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File:Beck 1177.jpg


Beck (a.k.a Beck Hansen, born in 1970 as Bek David Campbell) is an American Alternative Rock musician and singer-songwriter with two turntables and a microphone. He first rose to popularity with his underground works, gaining a hit with his breakthrough single "Loser" in 1993. Afterwards, he earned great critical acclaim and commercial success with the album Odelay, escaping the threat of becoming a One-Hit Wonder.

Since then, he has released six more albums, his latest being 2008's Modern Guilt. During this time, he had become noted for the large variety of genres his work takes in.

Please don't confuse him with Jeff Beck, Glenn Beck, or the anime.

Discography:

  • Golden Feelings (1993)
  • Stereopathetic Soulmanure (1994) - these two albums comprised largely lo-fi, country- and folk-influenced material, quite different from what he made his name with.
  • Mellow Gold (1994) - the debut of Beck's famous Alt Rock Genre Busting style. A.k.a. The One With... "Loser".
  • One Foot In The Grave (1994) - another lo-fi, folky album.
  • Odelay (1996) - returning to the Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly, produced by the Dust Brothers (with some contributions from Mario Caldato, Tom Rothrock and Rob Schnapf). Widely considered his masterpiece, sometimes compared to Paul's Boutique due to being produced by the same team of the Dust Brothers and Caldato.
  • Mutations (1998) - a Tropicalia-influenced mellow album.
  • Midnite Vultures (1999) - upbeat, New Wave, Synth Pop, and especially Funk-influenced, and highly danceable material.
  • Sea Change (2002) - super-depressing material, produced by Nigel Godrich. Considered his second masterpiece after Odelay.
  • Guero (2005) - a return to the Odelay sound and a reunion with the Dust Brothers.
  • The Information (2006) - Nigel Godrich-produced Alternative Rock.
  • Modern Guilt (2008) - produced by Danger Mouse. Highly influenced by Psychedelic Rock and Surf Rock from The Sixties and The Seventies.

Tropes demonstrated by Beck include:

  • Arc Words: While they're more used in pre-Odelay albums, a few words are unusually common in his Word Salad Lyrics, such as:
    • Plastic
    • Cyanide
    • Whiskey
    • Mayonnaise
    • Taco
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Swearing was rather common on Mellow Gold and other early albums. As of late, though, he's been cutting down on the amount of swearing in his lyrics.
  • Creator Backlash: "Satan Gave Me a Taco" is one of his more popular early songs. When fans request him to play it live at concerts, he more often than not refuses to play and says he considers it some silly song he wrote in a few minutes that he only expected to perform once and was genuinely surprised at how many people like it.
  • Creator Breakdown: Averted on Odelay--Beck's grandfather had died recently and he had recorded some predictably depressing material with Tom Rothrock and Rob Schnapf, but shelved it. Instead, he did some upbeat stuff with the Dust Brothers and Caldato.
    • In full force on Sea Change, which was inspired by his breakup with his girlfriend.
  • Crossover: He once did a crossover performance with the Flaming Lips.
    • The Flaming Lips Also toured with him on his Sea Change tour in 2002.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: "Loser".
    • Also appears on "Hotwax".
    • "Que Onda Guero" has this in spades.
  • Hidden Track: All his pre-Sea Change albums (sans One Foot In The Grave) have one at the end:
    • "Ken" and "Hidden Noise" from Stereopathetic Soulmanure
    • "Analog Odyssey" from Mellow Gold
    • "Computer Rock" from Odelay
    • "Diamond Bollocks" from Mutations
    • An untitled one from Midnite Vultures
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: The vocals to "Sweet Sunshine" are so distorted that even 15 years after the fact, many fansites have different interpretations of the lyrics.
    • Fans still disagree as to what the chorus of "Girl" is. It's either "my cyanide girl," "my sun-eyed girl," or "my cyan-eyed girl".
  • Intercourse with You: Pretty much every song on Midnite Vultures.
  • Last-Note Nightmare: "Earthquake Weather", arguably.
    • Also inverted in "Lord Only Knows", which begins with a startling scream that is either terrifying or comical.
  • Lighter and Softer and Darker and Edgier:Mutations and Sea Change are musically more laid back but lyrically more somber compared to their predecessors Odelay and Midnite Vultures.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Girl", which sounds like a cheery pop song unless you listen closely to the lyrics.
    • Lost Cause is a milder case, with fairly depressing lyrics set to upbeat acoustic guitars.
  • Mind Screw: "The Horrible Fanfare/Landslide/Exoskeleton", the final track from The Information. Starts off as a song, becomes a British-accented weather report, and ends up with Spike Jonze and Dave Eggers talking like two really baked college sophomores.
  • Miniscule Rocking: His more "indie" albums like [i]One Foot in the Grave[/i] and all his pre-[i]Mellow Gold[/i] releases are mostly made up of songs two minutes or shorter.
  • Mood Whiplash: The Mutations secret track "Diamond Bollocks" is heavier and darker than "Static" or any other song on the album. It's even more pronounced on some foreign copies on which it isn't a secret and occupies its own track after "Static" without the buffer of silence. Whiplash also occurs within the song as it changes styles abruptly.
    • Many of his albums (Odelay and Mellow Gold especially) end with 5-10 minutes of silence followed by a frightening "bonus noise" that can sometimes veer into Nightmare Fuel territory. See Hidden Track above.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly
  • Non-Appearing Title: "'Rollins Power Sauce'," "Whiskeyclone, Hotel City 1997," "Beercan," "Cyanide Breath Mint," "Atmospheric Conditions," "Minus," "Sissyneck," "E-Pro," "Earthquake Weather," "Emergency Exit," "Movie Theme," among many others.
  • One-Woman Song: "Debra".
  • Perishing Alt Rock Voice
  • Piss-Take Rap: According to the guy himself, "Loser". The story goes like this: Beck and Carl Stephenson decided to record a song in Stephenson's kitchen. He decided to start rapping, made up lyrics as he went, and the two got a laugh out of how terrible it sounded. When they listened, Beck started sarcastically singing "I'm a loser, baby, so why don't you kill me." The song took all of six and a half hours to record and produce, and only released it because his record label, Bong Load, pressured him to. And so, Beck got his first big break.
  • Pungeon Master: When they're not Word Salad Lyrics, chances are the lyrics are a Hurricane of Puns.
  • Sampling: A big part of his style, to the point that he complained that due to crackdowns and massively inflated sampling fees he would be unable to do an album like Odelay again without having to pay huge sums of money for clearance. There's a noticeable reduction in the amount of sampling on his 2000s albums compared to the ones from The Nineties.
  • Self-Backing Vocalist
  • Shrug of God: Beck hasn't even confirmed what the actual lyric in the chorus of "Girl" is. The official lyrics simply read "Hey, my... girl" (see Indecipherable Lyrics).
  • Something Completely Different: This being Beck, not only will this occur from album to album, but sometimes in the middle of a song itself.
  • The Stoner: His early folk stuff. It is less evident on later work.
  • Subliminal Seduction: At one point in "Loser," the chorus is sung backwards.
  • Surreal Humor: Frequently.
  • Surreal Music Video: Plenty.
  • Take That: His first single, "MTV Makes Me Want To Smoke Crack."
  • Take That Me: "Loser". Also, "Hotwax"'s Gratuitous Spanish chorus translates to "I'm a broken record/I've got chewing gum in my brain". And we can't forget his Futurama appearance.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: Depends on the album, as his more recent output seems more polished and albums like Odelay hide it under attention-deficit-style Sampling and genre-mixing, but his earlier albums and basically any of his folk, blues, or punk influenced songs fall under this.
    • Most of Sea Change fits this trope, mixing fairly simple song arrangements and direct lyrics about heartbreak.
  • Twenty Minutes Into the Future: Though now it's over a decade in the past, "Whiskeyclone, Hotel City 1997" was recorded in 1994.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: In his earlier material.
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