Never the Twain
“Labels.” A perfectly fine and useful concept that has fallen into some ill-repute in recent decades. “You are just labelling” and “I don't believe in labels” becoming quite popular refrains particularly among the “enlightened” and “woke” of the world. Or at least the “Western” portion of it. What such grand gestures of virtue and progressiveness fail to take into account is that the use of labels is both useful as well as natural. Before you light your torches let me explain.
The idea of “labelling” in terms of people originates with the respected social researcher Howard Becker and his creatively titled Labelling Theory. Becker noticed that categorization, far from being the roots of prejudice, was an independently occurring process that helps people understand things.
A key example of this is the plethora of genre labels applied to music. As with all great and brilliant ideas, there is a downside. At times getting excessive. At times to the point of the ridiculous. Some seeming to be under the impression that style means more than substance and music isn't something you can just enjoy.
Nearly as firm as they are plentiful, there are some genre lines that should not and have never been crossed. There have been combinations that have worked. Rockabilly for example and Folk Punk. Though they also tend to be at least similar in their origins and have something in common in terms of instrumentation and surrounding culture. There are are others, however, such as Rap-Metal which, like experiments in vivisection, did not work out all that well.
There are genres that really seem like they should not go together. The culture and ethos around them being not only opposite but often in conflict. Oi and Rap for example. Oi being most associated with White Power culture, having been lifter wholesale from the distinctly non-racist British Punk band The Cockney Rejects. Rap, on the other hand, is most associated with urban black culture. This being where it originated. Yet there is such a thing as White Power Rap. Bringing the messages of Oi to the beats and rhymes of Rap.
Another pair of genres with a less than civil history are Classical music and Heavy Metal. Classical music being most associated with snobbish high society and Christianity. Heavy Metal with devil-may-care street level culture and appeals to the trappings of Satanism. Whether this was literally true or not. So acrimonious were they that the two sides have been known to literally fight fire with fire. Metal fans in Norway having a history of burning down churches and Bible groups in America burning Heavy Metal records en masse. The flames thought to expunge the albums of their evil.
Despite troubled history, the two go together surprisingly well. Being very similar in terms of structure. Especially int terms or rhythmic and melodic construction, themes and repetition. The music theory term “coda” literally meaning “repeat.” This becomes most clear, when Heavy Metal compositions are played on more traditional instruments. Such as the plethora of piano cover versions available online.