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"I am the God of Fuck!" --Cake and Sodomy
"Someone had to go this far." --The Man That You Fear
Marilyn Manson (initially Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids) are an American rock band founded in 1989. Most of their music technically falls under industrial rock with some metal elements, but the band are best known as shock rockers, with their graphic imagery and ruthless attacks on the mainstream media winning them a reputation of the kind seldom seen before in music. In fact, the moral panic against them was so great that they were blamed for the Columbine massacre by sections of the media, under the belief that the killers had been inspired by their music.
On the surface, this seems like an easy mistake to make. Throughout their career, Marilyn Manson have made good use of explicit live shows, controversial lyrics and outright bizarre music videos. The songs are cynical, with many lampooning conformism, social hierarchy and the media, amongst other things. Nothing was off limits, including certain members of the band's own fanbase. Despite this, in true industrial metal fashion, several of the songs and most of the videos don't give their meaning up easily, and are open to multiple interpretations.
Due to the fact that the band name is also the lead singer's stage name, Marilyn Manson is one of the most notorious examples of I Am the Band in existence. Many people are not, in fact, aware that they are a band and credit all the group's music to the singer alone. This has become more prominent over time, to the point where Marilyn Manson the person has become a household name, yet the other band members are known only by fans, ex-fans and (some) music critics. The number of them doesn't help -- Marilyn Manson's line up changes almost constantly, and they have gone through 17 guitarists, bassists, drummers and keyboardists in just 20 years. This has often been attributed by those who have worked with him to (among other things) Manson thinking, well, that he is the band and the others are just there to provide background scenery for him.
- Marilyn Manson- Vocals
- Twiggy Ramirez- Guitars, bass
- Fred Sablan - Bass
- Ginger Fish- Drums, percussion, piano
- Mark Chaussee- Guitars (touring)
- Rob Holliday- Bass, Guitars (touring)
- Wes Borland- Guitars (touring)
- Zsa Zsa Speck- Keyboards
- Olivia Newton Bundy- Bass
- Gidget Gein (deceased)- Bass
- Sara Lee Lucas- Drums, Percussion
- Daisy Berkowitz- Guitars
- Zim Zum- Guitars
- John 5- Guitars
- Madonna Wayne Gacy- Keyboards
- Tim Skold- Guitars, Bass
- Chris Vrenna- Keyboards, percussion
- Andy Gerold- Bass (touring)
- Portrait of an American Family (1994)
- Antichrist Superstar (1996)
- Mechanical Animals (1998)
- Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death) (2000)
- The Golden Age of Grotesque (2003)
- Eat Me, Drink Me (2007)
- The High End of Low (2009)
- Born Villain (2012)
Provides Examples of:
- Aerith and Bob: In recent years, new members have not chosen stage names whilst the old members have kept theirs. The results of this are... interesting...
- Arc Number: 15.
- Ascended Fanboy: A young Manson (real name Brian Warner) appeared on an MTV program talking to a VJ about the band he was putting together.
- Batman Gambit:
- The cover for Portrait Of An American Family was originally intended to be a picture of a naked baby (Manson himself), to show that an innocent baby photo can and will be interpreted as "pornographic". In itself this would have been an effective statement; however the proposed cover was indeed deemed pornographic by relevant authorities, and was thus not used. The censorship of the image only proved the point the band was trying to make, rather than diminishing it.
- Similarly, the cover for Holy Wood depicts a violent and bloody image of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and was thus censored by the bands label. It was originally designed to show how violent the popular scene actually is, and the act of censoring only further emphasised the violent nature of the religious parable.
- Bilingual Bonus: "Kinderfeld."
- Bisexual Life Partners: Manson and Twiggy.
- Book Ends: Counting the hidden track, the two distorted "when you are suffering, know that I've betrayed you" at the start and end make Antichrist Superstar a perfect loop of the The Wall variety.
- Holy Wood begins and ends with a key in a lock (respectively opening and closing).
- Butt Monkey: John 5 and Daisy Berkowitz, apparently. See also: With Friends Like These...
