Culture Rover

#48 - Sugarcubes In a Vice-Grip

I hear how heavy metal is really pop music in disguise, just louder. But the revelation for me is that pop music aspires to heavy metal. The sweet tones of the teeny-bopiest music are not as far apart from the clanking chains of metal as we suspect.

Revisiting the brilliant cover by the Cardigans of Black Sabbath's Iron Man (listen in real audio) on Ipod shuffle recently, what struck me was the Cardigans' combination of domination and sweetness. It was like putting sugarcubes in a vice-grip.

Members of the Cardigans used to play in Swedish hardcore metal bands, but producer Tore Johansson and singer Nina Persson and the rest of the group turn Iron Man into something more sinister than metal, more compressed and oppressive, taut and refusing to release itself in fury. Pop -- more evil than we imagined?

Perhaps emotionally, metal and pop represent two concoctions of the same mix of desire and repulsion -- toward and away from the dissolution of the self. Whether by swirl of cooing harmonies or howl of ferocious beat and crunch, it makes no difference.

3 February 2005

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