It’s about time we here at Pop Modern had a good, old-fashioned battle of the bands. After all, the world of amateur rock music competitions is both charmingly amateur and essential for any new bands trying to find success. With the rise of the Internet, publicity has become even more integral to a band’s success, and it all relies on a good frontman. Or woman. Either way, the face of a band needs to be unique, charismatic, and representative of the group’s ideals and goals. That’s why, this week, we’re scouring the annals of history for some centuries-old rock stars, and we’re bringing these two titans of old-people-piano-music-without-words into the ring (or octogon, or rhombus, or whatever shape our Match-Up arena is) by asking… Who would be a better frontman at a battle of the bands, Mozart or Beethoven?
Allen: Austria vs. Germany. Mozart vs. Beethoven. It’s a well-known fact that German rock stars have put on some of the craziest and most memorable performances on stage. Beethoven joins the likes of Kraftwerk and Rammstein in that mysterious land’s history of hardcore guitar solos and badass performances. The scenario goes like this: in one corner, Beethoven is adjusting his electric keyboard to match the tune of his band’s metal reimagining of his 5th Symphony. In the other corner, Mozart is about to begin his passionate version of his famous Requiem piece. The chorus swells, his fingers dance along the keys like a ballet artist, and the crowd is enraptured. Beethoven himself is almost brought to tears. The vocals come in, and it’s his cousin Lukas, who grabs hold of the mic, and emits a chorus so powerful that it shakes the theater.
“MY TURN!” shouts Beethoven from across the way. He immediately rips off his shirt, gray hair flowing everywhere. He pulls out an electric guitar, and starts to shred on the first movement of his reworked 5th. Every note is impeccable. What’s a Mozart to do? Play harder, of course! The Requiem and the 5th blend like two fine paints on a canvas of rock. With one last trick up his sleeve, Beethoven begins to play at his supposed actual tempo, which is much too fast to even compose. It’s also too fast for poor old Mozart, and as Salieri comes in to sweep up his sade side of the stage, Beethoven continues to play like a madman. It’s truly a sight to behold, and the prize goes to the old Ludwig Van himself.
James: As if it were even a question, Beethoven would definitely be the better front man for a band. Mozart was a child prodigy who grew up, and as we know from the child prodigies of the current era, child bands are a passing fad. Hannah Montana and The Jonas Brothers lasted for a very short amount of time before they grew too old, and their careers blew up in their faces. Mozart’s young age of premier composition would not only place him on the losing edge from the start, but he would need to drastically try to change his persona in order to come up with a fresh start that the audience would enjoy. Beethoven, on the other hand, has a definite metal vibe. As a front man for a heavy metal band, Beethoven has it all going on. His primary language of German sounds fairly evil as is, the scowl on his face would make him a credible post punk alternative, and the whole deaf rocker routine is sure to go over well with the crowd, in addition to the fact that he no longer needs headphones or any sort of ear protection. It seems obvious to me that Beethoven is the clear winner.
Magellan: I’d never thought I’d find myself having to defend Mozart in some kind of musical competition, but in the interest of never having a single Monday Match-Up reach a unanimous verdict I will champion him. Of course, let me start by saying that, when it comes to the music itself, I’m more of a fan of Beethoven. He’s got raw emotion backing him, and (like James mentioned) that whole deafness thing will probably help with his on-stage endurance. Plus, in the grand, geological timescale of things, Baroque is closer to rock than Classical is. But anybody who’s seen Amadeus (a movie I love deeply, despite its blatant historical inaccuracies) knows that Mozart was anything but straight-laced. He was a party animal, a boozer, and a tortured genius. Beethoven may have that third one down, but he strikes me as much stuffier. He’s the kind of guy that would bang away on the keys in his parlor, but wouldn’t be able to translate that energy to the stage. The audience members at a battle of the bands would be a bunch of party animals and boozers. They would be Mozart’s people. I can much more easily picture Mozart kneeling down and wailing out a killer guitar solo, sticking his tongue out at some bouncy co-ed in the front of the teeming crowd than I can picture Beethoven doing such a thing. Maybe that’s just because I feel more attached to Beethoven’s image as a dignified composer, while the Amadeus fan in me is already used to playing with Mozart’s public image, but that’s just how I come down on this one. Mozart seems like a Freddy Mercury-type, while Beethoven strikes me as more of a Brian May. Both incredibly talented, but one would feel a bit more comfortable strutting around in leather and chest hair than the other.
Beethoven wins 2-1
There you go, further proof that there is no historical or cultural figure safe from our weekly, goofy bastardizations. Next week, tune in as we weigh in on a Gandhi vs. Mother Teresa mud-wrestling match. Just kidding, we’re not doing that one. At least, not next week, anyway. But hey, what are we doing thinking about next week when we aren’t even done with this week? After all, you still haven’t voted in our poll, or spoken your mind down in the comments section. Go ahead, chew us out for dressing up these beloved figures like late-90’s Ken dolls. Or, let us know if you want historical figures to come Bach for more. We have no shame.