The Beautiful People (song)
|"The Beautiful People"|
|Single by Marilyn Manson|
|from the album Antichrist Superstar|
|Released||September 22, 1996|
|Recorded||New Orleans, Louisiana, 1996|
|Marilyn Manson singles chronology|
"The Beautiful People" is a song by American rock band Marilyn Manson. It was released as the lead single from the band's second studio album, Antichrist Superstar (1996) in September 1996. Classified as alternative metal, the song was written by frontman Marilyn Manson and Twiggy Ramirez, and was produced by Trent Reznor, Dave Ogilvie and Manson. Lyrically, it discusses what Manson refers to as "the culture of beauty".
The single peaked at number 26 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart and remains known as one of Marilyn Manson's most famous and most successful original songs; in a 2004 review, Richard Banks of the BBC called the track "still the most impressive" in the band's catalogue, and it was ranked in 2006 at number 28 on VH1's 40 Greatest Metal Songs.
"The Beautiful People"
A sample of "The Beautiful People"
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"The Beautiful People" was written in 1994; the lyrics are by Marilyn Manson and the music by Twiggy Ramirez. The original demo version was written in a hotel room while on tour, and recorded to four-track by Manson, Ramirez, and drummer Ginger Fish. Manson recalled to Kerrang! magazine in May 2005: "It was somewhere in the South, which is ironic. I remember playing the drum beat on the floor and then having my drummer duplicate that on the drum machine. It happened in one day pretty much".
The title of the song comes from Marilyn Bender's 1967 book The Beautiful People, which exposed the world of scandal within the "jet-set" lifestyle of the 1960s, and the culture of beauty as it pertained to fashion and politics. The phrase itself was popularized by Vogue magazine in the early 1960s and was particularly used to describe the Kennedy family, a frequent source of inspiration in Marilyn Manson's work.
Composition and lyrical content
The song is preceded with a few seconds of backwards-guitar feedback and electronic noise. It includes a heavily distorted spoken sample by Tex Watson, declaring "[We would] swoop down on the town. . . [and] kill everyone that wasn't beautiful".
The song is written in drop D tuning, and is built primarily out of power chords based on the notes of a diminished triad. It also incorporates extensive use of guitar distortion, and the use of palm muting creates a highly rhythmic, driving style amplified by a heavy percussion track. The song's characteristic element is its repetitive drum beat: a five-beat common time pattern played on floor toms, with a shuffle note each measure creating a triplet feel.
Sean Beavan, who mixed and co-produced Antichrist Superstar, is credited with "descending horn guitar" on the track. Beavan can be heard playing a repeated descending figure with a brass instrument-like sound using a guitar synthesizer.
Lyrically, it is intertwined with the Antichrist Superstar album's overarching theme, a semi-narrative examination of the Nietzschean Übermensch. Within this context, "The Beautiful People" deals explicitly with the destructive manifestation of the Will to Power ("There's no time to discriminate / hate every motherfucker that's in your way"), while also exploring Nietzsche's view of master-slave morality ("It's not your fault that you're always wrong / The weak ones are there to justify the strong"), particularly the concept's connection with Social Darwinism and its relation to various political and economic systems such as capitalism and fascism.
"The Beautiful People" was performed sporadically during the 1995–1996 Smells Like Children Tour, frequently in abbreviated form as part of the Portrait of an American Family song "My Monkey". It was "officially" premiered on October 3, 1996, at the State Theatre in Kalamazoo — the second show of the band's Dead to the World Tour.
On September 4, 1997, Marilyn Manson performed the song as the grand finale of the MTV Video Music Awards. Preceded by a marching band playing "Hail to the Chief", Manson entered the stage flanked by mock United States Secret Service agents and, from a microphone-covered podium, delivered a speech to the audience:
|“|| My fellow Americans:
We will no longer be oppressed by the fascism of Christianity! And we will no longer be oppressed by the fascism of beauty. As I see you all sittin' out there trying your hardest not to be ugly, trying your hardest not to fit in, trying your hardest to earn your way into Heaven, but let me ask you: Do you want to be in a place that's filled with a bunch of assholes?
Manson then threw off his costume, revealing "a leather corset, leather G-string and fishnet stockings", and the band delivered a performance of "The Beautiful People" that Rolling Stone called "riveting", in spite of the magazine's extremely negative review of the program as a whole. As the show closed, host Chris Rock teasingly yelled for the audience to "Run to church right now! Get your asses to church, or you're going to Hell!".
Marilyn Manson and Twiggy Ramirez joined The Smashing Pumpkins at Mountain View, California's Shoreline Amphitheatre for an acoustic performance of "The Beautiful People" during the venue's annual Bridge School Benefit on October 18, 1997. Nine Inch Nails also performed "The Beautiful People", with frontman Trent Reznor on bass guitar and Marilyn Manson on lead vocals, on May 9, 2000 at Madison Square Garden. Manson had been a surprise guest at the concert, appearing unannounced on stage during Nine Inch Nails' "Starfuckers, Inc."; this performance was filmed and released as a bonus feature on And All That Could Have Been in 2002. At the 2012 Echo Awards, Rammstein performed the song, with Marilyn Manson standing in for lead singer Till Lindemann. On 31 October 2014 in special setup on Halloween night, performed Manson the song with Johnny Depp on guitar and Ninja (from Die Antwoord) as background vocalist, in the club Roxy in West Hollywood.
