Way, way back I was hanging with some friends at my seldom-seen co-blogger’s house and his older brother had some tapes sitting on a shelf. One tape in particular caught my eye. W.A.S.P.’s Inside the Electric Circus.
I made to listen to it when one of my friends asked me a question that gets to the very heart of who I am as a person.
Why do you like everything bad?
I don’t know why I like everything bad. It’s something I’ve puzzled over for years. Decades really. Embedded in the question was a plea- please don’t subject me to any more crap.
My friends have all experienced it. I become obsessed with things that no one else gets or likes. I’ve made them listen to the cheesiest punk rock, the dumbest possible rap songs, watch terrible movies- in one of the more terrible things I did to my friends I made them sit through two John Waters movies in a row. Why?
I don’t know. It’s not because I’m trying to be mean to my friends. It’s that I really like some things that, for whatever reason, society doesn’t see that same value in.
Let’s talk for a second about what’s bad. By bad I don’t mean I don’t like it. 90% of all arguments could be averted if instead of people saying “____ sucks” they said something more like “It’s just not something I’m into”, because that’s what they really mean. Also, by bad I’m not making a moral judgement, i.e. saying something is bad for society, or even sillier, bad for the children, because for the most part moral judgements aren’t interesting to me if they involve the finished product. If, for instance, a child molester makes a song that I like, say this one:
that’s moral problem, because if I buy his record I am possibly giving material support to a bad person. If, however, someone writes a song encouraging people to join the Church of Satan, I don’t know, I just don’t care. It would have to be something truly egregious for me to care.
When I say bad, I mean something just didn’t come out right. I don’t think W.A.S.P. set out to write a song that cheesy. It’s not even a song that’s bad to listen to. It just didn’t succeed in some important way, in this case, it sounds like they were trying to be menacing and it’s just not that menacing.
But I’ll admit that badness is subjective. For instance, Dio holding a sword like he’s swinging a baseball bat should make me think this is a bad video
But I can’t say that. It’s an awesome video. Because Dio was a strange little man with an amazing voice and I can totally see him being a dirty barbarian swordsman. On the other hand, that dude from Def Leppard swinging a comically huge sword? I’m not even sure what they’re going for here:
Then again, maybe something can’t fail at a metric that I can’t establish.
Maybe one explanation is that I learn from failure. Something that doesn’t work has moving parts that I can pick apart and understand. On the other hand, something too perfect is impossible to learn from. What would you learn from something like this?
I’d learn- give up, writing perfect pop songs is way too hard. Really, that’s it. There’s nothing to pick apart in this song, because everything works. Really. There’s nothing I would add or take away from it.
That’s not to say that I like it all that much, or listen to it in the car, because it’s just not relevant to my life. It’s not my thing.
And maybe more to the point, there’s nothing to take away from the song because it’s a perfect whole. There’s not any one thing that sticks out. Contrast that with, say Mamma Mia
It’s not a bad song by any means, but not all of it works to the same degree. I like the guitar lick that Bjorn does. I like pause when they sing just one look and I hear a bell ring. Little things. I can take something away from listening to the song that maybe I can use in my own life.
To be continued