Katrina McFerran, senior lecturer in music therapy at the University of Melbourne, hasn’t quite discovered a hidden note in Symphony No 5 with her study on how repeated listenings of heavy metal rock music may point to high suicidal tendencies among teenagers. The findings may be serious enough to give goosebumps to ghazal-loving pare-nts of some teenagers in Delhi who’re all agog about watching a popular American heavy metal band play a much-awaited gig today. But to cheerful edit writers who are also heavy metal junkies like us, is it any surprise that Ms McFerran has revived the horrendous memories of the web of fear that the Parents Music Resource Centre (PMRC) cast in the 1980s America?
The self-styled preserver of morality, the PMRC took upon itself the task of empowering parents to decide what kind of music their young adults should listen to. As a result, the heavy metal industry witnessed the high end of lows during the late 1980s-early 1990s, when eyebrows were raised on every second number in the genre, as it allegedly propagated violence or drug use or was sexual in nature. Heavy metal bands like Def Leppard and Venom even got the axe for using “explicit lyrics” or for supposedly instilling among teenagers a sense of discontentment with rules and life in general through their loud and gloomy tunes.
For a while now, researchers have racked their brains to find a connection between people’s personality and the music they listen to. But few have made a sincere attempt at understanding what really inspires artists — heavy metal or otherwise — to make different kinds of music. What we do know is that if hardcore love, without the bells and whistles of propriety, which drives Judas Priest to sing ‘Eat Me Alive’ could be deemed salacious, Sheila’s intonation of her sexuality, too, does not quite give young adults a reason to cherish the joys of life. And as far as a bit of gloom goes, rest assured that a repeated reading of your daily paper with all its coverage of the increasing crime rate in your city is more fatal than listening to any form of music.