Tuesday, March 30, 2010

90's Guilty Pleasures #6: Queensryche "Silent Lucidity" (1991)

Believe it or not, the mentality of Mickey Rourke's character from The Wrestler still exists, thinking Nirvana killed '80s metal, when it was actually 100% the plan of the record companies. In the first 2 years of the '90s, and just before "them Nirvana fags" killed the '80s, there was a brief period when "the next big thing" really mattered and was severely pushed by radio and MTV. Just prior to grunge, magazines such as SPIN suggested a wide-range for "the sound of the '90s," with predictions ranging as far as Danzig, Deee-Lite, Teenage Fanclub, and grindcore.

While this was happening, pop metal got soft. Different singles could have been chosen from these bands, but instead the biggest "pop metal" hits of the early '90s were "More Than Words," "Something To Believe In," "I Saw Red," and "Wind Of Change." By the time another year had passed, Metallica scored a hit with "Nothing Else Matters," and the same with Ozzy's "Mama I'm Coming Home." Soft-metal prevailed further during the first half of 1991, when the biggest rock song to come out of Seattle was from yet another attempt at finding "the next big thing," from the prog-rock of Queensryche.

"Silent Lucidity" includes many embarrassing yet intriguing characteristics, and mostly intriguing considering how huge this song became. For example, the song's acoustic guitar intro alternates between 15/16 and 4/4 measures, for absolutely no reason other than showcasing the band's technical proficiency. (Yawn.) It could have just as easily been in straight 4/4, but that's prog-rock for ya.

The lyrics themselves generate further embarrassment. Take the song's once-sung refrain for instance: "I'm smiling next to you, in silent lucidity," meaning he's sitting next to someone's bed and smiling at them while controlling their mind/dreams. Kind of a gross image, IMHO (although the subject matter is an interesting concept).

It's possible that this song wouldn't have been nearly as marketable or popular if it hadn't musically shared so many characteristics with Side 3 of Pink Floyd's The Wall. There's the intro of "Hey You," the vocal harmonies from "The Show Must Go On" (reaching a bit into Side 4), and a strikingly similar atmosphere from the first guitar solo in "Comfortably Numb."

Queensryche are also inherently embarrassing by nature simply associating with nerdy prog-rock, as their fans show off their "Got 'Rhyche?" t-shirts with pride. But technically "Silent Lucidity" is still pop metal, and along with "Mama I'm Coming Home," this was probably the best out of this genre's very last few charting singles, before bands like System Of A Down and Slipknot scored hits with metal in a completely different direction.

NOTE: Just let it be known, I'm not especially proud of this "Silent Lucidity" review because it kind of jumps all over the place and doesn't flow nicely, but I'm posting it anyway because I don't really care.

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