What I Learned From Blogging

Writing blogs was a completely new experience for me. I have heard about them, but never actively participated in them. I have to say it was quite an interesting experience. Some blogs were definitely boring to write, while others I enjoyed. I wrote about a variety of topics, each giving me a way to either voice my opinion or share my thoughts about a subject. Overall, I can definitely say writing blogs is completely different from the writing in high school assignments. It opened my eyes to a new perspective of writing.

Audience, talking to all you guys, is one of the key factors to be successful in writing especially for blogs. Blogs are not about writing to your teacher to impress them. It’s to just express what you want to say and get this through to your audience. For me, my audience was literally anyone on the Internet, but I would imagine most of my audience to be college students or people around my age. In high school, I wrote to impress my teacher and write in the way my teacher expected to receive a good grade. However, the purpose of the blogs was the total opposite. I had to write through my own voice not the impersonate voice I had in high school. Surprisingly, it was actually pretty challenging.

To be more specific, I had to make my writing sounds more colloquial; I wanted to sound like I’m having a conversation with the readers except I’m the only one talking (ha-ha). For example in the blog where I explained my top ten songs for Dead Week, I tried to explain why I chose those ten songs as if I was talking to my friends or people my age. I actually imagined myself face-to face with my audience. But I can definitely tell that I still have some traces of the “formal” writing style that I am trying to avoid. It is actually harder than I expected because I’ve been so used to writing in a voice that I would never say in real life that it became almost second nature to me to always write in this way. Basically, my English teachers had complete control over my writing.

Yea… English has never been my favorite subject. I’ve always hated writing for my English classes in high school. But writing these blogs wasn’t that bad at all. Although I explored many genres that I disliked in my blogs, writing about them wasn’t as bad as I expected. I actually had fun with a few of them and feel like I grew as a writer. I’ve kept in mind my audience and discovered many of my weaknesses. I suck at writing in detail and lack cohesion and fluency in my writing. I can tell though I’m improving in these aspects because I am aware of these weaknesses when I write and can also notice these mistakes when I reread my blogs now.

Writing blogs was definitely different from the way I traditionally write. It finally provided me a new perspective to writing. It emphasizes a deeper significance of keeping your audience in mind. The way you communicate to your readers is essential to express your points or share your thoughts. I am a computer science major, and communication is key when working with a team. All members must be on the same page and code should be easily decipherable to your teammates. I think blogging has helped me improved my communication, and I can take this with me when I actually enter the real world and have a job. I will be taking English 2 next semester, and I plan to take everything I learned from blogging with me as well to further improve my writing skills and communication.

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Good Boy

G-Dragon and Taeyang are popular Korean hip-hop artists. They recently came out with a music video for their single “Good Boy”, and I hate it. I enjoy some of the songs by them, but other songs, such as this one, I just find annoying. A lot of their songs and music videos are westernized. They include songs that are played in the club, such as EDM and many hip-hop-related songs. Personally, I don’t really like most of these songs. In addition, their visual performances of these songs also seem to be influenced by the western hip-hop culture. “Good Boy” is a perfect representation of a western-influenced song and music video that I generally dislike.

An excessive use of auto-tune is prevalent in hip-hop music, and I find the auto-tune in “Good Boy” to be obnoxious. It just brings a bad ring to my brain because the voice doesn’t even sound human anymore. The bass of the song and electronic instruments played in this music reminds me of “Turn Down For What”. Both have a repetitive pattern of electronic music and beats and become easily predictable once you listen to the first couple of minutes of the song, for they will definitely come up again later. You easily become sick of it. The lyrics of the song further demonstrates how this song is similar to westernized hip hop. The music talks about how “badass” they are and that all the girls will notice them because they are unique compared to other guys. They are the “Good Boys”. What also is pretty annoying is the amount of times G-Dragon says “Ay!” or “Oh!”, which many American songs tend to do as well.