- Cloudcuckoolander: In most of his earlier interviews, bassist/guitarist Twiggy was a Grade A example of this trope. Mostly he sat swaying slightly, fiddling with his clothing and staring at the ceiling, rarely speaking unless addressed directly, at which point he would reply with a nonsensical comment (one interview with Manson and Twiggy had the latter saying only "Whiskey and speed", and only answering a couple of questions with a coherent answer, before going back to "Whiskey and speed"), and in one case, only played an audio clip with a tape player. Nobody knows whether he did this intentionally as part of his stage persona, or whether he was just semi-permanently high.
- Cluster F-Bomb: The band's songs generally contain a lot of swearing.
- Concept Album: Antichrist Superstar, Mechanical Animals and Holy Wood actually form a trilogy about main character of all three albums. Chronologically in the narrative, however, it goes in reverse order.
- Somewhat debatable as to the order of the albums. Interpretations of the "Triptych" are an Epileptic Trees forest.
- The Cover Changes the Meaning: The band has Grimmified several songs, including Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" and the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams".
- Cowboy Bebop at His Computer: Marilyn Manson is not a goth band, and they have never claimed to be so. It seems as though only reason people think they are a goth band is because the media kept saying they were. The makeup, nail polish, black clothing, and stereotypical "darkness" of the band didn't help much. The music video for Tainted Love also does not help, what with it being filled with goth kids and all (one even wearing a shirt stating "Nothing but a G(oth) Thing").
- Dark Is Not Evil: His darkness and use of demonic imagery is just part of his image, his public persona. He really is a pretty nice guy.
- Your Mileage May Vary if you've worked with him. Or for him. Especially if you've tried to get paid after working with him or for him.
- Deadpan Snarker: Marilyn Manson in many interviews.
- Demoted to Extra: Roli Mosimann was chosen to produce Portrait of an American Family due to his work with Swans, but he turned in a flat and lifeless mix. As an Author's Saving Throw, Trent Reznor (who agreed with Manson that the mix "sucked") brought them to LA for seven weeks of remixing and re-recording, and Mosimann was demoted to "engineer" in the album credits.
- Drugs Are Bad: "Coma White."
- Dude Looks Like a Lady: Twiggy in the Antichrist Superstar era (convincing enough to make a Christian right wing group say he was a female guitarist who did things onstage). Manson also got into drag for the Nine Inch Nails video "Starfuckers, Inc." (a.k.a. "Starsuckers, Inc."), and in the 'Long Hard Road Out Of Hell' video. He was surprisingly convincing on both occasions.
|* Five-Bad Band:|
|The Big Bad||Marilyn Manson|
|The Dragon||Gidget Gein, Twiggy Ramirez, Tim Skold, then Twiggy again|
|Evil Genius||Daisy Berkowitz, Ginger Fish|
|The Brute||Madonna Wayne Gacy|
|Dark Chick||Daisy Berkowitz, Zim Zum, John 5|
|Big Brother Mentor||Trent Reznor|
|Tagalong Kid||This was Twiggy's initial role|
|Sixth Ranger||Olivia Newton Bundy, Zsa Zsa Speck, Sara Lee Lucas, Mark Chaussee, Rob Holliday, Wes Borland, Andy Gerold, Chris Vrenna and now Fred Sablan|
- Flat What: An interviewer did this after asking Twiggy about who had creative control in the band. Twiggy had replied "The chickens write the songs."
- Freaky Fashion, Mild Mind: Despite the scary looks, he's quite an intelligent person.
- Garfunkel: Olivia Newton Bundy and ZsaZsa Speck, the original bassist and keyboardist, respectively,
- Gender Blender Name: Many of the male band members use female names as their stage names. (see Theme Naming for the reason)
- High Turnover Rate: The above list should speak for itself.
- I Am the Band: To the point where many people honestly believe that Marilyn Manson is a solo artist.
- Indecipherable Lyrics: "The Beautiful People" is this for many people.
- Intentionally Awkward Title: Many, such as "This is the New Shit", "May Cause Discoloration Of The Urine Or Feces" and "Arma-goddamn-motherfuckin-geddon".
- Try telling someone about their cover of Patti Smith's song "Rock N Roll Nigger". Just try.
- Kindhearted Cat Lover
- Large Ham: Add the passionate/over-the-top delivery with the weird imagery, and Manson ranks quite high on the hamminess.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Most of their songs are around a 7 or 8, with their softer songs going down to a 5 or 6.
