MUSIC

Albums That Made You Want to Join a Cult in 2019

From the self-care cult of Lizzo to Lingua Ignota's cult of vengeful women.

2019 saw a lot of fabulous releases, but which ones will stand the test of time?

While some albums are critically acclaimed but then rapidly fade into obscurity, others are so good that they could easily inspire cults. The albums on this list may not have been the year's most highly acclaimed, but they are the most likely to inspire (if they haven't already) massive cultural shifts and changes that will persist long into the 1920s.

1. Lingua Ignota — Caligula

Lingua Ignota's raging, heavy, monstrous Caligula mixes harsh noise with effects and lyrics that blend liturgical services with murderous impulses. It's a howl of rage that damns all abusers to eternal hell and suffering; and, at a time when women are getting tired of the inaction that accompanied #MeToo, Caligula could easily inspire a cult of women to take to the streets and take back what was taken from them.

LINGUA IGNOTA - DO YOU DOUBT ME TRAITOR (official audio) www.youtube.com

2. Lizzo — Cuz I Love You

The cult of Lizzo is already in full swing, and it looks like it's only going to continue to grow. Lizzo already has tremendous sway, and her lyrics are ubiquitous in Instagram captions and in politicians' Twitter feeds. As many of us resolve to get over self-hate and turn over a new leaf in 2020, Lizzo will certainly only gain notoriety and acclaim. It's easy to imagine a massive group of Twerking, face mask-using, body-positive Lizzo fans and imitators snapping selfies, going viral, and starting the defining cult of the next decade.

Lizzo - Cuz I Love You (Official Video) www.youtube.com

3. 100 gecs — 1000 gecs

100 gecs didn't mean for their album to go viral, but their absurd, chaotic collection of angsty electronica has sparked a revival movement for ex-scene kids who moved out of their small towns into big cities and immediately gravitated to the local noise venue. Like the best memes, the duo's meme-inspired album toes the line between hyper-seriousness and total parody, and ultimately it hits the perfect level of absurdity for what's going to be a very chaotic decade.

100 gecs - money machine (Official Music Video) www.youtube.com

4. Tyler, the Creator — Igor

The Igor wigs were one of this Halloween's most popular costumes, and it's likely that Tyler, the Creator and his Igor alter-ego aren't going away anytime soon. Tyler, the Creator was already powerful enough to inspire Frank Ocean to start his music career, and Igor was a master-class in the art of transformation—and really, who wouldn't follow him to the edges of the Earth?

IGOR'S THEME www.youtube.com

5. BTS — Map of the Soul, Persona

The BTS ARMY is already a kind of cult, and the group's powers are continuing to escalate. They're even going to ring in 2020 as special guests on New Years' Rockin' Eve in Times Square. If BTS asked their fans to do anything or cancel anyone, there's no real doubt of what would result, and in the 2020s as algorithms become the center of warfare, the ability to instantly get something trending is a unique and formidable superpower.

BTS (방탄소년단) 'DNA' Official MV www.youtube.com

6. Kanye West — Jesus Is King

This one is contestable, because cult experts have reviewed Kanye West's Sunday Services movement and have determined that it doesn't really have the signs of an actual cult. It's just really, really born-again Christian. Whether you think Christianity itself is a cult is another discussion (but also, it is).

Kanye West - Jesus is King - Sunday Service Experience (The Forum - 11.03.19) www.youtube.com

7. Better Oblivion Community Center — Better Oblivion Community Center

Earlier this year, Phoebe Bridgers (emo-folk queen of the late 2010s) and Conor Oberst (emo-folk king of the 2000s) came together to create a cult-inspired emo-folk band about apathy, drunk nights out, and togetherness. They're definitely trying to recruit you, though it's not clear if BOCC practices any specific ideology or if they're just real sad about everything but still excited to hang out.

Better Oblivion Community Center - Dylan Thomas www.youtube.com

What artists or albums would you follow all the way to Jonestown?

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.

MUSIC

A Nebuchadnezzar Opera: Kanye's Problematic Brand of Old Testament Christianity

Nebuchadnezzar was a power hungry anti-Semite, who burned down Jerusalem and enslaved the Jewish people. Kanye wants to sing about him.

"I believe God is using me to show off," Kanye West recently told Zane Lowe.

"He's like, now let me take this Nebuchadnezzar type character...he looked at his kingdom and said 'I did this,' And God said, 'Oh for real, you did this?'" West goes on to describe that Nebuchadnezzar was supposedly bipolar and that when the king attempted to take credit for God's work, God made sure "he was driven away from people and ate grass like an ox. His body drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird." In summation, West believed his mental breakdown in 2017 was an act of God, and that it was God's way of humbling him and reminding him of who was in charge. West said, "Nebuchadnezzar was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and he was still king." Now, West announced he will premiere an opera based on the life of the biblical king at Hollywood Bowl this year.

Kanye West performs in Houston jail with his Sunday Service choir www.youtube.com

After the king of Judah staged a failed rebellion against Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, the latter was enraged and vowed to punish King Zedekiah for his transgressions. In 588 BCE, Nebuchadnezzar's army marched to the walls of Jerusalem and surrounded the city, cutting off the Jewish people from the fields outside of the city, which they relied on for food. For a year and a half, the Babylonian army starved out the Jewish people. It's written in the Book of Jeremiah that the corpses began to pile up in the streets of Jerusalem and disease began to engulf the city. The Babylonians finally lay siege to the city in 586 BCE, when the Jewish people were far too weak to defend themselves. At the order of King Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian army set Jerusalem ablaze in the 9th of Av (now known as Tisha B'Av in July), 586 BCE and burned the city to the ground, including the first Jewish temple. The army then forced the surviving Israelites to march back to Babylon, where they became enslaved to Nebuchadnezzar. In Judaism, the 9th of Av is recognized as a day of intense mourning, as it is marked as the beginning of what would become decades of enslavement.

West's respect and admiration for one of history's most recognized anti-Semites is problematic in its own right, but West does share an uncanny resemblance to Nebuchadnezzar in his approach to Christianity. His Sunday Service performances have dissolved into revival like affairs, with audience members kneeling and accepting Jesus as their one true savior. Similarly, Nebuchadnezzar, after a series of dreams, decreed that nobody in Babylon should speak against God and forced his subjects to accept the supremacy of a one true lord.

This kind of militant view of Christianity is something Kanye has in common with Nebuchadnezzar, who was famously dismissive of those who stood against him and retaliated against his perceived enemies with violence. "There will be a time where I am president of the United States, and I will remember, I will forgive, but I will remember, any founder that didn't have the capacity to understand what we were doing," West told Zane Lowe. "Interesting tone though," Lowe responded with a laugh, "it's sort of like a threatening hybrid." West's smile quickly turned into a grimace. "What? I'm supposed to forget?"

The opera is set to premiere at the Hollywood Bowl on November 24.