sweet 16
(1) guns n' roses, "paradise city"
smoked
(4) QUIET RIOT, "CUM ON FEEL THE NOIZE"
on the way to the elite 8
130-55

Read the essays, watch the videos, listen to the songs, feel free to argue below in the comments or tweet at us, and consider. Winner is the aggregate of the poll below and the @marchshredness twitter poll. Polls closed @ 9am Arizona time on 3/20.

Which song kicks the most ass?
Quiet Riot, "Cum on Feel the Noize"
Guns n' Roses, "Paradise City"
Created with SurveyMaker

QUIET RIOT VS THE SEXUAL HEALING SYNDROME: GARRETT CAPLES ON "CUM ON FEEL THE NOIZE"

for Chris and Jenn McCreary

Lightning in a bottle: one reaches for some such cliché of pop culture creation to account for Quiet Riot’s 1983 smash “Cum on Feel the Noize.” It was less a hit and more a phenomenon, for while it peaked at #5 on the single charts, it drove the album Metal Health (Pasha/Columbia) to #1, heavy metal’s first #1. “Cum” was all over the radio, true, but its ubiquity was manifested by uncharted airplay from jukeboxes, arcades, roller rinks, and, of course, the nascent MTV. Most crucially, it gripped the tween imagination. I was 11, and my colleagues and I subjected it to endless disputation at recess, my friend Eric Glew, for example, proposing the line “girls, rock your boys” was “girls, fuck your boys.” We knew it was dirty by way it spelled “Cum” so we imagined sexual content where there was none and reveled in its open obscenity as though it betokened a failure of the adult world to fully suppress the forbidden.
     As if to abet this impression, my mother forbid me to buy Metal Health because of its creepy cover, though she allowed me to purchase the single, a white paper sleeve whose cutout disclosed the Dali-esque label of Pasha Records in powder blue. In the hour of their greatest triumph, poor Quiet Riot couldn’t even score a picture sleeve, so low were the expectations. It was a second single, after all, following the title track, which failed to chart until after this one, and even then stalled well short of top 20. All the picture sleeves in the world, moreover, couldn’t recreate the band’s one hour of triumph. That it happened at all remains one of the small miracles of pop music.
     For Quiet Riot was terrible. Indeed, the Los Angeles quartet was on its second go-round in 1982, having broken up two years before after two Japan-only albums when original guitarist Randy Rhodes decamped to resuscitate post-Sabbath Ozzy. Metal Healthwas simultaneously a debut and a third album, which never bodes well for pop success. They were a hair metal band whose lead singer was going bald, Kevin DuBrow thus the unwitting prototype of Axl Rose. They were clearly a formidable enough live outfit, frequently opening for Van Halen during hair metal’s roots. But they were incapable of writing a radio hit.
     Indeed they couldn’t even pick one. An inspired suit at Pasha Records forced them to cover “Cum on Feel the Noize,” a 1973 chart-topper for Black Country glam rockers Slade. UK chart-topper, that is, for its impact in America was minimal, barely scraping the top 100, while in England it shipped at #1. In the UK in 1973, Slade was killing it, dwarfing the sales of successful exports like Bowie, the Who, and the Stones, even chief domestic rival T.Rex. But the U.S. didn’t give a shit. To the American palate, Slade was steak & kidney pie soaked in warm Guinness, a spotted dick in a bottle of HP. DuBrow, moreover, resisted the idea, as did drummer and present brand custodian Frankie Banali, so the young rapscallions set out to sabotage the session by going way over the top. It’s a plot so metal it defies belief, but the opening salvo of DuBrow’s veinpopping yell and Banali’s impertinent rimshots sets the tone for one of the more transcendently irreverent readings in rock history.

