Wizard Rock

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Chococat
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Wizard Rock

Post by Chococat » Sun Jun 15, 19:10 2008

Wizard rock is, to put it simply, music about Harry Potter. To explain further, it is a literary/music sensation that combines some of the most brilliant aspects of the books and the universality of love for Potter and for music. Wizard rock comes in many different forms, from garage bands to international music icons, and from pop to death (eater) metal. The only thing all wizard rock bands have in common is that their love of Harry Potter extends to devoting time and musical effort to singing about his universe. Though wizard rock has grown in popularity, what with stars like Joe and Paul DeGeorge and Alex Carpenter and with the recent MTV specials and the new feature-length documentary "We Are Wizards," I wanted to share the magic of this wondrous genre with Spacefem through a brief review of some of the biggest names in Wrock.

<b>Harry and the Potters</b>
Harry and the Potters, who are Paul and Joe DeGeorge and Ernie Kim, started the band in their backyard in MA way back in 2002. Though they were not the first people to sing about wizards (that was Switchblade Kittens, who sang an ode to Harry from the perspective of Ginny Weasley), they were the first to dedicate the mission of their band to glorifying all things Potter. From thirteen-second odes to Lupin ("...our teacher is a werewolf, he's liable to bites someone in class; that would be so bad...") to saxophone and guitar solos in the power-pop goodbye to Dumbledore, their music amuses and entertains from literary AND music perspectives. Their first eponymous album was rife with now-classics like "We've Got to Save Ginny Weasley," "Wizard Chess" and "These Days are Dark." The second full-length CD, Voldemort Can't Stop the Rock, proved that wizard rock can stick it to the man, make us laugh AND sound great. Notable songs are "The Weasel," Cornelius Fudge is an Ass," and the power-ballad "The Weapon" which gets muggles and wizards alike to sing along at the end: "Put your wand in your hand, put love in your heart, get your friends by your side, and tear evil apart!" Their third major CD, The Power of Love, is even more musically impressive than the first two, without losing the heart and literary merit present in earlier lyrics. Pseudo-punk "Not Going to Put on the Monkey Suit" tackles the corruption of wizarding government even as the battle rages outside, and "Phoenix Song" epitomizes everything we look for in a wrock hit: a great tune, an empowering chorus, and lyrics that make you sit up abruptly if you were only half-listening to think "Wait, what?"

<b>Draco and the Malfoys</b>
Another big name in the wrock business, Draco and the Malfoys provide the counter-balance to the happiness and well-being spread by H&tP. They proudly stand up to proclaim that the good guys don't have a monopoly on love (..."I love my dad, I love my mom too, we love Voldemort and we love to hate you [Harry]!") Brian Ross and Bradley Mehlenbacher write delightfully puerile, tongue-in-cheek songs from the perspective of Harry Potter's schoolyard nemesis, and do a brilliant job. Though most of their songs are about following his [their?] father's footsteps and about being mildly evil, Draco and the Malfoys' style is very similar to Harry and the Potters', musically speaking, depending on catchy tunes and feel-good rock. Excellent songs include "Voldemort is Awesome," "My Dad is Rich (and Your Dad is Dead)," and "In Which I Kick Harry Potter in the Face."

<b>Catchlove</b>
One of the things that surprised me the most about Catchlove is that it is genuinely <i>good</i> music. H&tP and D&tM are both fine bands, but you come to expect mediocre music in the wrock world and hope that lyrics will be clever enough to pick up the slack. Catchlove, unlike most of the wrock bands who do well enough, would probably survive under the scrutiny of non-Potter fans. Many of the songs are thoughtful and discuss the deeper aspects of the series, like the betrayal by Peter Pettigrew in "That Rat," the nature of war and sacrifice in "Going to the Ministry" and "Dumbledore," and the nuances of love in "Mother's Day." The high-powered "Heading Down to Hogwarts," about the final battle at Hogwarts, is one of my favorite wrock songs and manages to take the energy and nerves of the Great Hall and make you want to dance to the musicalized "Not my daughter, you bitch!" Catchlove consists solely of Jace, with a few guests every now and then. (Like the naming of bands after individuals in the HP universe, one-member bands are another commonality in wrock). What Catchlove does best is to take the raw feelings of the later books, when Rowling and the readers have passed the happy, good-guys-always-win phase and understand what war and love are really about, and transfer those emotions into music. Some of his songs genuinely pull at the heartstrings when you think about what he's singing. It's a plus that his music is so great on top of that.