The visual performance of the video is similar to westernized hip-hop culture, and because of this, I find many hip-hop music videos bothersome. In the beginning of the video, before they enter the club, they seem to be at a barber shop, where the barbers are shaving the customer’s hair to form writing on the back of their heads. For example, one guy had the word “Good” shaved on his head. The new hairstyles G-Dragon and Taeyang have are also quite strange. Their hairs do not resemble westernized hair-styles, but rather, they seemed to have created their own “unique” hairstyles that just doesn’t seem “hip” to me. However, similar to western culture, they sing/rap in an expensive fancy-looking car with no hood in one part of the song. Several girls are riding in the back, and it seems weird for there to be multiple girls when there are only two men in the car. I guess that’s the culture though in hip-hop music videos: having multiple ladies and nice cars at least once somewhere in the video.

What I found rather peculiar though is that in the club there are white and African-American women and literally no Korean women. They’ve been so absorbed in adapting to the western culture that they don’t even use Korean women to promote female objectification. Funny, right? In fact, many K-pop music videos are like this. I’m not a racist or anything, but shouldn’t a Korean music video at least include Korean women? I also find the bouncing dislikable. What I mean by bouncing is that their dancing includes waving their arms and making their bodies go down to the ground quickly and back up again. Even the camera movements are bouncy, swaying from side to side and up and down. This effect causes me to feel dizzy and makes me dislike the video even more.

As you can probably tell, hip-hop is not my favorite genre. This song in particular though has so many things wrong with it for me personally. I don’t like the repetitive electronic music patterns nor the bass. I don’t like the typical female objectification and cool-looking cars in the music videos. I don’t like the dancing, the way they dress, and the hairstyles. Nothing seemed right to me from my personal musical and visual perspective. The amount of times I’ve listened to this song to write this blog gave me a head ache, and I’m sure I’ll never listen to this song again.

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Top 10 Songs For Dead Week

It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for: Dead Week… This is one of the most stressful times for Georgia Tech students since the week right after is Finals Week. Play time is over and lots of studying shall be done. This is where most students go “Super-Saiyan” since this is the last test for their classes for the semester. For many students, this will be the test that ultimately decides their grade for each class, so they have to do well. This is the case for me. I always have trouble concentrating on my studies, so I came up with a playlist for Dead Week. I can’t focus that well when there are lyrics in a song or when the song is too “poppy”. That’s why my songs consist of more instrumentals and help listeners to concentrate.

Yup, I have classical music in my playlist. You guys probably have heard these songs and know how relaxing and motivating these songs can be. First up is Michael Silverman’s piano arrangement of “Canon in D Major” by Pachelbel. Right from the beginning, the song is amazing in that it tries to inspire you to do something great. The chords in the beginning are simple, yet the combination of them make the song so beautiful. Then, the awesome chorus starts, and you feel like you have accomplished something. This allows me personally to stay focused because I want to accomplish something at the end, and my goal is to ace my finals. Next is another popular song you guys may know: “River Flows in You” by Yiruma. The song starts with a very sad intro representing all the obstacles and problems you might have faced. When the chorus starts, you feel pumped up because it feels like you have overcame all the hardships you have faced, and this is exactly how I want to feel after finals. Next up is “Cello Suite No. I in G Major” by my boy, Bach. This song simply calms the body down. Whenever I listen to this song, I imagine myself on the chair when I’m at the orthodontist. This is the time period before the orthodontist arrives when you wait patiently for him. I would just close my eyes and listen carefully to this song calming myself before the brutal operation. These three songs represent the more formal and classical or classical-like songs of my playlist. They are simply beautiful and elegant.

“Kingdom Hearts” is my favorite video game series, for it includes characters that undergo a complex, yet amazing storyline. It also includes Disney characters and awesome OSTs (original sound tracks).  My favorite song is “Dearly Beloved- Reprise” from the Kingdom Hearts II sound track. This song is played during the introduction screen and shows the protagonist staring off into the distance. The song makes you feel like you’re doing the same exact thing contemplating what the meaning of life is. The song isn’t exactly depressing; I would say it’s more bittersweet. It’s a song about how life will get much better, and it certainly will be after finals. Next up is “Vector to the Heavens” from the Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix OST.  To be concise, this song is when the main protagonist’s friend disappears for good. It was probably the climax and most upsetting moment of the game. This song is not necessarily about me being depressed but it’s such a good and beautiful song that portrayed the scene, so I had to let it be in my playlist because the song was that GOOD. “Musique Pour La Tristesse de Xion” is also from the same game. This song is a more hopeful version of “Vector to the Heavens”.  Basically, the protagonist, Roxas, and his best friend, Xion, are contemplating their existence. They are not humans and are “Nobodies” trying to find a heart to feel emotion. It’s complicated, but the main point is that the scene is really depressing, but hopeful that maybe one day they will be able to find a heart. This is also a touching song that I love. Personally, depressing and/or hopeful songs are my type of songs that help me concentrate. Last but not least from my video game section of my Dead Week playlist is “Winnie the Pooh” from the Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix. This song is relaxing and reminds me of the good old days when I was a little kid. This song is basically an instrumental and more calming version of the original “Winnie the Pooh” theme. The song is just simply relaxing and really cheerful. This song should cheer me up when I’m stressed out from all the studying.

