Read on for my ten point action plan to make rock music more popular…
Last week, I held a Focus Group on why Heavy Metal music isn’t popular amongst certain demographics. As part of this scientific approach, I surveyed a number of listeners of Radio 2, Heart FM and Magic FM to seek their views and get some ideas as to how we might improve things and bring heavy rock and metal into the mainstream. I am happy to say that, following their feedback, I think I have solved the problem. Odd that no-one thought of this before. So here is my Ten Point Action Plan To Make Heavy Metal More Popular (According to listeners of Radio 2, Magic FM and Heart FM).
1. Why don’t heavy metal bands sit on stools during the quiet bits of a song, and then stand up at the (more rousing) end of the song? The Focus Group noted that Westlife made this a feature of their act. Surely Stairway To Heaven would have benefitted from Page, Plant and Jones sitting on stools and giving it the proper treatment? (Admittedly Bonham did sit on a stool – he started well – but his error was not standing up at the end of the song for dramatic effect).
2. Heavy rock bands don’t get proper (i.e. professional, outside) writers to write songs for them. Rock bands do insist on writing their own songs, despite plenty of evidence to suggest they’re simply not very good at it. When was the last time Mastodon or Slayer had a top ten hit? Again, look at Westlife. Never wrote a note of a song in their lives. Fourteen number one singles. You can’t argue with that.
3. Heavy metal bands don’t sing about nice things. People don’t want to listen to songs about death, “apart from Candle In The Wind” was the view. One Direction never sing about death. They sing about nice things. Y’know – puppies and stuff.
4. Rock bands don’t project sincere, kind faces when they sing. One Direction always stare deeply and longingly into camera when they sing. People love it – like they alone are being sung to. Metal bands miss this opportunity to connect with their fans. Usually because their “greasy” hair gets in the way, noted the focus group. Slipknot were cited as one of the worst offenders for poor facial expressions. “They’re not helping themselves – what with the masks and everything” noted one respondent.
5. Heavy Metal bands are quite ugly. Why not choose the members of a heavy metal band not by whether they can play their instruments, but whether they are good looking or not? X-Factor has been highly successful in choosing not only the best singers but also people who are pleasant to look at. And look at the great songs the show has produced: Hallelujah, When We Collide, Against All Odds, Run, Killing In The Name Of – and many more. The group suggested that “rock” artists would never have come up with anything as good as those X-Factor tunes.
6. What’s the deal with all those instruments? One Direction don’t need instruments. Heavy metal’s old fashioned insistence on sticking to the whole “play instruments” thing is holding them back, felt the focus group.
7. Enunciate properly. Often the words to the song are sung in an aggressive “shouty” manner, noted some respondents, which does little to aid the listener who wants to hear what the singer is actually singing. Some respondents, however, suggested they didn’t really care whether Lemmy was holding an Ace of Spades and had but a passing interest in The Flight of Icarus beyond the bare details of the story.
8. Turn it down! Heavy rock bands do have a tendency to turn up their instruments too loudly, resulting in unpleasant distortion. Guitarists are guilty of this especially. Why not unplug the guitars, or use an acoustic guitar like those nice chaps from Mumford and Sons? Perhaps use of keyboards, decks and synthesisers would help? Or just wear a waistcoat?
9. More synchronised dancing in the videos and live performances. Heavy rock bands seldom have backing dancers moving their arms and legs around at funny angles all in unison. The focus group all commented that they enjoyed watching highly synchronised dancing. “It looks really cool” said one. “Rock bands don’t dress very fashionably either” noted some.
10. Why not let all the band members sing? “I bet they can’t all sing” was the consensus, with some adding “Even the one they call a singer can’t sing – they just shout. Imagine how bad a singer the drummer must be. Oh, apart from Phil Collins“.
So there you have it. Next steps following this useful session are for me to get in touch with Slayer, Metallica, Megadeth and Anthrax and pass on the feedback. If anyone knows a Norwegian translator do let me know – there are quite a few Death Metal bands over there that I imagine would be quite receptive to this kind of thing.
Wish me luck…
Record #181: Arctic Monkeys – Love Machine