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A Monthly Culture Matrix For the Cosmopolitan Traveler

Evanescence: The Bitter Truth

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Sometime in 2003, I was watching VH1’s Top 20 countdown, a ranking of the week’s best music videos, which were mostly fizzy montages or somewhat sexy mini-movies. So when Evanescence’s video for “Bring Me to Life” started up, I was transfixed. Blending goth melodramatics and early-aughts emo style, it depicted a strangely sultry yet suicidal young woman—performed by Amy Lee, the band’s raven-haired songstress—who is ultimately saved from jumping. The song was equally disquieting, combining piano notes in a creepy key with smashing power chords, and an odd couple duet between Lee’s classical vocal style and Paul McCoy’s scream-singing. The song and its video were both surprise smash hits, which may in part account for the enduring interest in this niche band. Continual re-revivals of alt-rock and emo may also explain the anticipation surrounding Evanescence’s latest album, its fifth. The group and its subgenre may not be your thing, but it nonetheless represents one of the more famous iterations of a niche that derives pleasure from dabbling with darkness and even death, and defines itself as exo-mainstream yet appears at times in commercial culture. —C.J.F.

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