Meat Loaf, Music, and Kultur
The very apotheosis of Jim Steinman's Wagnerian power-pop, Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Hell II: Back Into Hell, got a mention on Slate today.
Meat Loaf is campy, self-consciously ironic, and a little much at times, and he has been since "Hot Patootie" in Rocky Horror. Jim Steinman's music is such that I am not sure if he is making the most clever critique of rock and roll one could imagine, or if he is serious. If he is serious, then he has managed to combine Little Richard, Elvis, Richard Wagner, and the knowing arrogance of Mick Jagger - with a straight face. Like it or not, at their best, Meat Loaf and Steinman combine what's best about American rock and roll: exuberance, arrogance, and bombast.
Meat Loaf is the avatar for Steinman's music: larger-than-life, utterly committed, and loud. Together, it's Strauss and Hofmannsthal; apart, and I am not sure that I have been impressed with either of them (though Steinman's wit and style is unblunted).
Robert Christgau put it best when he said, "[If] this isn't adolescent angst in its death throes, then Buddy Holly lived his sweet, unselfconscious life in vain." He's right, you know. This is music for kids who sat around and listened to the Ring, imagining what it must be like to be Siegfried. Then, they hit later puberty, started noticing the objects of their sexual desire, and got all depressive. Meat Loaf combines that sort of egomaniac, manic bombast with music that seems to revolve around repression, rejection, and pursuit. This is Foucault power-pop.
It's finals week here. No explanation necessary? No.
Here's Michael Bay's magnum opus, the video for "I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)":
The Rock was nothing compared to this. Nor, methinks, was Harry Kupfer's staging of Parsifal at Unter den Linden. Of course, I love long leather coats, neon lighting, and abstract spaces as much as the next person.