
For the love
of nu-metal

Apparently not everyone embraced the peace, love and flower power of the '60s.

ComplCated' Men
Rich characters push heady drama over the top
By Trina Mannino I Daily Arts Writer

By JACK PORTER
Daily Arts Writer
I don't like the idea of "guilty
pleasures" when it comes to art.
If someone likes a song, that per-
son probably has a good reason for
it, despite the biases of his or her
peers. Perhaps these biases just
obscure those reasons and could
be uncovered with some careful
investigation. In my case, I want
to salvage an entire musical genre
from ridicule: Nu-Metal.
Unfortunately, some barriers
prevent listeners from under-
standing Nu-Metal bands apart
from the identity that genre label
has given them - picture a bone-
headed suburban white kid sport-
ing a backwards baseball cap.
What used to be a descriptor for a
specific strain of alternative metal
turned into aghetto for every band
that a) plays extremely heavy yet
radio-friendly music and b) sucks.
Because the genre came to be
definedby its lack of quality, many
"serious" music fans have missed
out on what it has to offer.
Some auditory hallmarks of
Nu-Metal are seven-string gui-
tars (meaning lower notes than
usual), horror-film inspired atmo-
spherics, funk bass-playing and
hip-hop drumming. Lyrics often
deal with emotional issues in a
direct and conversational tone,
avoiding hidden meanings or pre-
tentious turns of phrase. Subject
matter includes feelings of inferi-
ority, abandonment, jealousy and
paranoia. This lyrical intimacy,
coupled with primal rhythms and
spooky ambiance, gives rage a
powerful musical vehicle.
Korn, the pioneer of the genre,
crafted dozens of enthralling
songs, among them "B.B.K." The
bass guitar has been mixed to
sound like rattling bones, nearly
devoid of mid-range tones. Mean-
while, the atonal guitar line is
contrasted with blasts of white
noise, making for an unsettling
soundscape colored with terror
and loss. Sonic juxtapositions map
trajectories of emotional turmoil,
sudden and lurching. Frontman
Jonathon Davis sings, "Life some-
times pisses me off / It's never a
good trip for me / Every time I
reach for love / It's taken away."
The lyrics are raw and elemental,
like pages from a diary. Some-
times, a straightforward approach
can better servea bitter tirade.
Influenced in equal. part by
Korn and the death metal genre,
Mudvayne sought a middle
ground between "nu" and "old"
metal. In their breakout single
"Dig," the bass takes center stage

over the guitar grind, popping
chords that sound like the chimes
of a possessed grandfather clock.
Here the lyrics take the rage
route, decrying the music indus-
try: "I struggle in violated space /
Sell out motherfuckers in the biz
that try to fuck me / Hang from
their T's rated P.G. insight /I ain't
sellin' my soul when there's noth-
ing to buy." Frantic and explosive,
the instrumental mayhem adds
unique textural dimension to his
rant.
In a less-serious vein, Limp
Bizkit used the nu-metal sound as
a way to spin testosterone fueled
fantasies into snarky white-boy
rap. Oddly, audiences took front-
man Fred Durst more seriously
than he wanted, failing to see the
intentional silliness in many of his
songs."Break Stuff"was the prime
example, a tall tale about a bad day
made better with wanton destruc-
tion. Using a tight hip-hop beat
and the bare minimum of power
chords necessary to get the mes-
sage across, its simplicity serves
the joke well. If anything proves
the tongue-in-cheek nature of the
song, it's the bridge, where Durst
Limp Bizkit,
Mudvayne and
Korn: more than
just '90s noise.
claims to "pack a chainsaw." Both
parody and accidental archetype,
"Break Stuff" became the blue-
print for countless inferior (and
deadly serious) songs like Linkin
Park's "One Step Closer"
Korn or Limp Bizkit weren't
musical geniuses. They merely
found an aesthetic that was per-
fect for adolescent catharsis. Their
utter lack of pretension was taken
as stupidity rather than clarity of
expression. The problem is that
this faux-movement got co-opted
by less creative bands and turned
into soulless schlock. Even so,
we shouldn't abandon the sounds
that were created within. Mixing
hip hop with rock doesn't have
to be tacky; seven-string guitars
can world well in any genre; and
anger is an emotion we all need
to cope with. Daring musicians
should repurpose these sounds
and ideas rather than banishing
them to obscurity. Nu-metal may
have died, but it doesn't have to be
a lost cause.

i

The days when business-
men had three-martini
lunches, chain-smoked on
planes and kept women out of the
boardroom may be long gone. But
yesteryear can be remembered -
and, for some, seen for the first
time - on "Mad Men." Unlike
many shows on cable and network
TV, the Emmy-winning series
takes cues from dramas that push
the envelope.
The mystique of "Mad Men" is
driven by its flawed and complex
characters. By the design of cre-
ator, writer and producer Mat-
thew Weiner - also known for
his work on "The Sopranos" - the
characters make mistakes and
have less-than-noble intentions.
And like their counterpoints on
"The Sopranos," "Weeds" and
"Six Feet Under," they aren't
virtuous or kind. Though most
people won't personally relate to
a 300-pound mob bogs or a mom
who deals pot, the characters'
flaws as well as their honorable
intentions are relatable. Shows
like "Mad Men" offer uniquesto-
rylines and characters without
relying on cliches or redundan-
cies. Their flawed characters and
social commentaries speak to
all people because the issues are
prevalent in daily life.
"Mad Men" 's flawed protago-
nist,DonDraper(JonHamm,TV's
"What About Brian"), has dabbled
in countless extramarital affairs
while simultaneously acting as a
doting father, husband and hard
worker at the fictional Sterling
Cooper advertising firm. At first
glance, Don's actions and secrets
are despicable and off-putting,
but when he realizes the impact
of his mistakes on his family, it's
hard not to sympathize with him.
Throughout the two elapsed sea-
sons, Don's past has been slowly

