The Six Best Non-Metal Songs About Heavy Metal
The Periodic Table of Metal. Click to engorge.
Songwriters love riffing on folklore, be it nursery rhymes or Biblical parables. Over the years, heavy metal has developed its own brand of legend, so much so that stylistically disparate musicians have used it as a springboard for creatively disparate songs. Here are the six best non-metal songs about heavy metal. Let us know your favorites in the comments below, but be aware that songs that simply mention metal in the title (ie. White Rabbits' "Heavy Metal," Califone's "Black Metal Valentine," and Less Than Jake's "All My Best Friends Are Metalheads") do not qualify for a position. Also, Lady Gaga's "Heavy Metal Lover" doesn't make the list either, but only because it is not very good.
6. Teenage Fanclub - "Metal Baby"
Teenage Fanclub's Bandwagonesque is a minimally distorted, intentionally weak slacker rock album, and "weak" and "slacker" are the antithesis of metal. Slackers don't practice scales for 6 hours a day in order to shred. Teenage Fanclub's Norman Blake plays off of this dissonance on "Metal Baby." Blake details a failing relationship with a girl who takes him out of his comfort zone, making him "take her to the heavy metal show." The feeling is apparently mutual, as he is "not the kind of person she'll admit she knows," and she eventually jumps in a metal band's van and skips town. This song could have been "Punk Baby" or "Jazz Baby," as it uses a genre as a metaphor for the hipness that Blake admires but cannot relate to in his unnamed interest. Metal does seem like the best fit; the exaggerated characters of a hard rocking girl and an indie rock boy in "Metal Baby" make an excellent analogy for the cool/uncool dynamic of attracted opposites.
5. My Morning Jacket - "Holdin On To Black Metal"
For My Morning Jacket, "Holdin' On To Black Metal" is about growing up, but the moral is unclear. When Jim James sings the opening couplet "It's a darkness you can't deny / But it don't belong in a grown up mind," he appears to be encouraging a metal fan to grow up and abandon the shallow negativity often associated with the music. But when he sings "Oh black metal you're so misunderstood" in the same tone of voice that could read as serious or sarcastic, he's pleading for the subject to not put those Burzum bootlegs on eBay just yet. Perhaps James is playing the devil's advocate one one shoulder and angel on the other, but it doesn't have to make sense. "Holdin' On To Black Metal" rules on vibe alone, which soulds like Neil Young-meets-Santana (but way better than that pairing would actually be).