"Rape Gaze": Worst Genre Name Ever? Not Quite...

Categories: Lists, WTF Island

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Let's take a moment to think about labels and what they mean to us. Why do people feel the need to label things? The obvious answer is: It's the only way we know what stuff is.

To anyone who automatically dismisses the very idea of labeling, just imagine what it would be like if you had to shop in a grocery store with no labels. What's in that can you just put into your grocery cart? Who the hell knows? Could be Chef Boyardee ravioli, could be canned yams, could be mechanically separated nutria paste (a Cajun fast-food fusion delicacy, we're led to understand). A very, very entertaining game has been made based on this concept, but it's not something you'd want to subject yourself to every single day.

A Brooklyn musical duo calling itself Creep got into a little bit of trouble when they listed one of their genres on their MySpace page as "rape gaze." Obviously a play on the existing genre "shoegaze," the two sort of likeably dopey kids explained in an interview that they were just being silly with the genre invention. This makes sense; rape as a real thing is never funny, but calling a semi-Gothic electro musical style "rape gaze" after the face its artists tend to make in promotional photos? That's pretty damned hilarious. Especially once you learn that the band's real genre name - "witch house" - is just as ridiculous, if not more so.

That's why a few overly sensitive people took the whole "rape gaze" thing too seriously, we think: Not that it doesn't sound like it's a joke, because it totally does, but because many "legitimate" musical genres also sound like they were named as jokes. Don't believe us? Prepare to be enlightened.

10. Happy Hardcore

Haha, what? These two words should never, ever be together. This genre sounds like an oxymoron until you actually hear it, in which case we have to grudgingly admit, yes, it's pretty happy, and yes, it's pretty freakin' hardcore about it. A type of techno music featuring ridiculously sped-up beats (sometimes exceeding 200 bpm), sugary, sentimental pop vocals and uplifting melodies, happy hardcore is great for those ravers among you who feel like normal techno music is simply too grim. It's also pretty good music to write to. Huh. Who knew?


9. Zolo

Coined in the 1990s, this term is used to describe bands which feature whimsical, silly vocals over complex, strange arrangements. From what we can tell, it's sort of an offshoot/amalgam of Frank Zappa, They Might Be Giants, and a toy commercial. Indeed, the genre is named after Zolo Inc., a toy manufacturer whose toys are supposed to evoke the sensibilities of this particular genre, or something. We did a Google Image Search for "zolo" and got a bunch of really weird shit, including multiple pictures of the same green-haired, dual-katana-wielding anime dude. Okie dokie.


8. Paisley Underground

One thing we love about rock and roll is that, as it evolves, it's fun as hell to watch what was once new and exciting become old and stale, and then try and guess how the next generation will rebel against that particular sound. Southern California was, for a decade or two, home to relaxed stoner folk-rock like the Eagles; you know, music to stitch together your own pair of moccasins by. In the late '70s and early '80s, the kids said "enough of this hippie bullshit" and started a staggeringly brutal hardcore punk movement.

After a few years, though, the hippies fought back by forming the Paisley Underground, a movement designed to be as meandering and toothless as hardcore punk is fierce and direct. The most famous acts associated with it would be the Bangles' early stuff and Mazzy Star, but there were many more bands who set about pleasing wusses of all shapes and creeds. It's named after what may be the most hideous pattern in all of fashion, and was completely useless as a genre until Prince put some funk in it, as Prince is wont to do.


7. Glitch-Hop

We're going to be covering a lot of electronic subgenres here, so now seems like a good time for a public service message. Suburban parents: If you give in and buy that pasty little trust-fund baby of yours a synthesizer for his 18th birthday, he's going to one day claim to have invented a genre. You should know that. There are as many electronic subgenres as there are bored, overprivileged white kids who think being able to use Fruity Loops makes them DJs. One of these genres is known as "glitch-hop."

It's a combination of the terms "glitch" and "hip-hop," yet another example of how the word "hop" gets annoyingly tacked on to any genre that features a sleepy-eyed dorm rat rapping for more than ten seconds. "Glitch," as a genre, simply encompasses any form of electronic music featuring fake errors like skipping, bit-rate reduction, various hisses and skronks, and whatever else could make you afraid your speakers just crapped out.

"Glitch-hop," then, means people rapping over all that mess. We're sure it's just fantastic, but we'll never know, since we've already vowed to never, ever listen to any.


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