In live performances, Manson frequently incorporates the lyric "How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?" from The Beatles' "Baby, You're a Rich Man" into the song, either shouted over its instrumental break or as a lead-in to the introductory drums.
Versions and releases
In addition to the version on the Antichrist Superstar album and the version on the single (which differ only in the length of the introductory noise) a radio edit also exists, which removes the profanity. The phrase "hate every motherfucker" has been replaced by the alternate lyric "hate every other hater", and the word "shit" has been excised. This radio edit is the version used in the music video for "The Beautiful People".
Three official remixes of "The Beautiful People" have been released. The first, "The Horrible People", was created by Danny Saber and appears on the 1997 Remix & Repent EP; the remix features a fast-tempo drum n bass backing track, and accents the original song's swing jazz-inflected rhythm with brass and piano samples. J. G. Thirlwell's "The Not-So-Beautiful People" is a straight industrial reworking of the track, with rhythmic vocal samples and churning, filtered synthesizers. It was used as the opening theme for WWF RAW is WAR for a short time in 1997. Later an edited version of the song was used as the opening theme for WWE SmackDown! from 2001 to 2003, and a remix of it was included on WWF Forceable Entry and a 10-inch picture disc single of the song.
Marilyn Manson's 2004 greatest hits compilation, Lest We Forget, contains a slightly reworked version of the track. The longer introduction from the single version has been restored, and certain musical elements (most notably, an organ-like sound not noticeable in the previously released versions) have been made more pronounced.
In 1997, MTV News reported that Manson had expressed interest in collaborating with Snoop Dogg to produce a rap version of "The Beautiful People". It is unknown if the collaboration ever actually occurred, although in his September 4, 1997 keynote address at the CMJ Music Marathon, the singer referred to the project as "something I would still love to do" and blamed the hectic touring schedules of both his own band and the rapper for the delay.
Floria Sigismondi directed what has been described as "the creepiest of creepy videos" for "The Beautiful People". The clip, filmed in the then abandoned Gooderham and Worts distillery in Toronto, Canada, depicts the band performing the song in a classroom-like area decorated with medical prostheses and laboratory equipment. Intercut with these performance clips are scenes of lead singer Marilyn Manson in a long gown-like costume and aviator goggles, wearing stilts and prosthetic makeup which make him appear bald and grotesquely tall; after being placed in this costume by similarly attired attendants, he appears to a cheering crowd through a window in a scene reminiscent of a fascist rally, and later stands in the center of a circle while people march around him giving the Hitler salute. Other fast cut scenes include extreme close-ups of crawling earthworms, mannequin heads and hands, and the boots of people marching; and shots of the individual band members bizarrely costumed, including Manson in back and neck braces and an apparent dental device which pulls the flesh of his mouth with hooks, exposing metallic teeth.
The single was generally praised on its release. "With its mock menace and pummeling metal triplets", wrote Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic, "it was the first Manson song with an oversized hook — the kind of song that even the group's detractors couldn't get out of their heads". In its 1996 review of Antichrist Superstar, Rolling Stone magazine described "The Beautiful People" as "suspense-filled", with "a zombielike, repetitive quality [and] ghostly electronic sounds. . .", adding that in his vocal delivery, "Manson hisses his lines, punctuating certain words with a shrill, insane pitch, others with a retching scream".
In the United States, the single managed to reach number 29 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and number 26 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart. In the UK, it reached number 18 on the UK Singles Chart, peaking on June 7, 1997. In Sweden, it was certified gold. Although the single only peaked at number 42 on the Australian ARIA singles chart, it spent 56 weeks in the top 100 and became the 89th highest-selling single of 1997 in Australia.
According to Acclaimedmusic.net "The Beautiful People" is the 21st best song of 1996, the 349th greatest song released during the 1990s and the 2,451st greatest of all-time. In 2002, Kerrang! ranked "The Beautiful People" 5th in their 100 Greatest Singles of All Time. In 2003, Q ranked "The Beautiful People" 192nd in their The 1001 Best Songs Ever. Q also included "The Beautiful People" under the Metal Tracks category of their Ultimate Music Collection in 2005. The music video for the single would be nominated in three categories at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards namely, Best Rock Video, Best Art Direction and Best Special Effects.
The song has been covered by various artists, including the jazz trumpeter Lester Bowie, on his Brass Fantasy's 1999 Odyssey of Funk & Popular Music, Volume 1; metalcore band Eighteen Visions, on the 2006 compilation Punk Goes 90s; the Scala & Kolacny Brothers girls' choir on their 2007 album One Winged Angel; and heavy metal band Soulfly on Higher Voltage!: Another Brief History of Rock and a special edition of their album Conquer.
Samples from "The Beautiful People" have been used in two songs of the same title, one by rapper Apathy, one by Christina Aguilera for the Burlesque soundtrack. Pop-punk singer Avril Lavigne sang the song in a medley with her own song "Bad Girl" (which features guest vocals from Manson) during The Avril Lavigne Tour in 2014.
Formats and track listings
"The Horrible People"
As original version, with
- Damian Savage — additional bass
- John X — "sonic rape and pillage"
- Danny Saber — remix
- Gabe and Jim — engineers
"The Not-So-Beautiful People"
As original version, with
- J. G. Thirlwell — remix
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