MUSIC

Is Bob Dylan Really the 7th Best Singer of All Time?

How could Bob Dylan rank number 7 on a list of best singers of all time?

On Monday, October 21st, the world woke up to see "Bob Dylan" trending on Twitter, immediately causing a jolt of panic in the hearts of fans.

But a quick scroll revealed that Dylan wasn't trending because he died, but because of a 2008 Rolling Stone list of the greatest singers of all time. The account that reposted the list, @crockpics, is committed to "sharing entertaining and memorable pictures of classic rock artists," according to its bio.

But the seemingly innocuous, dated list—reposted by a run-of-the-mill content-farming account—soon sparked heated online debate. Upon reading the list, fans began to argue amongst themselves about the validity of Bob Dylan's place on the list at number 7. In particular, many took issue with Dylan's placement above Freddie Mercury, who is listed at number 18.




Of course, as many pointed out, it's not clear whether the rankings were based merely on technical vocal skill or on a singer's whole package, including presentation, performance, individuality, etc. Based on Dylan's high ranking, one assumes the latter is the case. In fact, the article that prefaces the original list, written by Jonathan Lethem, states, "For me, Bob Dylan and Patti Smith, just to mention two, are superb singers by any measure I could ever care about — expressivity, surprise, soul, grain, interpretive wit, angle of vision...If one of the weird things about singers is the ecstasy of surrender they inspire, another weird thing is the debunking response a singer can arouse once we've recovered our senses. It's as if they've fooled us into loving them, diddled our hard-wiring, located a vulnerability we thought we'd long ago armored over."

This seems to more than explain the list's logic. As much as American Idol and the like have trained us to think good singing is quantifiable, the truth is some of the musical artists who have most set the soundtrack to the common experience of being alive would not even make it past the first round of auditions on your average singing reality show. Everyone who really loves music, who has been transformed, soothed, or awoken by just the right song at just the right time, knows that singing is as much about soul and storytelling as it is about perfect technique.

So yes, if we're judging a singer's talent by range, pitch control, breath control, tone, rhythm, and diction, Mariah Carey should absolutely rank above Bob Dylan on the list of 200 best singers. But if you're judging a singer on their ability to tell a story, the pain and joy they can imbue their voice with, the distinct nature of their unmistakable sound, and the simple ability to deeply affect a listener, Bob Dylan is among the best singers there ever was.

CULTURE

Nazi-Chic: The Aesthetics of Fascism

Let's take a look at Nazi-inspired fashion.

Villains always have the best outfits.

From Darth Vader's polished black space armor to The Joker's snazzy purple suit, bad guys always seem to show up their protagonists in the fashion department.

Way more handsome than Batman. static.giantbomb.com

But could there possibly be a real world equivalent to the type of over-the-top villain fashion often found in fiction? It would have to be sleek and imposing, austere and dangerous. Probably black.

Maybe it's him. Maybe it's fascist ideology.

Oh, right.

Let's call a spade a spade. From an aesthetic standpoint, the Nazi SS outfit is very well-designed. The long coat tied around the waist with a buckle portrays a slim, sturdy visage. The leather boots and matching cap look harsh and powerful. The emblem placements on the lapel naturally suggest rank and authority. And the red armband lends a splash of color to what would otherwise be a dark monotone. If the Nazi uniform wasn't so closely tied with the atrocities they committed during WWII, it wouldn't seem out of place at Fashion Week. Perhaps not too surprising, considering many of the uniforms were made by Hugo Boss.

Pictured: A real thing Hugo Boss did. i.imgur.com

Of course, today, Nazi uniform aesthetics are inseparable from the human suffering doled out by their wearers. In most circles of civilized society, that's more than enough reason to avoid the garb in any and all fashion choices. But for some, that taboo isn't a hindrance at all–if anything, it's an added benefit.

As a result, we have Nazi chic, a fashion trend centered around the SS uniform and related Nazi imagery.

History of Nazi Chic

For the most part, Nazi chic is not characterized by Nazi sympathy. Rather, Nazi chic tends to be associated with counterculture movements that view the use of its taboo imagery as a form of shock value, and ironically, anti-authoritarianism.

The movement came to prominence in the British punk scene during the mid-1970s, with bands like the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees displaying swastikas on their attire alongside other provocative imagery.

Very rotten, Johnny. i.redd.it

Around this time, a film genre known as Nazisploitation also came to prominence amongst underground movie buffs. A subgenre of exploitation and sexploitation films, Naziploitation movies skewed towards D-grade fare, characterized by graphic sex scenes, violence, and gore. Plots typically surrounded female prisoners in concentration camps, subject to the sexual whims of evil SS officers, who eventually escaped and got their revenge. However, the most famous Nazisploitation film, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, flipped the genders.

The dorm room poster that will ensure you never get laid. images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com

Ilsa was a female SS officer and the victims were men. She spent much of the movie wearing her Nazi uniform in various states, sexually abusing men all the while. As such, Ilsa played into dominatrix fantasies. The movie was a hit on the grindhouse circuit, inspiring multiple sequels and knock-offs and solidifying Nazi aesthetics as a part of the BDSM scene.

Since then, Nazi chic fashion has been employed by various artists, from Madonna to Marilyn Manson to Lady Gaga, and has shown up in all sorts of places from leather clubs to character designs in video games and anime.