For Quiet Riot fell victim to the Sexual Healing Syndrome. Legend has it an embittered Marvin Gaye, forced to fork out royalties from his next release to ex Anita Gordy per their divorce settlement, set out to record a cartoonish paean to sexual ecstasy in hopes of a flop. But his strength as an artist inheres in sexual ecstasy, and exaggerating it in self-send-up only increases it: he cannot be lame at it, and “Sexual Healing” goes #3 pop, #1 R&B. That this story isn’t true—or rather, is a distorted retelling of his album Here, My Dear(1976)—merely indicates its luminosity as a diagnostic tool, for while Quiet Riot is no Marvin Gaye, a hair metal band trying to sabotage a song by going over the top is equally impossible; the whole raison d’être of hair metal is going over the top. From Van Halen’s “Jump” to Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” to Mötley Crüe’s “Looks That Kill,” the one criticism to which any classic of hair metal is impervious is too over-the-top. This is a genre with frequent recourse to the word WHOA! and over-the-topness is one of yardsticks by which to measure a song’s degree of success or failure. For supposing the group were enthralled with the song and wanted a massive hit: what else would they have done to it, except what they did out of spite and dislike?
     What they did rewards analysis, even as the formula proved irreproducible. Where Slade swaggers languidly into action with an instrumental intro—stating the theme, as it were, compositionally—Quiet Riot gives us two bars of drums before an otherwise unaccompanied DuBrow begins bellowing the hook, shrewdly altering the original “Girls, grab the boys” lyric to something more befitting hair metal’s self-referential foregrounding of rocking. There’s no building of tension here, no anticipation; the song starts at 11 and stays at 11 until it’s done. The primitive quality of the drums, moreover, is key to the song’s transformation. Where the original is propelled by Slade drummer Don Powell’s crisp snare work, which combined with overdubbed maracas gives the groove the feel of a shuffle, QR’s Banali just pounds a two-four beat into the ground, the eighth-note delay of the second kick (1-2-&-4) imparting whatever swing the cover might be said to possess.
     The other key ingredient is the guitar, for the original’s Chuck Berry-style rock chording easily transforms into the eighth-note pulse of power chords that is perhaps metal’s most defining characteristic, short of shredding itself. And there’s no shortage of shredding itself, courtesy Carlos Cavazo. Clearly no one told Carlos they were trying to make this suck, for the guitarist plays the hell out of his solo, implying an ecstatic version of the melody throughout while still managing to get in a convincing display of shredding. His tone is joy itself, infectious and soaring, stratospheric, even transcendent as it makes its merry way through the solo and during the fade. The job of the bassist in hair metal is to stay out of the guitarist’s way, and Rudy Sarzo does it admirably. While altogether lacking the power and inventiveness of Slade bassist and song co-writer Jim Lea, Sarzo does exactly what he should here, and even helps sell the “Girls, rock your boys” bit with a little rising lick.
     Quiet Riot’s translation of “Cum on Feel the Noize” from glam to hair metal is entire. Even the backing vocals—written to induce audience participation in the tradition of the workingmen’s clubs of Slade’s Midlands—are cold and remote in the throats of Los Angelenos. Remarkably, without fundamentally altering the instrumentation or even the arrangement, Quiet Riot concocted that rare cover that vies for supremacy with a definitive original. It may even exceed it. Equally fascinating is the inability of all concerned to fully capitalize on Metal Health’s sextuple platinum success, unless you count Pasha Records, which rode out this score for a decade or more without ever birthing another hit. When pressed for a second Pasha band, the best commentators can do is Saskatchewan hair rockers Kick Axe, a band more heard of than heard.
     It’s true Quiet Riot maintained enough momentum for the following year’s follow-up, Condition Critical (Pasha/Columbia, 1984), to hit #15 and go triple platinum. That “Cum on Feel the Noize” is responsible for these sales despite not being on Condition Critical is evident from the band’s failed attempt to revisit their success through another Slade cover. From the perspective of Slade’s oeuvre it may well be the most superficially similar song to “Cum on Feel the Noize,” but that doesn’t make “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” any less suitable to a hair metal makeover. Here the derring-do of their original attempt to sabotage their own recording gives way to anxious calculation, and something about this meditation on whiskey-drinking and money-spending stubbornly resists translation. QR squanders the opening on chant-at-you vocals and turgid tom fills, the hook lacks its predecessor’s innuendo, the solo sputters off into nervous unmusical shredding. This is enough to peak at #51 on the singles chart, the last time Quiet Riot will approach a radio hit. Their Wikipedia page characterizes this period with the apt heading “Steady Decline.”

It’s also true the magnitude of Quiet Riot’s “Cum on Feel the Noize” rejuvenated Slade’s career after a disastrous period during which they sacrificed their domestic momentum in a failed bid to break the American charts, only to return home to punk rock. On the brink of break up in 1980, they agreed to step in for Ozzy’s last minute cancellation at the Reading Festival and pulled a Queen-at-Live-Aid avant la lettre. The group had rolled with the times since the psychedelic era, but their name recognition as authors of “Cum” finally earned them a willing audience with the American public that years of opening for the likes of Humble Pie and ZZ Top had failed to secure. And so what did Slade trot out before this expectant audience crying, Author! Author!?

