BY MICHAEL GOODPASTER|
Marilyn Manson is great. Deal with that fact, get over yourself and admit that either you’ve not FULLY absorbed his art or you’re just being a dick. I’m not saying he must be your favorite artist or even one you like, but his impact on music is undeniable. His unique talents are undeniable. His ability to strike a chord in people is undeniable. Manson IS great.
He’s not MY favorite artist or anything, but I appreciate his work and at times can honestly say his music is exactly what my ears needed. I grew up at the exact moment that his music was most “relevant” to the masses. Being in high school while “Antichrist Superstar” and “Mechanical Animals” came out was a great contrast to the over pumped Eminems and boy bands. It’s not even that I’m a Manson “apologist” or anything. I’m just not a close minded twat. I’m NOT a fan of Eminem, but like Manson, his talent, impact, and place is hard to argue. It’s just be objective.
Objectively speaking, Marilyn Manson has had some “hit and misses” during his long career. Whatever happens, he keeps going forward and making more art. He doesn’t wait five years in between albums, he’s not releasing albums in weird ways to keep up with Radiohead, he’s not on TMZ every day, and he’s not hiding himself away. While he’s not exactly the same scary monster he was when he was wearing corsets and cutting himself up in the 90s, he’s still a pretty damn interesting guy who makes really enthralling music. If you’ve missed out due to ignorance or because you’re afraid your plaid shirt wearing friends won’t like it then that’s your problem.
Today I’m going to figure out what I think are the best Manson albums and put some kind of rational order to them. Let’s see how it goes…
IIX. Holy Wood
(2000) - I wasn’t a fan of this album. I think it was my expections were set REALLY high at this point. I loved everything until this album when I started feeling a disconnect. My least favorite would come after this one with “Golden Age”, but there’s no room for that release on this “top eight”. I start off with this 2000 release. There were some really good songs on this album, but it almost felt “forced” in some aspects. While Manson took a big risk with “Mechanical Animals” it was like he saw it not go as well as he’d have hoped and in turn went to this album. I never really liked “The Nobodies”, “The Fight Song”, or even “Disposable Teens”. They didn’t feel like they came from a genuine inspired place. I could be and probably am wrong, but they just felt “off”. “Disposable Teens” IS cool, but it’s only “cool” because it sounds like a really polished and commercial version of what someone would make to be “this album’s Beautiful People… but catchier!” I’m probably just being weird on this one, but it’s the vibe I’ve taken in.
VII. Born Villain
(2012) - This is probably the man’s most lackluster release. I can’t even tell you much about it. I know I own it and listened to it a few times. I know for sure I gave it a fair chance because I’m a fan of Manson and always hope to feel engaged and inspired by the man’s work. No luck. It went in one ear and out the other. I’d listen to it again in the future, but on a list of his albums it’s the one I’m most indifferent about. It’s like an audible-shrug.
VI. Eat Me, Drink Me
(2007) - Manson was quiet for a while and came back with a fairly decent release. I was excited about this album but it just didn’t hit the marks with me that I would have wanted. It’s not bad at all. The inspiration and direction of it just kind of felt a little let astray. It barely worked and the tone of it felt wrong. It seemed that Manson was in a love daze at the moment and it wasn’t a type of love that translated into a good album. At least it wasn’t in this case. The main track was “Heart Shaped Glasses”. It’s just a icky song. I think I give it a little more credit than I should just because this was the album he was touring on when I saw him in concert for the first, second and only two times. The man put on a great show and the songs from album was part of the show I got to see. Simple as that.
V. Portrait of an American Family
(1994) - After getting exposed to the band by my number two pick, I instantly went out and got my hands on this early release. It was still pretty much a “spooky kids” release. The band was just kind of weird and off putting. The album has some great songs on it like “Get Your Gun”, “Lunchbox”, and “Dope Hat” but it never fully connected with me as much as some of Manson’s other albums. It’s got some hit and miss stuff outside of the main hits and once you had “Portrait” and “Antichrist” you really didn’t need to put this one in. Especially once the live album came out. Once you had that, this release just about become obsolete. Of course, saying all of this makes me want to give it a listen and see if I was just being spoiled by two pinnacle releases.