<b>Remus Lupins</b>
Alex Carpenter is the Remus Lupins, and could be said to be the face of wizard rock. His music is a bit more relaxed than that of Harry and the Potters, and he uses the stage to sing ridiculous songs, like Lupin seducing Hermione in "By the Fire" and the ever-popular "Loosen your Tie" which begins "Every day I go out, it's a little bit colder, I need to wear my awesome scarf." The Remus Lupins' music is every bit as entertaining as his fellows, and because Alex Carpenter is so attractive, he's brought a lot of publicity to wrock as well as a lot of teenage fangirls who might otherwise be ambivalent (The Whomping Willows devote a song to him, entitled "Wizard Rock Heart Throb"). The Remus Lupins are/is the Harry and the Potters for a snarkier audience who appreciate less blatantly tongue-in-cheek songs. It's easy to be disparaging of the Remus Lupins because of his frequent on-camera appearances, but his music is excellent in the eyes of wrock listeners, and it is good to have a spokesperson who can make wrock causes public. Listen to his music, because it's good stuff.

<b>The Whomping Willows</b> are another almost-frivolous wrock band who classify themselves (himself, because it's just Matt) as botanical wizard rock. From the point of the Whomping Willow on the Hogwarts grounds, he sings about plants and about equality. The song "House of Awesome" could (and often does) serve as a theme song for wizard rock, in which the tree seeks entrance to Hogwarts but when it is rebuffed because of its foliage, it forms a new house: the House of Awesome, where everyone is accepted. The Whomping Willows often team up with the Remus Lupins on tours, where they both sing about tolerance and acceptance of werewolves, trees, and everyone in between. Like a lot of wrock bands, the message is more important than the quality of the music, but nevertheless the music is fun and good listening.

<b>Gred and Forge</b>
Gred and Forge, now "half the band we used to be," are my new favorite wrock band. Their songs capture the essence of Fred and George and laugh at everything from their family ("Percy is a Prat" and "Ginny Gets Around" being key examples) to classes (their new album, being released one song at a time on myspace, consists of songs about-but-not-really each class at Hogwarts, starting with their inadequacies at numbers in "Arithmancy" to their dislike of Professor Grubblyplank in "Care of Magical Creatures." Much like Harry and the Potters their music is casually great, but they focus less on the big picture and on major themes of good-versus-evil and the power of love, and more on embodying the Weasley twins. Which they do marvelously.

Like I said, while much of wrock is soft rock and pop, like the risque and witty <b>Moaning Myrtles</b> and the thoughtful, soulful <b>Gryffindor Common Room Rejects</b> and sweet-sounding <b>Justin Finch-Fletchly and the Sugar Quills</b>, the music straddles many genres to include metal (notably the screaming <b>Striking Down Diggory</b>) and <b>Hufflepunks</b>, true to their name, who sing mostly about Harry Potter in the sense of bringing down the establishment. What wrock bands do best is bring levity to the music business and spread the importance of literacy and love. None of them are too proud to restrict their audiences; you're as likely to see four- and five-year-olds as twenty-somethings in wrock show crowds, and many give performances at libraries as well as in music venues.

Almost as much as Harry Potter, wrock is about the power of friendship and the importance of music in uniting the world to a common cause. The Harry Potter Alliance, through the support of many wrock bands and sites like Mugglenet and The Leaky Cauldron (dot-org), has raised awareness of and funds for the situation in Darfur and has brought compassion to the hearts of a generation of literary teens. Many wrock bands work, produce and tour purely to raise money for noteworthy causes: proceeds from the Wizard Rock EP of the Month Club go to the HP Alliance and to First Book, "a non-profit organization that gives children from low-income families the opportunity to read and own their first new books." In the same manner, 100% of the profits from Gred and Forge's new album are going to Book Aid International. So check them out, and in the words of H&tP, Don't let Voldemort ruin your summer!
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Post by lillerina » Sun Jun 15, 19:50 2008

Sounds awesome in a completely tongue in cheek way. Do they have to pay rights or royalties to JKR or anything like that?
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Post by DWH » Sun Jun 15, 22:19 2008

Nope, they're totally unauthorized and unlicensed. But they acknowledge this, and JKR lets them go about their business because a) she supports fan creativity, and b) she really thinks the bands are funny.

I'm not a hardcore wrock fan (I mean, I'm not a hardcore Potter fan... so yeah). But I do enjoy some of their songs quite a bit. I may have to check out some of the bands I hadn't really heard of, especially if the songs are actually really good. :)
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Post by ducknuckem » Mon Jun 16, 10:22 2008

"WE ARE! WE ARE THE ONES
WHO FACE THE STEEEEEEEEEEEL GODS OF THIIIIIIIIS LAST AAAAAAAAHPOCALYPSE!"

"ANGELI DI PIETRA MYSTICA"

Wizard rock... Do these bands posses the power to summon RAGING STORMS, darkness severed through assaulting waves of lightning?

