1. ragdish says

    Still waiting for the punk rock version of Sound of Music with Johnny Rotten as Captain Von Trapp.

  2. Al Dente says

    I’m reminded of a bit Robin Williams said:

    <Lawrence Welk accent>Play that funky music, white boys</Lawrence Welk accent>

  3. Janine the Jackbooted Emotion Queen says

    PZ, I feel the need to point out that death metal has been around long enough that there are fans and musicians who are in their forties and fifties.

  4. says

    Yep, good ol’ death metal began destroying eardrums and leading innocent children into the clutches of Satan when I was at primary school in the early 80s (something had to pick up the Devil’s banner once the NWOBHM was over and LA-style glam metal, with its teased hair, pink lipstick and endless songs about groupies and partying sure as fuck wasn’t going to do it).

    And frankly, by the standards of the stuff I both listen to and have provided vocals for over the years (URLs on request, kids! :D), that up there was some pretty tame shit! Nonetheless I’m glad someone did it.

  5. says

    PS, this is a good time to mention my favourite documentary series ever – “Metal Evolution”! Find it somewhere – it’s a thorough (not not exhaustive) journey through metal’s roots (The Who!), its gods (it features one of the last interviews with DIO \m/), its sub-genres and modern practitioners. It’s by an anthropology student who’s a huge metal fan, so it’s both thorough and affectionate (he also did a great film called “Headbanger’s Journey” which inspired the series). Go now!

  6. says

    Hey Nate

    The origin of the “death grumble” – aka the guttural, atonal, demonic vocal style – is an interesting research question. First time I heard it was via the band Morbid Angel in the late 80s, but it’s certainly older than that. Screaming vocals have been part of popular music since at least the jazz era but as far as the metal growl goes I couldn’t definitively say. Motorhead frontman Lemmy has a naturally gruff voice and I’m sure that influenced a lot of later bands (as did their drummer, who pioneered the fast double kick-drum style that’s still utilised and evolving today). The advent of punk rock, with its spectrum of atonal and aggressive vocal styles, would no doubt have had an influence as well.

    As for Led Zeppelin, they’re right up there in the pantheon of bands that still influence metal today, but less in a directly stylistic manner (as LZ are less true metal and more blues & progressive melodic rock) and more in a thematic sense. Plant’s frequent lyrical forays into Middle Earth lore & fantasy influenced later rock gods such as Bruce Dickinson (Maiden!), Ozzy (Sabbath) and Mr R.J. Dio (post-Ozzy Sabbath, Rainbow, DIO); dark fantasy, occult lore and graphic gore later became the defining lyrical territory of death metal and its sub-genres. However it must be said that Jimmy Page’s production values & brilliant solos (which often exceeded 10-20 minutes live) and Plant’s soaring vocals had their own massive influence on later metal & hard rock acts. It’s hard to imagine the world of metal without technically brilliant, virtuosic bands like Judas Priest, Van Halen, Iron Maiden and their later godchildren like Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Whitesnake (esp with Steve Vai) and even Guns n Roses & The Mars Volta, all of which had amazing lead guitarists and wailing lead singers.

    I could probably spend all day tracing all sorts of lineages from Zeppelin (NTM other 60s/70s guitar lords like Hendrix, Clapton, Townshend & Beck) to the later metal gods, but it’s a sunny Sunday arvo here in Adelaide and I’d rather watch the doco series again with a pale ale :)

  7. says

    Janine the Jackbooted Emotion Queen (#3) –

    PZ, I feel the need to point out that death metal has been around long enough that there are fans and musicians who are in their forties and fifties.

    Yeah, and they did it because their parents subjected them to Lawrence Welk, Perry Como, Ray Coniff, Mike Douglas, and The Sound of Music, the last generation that had to put up with that music in their homes. Most teen generations just rebel, that one went full anarchist revolution.

  8. woozy says

    So, I never saw the movie. I take it this sound track in this video is somehow in opposition with most people’s memory and impression of the film? Were the grotesque animated characters in the movie or were they added to make this video creepy?

  9. chigau (違う) says

    I think that someone should remake/reboot Gilligan’s Island

    just sit right back
    and you’ll hear a tale

  10. HolyPinkUnicorn says

    @Janine #3

    PZ, I feel the need to point out that death metal has been around long enough that there are fans and musicians who are in their forties and fifties.

    Yeah, it hardly feels like youthful rebellion anymore when I realize that both Tom Araya and Kerry King of Slayer are in their 50s, along with Cronos of Venom. And as it’s been thirty years since the PMRC’s Filthy Fifteen, most of the artists on it are at least in their 50s or older. (That list always makes me smile just for its sheer diversity; where else do Prince, Sheena Easton, and Mercyful Fate come together?) And if you want to go even more extreme, Glen Benton of Deicide and the remaining (living) early members of Mayhem are all in their 40s. Fortunately none of them have calmed down and wandered off to become monks or something.