- Mind Screw: For some people, Manson and Twiggy's appearance when crossdressing.
- Mr. Fanservice: Bassists Gidget Gein and Twiggy Ramirez
- Not So Different: An argument he occasionally uses in debates with religious fundamentalists and those who condemn him.
- Ominous Music Box Tune: "Cryptorchid," "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)," "Breaking the Same Old Ground"
- Recurring Riff: In Born Villain, the opening vocal growl from "No Reflection" is repeated in full in "The Gardener" and partially in "Disengaged".
- Record Producer: Manson has had a co-producer credit on every album, but he's always gotten assistance from others - Trent Reznor (Portrait of an American Family, Antichrist Superstar), Michael Beinhorn (Mechanical Animals), Dave Sardy (Holy Wood), Ben Grosse (The Golden Age of Grotesque, which was co-produced by bandmate Tim Skold), and others.
- Religion Rant Song: "The Fight Song", "Cake and Sodomy" and "The Reflecting God", among others.
- Revolving Door Band
- Satire: "This is the New Shit" may be this to...well, new music. It seems like just a mindless indulgance, but only on the surface. "Everything has been said before / Nothing left to say anymore..."
- Surreal Music Video: Most of them, but "Sweet Dreams" is an Egregious example.
- Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll: The band single-handedly kept America's cocaine industry going through The Nineties. Well, sort of.
- Shiny Midnight Black: Marilyn Manson, the lead singer, has hair like this.
- Shout-Out: The "Inauguration of the Worm" and "Disintegrator Rising" cycles from Antichrist Superstar are references to Kenneth Anger's films Inauguration of the Pleasuredome and Lucifer Rising.
- The line "We're from America/where we eat our young" sounds like a reference to Funkadelic's album America Eats Its Young.
- Rather Hate Dumb-ishly, the chorus of "(m)OBSCENE" was accused of being too imitative of the chorus of Faith No More's "Be Aggressive", "The Fight Song" was accused of being a Jimmy Harted "Song 2" and "Astonishing Panorama of the Endtimes" is occasionally charged with ripping off Ministry's "Burning Inside".
- Spelling Song: Burning Flag
- As well as (s)AIN'T
I've got an 'F', and a 'C', and I got a 'K' too
- Take That: Unusually, there was one aimed at a section of the band's own fans. The song "This Is the New Shit" was written about fans who didn't even try to understand the point behind the band's music, preferring to just cheer everything indiscriminately.
- Theme Naming: The original band members' pseudonyms are formed by taking the first name of a female sex symbol, and the surname of a serial killer (Marilyn Monroe Monroe and Charles Manson). This practice stopped with Zim Zum in the Antichrist Superstar era.
- A Threesome Is Manly: Rare all-male example in the "(s)AINT" video, with Marilyn Manson engaging in a threeway with former bassist Gidget Gein and CSI's Eric Szmanda.
- Ubermensch: Manson (the person) sees himself as one of these and plays this role in Antichrist Superstar.
- Vocoder: Used to terrifying effect in the outro of "Cryptorchid" and the chorus of "Kinderfeld."
- We Used to Be Friends: Manson was close friends with Trent Reznor, who got them on his Nothing Records label, produced their first two albums and generally helped promote them. Then, at some point they had a pretty drastic falling out, and despite a short reconciliation around 1999-2000 (enough for Manson to make a cameo in the "Starfuckers, Inc." video and play a concert together), they pretty quickly went back to not being on such good terms anymore. Trent took a potshot or two at Manson, mocking his "Personal Jesus" cover when responding to a fan's question, and Manson's still angry because the Nothing people lost the master tracks for his first three albums. The whole feud's died down somewhat since, even if they're not gonna start being friendly again anytime soon.
- Manson's respective friendships with Daisy Berkowitz and Madonna Wayne Gacy also seem to have gone down in flames quite spectacularly. Then again, lawsuits will do that.
- Word Salad Lyrics
- This one also included Sean Beavan and Dave Ogilvie, from the NIN camp
- This wasn't strictly Trent's fault, as he got involved in a lawsuit with his former manager and gave up the label. Also, Rob Sheridan had to completely re-do the artwork for the Pretty Hate Machine remaster because Gary Talpas' original was lost by the Nothing staff as well