Awesome! ’80s Nazi Rock from Yugoslavia?

Upon first viewing, it’s a little difficult to believe that this video for Laibach’s cover of the Opus song β€œLife is Life” actually played on MTV, and is not in reality some elaborate piece of sketch comedy by some unknown comedians of the ’80s. The band plays it so straight and there’s so much pomp and bombast, that we all feel the power but maybe we’re all glad when it’s over, too.

The Slovenian band Laibach is like a practical joke that’s been sustained for over a decade. At the same time they’ve perplexed, alienated, and amused the public by cultivating a fascist aesthetic and using Wagnerian themes in their music, all the while never admitting whether or not they’re serious. Even the name of the band refers to the name Hitler gave the capital of Yugoslavia during the occupation. When asked directly if they were in fact fascists, they responded, β€œwe are facists as much as Hitler was a painter,” which is a rather vague and dubious answer that doesn’t clarify anything. Death+Taxes aptly notes that β€œtheir parody [is] so severe and their depth of commitment to it so deep they make the Talking Heads look about as biting as a velvet Elvis.”

D+T, with a some degree of irony I’m sure, calls Laibach’s video for the song β€œLife is Life” the greatest music video ever made. With its high production values (especially for the ’80s), beautiful landscapes and exteriors – the video is almost entirely exteriors – and generally ridiculous images, it might indeed be the best music video ever made.

What is perhaps even more over the top and unbelievable is footage from Laibach’s 2007 tour where they played material from their album Volk (2006). This album features them doing covers of various national anthems, including the United States.’ Pay attention closely – the same speech that is sampled in Brian Eno and David Bryne’s “America is Waiting” is used here.

There’s nothing better than a national anthem morphed into a piece of music that is twisted, unsophisticated, and crudely ironic in a way that’s endlessly provocative and entertaining. TC mark


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  • christopher lynsey

    Opus are lyrical geniuses.

  • Slavoj Zizek
  • tshades

    your interest in Laibach might be Crudely Ironic but i dont think you could call this music Ironic. music with industrial roots could probably be called Crudely Sarcastic.

    if its GenX and industrial then its probably meant to be subversive (Earnest, trying to make people think or take some kind of action) versus Ironic which is just meant to amuse. im not sure tho, maybe get an alternative intern over 50 to explain art and alt subcultures in the 80's.

    • Dan Hoffman

      Good idea. I don't actually like Laibach that much. It's just a one-day thing.

      • tshades

        well still, it might be nice to have an over 50 intern around to explain the 80's and even the 70's and the 90's a little from an insiders pov.

    • misskimball

      laibach started out with quite a sophisticated industrial sound (as in tg not nin) playing their own stuff and doing art things. They started doing these stupid cover versions just to get money off mtv / music biz by pretending to be nazis and it worked so they carried on with it. I don't think it was ironic or subversive

      • Dan Hoffman

        Perhaps you are right, but anyone stumbling across their music or this video is going to respond to it with a degree of irony, even if more research shows that that response isn't appropriate.

  • Trestre

    the level at which you don't get what Laibach is all about is enormous. You might try reading up on stuff that so obviously goes over your head before writing half ass attempts at blogposts.

    Here's a free tip to get you started – Laibach is German for Ljubljana, which never was the capitol of Yugoslavia. Go from there.

    • Dan Hoffman

      Seriously, I'm over it. But thanks for pointing this out. My source was D+T so you can leave a snarky comment there, too.

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