As much as I often tell people I listen to music to relax, the fact of the matter is more often than not, I feel my proclivity towards music is based on my need to give my Id a workout. I grew up an angsty teenager, and that part of me is still very much alive and inherent in my tastes. Therefore, whenever I feel abnormally pissed, I feel these five tracks are the perfect audible way for me to let off some steam. Here are five songs not for the faint of heart, but for the open-minded.
Number Five: “Prayer To God” by Shellac. Steve Albini basically invented the contemporary angsty band frontman persona with his bands Big Black and Rapeman (Trent Reznor who?). However, his third group, Shellac, was arguably nastier still. In the promotional materials for Shellac’s third album, 2000’s 1000 Hurts, the band described the record as “more mean-spirited,” and it only took one track to have listeners on board with that.
The album opener, “Prayer to God,” is a blasphemous and sadistic song that finds Albini’s deranged character asking his God to kill an ex-lover of his and her current flame. The concept alone is aberrant enough, but it gets particularly intense when Albini begins chanting “f****ing kill him already! Kill Him!” again and again, all while his minimalist-yet-shredding guitar chords give the song a real sense of menace. Even after his screaming winds down, Albini continues to chant that wicked chorus, just before concluding the song with the note of, “Amen.” You gotta love it right?
Number Four: “Kill You” by Eminem. If you were in middle school around the year 2000, there’s a good chance that you loved the bejeezus out of The Marshall Mathers LP, right up until your irate mother took it away from you. Eminem was even more, rotten for his sophomore major label release, and it’s a minor miracle that any of the album’s 15 tracks could be considered radio-friendly (no less, three). All you need to do is look at the record’s lyrics book to see as why politicians, parents and gay-rights groups put this peeved white rapper in the center of their crosshairs during the early 2000’s.
While one might say it’s difficult to overlook “Kim” as Eminem’s most disturbing track, I feel the album’s opener, “Kill You,” has a better ratio of shock value and tongue-in-cheek humor. While immediately controversial for it’s subject matter involving killing women, these detractors clearly failed to acknowledge that Eminem is intentionally trying to get a reaction from this track. His lyrics are cartoonish (“Put your hands down bitch, I ain’t gon’ shoot you/ I’ma pull you to this bullet and put it through you), and lines that deal with his frustrations with fame and the media are far more relevant towards who Marshall Mathers really is as a person. What’s more, it’s incredibly catchy, which is saying a lot for a song that has one of the most vicious choruses in any rap song (yeah, I know that’s saying a lot).
Number Three: “Gimme The Car” by The Violent Femmes. If you’re going to get in trouble for playing a song about rape at a high school National Honor Society induction meeting, you might as well make it as good as this one. Violent Femmes frontman Gordon Gano did that when he was just 18-years old, with this offbeat and fully enjoyable song about a teenage boy’s desperation to lose his virginity. It’s a song that gives us a modicum of sadness for the confused protagonist even while he sings, “I’m gonna pick her up, I’m gonna get her drunk/I’m gonna make her cry, I’m gonna get her high.” He counterpoints this by saying, “what’s wrong, what’s right?/ I don’t care when I hate my life.” It’s the type of self-admonishing punk music that’s all too rare these days – not to say that it was ever common.
Number Two: “O’Malley’s Bar” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. The ageless Nick Cave has practically made a career about songs dealing with passionate violence, but this 14-minute track on the appropriately-titled album Murder Ballads has to rank as his magnum opus to carnage. Here, the Aussie tells a story from the perspective of an unnamed gunman who comes into the titular bar, and then proceeds to execute everyone inside it in increasingly colorful fashions. It’s filled with Cave’s usual allusions to religion, as well as a few disturbing sexual connotations, too. But what makes the song all the more disturbing is Cave’s violent piano chords that escalate with the body count. Most provocative line: “As he screamed, ‘You are an evil man!’, and I paused a while to wonder/If I have no free will then how can I be morally culpable?”
Number One: “Mind of a Lunatic” by The Geto Boys. When an album has to carry an additional label warning regarding its content along with the parental advisory sticker, then you know you’re not exactly dealing with your meat-and-potatoes gangsta rappers. For The Geto Boys’ 1990 self-titled release, the Houston trio proved they were far more grotesque than the likes of N.W.A., touching on topics that would make John Waters reach for his barf bag.
“Mind of a Lunatic” is easily the foulest track on the album, that sees Scarface, Willie D, and Bushwick Bill vocate their most psychotic fantasies involving death, sex, and drugs (the latter of which I might add has reverted to being a “Christian rapper”). With Scarface talking about shooting old ladies up, Willie D’s simply enraged delivery, and Bushwick Bill’s description of a sexploit that goes in the order of rape, murder and then necrophilia, then you’ve got possibly the one rap song that guarantees you a spot in hell if you can admit to enjoying it. Listening to evil things never felt so good.