Song of the day 9/14

Posted: September 14, 2011 in J.C. Personal
Tags: ,

Today’s song shares its name with a psychological and political phenomenon where an individual uses the media to create a heroic or idealized public image, often used in dictatorships where the leader uses media to demonstrate unquestioning praise. Examples of this phenomenon include: Castro, Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini, Gaddafi (or however you spell it), and Kim Jong-Il. From Karl Marx’s critique of the “cult of the individual”, we get the phrase “Cult of Personality”.

The song “Cult of Personality is by the band Living Colour, a rock band that blends elements of funk, jazz, hard rock and heavy metal. Forming in 1984 in New York out of a non-profit organization for African-American musicians interested in playing rock music, Living Colour’s predominately African-American line up remains a rarity in hard rock/heavy metal to this day. Corey Glover is among the best African-American singers in metal, alongside Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust, Howard Jones of Killswitch Engage, Lenny Kravitz, Phill Lynott of Thin Lizzy, and Jimi Hendrix.

“Cult of Personality” was released in 1988 and reached number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song also holds a place on VH1’s 100 greatest rock songs and in Guitar World’s 100 greatest guitar solos. Living Colour disbanded in 1995, but reformed in 2000 and is still touring today, but they never again reached the success of their debut single.

The song opens with an audio sample of a speech from Malcolm X and also contains a clip of John F. Kennedy and Franklin D. Roosevelt. The song is an obvious political statement, but I’m not sure what the statement is, but with lyrics like: “I’ll exploit you; still you love me. I’ll tell you one and one makes three” it seems to be a warning against the “Cult of Personality” trap.

Living Colour won the Grammy for best hard rock performance in 1989 and picked up a couple of MTV video music awards.

The song has been used in several commercials, film soundtracks and video games. Most recently, the song was used by professional wrestler CM Punk as an entrance theme. His popularity helped to bring the song to number 111 on iTunes top 200 singles in July of this year.

“Cult of Personality” is proof that even a hard working band may never top their first single.

See ya on the “B” side.


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