Somewhere in the bowels of youtube exists footage of co-author and lead singer Noddy Holder blithely telling a TV presenter about Slade’s long-cherished ambition to record a Scottish jig, which you might recognize as exactly the opposite of the right way to exploit the American success of “Cum on Feel the Noize.” In Slade’s defense, the electric fiddle-driven “Run Runaway” was simply the hit at hand, peaking at #7 in the UK and considered there a return to form. It was enough to score them their first American deal since the 1976 Warner Bros. release of Nobody’s Fools failed to chart at all in the U.S. And the U.S. liked “Run Runaway” far more than Quiet Riot’s “Mama Weer All Crazee Now,” well enough to land Slade their one appearance in the American top 20, the bottom rung of a June ’84 list topped by Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time.” But the U.S. was still confused, and learning the Slade of “Run Runaway” was the same Slade of “Cum on Feel the Noize” was as if learning “Stairway to Heaven” were secretly written by Dexy’s Midnight Runners. In England, the violin had been in the Slade’s arsenal since their first UK charttopper “Coz I Luv You” (1971), but in America in ’84 such instrumentation condemned you to an eccentric pop category close to novelty. A more anthemic follow-up single “My Oh My” managed to hit #37, but a further two albums on CBS failed to yield another American hit. The group’s one hour of American triumph slid into crushing defeat as Slade straggled on until Noddy finally pulled the plug in 1991, quitting to become a TV and radio presenter for the BBC. Slade bassist and hits co-writer Jim Lea slipped into a sullen if restless retirement, while non-songwriters Dave Hill and Don Powell immediately succumbed to touring East European metal festivals as a second-rate Slade cover band called Slade. There’s a documentary here on the level of Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2008) should some intrepid filmmaker choose to step into breach while they’re all still alive.
     There’s a coda to Quiet Riot’s cover of “Cum on Feel the Noize,” by which I don’t mean the Oasis cover, which matters not in the slightest. I mean rather the anecdote once confided by Frankie Banali to Ludwig Drums and perhaps only still extant on the song’s wikipedia page: “I was shopping in Kensington Market and ran into (Slade bassist) Jimmy Lea, who co-wrote the song. I wanted to shake his hand and thank him for writing a great song. He looked into my face, and walked away leaving me with nothing in my hand but air!” This is a perfect illustration of the trials and tribulations of the music industry: everyone feeling bitter and betrayed; no one happy. It’s hard to imagine another ending to the story.


CaplesPhoto.jpg

Garrett Caples is the author of several poetry collections, including Power Ballads (Wave, 2016), and a book of essays, Retrievals (Wave, 2014). He has edited many books including the forthcoming Preserving Fire: Selected Prose (Wave, 2017) by Philip Lamantia. He also works as an editor for City Lights, where he curates the Spotlight Poetry Series.

PARADISE VÉRITÉ: KARYNA MCGLYNN ON "PARADISE CITY"

THE STOOPID ORIGIN STORY

Like many less fortunate ideas, “Paradise City” was conceived in the back of a rental van after a show in San Francisco. Apparently the boys in the band weren’t much impressed by the Bay Area because the drunker they got, the more sentimental they supposedly got for home—AKA “Paradise City, where the grass is green and the girls are pretty”. In 2018 this sort of utopian middle class nostalgia sounds a bit unnervingly #MAGA for my tastes, especially since the song seems born out of an anti-San-Francisco frame of mind—I mean, can you blame us for hearing the song as a lament for the loss of a simpler place and time where color lines were well-lit and gender boundaries were clear?—but perhaps we should just by grateful that Slash didn’t get his way on this one. If it had been up to Slash, the song would go, “Take me down to the Paradise City, where the girls are fat and they’ve got big titties! Take me home!” The other gunners voted this idea down.

 

THE EMBARRASSMENT

I have to deal with the issue of my own embarrassment. Listening to Guns N’ Roses now forces me to confront some of my earliest notions of sexuality: pre-irony, pre-internet, pre-Morrissey-phase, pre-queer. I grew up in Texas in the 80s and 90s. GNR was HUGE. Your knowledge of (and allegiance to) them factored into your social status at school. The kids who liked them most were smart and bad and pretty chill. A lethal injection of middleclass coolness that seemed to appeal to both jocks and drama nerds. We could all get behind the fact that Guns N’ Roses totally rocked. Sometimes I think that GNR was the last thing we all agreed on. So why does it embarrass me so much?

