Audio-Visual Art Event
A music-appreciation class I took in college included a broad, open-ended assignment that encouraged students to explore some of the more unusual musical happenings on campus. I opted to attend both a screening by an audio-visual sound artist and an avant-garde performance that involved trombones, digital noise, lots of drums and disturbing video of various nature scenes. While I don’t like condemning art purely on aesthetics, and try to see what an artist is trying to do even if the end result doesn’t particularly appeal to me, both of those offerings tested my patience (and pain tolerance) with overly-long runtimes and an average audio volume that registered as a noisy squall. I’ll sit through a shitty performance out of obligation, but willingly opting to attend and then realizing I’m stuck until the performer decides they’re done blasting my ear-drums into submission really feels like Hell – even if it’s only for a few minutes. - Michael Merline
It’s a shame it’s become passé to hate the Eagles. Tell anyone you can’t stand them and they assume you’re a culture vulture quoting That Movie instead of a human being with sensible taste. Somehow Don Henley and his punk-ass group of “musicians” have cast a spell that makes people think they’re not utter shite. A band of their magnitude of awfulness even managed to do the world a favor by breaking up, yet their terribility brought them back together for reunion tours and albums.
Their biggest trespass, however, has to be their multiple Greatest Hits records. Already a scam, the “Greatest Hits” package plays out like multiple discs of cold, unrelenting torture, just conveniently reordered in each new incarnation for “freshness.” Anytime one of their songs or albums gets played in a bar or on the radio, the day instantly takes a dive. There’s no redeeming quality to an Eagles song, and to be forced to listen to one is a bleak and awful moment.
When I’m in Hell, all I’ll hear is Don Henley. I just fucking know it. – Rafael Gaitan
“Fishing Blues” by Henry Thomas
So you’ve just been eternally smote? Them’s the breaks, and now it’s time for you to settle in for a while. As you acclimate yourself to your new environment, playing on Hell’s soundtrack at least once an hour is “Fishing Blues.” Why? Because you always appreciated irony while on Earth, you indie hipster you. So relax, or not, and revel in that irony as you enjoy this jaunty song that’s sure to make you hot-foot it a little bit more than you already are. It could just be about fishing on that perfect day or maybe it’s a metaphor for sex, something you won’t have to worry about now. Any fish bite if you got good bait? Not down here, buddy. - Eric Dennis
“Stock Up On Joy” from a Coca-Cola ad
Anyone who attended a multiplex during the holiday season of 2008 or 2009 is likely familiar with this commercial, a sinister collaboration between Coca-Cola and Walmart that played before movies and burned its nauseating jingle into brains (including mine) forever. The ad features a nerdy kid of no particular vocal talent, speak-singing inane rhymes about his Coke-fueled holiday party. The guests include this dude’s “MySpace friends and Twitter list,” because, you know, the internet, and the song culminates in the maddeningly redundant homily that “when you stock up on joy, there’s enough to go ’round.” None of this would be intolerable if the song weren’t so tragically catchy. For a while, I suffered from a kind of Stockholm syndrome, longing for the song’s cheesy rhythms; I even looked it on up YouTube and watched the ad voluntarily, several times. My personal vision of Hell is a place where movie theaters run this ad on an endless loop, with no trailers or features to follow. I can imagine a snag in projection that causes the song’s first line to repeat infinitely: “The holidays are here again… The holidays are here again… The holidays are here again…” - Brian Wolowitz
“(As Long as They’ve Got) Cigarettes in Hell” by Oasis (2000)
Chief songwriter/curmudgeon for Oasis Noel Gallagher is generally defined by two themes: optimism and relentless self-confidence. But even the most boastful of us (a title which Gallagher is certainly a leading contender) feels beat down sometimes, tired of life and willing to trade anything for a simple pleasure. Hence, “(As Long as They’ve Got) Cigarettes in Hell,” a 2000 B-side with perhaps some of the band’s most dispirited, weary lyrics. Over a melancholy acoustic guitar progression offset by occasional psychedelic flourishes of noise, the senior Gallagher describes a life of pointless, random drudgery with “Spend your days just walking and shopping/ depending on how much you’re luck is in” culminating in the resigned chorus of “I don’t mind not going to Heaven/ As long as they’ve got cigarettes/ As long as they’ve got cigarettes in Hell.” It’s not a dynamic, fiery sentiment; it’s not a proud boast of a wicked life and damnation; it’s a defeated admission of how horribly banal Hell just might be. - Nathan Kamal