IV. The High End of Low
(2009) - Manson had a “comeback” of sorts. He put out one album and people seemed to slowly accept him again. He started showing up in random things and got back out there. He put put “Eat me, Drink me” and got the rust off. For me, THIS album was what secured Manson as a legit adult with me. I was always going to like him on some level because of older stuff, but I didn’t think I’d hear anything “new” by the dude and really get excited about it. That’s until I heard this gem. I think of all the Manson albums this one might be my favorite to listen to from start to finish. It’s a great album that too many people have slept on over the years. I really appreciated his growth and direction on this release. It has some less than great stuff like “Pretty as a Swastika”, but I absolutely adored “Four Rusted Horses”, “We’re from America”, “I Have to Look Up Just to See Hell”, and “Leave a Scar”. The “I Want to Kill You Like They Do in the Movies” is one of the most haunting and cool songs of Manson’s best work. It’s an epic journey that carries us through a sick and twisted mind of someone comparing film to murder to love. It reminds me of “Bela Lugosi” by Bauhaus. If you have any taste you’d know that’s a comparison of deep admiration.
III. Mechanical Animals
(1998) - I think this may one of the most underrated albums of the late 90’s. Manson freaked people out by switching up his image. He went from being a black haired, corset wearing goth monster to sleek red haired white alien with breasts. It was a weird change up. I know a lot of people who said it was Manson’s way of copying Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust “character and they may be right. There’s no denying the comparisons. The comparison didn’t end with the image thought. The creative energy and art provided was on par as well. I wouldn’t be as so bold to saying this album is better than “Ziggy Stardust”, but there is plenty of goodness from this album to make it at least bringing up. My “favorite” changes all the time, but I think Manson’s “Coma White” from this album may be my most-often favorite of Manson’s awesome lineage of kick ass songs. The other singles like “The Dope Show” and “I Don’t Like The Drugs” were as big as anything he put out. It was an interesting time. I think that this was his more accepted album. It was after his rise to the mainstream notoriety, after him settling into be “comfortable” with the majority of the TRL mass mainstream audience, and BEFORE he faded into his place as an “established” artist. So by that, this album was the turning point. If it had been different would the momentum had kept going or did his experimentation fail? That’s a hard question to answer but never the less, I loved this album.
II. Smells Like Children
(1995) - This breaks my rules of not including EPs in "best album lists". I've been a stickler to this rule for years, but this album breaks a lot of rules. It's one of the favorite EPs of all time. Its right up there with Nine Inch Nails "Broken" release as being important and impactful to the lineage of Manson. Without this EP I would have never discovered Manson. It was a late sleepless night and I found myself flipping through the channels. I come across the video of "Sweet Dreams". The flickers and flashes in a dark quiet room bouncing off the face of an impressionable teenager is the exact shot parents and churches would fear for the next five or so years. It would open the door to the masses and allow Manson to stomp onto the scene with the amazing "Antichrist Superstar" album. This album is just special. While "Antichrist" made the bigger impact and had the greater hits, this album had almost an Ouija board type of feel to having. From the great cover, the creepy instrumentals, the iconic covers, and the tone being set its hard to turn your attention away from this album. It feels like it's handmade. It doesn't feel like a mass produced album. It feels like something you shouldn't have and should hide from authority. I love the music on this album, but in the general spirit of "Marilyn Manson" THIS album is the most definitive and important. But we’re talking history here…
I. Antichrist Superstar
(1996) - This is obviously the number one album. I could have been weird or combative with rational thinking and went with any other album. As much as I enjoy other albums of his, this album is his best. It's not his only great album, but the greatest. It's one of the biggest albums of the 90s. Yeah, there's Nirvana, Tupac, Metallica, and a lot of iconic artists highlighted in this decade but this album was just as, if not more than, important and impactful as those. It's not just Trent Reznor's production, the cool packaging, iconic videos, or sales. Manson struck a nerve and found the pulse in a lifeless music world. After the grunge faded and settled in there was still a whole other group of kids needing a voice. The "freaks" didn't just mope and get angsty. They... We... needed more. We needed a middle finger, a scream, and a fun gothy uniform to tie it all together. Do I even need to talk about the tracks? We get “Beautiful People”, “Long Road Out of Hell”, “Cryporchild”, and pretty much every single track on here. Even the 80 or so that is nothing more than a place holder on the 99 tracks total. It’s a great album and something that future generations will look back on and study.
What is YOUR favorite Marilyn Manson album?