Ten musicians fueled by existentialism

Categories: Lists

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Music is filled with surprises. For every good-looking rebel working diligently to bring sexy back, there's a bookish nerd sitting in a dim corner furiously scribbling esoteric poetry in a lyrics journal. Referencing literature is a surefire way to show the world that you're a sensitive soul with important thoughts. Existentialism is clearly the most badass school of thought because it pits the individual (wearing black) against the absurdity of the uncaring cosmos (also wearing black). Keep reading for a look at ten existential musicians.

See also:
- The Yawpers' deep thoughts come through on Capon Crusade
-
The ten most noteworthy music publicity stunts
- Review: They Might Be Giants at the Gothic Theatre, 11/5/09

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10. The Classic Crime
Nihilism and existentialism are certainly not the same, and the Classic Crime's "The Happy Nihilist" illustrates the difference impeccably with its description of a lost soul who "used to read everything," "used to need nothing" and now "can't sleep 'cause I'm not happy." Nihilism isn't doing it for him; he needs something more. Existentialist thinkers would argue that it's perfectly possible to be happy in a meaningless world, as long as you assign your own meaning to things (good news for the narrator of the song, and all of us). Speaking of nihilism, have you ever thought about just how brilliant the line "No, Donny. These men are nihilists. There's nothing to be afraid of." really is? Nothing to be afraid of. I see what you did there.

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9. Cake
Cake's deliciously cryptic "Sheep Go to Heaven" is packed with obscure references. The chorus "Sheep go to Heaven, goats go to Hell" is an allusion to the Bible (often cited as the definitive record of who goes where). The line "And the gravedigger puts on the forceps" is a bit more perplexing. It's taken directly from Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot, widely considered a staple of existentialist theater: "Down in the hole, lingeringly, the grave digger puts on the forceps. We have time to grow old. The air is full of our cries. But habit is a great deadener." Awwwwwwyeeeaaaahhhh.

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8. Janina Gavankar
Speaking of Waiting for Godot, Janina Gavankar references the play in her 2012 single of the same name. Who is Janina Gavankar, you ask? She's the actress who plays the mighty Shiva on The League and shapeshifting Luna Garza on True Blood. The video for her song shows two versions of her waiting together in a featureless white expanse. The song asks, "Friends may come, and friends may go/But if I wait for love, am I waiting for Godot?" The imagery is so over-the-top, it's hard to tell if she's serious. And isn't that what existentialism is all about?


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3 comments
David
David

How's about Pink Floyd......?

dlwiest
dlwiest

It's sort of bothering me that this list doesn't contain Modest Mouse or The Shins. 

"Well God’s saying something, but he didn't mean it / Everyone’s life ends but no one ever completes it / Dry or wet ice – they both melt, and you’re equally cheated" - Modest Mouse, Dark Center of the Universe

"One hand on this wiley comet / Take a drink just to give me some weight / Some Uberman I'd make -- I'm barely a vapor" - The Shins, A Comet Appears

dlwiest
dlwiest

For that matter, what about The Pixies?

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