 

1988

My mom picks me up from fifth grade. Correction: my mom and I leave together from fifth grade because she’s my teacher and I only get to leave when she leaves, which is late, because she always has to grade and do lesson plans and feed the snake and staple holiday-themed borders around the bulletin board. But today she says we’re leaving early. My heart soars—the possibilities!—until she says why: the orthodontist. So I’m sulking in the car like a little ungrateful bitch—like, “How dare you spend thousands of dollars of your single-parent teacher’s salary to ensure my mouth doesn’t look like a cemetery by the time somebody actually wants to kiss me!” But we don’t go to the orthodontist...

 

                                                            ...we go to the RODEO CARNIVAL. I’m eleven and have been a subscriber to Seventeen magazine for exactly a year. I’ve already seen The Lost Boys twice:

I have a picture of Jason Patric on my wall next to Jon Bon Jovi and Debbie Gibson and Kirk Cameron. I feel guiltiest when I put up the Bon Jovi. I’m confused. There’s been this very nebulous but distinct 1950s/60s nostalgia in the air ever since I can remember. And we’re all supposed to like jellybeans. Lately, almost everything turns me on, and I don’t have vocabulary for any of it even though teachers are always praising my vocabulary. I don’t think they’re giving me all the vocabulary. There’s this commercial for Cherry 7-Up where I imagine this pop-collared proto-Matt LeBlanc (who actually turns out to be Matt LeBlanc) is my boyfriend and that we two serve as the only neon pink pulses of color in an otherwise black and white world. This is how youthful romance feels—like you’re inventing new colors in spite of a previous generation’s oppressive nostalgia:

 

I <3 CARNIVALS

Carnivals meant everything to me, and I wasn’t a snob about them. I didn’t care if it was a state fair or a dilapidated kiddie carnival that popped up in a k-mart parking lot for a few hours. Everything about them fed into my hunger for altered states at a time when I could only satisfy this hunger vicariously (and abstractly) through MTV, movies like Labyrinth & Beetlejuice, and occasional late-night sleepover games/rituals that bordered on the Occult.
     To me, carnivals embodied the whole tantalizingly cloaked world of Teenagers at Night—all the funnel cake and “French kissing” and neon intrigue and denim. I wanted a Matt-LeBlanc-style boyfriend with a great pitching arm to win me a giant stuffed animal. For an eleven year-old girl, is there any greater external validation of your own lovability than a comically large stuffed Garfield? But I didn’t have a boyfriend, so I spent a lot of time getting “bullied” by boys in bumper cars: the electricity that thrilled up my spine when they rammed into me from behind. Sometimes they smirked lasciviously. Sometimes they winked. Sometimes the ride operator would see my “distress” and go full White Knight on me—jumping in my bumper car and chasing down the bad guys to show them who was really the Bumper Boss. 
     If there was a gatekeeper to the realm of Adolescence, I was pretty sure he worked at the carnival, and I really wanted a ticket. I even had a genie-in-a-lamp wish plan. First Wish: Carnival in my Back Yard. Second Wish: Have a Cabriolet Convertible like Cindy Mancini in Can’t Buy My Love. Third Wish: “Unlimited Wishes, Sucker!” I bought into the Reagan-era mythology, but I also had my feelers out for the freaks, for anything subversive. I liked it when carnies flirted with me even though I pretended that I didn’t. I liked it when they left me stranded at the top of a ride on purpose, my pink jelly shoes dangling in a night air that felt special: endlessly noir & effervescent, like a Cherry 7-Up ad, but slightly sinister. These aren’t thing’s we’re born knowing how to ask for.

 

THE 1988 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

We had a school-wide election prior to November. For months my mom and I had been canvassing for Michael Dukakis door-to-door on weekends. Mostly old men told us they were “proud Republicans” and “not interested” in anything we had to say, “thank you.” The old women always told us we’d “have to speak” to their husbands who could never “come to the door right now.”  But I thought at least the kids at my school would vote the right way. They didn’t. After all the votes were tallied, George H.W. Bush won the Cypress Elementary School mock election by 94%. I couldn’t believe it. I cried about it sporadically for weeks. “But HOW could they be so blind?” I asked my mom melodramatically. My mom wisely told me not to cry about it at school if I wanted to start making friends. I didn’t listen to her.

