REVIEW: Magic Is Might, Part 3

[Thank you for visiting The Wrock Snob and reading this article! I’d love for you to jump right into the reviewy goodness, but first there is some unfortunate business to take care of. It is not in my nature to tell you specifically what or what not to buy and who to support – I tell you what I thought about an album, and if my tastes seem to align with yours, you might want to heed my suggestions. However, I must take this time to personally exhort that you do not monetarily support the bands The Remus Lupins or Ministry of Magic. The full reasons are unsettling and possibly triggering, so please proceed with caution, but if you want the full details click here. Simply put, it has been revealed that certain member/s of both bands did destructive, upsetting, and highly problematic things. While I can see the value of reviewing art no matter what the artist did on a grand society-level scale, I cannot morally allow myself to condone the financial support of these monsters, nonetheless exhorting people to do so. Now it is entirely possible this copypasta’d retroactive warning was placed on a negative review, making this sidebar somewhat moot, but I still feel it necessary to make these matters clear. Again, for full details and rumination click here, otherwise, please enjoy the article.]

Sigh. The Ministry has fallen, indeed.

Sorry, I had to get that one out of the way as soon as possible.  Now then: “The Ministry Has Fallen”, or, “What Not To Do When Making A Song About Bad Things Happening”.  To whit:

  • Don’t make it sound happy
  • Don’t make it sound happy
  • Don’t use that cascading chimes sound, because it makes it sound happy
  • Don’t fucking make it sound happy

Seriously, this isn’t that hard to get, guys.  I mean, I’m all for cognitive dissonance, but there’s a difference between framing something sad in an ironically happy light, underscoring the humanity and tragedy of it all, and just fucking up and making the fall of the entire wizarding government sound like it’s a stroll in the park and maybe even a good thing… FOR THE RESISTANCE.  I mean, you could totally pull off a happy song about the Ministry fallen, if it was from the point of view of, say, Thickness or Voldemort or something, then you could get dark comedy points.  But this song just… it just fails, and it makes absolutely no sense.  I mean, this sort of thing makes me actually suspect my Djinn theory might be true.

So, it’s been A LONG time since this song, and the album it is on, came out. A ludicrous amount of time, I will freely admit, for me to have not finished this article, and for anyone to care.  At this point, no one, least of all myself, is expecting a masterwork piece of criticism.  Hell, most people aren’t even expecting this article at all.  So, I’m going to be a little more fast and loose than I previously was when writing about this album, because while I want to finally record all of my thoughts in the public record for posterity’s sake, I doubt any parties involved, least of all myself, give a damn anymore.  Mostly due to the Worldwide Damn Shortage.  I mean, we can’t just give these things out anymore! They’re a valuable commodity!

So, “The Ministry Has Fallen”.  Sometimes the voices are mixed a little oddly, but for the most part the boys all sound good, and Voldemark finally shows off a bit in an album that seems to often lack his presence, during the chori.  But GOD DAMN those chori.  They, and the song in general, aren’t BAD, per se.  But they make me laugh EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.  Why? Because I swear Voldemark is smiling while he sings this, and the music is smilingly chirping right a long.  In fact, the music does make you wanna boogie a little bit, which normally is not a bad thing.  But when a song about the end of the world as we know it (I bet you expect me to make an R.E.M. reference here, huh? WRONG!) sounds closer to “Dance Time” than it does, say, “Lightning Struck Tower”, or “Only Power Remains”, or the masterful “Ministry of Magic”, then something is very, very wrong.

Again, cognitive dissonance is GREAT – see the aforementioned “Ministry of Magic” for a great example of that.  The faux-cheeriness of the whole song fails to mask the utterly creepy lyrics, and is on the whole a delightfully unnerving experience for the listener.  But it just doesn’t work here.  In fact, it doesn’t even feel like they were trying to pull that off again, and just failed, it feels like they wandered in here completely accident, blissfully unaware of the fact that they were unironically making a happy-sounding song about the destruction of everything Harry has grown to rely on.

Maybe if the chori were song from the POV of, say, I don’t know, Voldemort? Is that too much of a stretch? One of the MoM members pretending to be Voldemort? Crazy, I know, but still – if such a strange occurrence had… occurred… then maybe the song could have worked, at the very least the chorus – it’d would be darkly hilarious to have Voldemort singing a poppy, cheery taunt that inverts the words of Kingsley Shacklebolt.  But, nope, it’s all from the trio/good people’s point of view, and yet it sounds like, all in all, they are more than okay with this sudden regime change.

And really, as purely a song, it’s not bad.  Parts of it can be catchy, and certain small sections of lyrics stick out to me, like “And love will reclaim what shadows stole”, and really, the chorus is FUN – it’s just that that’s the PROBLEM.  And really, this could have been pulled off, but with a major lyrics overhaul.  And the final rendition of the chorus, where VoldeMark pulls off some nice key changes, is pretty cool.  Really, if you are someone who is somehow not bothered by lyrics, and can look past certain fundamental failures that went into planning a song like this, then you will enjoy it – I mean, it’s a rather boilerplate MoM song, music and melody-wise, thus it’s pretty good in those respects, but as for me – I listen to the words they’re actually singing about, and really… all I can do is laugh.

And on that note, let me just state once again that I really don’t take any pleasure in this – I LOVE MoM, and while multiple songs on this album made me laugh out loud at some of the truly bizarre choices that were made in making them, I don’t feel like I’m being justified in any way.  You guys don’t know how much I wish this album had made me eat my words in that very first review I made, how much I wish this had been a fitting end to a great 3 years of music.  Alas, apparently it was not to be.  And you know what? I can’t really blame the MoM guys too much.  I mean, yes, they did MAKE this album, and unless my Djinn theory proves to be true, the onus falls squarely on their shoulders, but it CAN’T be easy to make an album when the band members are now split all across the country, and that distance is probably to blame for MoM losing a fair amount of their “spark” around when it came time to make O&U, and it only progressed from there.

Okay, four more songs to get done, and then I never have to write about this album ever again, and you won’t be subjected to my whining ever again.

…My whining about this particular album, obviously.  Expect to be subjected to my whining about all manner of topics for the next couple millenia.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sophie
    Nov 29, 2011 @ 09:12:41

    Yet another thing that bothered me about this album.

    Though my disappointment with it may have been compounded by the fact that it came out the night I was singing at a Christmas concert, so I downloaded it on my iPhone just before the concert started so I could listen to it on the bus ride back.

    And fell asleep while listening to it.

    Also, I’m totally with you on this: “You guys don’t know how much I wish this album had made me eat my words in that very first review I made, how much I wish this had been a fitting end to a great 3 years of music.” I wanted SO BADLY for this to be a great album… I mean, come on guys, you’re better than this album…

    Reply

  2. Voldemark
    Dec 26, 2011 @ 20:56:43

    I think you’ve handled that song fairly responsibly sir 🙂 The only question I have about the review is as to what degree you weight the criterian of genre. I think this is a fascinating question, and maybe even a question that damages the whole project of offering a critique of wrock, but if critique is to be done, then it’s a question that must be answered: Is wrock a genre itself, or it wrock an umbrella term that merely indicates the direction of lyrical content while allowing for a broad array of genre types? If the latter, then I can’t agree with the criticisms as they would be a collection of category mistakes. Pop songs tend to be (at least prima facie) less concerned with the lyrical content than with simply getting folks to dance. That’s it. Personally, I think my next project (assuming I get back into singing when I get a chance) will be something more stage/drama oriented as that’s what I’ve always wanted to do (and have instead wound up in two rock bands…not that I’m complaining! I was thankful to be a part of something special in both cases:)), but I understood that with M.o.M. what I was doing was pop-music, and I was aware that the content was fairly dissonant with the melody. That didn’t bother me given the genre. The song counted as a success so long as folks were entertained, smiled, and wanted to dance. But what if wrock is a genre per se? Well, if that’s the case then we need to know what makes wrock a unique genre. sometimes it’s asserted (unless I”m wrong, and you’d know better than I would my friend:)) that songs from a character’s point of view is essential, and that therefore there must be some fit between the character, the character’s situation, and the tone created by the melody/lyrical mix. If that is the case, then yup; the song is as laughable as you suggest. I’d have to agree with you if that is the case. I think it all hangs on how that question of genre vis a vis wrock gets answered. Sorry to ramble man! It’s late, and I saw this, thoughts popped into my tiny, sleepy head, and I thought it worth while to put in my several cents 🙂 It was a pleasure and a priveledge to meet you at Leakycon good sir! LOVE!! 🙂

    Reply

    • wrocksnob
      Dec 28, 2011 @ 14:04:52

      Thank you for the comment! The question of wrock-as-genre is a very intriguing and tricky one, and one I am delighted you brought up, because it gives me an excuse to ramble on about it! Here’s my take on it, as well as the other questions you raised:

      When ever a muggle asks me what wizard rock is, I define it as a genre where the term “genre” refers not to the style of music, but to the content of the lyrics, wherein the lyrics are all about Harry Potter (yes, THAT Harry Potter, stop giving me funny looks), and the style of music can be pretty much any genre. So, purely in terms of strict, non-nuanced definition, I guess that yes, you are correct when you say that wizard rock is more a blanket term to describe a bunch of music of varying musical genres that all happen to contain lyrics about Harry Potter. But I look at things a bit differently. You see, I think that the very fact that wrock is not a single genre of music but more a lyrical umbrella is precisely what elevates it above umbrella status to it’s own unique genre, paradoxical as that statement is, specifically because what fabric the lyric umbrella is made from (okay this metaphor is stupid): books.

      When you get right down to it, what defines a wizard rock song? It’s lyrics. That’s what defines the genre, and thus, I believe, that in this genre lyrics are specially important, more so than in other genres. Sure, a couple instrumental songs can sneak in here and there, but 99.9 percent of the time, if it’s not about Harry Potter, it’s not wizard rock (for the purposes of this discussion, let’s pretend meta-wrock doesn’t exist, because that’s a whole ‘nother tangle of worms). Our genre was birthed from a book, from words, and words are what give our genre definition. So unlike other genres, where importance and definition is placed upon the sound of the guitars, or the types of instruments being used, or what cultures inspire the music, or whether there’s a wobble bass and a “sick drop”, importance and definition is placed upon the words, the lyrics.

      So, I contend that wizard rock IS a genre, a genre that puts its importance and definition on lyrics, and that importance of lyrics cancels out the unimportance lyrics might have in any musical style that a wizard rock song is a part of. That’s part one. Here’s part two: I respectfully but VEHEMENTLY disagree with your contention that pop music is supposed to have stupid lyrics. Yes, I am putting words in your mouth a bit, but even if that’s not what was implied by your words, it is what is implied by reality. Because, you are right – pop music is filled with terrible, awful lyrics – I don’t think that’s a good thing, or something that should be emulated. It’s okay to emulate your neighbor who got a huge pool in their backyard, and get a pool yourself, but if your neighbor also fills that pool with arsenic and alligators (“Arsenic and Alligators”, by the way, is the title of the worst ABC book ever), that doesn’t mean you should as well. There is no reason why pop music, stuff you can dance to, also has to be stuff you beat your head against a flat surface to if you listen to the lyrics. Yes, by it’s very definition, “popular music” will always try to appeal to the lowest common denominator, and I’m not saying every piece of music ever created must be an artistic masterpiece. There is always place for experimentation (and thus, failures), and there is always a time and place for mindless entertainment (my two favorite films of all time are Casablanca [cliche, I know, but SO good] and Mega Shark VS Giant Octopus [AWESOME]). However, it’s not impossible for good lyrics to be found in pop music, and even very popular songs – let’s just acknowledge this fact as true, otherwise this post will become just one giant list of my all the lyrics I like and BLUH.

      Moreover, I have no idea why one would want to TRY to make your lyrics bad (besides an ironic gesture), or why, if you saw lyrics that you knew were flawed, you would do nothing to fix them. ESPECIALLY since an ability to do pop songs with not even passable, or good, but GREAT lyrics has been proven before. I don’t think this is exactly what you were saying, but, basically, in my mind, while there can be excuses for poor lyrics, “it’s okay for lyrics to be bad” is NOT one of them, ESPECIALLY in the genre of wizard rock. The only genres I can think of where this is acceptable is remix/sample-based stuff like Dubstep, or possibly Eurodance, because usually the lyrical content of the song is about 30 seconds and then the other three minutes are catchy synth loops repeated ad infinitum, or it’s all in European, and I don’t speak European, so who knows what the lyrics are about?

      Probably Europeans.

      Also, there’s this: “The song counted as a success so long as folks were entertained, smiled, and wanted to dance.” I’m sorry, but I can’t dance or smile to something that’s unironically happily singing about totalitarianist regimes and how awesome they are. I can mercilessly nitpick it from my armchair, but I won’t dance to it. Also, this song is kinda mellow anyway, so the most I would do is bob my head. The way I see it, in most cases, a song with great music but terrible lyrics is only half a song, and thus, not a good one. There are exceptions of course – stuff like Ke$ha that manages to skate through on claims of “ironic enjoyment” (and other so bad it’s good stuff), and the very few songs in which the music trumps the horrid lyrics. But my take is – if it’s supposed to be dancey music and not about the lyrics, then why have lyrics at all? If you want to have vocals harmonizing above your instrumentals, why not just have everyone sing “bahs” and “lahs” and “buffalos”? I don’t see the need to pollute a perfectly fine piece of melody with bad lyrics.

      Then again, I might just be weird like that. I love lyrics and I believe that songwriting is one of the arts that has the greatest capacity to move and express emotion, and I know there are many people who are able to completely ignore lyrics, but I am unable to. That love of lyrics is just part of my personal bias, but I would contend that it’s a bias that was possibly cultivated by, and is definitely reinforced by, the very nature of the genre of wizard rock.

      So, yeah. That sure was a lot of words, and I’m still not sure I adequately explained myself, but I think I’ll leave it at that. Also, at LeakyCon, you asked me a question – “What is the single damning flaw in MiM?” or something like that, and do to me being me and that answer being a very long one, I never did get to finish, and I would like to finish that conversation sometime, if you are willing.

      Peace, yo.

      Reply

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