Finally, the last three songs are from October, a Korean artist I discovered from a friend. These songs are my favorites beating even my favorite K-pop, alternative rock, and classic rock songs. The songs consist of mainly piano and some drums to drive the song. “Acacia” is another calming and hopeful song. It keeps you concentrated and as a bonus, it has a really catchy piano melody for a relaxing song. In the end of the song, you can sense a bright path ahead of you and that life will be better somehow. However, this song is “meh” compared to the next two song. “Time to Love” begins with a tranquil piano melody, and then, the drum enters. Here, you can feel yourself grooving with the melody. When you’re studying, you subconsciously do this, while your mind stays focus on studying. I find myself tapping my foot and at the same time able to study every time I listen to this song. “Cherry Blossom” is my all-time favorite. It just has the most beautiful melody I’ve ever heard in my life topping all classical songs, instrumentals, “pop” songs, and every other song. With this song, you feel so motivated to accomplish your goals. You stay focused and almost feel like you’re in a peaceful setting full of “cherry blossoms”. With this scenery, there is no way for your mind to get off track from your goal. It just completely ousts all the stresses you have once the piano starts playing.

Words can’t really describe these top ten songs. You really have to listen to them to really experience the wonders they can do for Dead Week. If you are the type that can only listen to peaceful, calming, and motivating music without lyrics, this playlist is for you. Acing your finals is the goal, so try out my playlist to get motivated and stay focused. If you also want to stay calm and not get stressed out too much, listen to these songs to keep your mind from going insane.

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Gender Issues in Classical Music?!

Classical music has been around since like the beginning of time, and it is known for its elegancy and beauty. When you think of classical music, you think of people who are more civilized and intelligent. They are usually articulate, know what they’re talking about, and has their mind in the correct place. The classical music genre seems to be a perfect genre to listen to and be a fan of for all these reasons. I could listen to classical music, study, and drink tea every day!

However, like most stereotypes, these observations are definitely not true for everyone. Most notably, the well-known and successful conductor and composer Bruno Mantovani and composer Yuri Temirkanov said something so dumb that he made the classical music genre seem like the hip-hop genre (shots fired). Mantovani “posted an interview with him in which he ran through a veritable laundry list of putative reasons why women couldn’t succeed as conductors, ranging from infant-bearing to child-rearing to [women’s] innate lack of brawn and stamina”, while Temirkanov announced “the essence of the conductor’s profession is strength. The essence of a woman is weakness” (Tsioulcas, “What is Classical Music’s Women Problem?”).

These two statements said by the two “gifted” composers are really unacceptable especially for well-known composer. They should be a role-model for musicians all over the world except they are an embarrassment. It is pretty sad to see that even classical music has sexists, who are against women in classical music culture. Women may have the same passions as men, and gender differences should not limit these passions. It is true that men tend to be physically stronger than women, but they should be respected and treated as equals. So for these famous composers to say such things is unacceptable and disrespectful. They should apologize for what they have done. Furthermore, the idea that women and men are equals is not only limited to classical music or not even music in general. It should be applied to all aspects of life.

Alex Ross, a journalist who revealed the translation of the interview with Temirkanov suggested that “it would be more constructive for male participant in this discussion to examine himself, his record, his biases, spoken or unspoken … Silent neglect can do just as much damage as open contempt” (Tsioulcas, “What is Classical Music’s Women Problem?”). I totally agree with this. Men should speak up and try to correct the views of such people like Temirkanov and Mantovani. Speaking up with rational and logical opinions may be able to convince others that gender discrepancy is wrong. In addition, Tsioulcas suggests that women should also speak up as well, for they are the ones being patronized for stupid reasons. I believe expressing your views is the best way to change the views of those who are against women being equal to men. This may change their views hopefully.