revealed, offering a glimpse of the
driving forces behind his poor and
selfish decisions. Though it's dif-
ficult to forget his slip-ups, Don's
actions become somewhat under-
standable in the context of his
marred past.
Don's stand-offish demeanor
and his success in advertising rub
off on his unlikely protege, Peggy
Olson (Elisabeth Moss, "Girl,
Interrupted"). Like her myste-
rious boss, Peggy has her own
secrets to keep. Many of her co-
workers think of her as a prude
goody two-shoes, but she actu-
ally has shocking skeletons in her
closet. In season one, while work-
ing as a secretary at Sterling Coo-
per, Peggy showed that she has a
strong work ethic and more balls
than the men she works during the
first few months on the job. While
she is a savvy individual, Peggy
seemed like an unlikely candi-
date to rise in the company simply

because she is a woman. To the
surprise of many, however, Peggy
was promoted from an unimport-
ant secretary to a junior copy-
writer with her own office space.
At the conclusion of the second
season, it's clear that Peggy and
Don are more alike than initially
perceived.
"Mad Men" 's characters are
more realistic and multi-dimen-
sional than most others on TV. For
example, the ongoing romance in
ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" between
characters Meredith Grey and
Derek Shepherd (McDreamy)
is self-indulgent, wildly unre-
alistic in a hospital setting and,
at this point, downright annoy-
ing. In addition to melodramas
like "Grey's Anatomy," numerous
crime dramas - like the "CSI"
franchise - largely depict cops
and agents as heroes in pursuit
of stereotypical criminals. Unlike
melodramas and crime shows,

"Mad Men" gives voice to charac-
ters inspired by real people who
make both good and bad choices
without always facing conse-
quences or receiving rewards.
In addition to the show's
authentic characters, "Mad Men"
integrates social and political
issues into the storyline, like the
roles of women in the workforce
and the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Incorporating historical events
and issues allows the show to elu-
cidate how these events affected
Americans. "Mad Men" doesn't
feel like another boring history
lesson; instead, these events pro-
vide a realistic perspective on
what actually happened during
that time. For example, watching
both the male and female employ-
ees of Sterling Cooper grieve Mar-
ilyn Monroe's death shows how
much of an impact the icon had on
everyday people.
Unlike many films and TV
shows depicted in the early '60s,
"Mad Men" sheds a dark light on
an era that is often regarded as
perfect. Through Don's dysfunc-
tional relationship with his family
and the male characters' patroniz-
ing interactions with their female
associates show that the early '60s
was far from perfect. "Mad Men"
reveals that its characters and
today's families and professionals
experience similar challenges.
Although it may not draw as
many viewers as network dramas,
the show refuses to imitate the
style of popular television pro-
grams. Instead, it follows the foot-
steps of groundbreaking shows.
like "The Sopranos" in terms of
depicting unconventional char-
acters and storylines. "Mad Men"
refuses tonormalize its characters
and makes a compellingstatement
about personal and professional
life in the early '60s.

I

SEXY RADIO
From Page 1B
the different experiences of each
DJ enable them to share all kinds
of stories and answer all kinds of
questions. Their lack of expertise,
though, is actually refreshing: it
might be intimidating to bring
awkward questions to a therapist,
or even to a friend. But under the
veil of anonymity and with a touch
of good humor, "Shagnet" presents
itself as a safe and comfortable
place, one that doesn't judge.
"This show is only semi-serious;
we don't take ourselves too serious-
ly," Linn said. "But we definitely try
to offer honest, frank advice sjmilar
to what you might get from a friend.
Basically, we're the friend you can
talk to, but you don't have to say
your real name."
And like any sex show, "Shag-
net" receives a collage of joke
questions from people with fake
names and barely stifled snicker-
ing. Yet the voices of "Shagnet"
put them on the air and run with
them, crafting clever answers
without so much as a hint of hesi-
tation. Part of the charm of the
show is this sense of ridiculous-
ness, with listeners unsure as to
whether or not the questions are
fabricated or real. Does Dirk, a
film student from North Campus,
really want to know what to call
his tawdry new film project? Does
it matter? In any case, it allows
the resident "sexperts" of "Shag-
net" to brainstorm such gems as
"Pancake Pornucopia" and "Mr.
Dick's Opus."
This blurring of fact and fiction
pervades the show and adds to its
charm. Maybe the dynamic group
didn't actually host the show
naked three weeks ago. Maybe
Kueser wasn't actually engaging
in bondage during the Hallow-
een episode. But again, maybe

the facts are irrelevant: Although
there may be some embellishment
for the purpose of entertainment,
the show's objective is to inform,
talk openly about taboo subjects
and serve as a welcoming place
for those who may have uncom-
fortable questions.
There's also atouch of self-dep-
recation: shout-outs to listeners
are often accompanied by quali-
fications like "if anyone is listen-
ing." But it seems people are. For
all the silly questions, there are
serious, earnest ones, too, ques-
tions from people who worry
about being self-conscious during
sex, or people who are question-
ing their sexuality. From queries
WCBN's
light-hearted
sex radio for
students.
about how to meet other lesbians
to how to tell if someone likes you
back, these are questions that
many people have, and the hosts
do their best to respond to them.
"A lot of people stress out about
sex problems too much," Linn
said. "If you take sort of a light-
hearted approach, it makes the
issues more approachable and
more manageable."
The majority of the humorous
anecdotes are there for exactly
that purpose. They are instances
of people using their own experi-
ences, embarrassing or otherwise,
to help others. And most of them
are genuine. Except maybe one of
them, at least.
"I have to level with you, I did
not have sex with Satan," Linn said.
What arelief.

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