 

THE SUPER-HIMALAYA

“Paradise City” will forever be linked to the occasion on which I first heard it: as an eleven year-old standing in line for the Super-Himalaya—the most glam & psychedelic of all carnival rides:

I was in line behind two beautifully bad teenagers with amazing bangs. She had holes burned into the butt of her jeans and he had a long black coat and glitter eye-shadow and they were smoking and frenching at the same time. And then, suddenly:

Take me down to the paradise city!
Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty!
Take me home! (Oh won't you please take me home!)

This was the moment some primitive version of my Kundalini woke up. In Axl Rose’s elven plaint I heard it: there was something missing and I’d been lied to. Guns N’ Roses tore through the scrim of my innocence all at once. I wanted whatever pleasure-torture men and women were inflicting on each other all around me. I wanted a huge teddy bear, yes, but I also wanted carnal knowledge: I wanted somebody to put their big warm hand in the butt pocket of my jeans, wanted my tongue to snake-dance with another tongue under the strobe lights, wanted the bumper car of my adolescence to smack me from behind, wanted to cause somebody to feel so passionately that they undulated & pulsed with irrepressible color.
     While on the Himalaya ride I was musically deflowered by the Appetite for Destructiontrifecta: “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” “Welcome to the Jungle,” and (again) “Paradise City” (they were playing them in a loop) while sitting directly behind the french-kissing teenagers. Their car waved up and down in front of me and their tongues made snail silhouettes. They kissed like it pained them to do so but were nonethleless magnetically compelled. This is exactly how Axl Rose sings. The unseen carnie/DJ occasionally interrupted Slash’s sickest solos with air horns, stinky fog machine blasts, and questioned whether we could collectively “handle it” if he sped up the rotation or “Turrrrned IT A-ROUUUUND!” Can you imagine taking in all this information at once? “Where do we go now?” I thought that Super-Himalaya would spin faster and faster until a current of neon, pheromones, and Pure Rock launched us all into sexual orbit. When I got off that ride, my knees buckled.

 

THE ENNUI OF THE EUROPEAN TOUR

If there’s one thing late 80s/early 90s music videos love doing, it’s dressing up a bunch of black & white b-roll footage as a music video for a surprise hit. These pseudo cinéma vérité montages always include silly and subversive moments—like the drummer popping up from behind the green room couch in a leopard print Speedo and chugging a magnum of champagne in a delightfully self-aware caricature of Rock Star Excess—but also moody, soul-searching moments, like grainy shots of the bassist asleep on his gear at the Frankfurt airport, or the front man smoking alone in front of hotel in Belarus as the sun rises, silently asking himself, “Is it all really worth it?” These same videos always feature stop-motion animation of massive stages being built in Pasadena/Lisbon/Everywhere/Nowhere in a matter of seconds. You can never really tell where the sound-check ends and the show begins. And to be fair, that probably speaks fairly authentically to the experience of touring with a hair metal band in 1988. 

 

PARADISE VÉRITÉ

The “Paradise City” video is in the aforementioned tour montage mode: Steven Adler being woken up in his hotel room by a mischievous camera crew and putting a pillow over his face. Slash, practically naked, smoking a requisite cigarette, and just shredding it in the middle of Wrigley Field (and shut up—I don’t care whether it’s actually Wrigley Field. That’s not the point. The point is that some of the footage is in grainy black and white and could be anywhere in America where a rock band has both unbelievable privilege and unbelievable loneliness, and feels the need to flex both simultaneously... Okay, so it’s Giants Stadium.)
     Their name and logos are everywhere in this video: on stage, on their shirts, on multiple shots of merch tables, emblazoned on the backs of their jackets, tattooed on their biceps. Their branding is so pervasive that any sartorial choice that’s not self-promotional stands out— like there are lots of fabulous Izzy Stradlin vests, and at one point Slash is wearing a Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt, but it actually says “Hard Cock.” There’s also this angry beefsteak of a security guard who has filled his polo shirt to max capacity. He looks like he’s about to shove the shit out of someone. He probably was; half the video is shot in  Castle Donington for the Monsters of Rock Festival—you know, the show where two fans were trampled to death in the mud. Leave it to GNR to shoehorn tragedy into their music video as proof of their own Extremeness.
     I find myself wishing the jump-happy camera would sit still and show us the stage show. That’s extreme enough. Also, Axl Rose is fucking mesmerizing. The hips. The hair. The bandana. The undulations. Those otherworldly pipes like Robert Plant;s, only more pained and Pentecostal. It’s so good that I sometimes forget that I’m not watching a younger Ewan McGregor playing the part of Axl Rose in a biopic that never got made. Why would you cut away to the merch table?
     But our relationship to Axl Rose has always been troubled. There’s this scene in the video that always seemed so stupid:  a close-up of Axl Rose flashing his all-access backstage pass and nodding meaningfully. “Um, dude, you’re the lead singer of the band—I already assumed you had all the access.” But it turns out I was missing something: there’s a clear overlay on his badge that says “ACCESS ALL AREAS,” yes, but there’s also a Nazi eagle insignia with a fucking swastika and everything.