Gender inequality is prevalent in many genres of music, in the business world, on the streets, and basically, everywhere. For classical music to experience this was a big upset for me. I mainly thought that hip-hop had this problem, but I can see now that probably everywhere there has to be at least some cases of gender inequality. Just because a man is generally physically strong than women does not make a man greater in skill or intelligence or any other qualities in any way. Women and men have passions and goals, which should not be interfered in any way especially when it comes to gender.

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Gender Controversy in Hip Hop

Hip-hop has been the center for debate since this genre emphasizes on the roles of gender so extensively. The role of women most of the time is for “pornographic uses of their bodies” (Neal, “Hip Hop’s Gender Problem”). For example, currently Nicki Minaj has millions of fans. In one of her latest videos, “Anaconda”, she and a bunch of other dancers twerk and are almost naked. This pretty much defines the culture of America. Majority of people here listen to hip-hop and enjoy the mostly male-dominated singers’ and rappers’ vulgar lyrics about sex, violence, and drugs and the music videos of almost-naked women dancing seductively.

America’s hip-hop culture is definitely evolving where gender roles are becoming increasingly defined towards males being dominant over females and where they objectify women. There is an increase in objectification in women because it helps with more viewers and appeals to the general audience’s tastes, which is kind of weird if you ask me. I prefer hip-hop where there is no objectification of women, but that is lately hard to find because “the performance of black masculinity continues to be hip-hop’s dominant creative force” (Neal, “Hip Hop’s Gender Problem”), and if you think about it, this is generally true. For example, when I think of artists of hip-hop, I think of Drake, Lil Wayne, Kanye West, and Dr. Dre, who are all African American. Their music generally emphasizes on “black masculinity”, and this seems to define what masculinity in America currently.

According to Neal, hip-hop is merely a reflection of sexism and misogyny that defines American culture. I believe this is somewhat true. He believes that “images and lyrics used to objectify women are a representation of how American society actually treat women.” Social media definitely portrays this. I’ve seen numerous videos on Facebook and Vines that are usually about a man saying “DAM!” while staring at a woman’s behind. I’ve noticed also that it seems to always be a man doing this to a woman; it is never the other way around. In some parts of American culture, this seems to be generally accepted. In the YouTube video, “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman”, a woman walks around in NYC for 10 hours and receives multiple comments from men in a way to flirt with her. For example, one man says “Hey look it there! I just found a thousand dollars!” as the woman passed him. Most of the men were really creepy in the video after noticing her “sexy” physical features and wouldn’t probably greet a guy the same way.

At the same time, hip-hop has a definite influence on American culture. Hip-hop influences people through their music lyrically and through music videos. For example, let’s go back to the objectification of women. All these hip-hop songs currently accomplishes this, and many people listen to their music. Therefore, I think people who listen to this music objectify women the same way the music does. It’s sort of like when you listen to classical music when studying. It helps you stay focused and motivated. I believe hip-hop songs work the same way. They say it is okay to openly objectify women, so the people who listen to these songs in general feel the same way.

I think it’s sort of like an endless cycle right now. American culture seems to emphasize the objectification of women by men and so does hip-hop music. These things go back and forth so the influence will stay dominant for a while, until some outside influence stops it. Hip-hop’s prevalent theme is objectification of women, and it’ll most likely stay this way for a long time since majority of people seem to enjoy it.

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Cello Metal: A Unique Subgenre of Heavy Metal

Cello metal is basically metal with the primary instruments as cellos and other string instruments instead of the traditional electric guitars, while the electric guitar and the drum set are considered more as back-up instruments. The string instruments accomplish all the things that the electric guitar would accomplish in the traditional heavy metal genre. For example, the string instruments are amplified electronically and almost imitate the sounds of the electric guitar, while maintaining the “string instrument” feel. String instruments and heavy metal together makes a pretty epic and awesome combo. This subgenre accomplishes a unique style exploring many different strategies that traditional heavy metal would not approach.

