Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Why Is Cookie Monster Still Here?
Why are metal bands still doing cookie monster vocals? Why do people still like it? Why do I care?
Through my teaching I have gotten exposure to some very ambitious music that falls under the heading of metal. Some of these musicians have skill levels that are vastly superior to those of a generation ago.
Here's Jeff Loomis, a young guitarist whose technique and classically influenced compositions go far beyond Yngwie Malmsteen, once considered the absolute master of this style.
OK, you might consider that tasteless shredding, but the talent and sophistication are undeniable. Other current metal bands, like Killswitch Engage and Opeth, show high degrees of talent, and broad musical stylistic range as well.
And yet...cookie cookie cookie.
Why? It's like everyone has agreed to go along with the silliest form of blatant phoniness and to behave as if it was the most genuinely serious thing to do. While researching for this post, I was amazed at how many people are seriously discussing how to properly sing this way, and trading tips and tricks.
The justification for this style, from what I can gather, is that it is the most effective way to convey the dark and disturbing thoughts and emotions, as well as the power and aggressiveness, that are central to the style. So, I guess since I am not an angst-ridden teenage boy, I could not possibly understand the value of having these dark, violent, angry thoughts expressed this way.
But that doesn't explain why grown men, professional musicians whose knowledge of music is obviously deep enough to take in a wide variety of stylistic influences, still see any validity in doing something so one-dimensional, so cartoon-ish. and yes, I'll use the P word, so pretentious. In fact this vocal style is the absolute epitome of pretentious: it is artificial, put-on, overdone, and loaded with an overblown sense of self-importance.
The ultimate measure of this is that it is almost impossible to tell the difference between a parody and the real thing.
There is definitely a horror movie angle to this. Do they not know or care that their metal growl vocals sound like they came right out of one of those so-bad-it's-funny horror films?
I totally understand that different kinds of music appeal to different folks, and that some people like music that expresses all their negative emotions for them, providing an emotional catharsis that relieves them from the need to go out and become homicidal maniacs. I get that. But I am calling out the musicians: it's just lazy to continue to fall back on on what is now an old trick. We've heard it before. Any genuine meaning it may have had has been stripped out of it. You can't sound any more silly with your phony "I'm-so-angry-I-sing-like-a-possessed-demon-from-hell" shtick. Yes shtick. It's just a routine, a gimmick. Time to get over it, and find a new one. Please.