Friday, January 12, 2007

Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?

I'm considering making this my blog's second weekly feature, depending on the success I have writing the first couple and how well it is received. In it, I will share an unpopular or controversial, yet utterly pointless, observation, and ponder it. Sounds like fun to me.

This week's subject: The Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

The Trans-Siberian Orchestra sounds like Meat Loaf. The orchestra's basic songwriting formula is take a Christmas carol or two in minor keys, add an electric bass riff underneath it, atmospheric percussion such as bells and chimes, keyboard-driven melody lines, a few epic-style guitar solos, some dramatic instrumental swells, and call it a day. If you throw in a loud, sweaty, overweight tenor, you have "Life Is a Lemon (and I Want My Money Back)" every time. The album might as well be called "A Very Meat Loaf Christmas".

So what I'm pondering is this: Why is the Trans-Siberian Orchestra almost universally embraced while Meat Loaf is almost universally mocked? My theory: Meat Loaf has stiffer competition. Since most holiday music has a gratingly mellow light rock adult contemporary sound, the darker sound of the TSO is refreshing by contrast, while Meat Loaf sounds over-the-top and goofy when compared to other rock. Still, I hold that if you like the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, you pretty much have to like Meat Loaf in the name of ideological consistency in musical tastes. Meat Loaf's songs generally require higher levels of musicianship, too.

I realize this would have been appropriate and timely blogging material about a month ago, but I didn't have a blog then, and I didn't first broach this subject with someone I knew until Christmas Day.

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