The most popular band of this subgenre would probably be Apocalyptica, for they were able to find their own style of music and unique techniques to captivate their listeners. For example, Apocalyptica’s “I Don’t Care” was able to hit over 31 million viewers on YouTube. It features Adam Gontier from Three Days Grace, which is a hard-rock/alternative metal band. In the beginning of the song, you hear elegant cello playing and gentle singing by Gontier. You can really hear how well their synergy is. Both give a sense of gentleness in the beginning and climax to an aggressive mood. In the chorus where Gontier sings “I don’t care”, you can hear how well his vocals and the cello go together. You can definitely feel a sense of two styles of music colliding: Apocalyptica’s intensity and its culmination of excitement through the cello playing and Three Days Grace’s aggressive, grunge-like singing. Obviously, with 31 million views, the song was a hit. Apocalyptica’s strategy of collaborating with another band helped the song become successful because both bands were able to create a totally different yet appealing style, which was a combination of hard-rock, orchestral, and heavy metal genres.

In addition, Apocalyptica brought something new to the heavy metal genre other than their cellos. They brought a more depressing and liter version of the genre. The instrumentals are still heavy metal-like in the sense that they play aggressively and with incredible emotion. Apocalyptica, however, also adds a sense of classical music to many of their song. For instance, in Apocalyptica’s cover of “Stairway to Heaven” the cellos and violins seem to be very relaxed and orchestral. However, in the chorus, the violin playing becomes very intense and fast-paced similar to heavy metal, while still maintaining the classical feel. In addition, Apocalyptica also covered many songs from Metallica including “Fade to Black”. The intensity for the song is still present in the cover especially where the song reaches its climax. The song builds up tension with its fast tempo and quick bowing of the string instruments. Still, the style of this song resembles that of an orchestra. This is not necessarily a trait to be looked down upon, for the band is attempting to create its own style within the subgenre of cello metal. One thing to note is that, they do not really have a singer in many of their music, which “normal” heavy metal music tends to have. However, similar to heavy metal, their main focus is on the instruments and how they play them: with great emotion and fierceness, which I find really amazing.

Coppelius another cello metal band seems to resemble the genre of heavy metal for the most part. Drums are more present and the sounds of the cello are lower in pitch and heavier compared to Apocalyptica. The double bass and clarinet are also played as well to add to their own unique style. “Risiko” by Coppelius exemplifies the style of the subgenre for this band. The cello completely replaced the electric guitar and is amplified electronically to achieve the “electric guitar” sound. In addition, heavy drumming is still prevalent in this song, and with the aggressive cello playing, it provides a more of the traditional heavy metal feel to the listeners. In addition, the singing has a sense of violence similar to heavy metal minus the screaming because the singer enunciates each of his words with powerful emphasis. Coppelius probably is the closest band to incorporate heavy metal’s aggressive style to their music, while also playing classical instruments, such as the cello and clarinet.

Exploring this cello metal genre, there seems to be no general style to this genre. It is very broad. As to gender, it seems that males are the prevalent members of this subgenre, for most of the members of these types of bands are males. “I Don’t Care” relates to the struggle of relationships that both genders can relate to, but in the music video, it portrays women as objects that may lead to misery. However, Apocalyptica’s songs also included some sense of classicality to many of their songs that both genders can enjoy. Finally, Coppelius seems to appeal to more of the male audience as the music video of “Risiko”, the males seem to be having a jolly time. In another scene, a woman slaps the man for making a sexual joke relating his top hat to his penis. I believe the association of gender and cello metal is quite similar to that of heavy metal, for they both in some way seem to downgrade women in some way. In addition, similar to heavy metal culture, there is the emphasis on the visual aspect of the genre especially in the music videos. Also, all these songs include at least some level of intensity similar to heavy metal. While cello metal does have characteristics staying true to their roots of heavy metal, it is a unique genre, for they explore many areas to diversify their style of music.