Can they stand atop castles, roaring to the winds and bringing forth the deep ones?

Can they QUOTE CHRISTOPHER LEE?

"MAJESTIC WINDS OF THE NORTH! PROTECT OUR HEROES FROM THE NARGULAK!"

That may be misquoted, but that only proves the RAW POWER that I lack for wizardry.
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Post by deanimal » Mon Jun 16, 10:28 2008

ducknuckem wrote:"WE ARE! WE ARE THE ONES
WHO FACE THE STEEEEEEEEEEEL GODS OF THIIIIIIIIS LAST AAAAAAAAHPOCALYPSE!"

"ANGELI DI PIETRA MYSTICA"

Wizard rock... Do these bands posses the power to summon RAGING STORMS, darkness severed through assaulting waves of lightning?

Can they stand atop castles, roaring to the winds and bringing forth the deep ones?

Can they QUOTE CHRISTOPHER LEE?

"MAJESTIC WINDS OF THE NORTH! PROTECT OUR HEROES FROM THE NARGULAK!"

That may be misquoted, but that only proves the RAW POWER that I lack for wizardry.

:dieslaughing: There are NO words...
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Post by ducknuckem » Mon Jun 16, 10:47 2008

"DiesLaughing There are NO words..."

That makes it a crime against wizardry in it's own right.

It doesn't account for the lack of storms and Christopher Lee though.
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Post by FernGully » Mon Jun 16, 14:20 2008

You just determined my sister's birthday present! I'm going to hunt down some of these bands and see what I can buy for her. She is a diehard HP fan (I love it too), but I can guarantee you she's never heard of Wizard Rock. She will absolutely freaking love it. While reading I compiled a list of songs you mentioned as good or funny etc.
Are there any bands in wrock that are specifically awesome besides these? Any that I should steer away from if my sister is an obsessed-knowseverything-criesherselftosleepuponrealizationthattheseriesended-positive and light- kind of person?

I'm so excited that you wrote this NOW. Like, awesome timing to the max.
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Post by yeahyeahyeah » Tue Jun 17, 3:29 2008

The dedication of HP fans never ceases to amaze me. They almost put us LOTRingers to shame.
Well not shame...just aloof snobbery?
If a book can inspire some people to make good music, then that's wonderful. If it's bad though, well...there's enough of that about. I'll take your word for it that it's rather dandy for those who are "in".
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Post by Chococat » Tue Jun 17, 16:03 2008

yeahyeahyeah wrote:Well not shame...just aloof snobbery?
Quite the contrary, Harry Potter fans are some of the most accepting of all fantasy/science fiction fans! WE don't require all of our fans to learn Elvish and to read the <i>Silmarillion</i> in order to be considered "real" fans. :P

I'm glad I could help, Fern! Most wrock bands have myspace pages, and a lot of them enable free downloads. Because of the legitimacy issues (and because they're all great people), wrockers aren't the kind of people to press for every penny; spreading love and music is what it's all about. I love talking about HP in such grandiose terms, because it's so contrary to the general atmosphere. Everyone who does it does it for the fun of it. I talk to some people who think it's stupid or lame that so many people dedicate so much time to HP, but that's really missing the point. Who cares if it's lame if it makes people happy? :D
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Post by yeahyeahyeah » Tue Jun 17, 18:50 2008

Chococat wrote:
yeahyeahyeah wrote:Well not shame...just aloof snobbery?
Quite the contrary, Harry Potter fans are some of the most accepting of all fantasy/science fiction fans! WE don't require all of our fans to learn Elvish and to read the <i>Silmarillion</i> in order to be considered "real" fans. :P
Hehe, my point exactly, I was saying that LOTR fans are a little more snobby than HP fans - in my experience anyway. That said, I love my LOTR buddies to death, but in general, there are more who tend to be all "ooooo, you haven't mastered all of Tolkien's languages? You're not a true fan like I am".

HP fans are lovely. I looked up some of those bands and they made me giggle in a nice way :)
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Post by Prince Of Communism » Thu Jun 19, 3:42 2008

I love wizard rock! I especially love the Moaning Myrtles!
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Post by Zorpisuttle » Mon Jun 23, 12:06 2008

I bought two CDs from Draco and the Malfoys, because I heard one Harry and the Potters song and it was pretty terrible musically, and the songs I got from the Draco and the Malfoys website were much better. However, the ones they let you have for free are the best of the lot in terms of clever lyrics and listenable music, so I don't know if it's worth getting the entire cd, but I'm glad I paid them for the songs I liked. :)

I haven't heard much other wizard rock, though- I decided to stay away from it because someone told me Draco and the Malfoys were the best of the lot, but I might have to check out Catchlove now. Thanks for broadening my horizons! :D
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