mcg1.jpg

Writer and contributing editor to Rolling Stone, Gavin Edwards, discusses this moment at length in his way better essay on the “Paradise City” video:

Axl’s wearing the leather military cap again; some guy on Wikipedia claims it is a “World War II Nazi officer cap,” and indeed, it seems to be in the same style as Nazi caps, although it bears no logos. I think Axl was showing off the “Artistes” pass rather than the SS Eagle, but his mind is a strange and squirrelly place, and obviously he enjoyed having a swastika hang from his neck. I suspect he wasn’t a believer in the master race, but was pursuing cheap nihilistic thrills. This was the same impulse that led him to release a Charles Manson cover five years later. In brief, I’d peg him as an asshole more than a racist, although he’s probably both.

 

“PROBABLY BOTH” BUT REAL QUICK

  • Axl Rose’s skin is smoothTOO smooth. JB Smoove smooth. Like, butt-of-the-white-suede-outfit-that-Cindy-Mancini-wears-in-Can’t-Buy-Me-Love smooth.
  • Imagine this scenario: some asshole at a party spills red wine all over Axl Rose’s pretty white jacket and Patrick Dempsey comes to the rescue by spending all his fancy telescope money to get it replaced. Now Axl Rose has to pretend to be Patrick Dempsey’s girlfriend for a month and ride behind him on a lawnmower!
  • (BTW: don’t Google “whatever happened to the actress who played Cindy Mancini” or you’re in for another Jonathan Brandeis/Corey Haim sized hole where your childhood used to be).
  • Here is something that Axl Rose said about his own childhood: “We’d have televisions one week, then my stepdad would throw them out because they were Satanic. I wasn’t allowed to listen to music. Women were evil. Everything was evil.”

 

BACK UP: DID YOU CALL GUNS N’ ROSES “HAIR METAL”?

Look, the last thing I need is some armchair bro musicologist sniffing up in my vinyl collection and borrowed taxonomy, ok? I get it: GNR is “genre defying”—a bit blues, a bit punk, a bit (hair) metal, a bit glam.
     As Tom Erlewine’s says in his review of Appetite for Destruction, “it was a dirty, dangerous, and mean record in a time when heavy metal meant nothing but a good time.” He notes the “nasty edge” that sets GNR’s music apart, and the “primal, sleazy sound that adds grit to already grim tales.” 
     They’ve got more grit than say, Poison, sure, but why are people so keen to disown GNR’s glam roots?

mcg2.jpg

I’ve always felt like there’s something a bit glitterphobic about the insistence on GNR’s grittiness. Hair Metal as a genre is tainted by its own glamminess. And I suspect some fans want to keep GNR far away from any whiff of glam because they’re “too good for it.” But how can a band be “too good” for a genre? That is, unless the genre itself complicates any individual member’s perceived gender or orientation. It’s a question of Realness v. Camp. That tension is one of the things that makes stadium rock so thrilling—the flamboyance and the fire-worship, the wind and fog machines, the transformations and electrified peacockery, the strutting and catastrophic amounts of guitar. And yes, dudes, the Hair. 


 1989.

1989.

Karyna McGlynn is the author of Hothouse (Sarabande Books 2017), I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl (Sarabande Books 2009), and several chapbooks including The 9-Day Queen Gets Lost on Her Way to the Execution (Willow Springs Editions 2016). Her poems have recently appeared in The Kenyon ReviewPloughsharesBlack Warrior Review, Ninth Letter, Georgia Review, Witness, and The Academy of American Poet’s Poem-A-Day. Karyna holds an MFA from the University of Michigan, and earned her PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston. She was recently the Diane Middlebrook Fellowship in Poetry at the University of Wisconsin and is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Christian Brothers University in Memphis. 


Want to get email updates on new games and all things March Shredness during February and March? Join the email list: