Saturday, 21 April 2012

S is for Subliminal

Music's a funny thing. It has the power to bring us together, uplift us, comfort us and book mark those special moments in life, but sadly for others, it induces fear and a panic reflex. Particularly if they don't get it or it's designed to be thought-provoking.

It's not just foul language the fear runs to, some people are so paranoid about its influence that it's been blamed for some really ridiculous things over the years and the heavier side of music always seems to get a pretty raw deal. Take subliminal messages...

Case #1: Ozzy Osbourne

I guess being part of the band who gave birth to the phrase 'heavy metal' and kick starting an entire genre was always going to bring shit to the door of Black Sabbath. Some people fear what they don't understand.

With their creation of music's loudest and darkest sounds and imagery ,Black Sabbath were set to be firsts in more ways than one, with parents latching into the band's music as a scapegoat for the behaviour of their children.

It's incredibly sad that American teenager, John McCollum, shot himself in 1985. However, it just so happens that at the time he was listening to Ozzy Osbourne's 'Suicide Solution' - a song about alcohol addiction, rather than the act of taking one's life.

Struggling to come to terms with their son's death, the McCollums took Osbourne to court, claiming his lyrics encouraged young people to commit suicide by the use of subliminal messages saying: 'get the gun, get the gun, shoot, shoot, shoot...'

Thankfully, common sense prevailed and the trial went in Osbourne's favour, but the fact it got to the courts in the first place is unbelievable.

Case #2: Judas Priest

In 1990, Birmingham metallers were accused of using subliminal messages to encourage their fans to kill themselves.

The parents of two American teenagers, James Vance and Raymond Bellknap, who shot themselves in 1990 (Bellknap died, Vance survived) attempted to sue the band for allegedly incorporating the subliminal message 'do it' within the song 'Better By You, Better Than Me'.

They claimed that the message told fans of the band to commit suicide.

Frontman Rob Halford summed up how ridiculous the accusations and court case were perfectly when he said that if they were including subliminal messages within their songs, surely the message would say 'buy more of our records'.

Finally, some common sense.


  1. People always feel the need to blame someone for their woes. I think these are perfect examples.

  2. Great post. We are too litigious as a society. For some people in pain, they think causing pain in others will make them feel better. Not just in big issues like the sad cases of suicide, but think of "unhappy" people in your own life.

    The seem the happiest when they are bringing others down to their level. I fight back with a smile. It gets them every time.