Lady Gaga looking SS-uper. nyppagesix.files.wordpress.com

Nazi Chic in Asia

Nazi chic has taken on a life of its own in Asia. And unlike Western Nazi chic, which recognizes Nazism as taboo, Asian Nazi chic seems entirely detached from any underlying ideology.

A large part of this likely has to do with the way that Holocaust education differs across cultures. In the West, we learn about the Holocaust in the context of the Nazis committing horrific crimes against humanity that affected many of our own families. The Holocaust is presented as personal and closer to our current era than we might like to think. It is something we should "never forget." Whereas in Asia, where effects of the Holocaust weren't as prominent, it's simply another aspect of WWII which, in and of itself, was just another large war. In other words, Nazi regalia in Asia might be viewed as simply another historical military outfit, albeit a particularly stylish one.

In Japan, which was much more involved with WWII than any other Asian country, Nazi chic is usually (but not always) reserved for villainous representations.

OF COURSE. i.imgur.com

That being said, J-Pop groups like Keyakizaka46 have publicly worn Nazi chic too, and the phenomena isn't limited to Japan.

In South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand, Nazi imagery has shown up in various elements of youth culture, completely void of any moral context. For instance, in Indonesia, a Hitler-themed fried chicken restaurant opened in 2013. And in Korea, K-Pop groups like BTS and Pritz have been called out for propagating Nazi chic fashion. Usually such incidents are followed by public apologies, but the lack of historical understanding makes everything ring hollow.

Implications

So the question then: is Nazi chic a bad thing?

The answer is not so black and white.

On one hand, seeing Nazi chic on the fashion scene may dredge up painful memories for Holocaust survivors and those whose family histories were tainted. In this light, wearing Nazi-inspired garb, regardless of intent, seems disrespectful and antagonistic. Worse than that, it doesn't even seem like a slight against authority so much as a dig at actual victims of genocide.

But on the other hand, considering the fact that even the youngest people who were alive during WWII are edging 80, "forgetting the Holocaust" is a distinct possibility for younger generations. In that regard, perhaps anything that draws attention to what happened, even if it's simply through the lens of "this outfit should be seen as offensive," might not be entirely bad. This, compounded by the fact that Nazi chic is not commonly associated with actual Nazi or nationalistic sentiments, might be enough to sway some people–not necessarily to wear, like, or even appreciate its aesthetics, but rather to understand its place within counterculture.

Ultimately, one's views on Nazi chic likely come down to their own personal taste and sensibilities. For some, Nazi chic is just a style, an aesthetic preference for something that happens to be mired in historical horror. For others, the shadow of atrocity simply hangs too strong.

TV

TV's Baddest Angels, Ranked

Some angels are wimps.

Because Popes practically ruled the Western world from ancient Rome to the "screw you" spirit of the French Revolution, the supremacy of the Catholic church is reflected in, among other things, weird, obscure holidays.

Since 1608, today, October 2, has apparently been the day to honor The Feast of the Guardian Angels (according to the BBC, who probably had to Google it first). The belief that each soul is assigned a guardian angel who watches over you for your entire life, after which the winged stalker escorts you to heaven, has become a common trope in pop culture. While TV's Touched by an Angel, Highway to Heaven, and the Hallmark Channel have depicted earnest, wholesome angels as divine intermediaries between humans and an unknowable, all powerful deity, today we're more interested in angels who scheme, swear, and screw like humans.

Darren Swimmer, executive producer of the fan-favorite fantasy series Shadowhunters, notes, "What's interesting is that throughout the history of angels on TV, they've always remained somewhat elusive and ineffable. They're not easy characters to pin down. And since you didn't used to have darker angels on television, so people tend to want to gravitate to edgier material because it's something different."

That's not to say that the idea of angels being closer to us lowly humans than some divine god is new. In Thomas Aquinas' 1485 Summa Theologica, he relegated guardian angels as the lowest rank in the hierarchy: a characteristic we love to explore in the form of TV angels who show their stupidity and lack social grace and maybe even sin? From the comedy of NBC's The Good Place and TBS' Miracle Workers to the dramedy of CW's Supernatural and the trio of current series adapted from Neil Gaiman's oeuvre of mythological mindf*cks, we love to watch these angels sin.

Ranked from most to least wholesome, our favorite angels are:

1. Miracle Workers: Craig (Daniel Radcliffe)

1 / 6

Initially one of the mindless drones in the bureaucracy of Heaven Inc., guileless cog Craig (Daniel Radcliffe) is a low-level angel-figure in TBS' allegory of corporate hive mindedness and complacency. Steve Buscemi plays a washed out God who shuffles around in a tattered bathrobe. He needs a personal assistant and many workers under him because he can't stay motivated or on-task for long periods of time; apparently, he also can't read.

Craig is galvanized to act on his own principles, however, when his newly assigned partner Eliza (Geraldine Viswanathan) inspires him to save Earth from God's capricious plan to destroy it. Do they succeed? Well, Miracle Workers has been renewed for season 2, so obviously.

In this clip, Craig is showing Eliza and his rival-turned-friend Sanjay (Karan Soni) what he was like when he was alive on Earth: He was a caveman who sat by a bog. That's all. It's no wonder that as an angel Craig's worst sin is getting God to sign the wrong form.