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My Perception on the Heavy Metal Culture

Heavy metal is the most denounced genre of music criticized by a wide range of people from professional music critics to the average person. Basically, mad people hate it. This is especially true now that the most popular songs are “pop” songs by artists, such as One Direction, Katy Perry, Beyonce, Eminem, Drake, Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Maroon 5, and many other well-known artists. When heavy metal comes to mind, people think of spikes, fire, long hair, head-banging, hell, and generally loud, obnoxious music. They think of heavy metal as music of horrible-taste, or they don’t even consider it as music at all. They see this unique genre of music as uncivilized and a disgrace to society. In addition, the musicians and fans of heavy metal are identified as “weird”, for people generally don’t know that much about the heavy metal culture and find the whole culture strange. I’m sort of on the same boat.

When I think of the style of this genre, I imagine aggressive drum playing, lots of screaming and indecipherable lyrics, and fast guitar riffs. It’s the type of music that one would get pumped up to and feel infuriated. You’d probably listen to it while you’re working out or doing something that requires a lot of intensity. For example, let’s look at “Down with the Sickness” by Disturbed. This is one of the more recent and popular heavy metal songs with over 21 million views on YouTube. The introduction starts with angry guitar playing and some screaming. The song sounds pretty depressing saying “drowning deep in my sea of loathing; broke your servant I kneel”. Throughout the whole song, he talks about his problems and reflects on it. It’s sort of like the thoughts of a really depressed teenager haha. However, instead of trying to get help and fix his problems, he releases his fury through his lyrics screeching in the end of the song “Why don’t you just f*ck off and die?” and also screaming “F*CK YOU”. Pretty disturbing, right? I thought this song was annoying and exemplified my perception of heavy metal as it is violent and chaotic in the way the musician expresses his emotions. It was too “loud” and violent in my opinion with the heavy playing of drums and guitars. Also, I found his voice dissonant and annoying. In the music video, most of the band members had long hair and did a lot of headbanging. You can see that this is definitely against what is “normal”. In one scene, one band member stuck out his middle finger and another scene showed two couples making out. The rest of the video is pretty much the band performing live with a lot of violent emotion. This is definitely not what we usually see in most music videos we see nowadays in pop culture.

The genre of heavy metal actually covers a broad range of music. Some more aggressive than others and others more “lighter” than others. For instance, “Heaven and Hell” by Black Sabbath. Instead of being aggressive for the whole duration of the song like “Down with the Sickness”, it builds up to a climax from a slow, laid-back tempo, and then the song becomes more driving and moves quickly with the drum beats and guitar playing. I would consider this as heavy metal because the song includes low guitar riffs and later fast riffs and heavy drumming. In addition, it becomes more aggressive and the singing style becomes more powerful and slightly screechy. This song exemplifies a lighter version of heavy metal, for the singing is less dissonant and the guitar and drums seem more relaxed compared to the previous song. “Heaven and Hell” was more enjoyable, for no extremely “loud” screeching and instrumentals were involved. This is my kind of heavy metal. It sounds pretty epic and has a really cool, catchy bass line. The singing is also more enjoyable with more decipherable and mildly aggressive vocals.

I’m not sure why, but I imagine heavy metal fans as adults in their mid-20s or mid-50s with beards and leather jackets and always wearing jeans. They basically look like they are in a biker gang. In addition, they may have piercings and lots of tattoos and a necklace with a cross. Also, they seem to throw their hands in the air in the formation of “horns”, and they also like to head-bang a lot. They tend to be rude people. For example, if you accidentally walked up to one of these tough-looking guys, they would initiate a fight by saying, “What’d you do that for, punk?” And you’d be scared out of your mind. They’re pretty intimidating people. The musicians are also intimidating since I picture them like devils with their ghoulish black hair and make-up, but this may be just because of the band Metallica. Yea, my mind relates heavy metal with a bad reputation…

These are all just stereotypes and my perception of the heavy metal culture. I may not believe that heavy metal is “good” music, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t “good” music for others. In addition, the way the people act may or may not be affected by the music they listen to. I’m just saying that these perceptions are only what comes to my mind when I think of heavy metal. Heavy metal just tends to have a negative aura in society because people are not interested and do not enjoy this type of music. They also don’t know much about and understand the culture. Also, people believe that heavy metal revolves around going against society, which creates a negative connotation for many people. However, there is a much deeper meaning than that. This genre definitely has a unique culture that many people including me have trouble understanding and accepting. I still think heavy metal culture is weird in some ways, but I have to say they do have some pretty good songs.

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