Marilyn Manson – Antichrist Superstar (1996)
New Year’s Resolution #5: Get Noticed
Successful ad tagline of the mid-90s: Noxzema girls get noticed. Afraid of less than perfect skin? Buy this product, get the guy!
Fittingly, in the film Bowling For Columbine, the 2nd most marketing savvy musician of the 90s (Brian Warner) spoke eloquently about this combination of fear & sex in advertising.
After all, Brian Warner knows a thing or two about image construction. Sensing his given name wasn’t exactly a head-turning moniker, his stage name/band name of choice was hardly accidental. Instead, he combined perhaps the most recognizable sex symbol (Marilyn Monroe) and one of the more frightening personalities (Charles Manson) of the 20th century.
And get noticed he did.
However, Marilyn Manson is considerably less relevant in 2013 and I have three theories. Whereas clever marketing is what got him attention, a few flaws in the sustainability of his marketing strategy may have led to his decline:
1) Lack of focus – was he after mainstream exposure or a loyal fringe following? If it was the former, he should have stuck with the pattern of the stronger tracks here (The Beautiful People, Tourniquet) – edgy enough to be credible, accessible enough to reach a larger audience. If he was seeking indie cred, some followers may not have been thrilled that he didn’t exactly stay ‘under the radar.’
2) Effective messages are succinct. Antichrist Superstar spills out over a staggering 99 tracks (though tracks 17-98 are not songs) and a running time over 77 minutes. If you go on too long, you lose some of your audience, and end up only preaching to the converted. Or in his case, the lapsed converted.
3) With a fireworks display, it’s ill-advised to start with the showstopper, otherwise talk about anticlimactic. With shock value, eventually the audience is desensitized and the bar has to be continually raised (or lowered?) to get a reaction. Where does one go after being the Antichrist Superstar?