Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Love At First Night

As I consider myself a connoisseur of useless statistics derived from baseless studies, I was overjoyed when newly-created site Tastebuds.fm decided to conduct a survey. The website, a dating service that matches you with other single people who share your taste in music, asked 400 of its users how far they were willing to go on a first date. The idea was apparently to correlate sexual promiscuity with listening preferences and the findings were nothing short of mythically-asinine.

Not since OKcupid.com attempted to associate a user’s number of sexual partners with their brand of cell phone has a less impressive set of data been compiled. Tastebuds.com discovered the following:
·         Generally, fans of hard rock and hip-hop tended to be more liberal with their personal space boundaries during initial encounters.
  • Fans of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Kings of Leon tended to fall on the conservative side.
  • Fans of Metallica, Linkin Park, and Kanye West tended to be more liberal with their inhibitions.
  • Fans of Coldplay were the least likely to consummate a relationship on the first date.
  • Fans of Nirvana were the most likely to sleep with someone on the first date.
The jokes began almost immediately with one online commentator confirming the study’s findings by observing that several female Coldplay fans had given him the “cold-shoulder.”  Another retorted that Coldplay’s music was “introspective and emotional” and that tended to reflect the mindset of their fans. A third user, seemingly unaware of the article he was commenting on, espoused the benefits of snorting cocaine and did not mention music at all.

At the risk of basing broad assumptions on a study that involves 400 users of an experimental music-themed dating service who are comfortable answering personal questions about their sex life, I was taken aback that Nirvana and Metallica fans were so prominently represented. What is at the root of their willingness to copulate with a complete stranger? Does the lyrical content of these songs serve as an aphrodisiac? Are eligible singles being lured back to apartments with a promise of red wine, candlelight, and a copy of Kill ‘Em All?

Let’s look at a few of Metallica’s better known songs to see if we can uncover their hidden carnal undertones:
“One”

now that the war is through with me
I'm waking up, I cannot see
that there's not much left of me
nothing is real but pain now

hold my breath as I wish for death
oh please God, wake me

While not my particular cup of tea, it does have a sweeping macabre romanticism about it. Perhaps something from the early years will further clarify. Let’s take a look at the band’s ode to capital punishment:

Ride the Lightening

Death in the air
Strapped in the electric chair
This can't be happening to me

Who made you God to say?,
I'll take your life from you

Flash before my eyes
Now it's time to die

Although not inundated with the obvious sensuality of Barry White or Sade, there could be a percentage of the population that finds felony murder and its consequences a precursor to lovemaking. I will say that if you are truly in the market for a “hopeless” romantic I can think of no better subject matter than debilitating war injuries and state-sponsored executions. Using this template I have penned a short love poem along these lines:

Your beautiful eyes sparkle and inspire
Like a live wire igniting my funeral pyre
Fingers touch, linger, and pull away
Soon they too will succumb to decay
Soul crushing darkness marinated by despair
Depression and pain is ours to share
My will to exist lost, our demise intertwined
Loathsome attraction sought and imprisoned by shame
Won’t you be my friend on Facebook again?

Seattle power-house Nirvana did seem more straightforward in their amorous references. Let’s look at the slow burn of “In Bloom.”

Sell kids for food, weather changes moods
Spring is here again, reproductive glands
We can have some more, Nature is a whore
Bruises on the fruit, tender age in bloom

Certainly the references to human sensuality are more vivid in Nirvana’s lyrics, but one could also make the argument that Mr. Cobain was referencing human trafficking and seasonal affective disorder. Also, someone may or may not have sustained genital injury by having their “fruit bruised.”

Another obvious choice for seduction is the Nirvana track “I Hate Myself and Want to Die.”

Broken heart and broken bones
Think of how a castrated horse feels
Most people don't realize
That two large pieces of coral,
Painted brown, and attached to his skull
With common wood screws can make a child look like a deer

All the key elements of eroticism are there; compound fractures, animal castration and even craft projects for the kids. In hindsight, naming their third studio release “In Utero” seems almost prophetic given the carnal undertones of their lyrics.

Some have speculated that the blatant sexuality displayed in songs by Lady Gaga and Katy Perry placates the listener’s desire for actual risky behavior whereas hard rock fans are lacking such a potent outlet. Of course, the other option is that the study is unscientific, deeply flawed, and useless; but to be fair I have never tried Cannibal Corpse and candlelight so maybe I am missing the boat.

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