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Examining Music: Marilyn Manson's The Beautiful People

Image of David by John Barrett, Text & Design by David Clark Allen

Bursting from an American heart of darkness formed by anger/need and unspoken desire - Marilyn Manson's song The Beautiful People is one of the defining tracks of the mid to late 90s. Industrial, Techno, Hardcore metal, Steampunk - this is what rock and roll is all about!

Distortion taken to new levels - added to the bass and lead vocal as well as the guitars. A biting, clipped sonic palette - harmonically rich and brutal . . . the sound of unleashed power. Although the use of compression has since reached new heights, this was a frontrunner of it's time - nothing gentle, everything banging at the highest level with Trent Reznor of NINs at the production helm.

The video for The Beautiful People - combining fetish imagery, s&m, extreme piercing and 'Goth' mixed with elements of Tod Browning's seminal b&w film Freaks, is as extraordinary as the music. An expertly choreographed, apocalyptic vision of sex, death and madness - influenced by the master of 'images of terrible beauty' (photographer/artist Joel Peter Witkin) and directed by Floria Sigismondi.

Musically, lyrically and visually Marilyn is deliberately confusing - a strong fascistic element fuels the proceedings which, although not entirely unique, is effective (many films and books have also exploited the fantasy of a 'perverse sexuality' embedded in the Third Reich).

Marilyn is outrageous, intelligent and controversial. A radical self styleded anti-Christ - he offers his followers an unholy feast made of seemingly toxic but extremely satisfying ingredients.

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