    As far as funny takes on certain genres of music, I still prefer the Disneyfield versions of heavy metal. Like a very upbeat version of Immortal’s “The Sun No Longer Rises,” or Gorgoroth’s “Incipit Santa” (not quite the original title). Both of these have way less views than death metal Mary Poppins, but are hilarious if you’re at all familiar with the original versions.

  11. woozy says

    The Vicar @14.

    I was being facetious. Although I haven’t seen the stupid movie, I am aware it exists.

    … which seems to be the entire humor of this video; every one knows death metal exists and every one knows Mary Poppins exists, yet somehow it’s supposed to be the height of shocking naughtiness for anyone to dare admit and they are actually simultaneously aware both exist.

    How shocking!

  12. lorn says

    Not bad, and I exceed the maximum demographic mentioned.

    After that , try the Conway Twitty Death Metal video. The Mary Poppins worked but Twitty doing death metal really clicks.

  13. Moggie says


    which seems to be the entire humor of this video; every one knows death metal exists and every one knows Mary Poppins exists, yet somehow it’s supposed to be the height of shocking naughtiness for anyone to dare admit and they are actually simultaneously aware both exist.

    How shocking!

    … what? Seriously, what? The humour is simply presenting a familiar song in a surprisingly different style, a gag which is probably as old as singing itself. The same guy (Andy Rehfeldt) has also done a Marilyn Manson song as polka, Metallica as smooth jazz, and has Disneyfied Slipknot. It’s ok if you don’t find this particularly amusing, but you seem to actually resent it, which strikes me as bizarre.

  14. photoreceptor says

    As wildly different remakes go, try the Beasty Boys singing “Nelly the Elephant”. #9, you left Pat Boone off the list (cringe). And for UK folk such as myself, I would add Val Doonican, famous for his knitted woollen sweaters. Now I’m on a roll, one of my main claims to fame is I went to school with one of the original Sex Pistols, Glenn Matlock (hi Glenn if you read this). Problem was he could actually play the guitar, which didn’t suit the image McLaren wanted to project, so he was replaced by Sid Vicious whose only credential was that he had beaten up a journalist. But Glenn did have a lasting impact on the school, a very traditional grammar school where the rules laid down in 1604 forbid hair to be longer than the shirt collar, and we were regularly sent home to get a short back and sides. One day Glenn came to school with his hair neat and tidy, but dyed orange. The headmaster was furious but it was not against school rules – so they rewrote the rules after nearly four centuries just to get him. Not bad.

  15. Sili says

    The humour is simply presenting a familiar song in a surprisingly different style, a gag which is probably as old as singing itself.

    It certainly grew old fast.

  16. Johnny Vector says

    Is there something wrong with me that I see this and all I can think of is Joss Whedon?

    When you hear their lawyers talking
    Saying our behavior’s shocking
    It’s convincing as a cockney
    Dick Van Dyke


  17. twas brillig (stevem) says

    re @6 asked:

    what is largely considered the first song with screaming/growls in it?

    I don’t know, but… The first song I heard, where screaming was a major part of the music (and not just dramatic effect: eg Careful with that Axe, Eugene), was Floyd’s most significant album: Dark Side of the Moon. The female voice of moaning/screaming always hit me as a faux-orgasm musically presented. I doubt it was meant that way, but my gutter mind simply hears it that way, regardless. [and certainly, it was space music, not ‘heavy metal’, by any means]

  18. anteprepro says

    Ah, I see we are having humor snobbery in response instead of the expected musical snobbery! I suppose I am pleasantly surprised.

  19. consciousness razor says

    Which makes me wonder… what is largely considered the first song with screaming/growls in it?

    A lot depends on how we define our terms.
    -What’s a “song”? If there’s a vocal performance, that’s enough, yes?
    -Where exactly do you draw some kind of a line with “screaming/growls”? Would you need to be able to say they sound just like this death metal person or whatever you call them? Or is it a more general question about altering vocal timbre in fairly similar ways for similar reasons?
    -Which cultures are we including? Are you only concerned with classical/folk music in Europe or the Mediterranean, or else stuff like this which more or less directly evolved from that? Or do you honestly mean to ask when/where it happened, full stop, anywhere on Earth no exceptions, because you really are wondering just what you say you’re wondering?
    -Maybe the most obvious assumption is that the singer is doing it intentionally, in order to get that sort of effect, instead of just being bad at “normal singing” or other cases like that. I’m assuming that…. Right?

    I guarantee you that metal is not going to be revolutionary stuff, no matter how we slice it. My first quick educated guess, making assumptions that seem fair to me, would be well over 1000 years ago. If there is an old fart who remembers that, and who was there before it was cool and before they sold out, then I humbly apologize and will get off your lawn.

  20. Trebuchet says

    @7: Bonnie Guitar, who is now 91, performs from time to time at the senior center where my wife’s aunt and uncle get lunch! She lives in Soap Lake, WA, at the southern end of the Grand Coulee.

  21. says

    “Ease into it, especially if you’re over 50 40 30 years old.”
    Hey, I’m 62. So why didn’t you include 60?
    I’m being discriminated against.

  22. Al Dente says


    If you’re over 60 then you’re automatically over 50. However as a 66 year old I can tell you to “Get off my lawn, kid!”

  23. birgerjohansson says

    BTW are people still blaming Marilyn Manson for the school shootings? Or are they blaming the atheist muslim communist-fascist*? It is hard to keep track of wingnuttia news.

    * aka the Kenyan Usurper.

  24. Alex says

    When talking about the history of death metal vocals, one has to mention Thomas Gabriel Fischer of Hellhammer, Celtic Frost and Triptykon.

  25. Numenaster says

    And when talking about double kick drums, one also has to mention that Ginger Baker of Cream was doing that 9 years before Motorhead formed. Sorry I can’t umlaut.

  26. Dark Jaguar says

    To those criticizing PZ for thinking this is “young people’s” music (and, sorry to say, it’s actually the young people’s parent’s music, modern kids listen to dubstep or something), let’s see just how well YOU keep track of what’s “hip” when you get to be that age!

    To paraphrase Abraham Simpson: I used to be with it, but then what I was with wasn’t it, and what was it was weird and scary to me. It’ll happen to YOU, and when it does I won’t recognize that, and assume your kids like the same things you did, and get every generation below me mixed up together!

    I first noticed this phenomenon back in the 80’s, when every kid’s show had some weird mustacheod hippy playing soft guitar and singing love songs about trees to us. “Stave it off, 1, 2, 3, and now we can count to 3! Isn’t that right woodland pals? All the world needs is love and acceptance!” Then we grew up, with THAT as our idea of what a hippy was, and when the real world smashed such simplistic drivel for what it was, our whole generation basically turned hippies into a word that means “someone who loves flowers but has no idea how reality works”. Those in power had no problem with this misunderstanding, nor did they take issue with us dismissing the lessons of Captain Planet when we realized just how badly made the actual characters and story were on that show. Let this be a lesson to those who would make fiction to teach kids valuable lessons: please don’t be insulting or glib, or the kids will throw the whole mess out, just like they did with the over-the-top DARE program when we found out the smell of pot didn’t make people instantly explode.

    Here’s a primer: People 30 years old like Metal. People 20 years old like alternative college rock. People 10 years old think metal is “old people music”. No joke, that’s how they see it. They like the music from Frozen and dubstep and whatever music is in “Five Nights at Freddy’s”. Get your generations mixed up, and people look at you as “out of touch” (which, to be fair, is LITERALLY what you are when you make that mistake).

    One other important lesson. Yesterday’s “edgy” is tomorrow’s cliche. Memorize it. Make it a tattoo. I grew up on TV and movies that taught me that corporate big wigs are so evil they actually WANT to destroy the environment and laugh at the kids “saving the city park”. They also had the “counter culture rebel” teaching us all that you don’t need jobs or a suit or to fit in, you just needed to BE YOURSELF and everything would be totally excellent. Also that guy always surfed. Heck, they even stuck one of those characters as the “cool grandma” character in Grumpy Old Men. This is because those shows were made BY people who grew up when those messages actually WERE original. Now, they’re dated and cliche. So, when an old person says something they think is shocking, half the time it’s actually something we heard from the red ranger in Power Rangers or a My Little Pony already taught us, and it’s about as effective.

    Also, there are no curse words any more. Shit and fuck are now, officially, punctuation marks. Basically the only people that can’t say those words are politicians and anyone on broadcast TV. Probably also radio, I guess? I should turn one on at some point, just for nostalgia’s sake.

    I guess the main bullet point here? You’re old, and you say things old people say. Drink some mountain dew and rap or something.

    *Note: The main message that the environment is worth protecting and that equality is a plus are STILL as valid as they’ve always been. This is absolutely true. I just wish that people above a certain threshold would at least recognize that the message is actually engrained into millenials at birth. It’s not that none of them heard it before, it’s that it’s become SUCH a common message, SUCH a cliche, that when they hear someone phrase the opposite in a new way, the original wrong headed thinking BECOMES edgy, without even trying. This is why weird phrases like “I know it’s not politically correct for me to say this, but, something horribly sexist!” You hear that from the younger generations, because to them it actually IS something running counter to what they’ve been hearing over and over again their whole lives.

    A depressing thought, is it not?