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The Devil grabs a guitar, or gives a musician some form of supernatural assistance (at a price, of course).
After all, if Rock and Roll is a message from Satan himself, then Satan should rock out harder than anyone else. Ties in to the moral panic surrounding rock and roll when it first came on the scene -- many self proclaimed moral guardians criticized it as "the Devil's music."
Anime and Manga Edit
- Inverted in Ah! My Goddess, where Mara's weakness is that rock and roll forces her to dance as long as she listens to it.
- Shugo Chara: As Guardian Charas of a J-pop Idol, Angel El and Devil Il (and their Chara Naris) both have a musical trait. El's is a calm and tender singing voice, while Il's is... an electric-guitar. Which made it even more awesome when Amu transformed with her. DEVIL'S TUNE! HA!
- As makes sense, since it's about Robert Johnson (see below), Me and the Devil Blues definitely has this. Johnson somewhat unknowingly makes a Deal with the Devil for musical talent (which is gained by the devil showing the person how to play, granting them amazing musical abilities the next time they touch a guitar). Johnson is soon afterward joined in his musical travels by a man named Ike who he suspects is the Devil in disguise, who is also a good musician.
- In Yondemasuyo, Azazel-san playing the guitar is Lucifer's favorite ability.
Comic Strips Edit
- This Chick Tract alleges that all rock music, including Christian Rock, is controlled by a certain Lewis Siffer. The sad part is, you're supposed to take it seriously.
- In an arc of Hack Slash Cassie and Vlad run across a band that had entered a pact with an Eldritch Abomination for fame in exchange for Virgin Sacrifce to carry their vessel into the world. When Vlad messes up their plans they find a new vessel in the (male) lead singer.
- There's a comic called "The Devil's Trumpet" about a legendary jazz trumpet said to have been won off the devil and able to call him up with its music. A young musician kills its aged owner and steals it. He doesn't call up the Devil when he plays it, but he gets the next thing - the freaking Batman comes crashing through his window.
- A variation in Paradise Thwarted, sequel to Manchester Lost, a Good Omens fic. When the archangels "form a band," or rather just take over Foreigner, Lucifer ends up as the manager. Michael is the lead singer, Raphael is the electric guitarist, Gabriel is on the keyboard and Uriel plays the drums. It Makes Sense in Context.
- Inverted in Hamlet 2.
"Rock me! Rock me! Rock me, Sexy Jeeesus!"
- Trick or Treat is a film that plays straight a lot of the "evil rock and roll" myths with a musician who does...something vague with his soul before suiciding in a fire. He is resurrected and summoned by someone playing his record backwards, and then proceeds to terrorize.
- In Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, the titular pick itself was crafted from one of the Devil's teeth, and was owned by some of the most famous guitar players in history. And then there's the movie's final song, a rock-off against Dave Grohl as the Devil, who really does play lead guitar and drums.
- "When heaven's in the music, hell is in control / The angels got the voices, but the Devil's got the rock 'n' roll" -- from "Look What I Did to My Id", a song from Shock Treatment.
- The Witches of Eastwick, in which Jack Nicholson's Devil and Susan Sarandon's repressed music teacher play a literally explosive duet for piano and cello. After this (and after a bout of wild sex), the music teacher finds herself in possession of supernatural musical talent.
- Averted in Repossessed. The devil hates rock music, and it is this that eventually drives him from his host.
- The 1986 film Crossroads, starring Ralph Macchio, an old black man, and a hot chick, is built on the legend of Robert Johnson. The old man sold his soul for the ability to play harmonica; to get him out of the deal, Macchio goes double-or-nothing in a guitar duel against the devil's champion (played by Steve Vai). Involves a lot of awesome music.
- In O Brother, Where Art Thou??, Tommy Johnson makes his famous claim to have sold his soul At the Crossroads for his guitar skill. Satan appears as a villain throughout the film, though he shows no interest in music. (related to Robert Johnson.)
- Azazel, titilar entity in Fallen possesses people just to do bad Mick Jagger impressions. And kill lots of people.
- Averted in Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell, a short by Dave Willis and Dana Snyder of Aqua Teen Hunger Force fame - after 100 million years of practicing (on a guitar made from the flesh and bones of virgins, no less), Satan still can't manage to play the Epic Riff from Cinnamon Girl without screwing up.
- In Good Omens, Crowley points out to Aziraphale that Hell has almost all of the good musicians. Oddly, even classical musicians. Including ones, like Bach, who dedicated all their work to God. Heaven has only Elgar and Liszt.
- Inverted in CS Lewis's The Screwtape Letters. Music is banned in Hell, as it gets on the devils' nerves.
- Inverted in the first part of John Dies at the End, where the extra-dimensional demonic Wigmonsters are disgusted by music. When the group sings "Sweet Child O' Mine" to distract them, they turn around and walk away. Dave (the one singing) notes that one even spat on him.
- Asmodean, one of the Forsaken in the Wheel of Time series, was a child virtuoso on multiple instruments, although he never really fulfilled that early promise (and turned to the Dark One in hopes that he'd eventually manage it if he were immortal). After Rand captures him, he spends a lot of time pretending to be a traveling entertainer.
- Usually inverted in the Silver John stories by Manly Wade Wellman, where its implied the protagonist received his skills and silver-stringed guitar from a holy source. Played straight, however, in "Nine Yards of Other Cloth," where he is pitted against a man with an ebony fiddle from a very different source...
- John Hodgman notes that Steve Vai (in a reference to the "Crossroads" above) traded his soul to the devil for hot licks, then used aforementioned licks to try to kill Ralph Macchio, failing because his eyes were too doleful. It's that kind of book.
- Inverted in many of Lord Dunsany's stories, perhaps most poignantly (and hilariously) in A Moral Little Tale (go read it; it's too short to be summarized).
Live Action TV Edit
- The short-lived series A Year At The Top with Greg Evigan and Paul Shaffer was about a band which had sold their souls to the son of the Devil for one year of superstardom. Sadly, it didn't last long enough for anyone to find out what would have happened had the series been renewed for a second year.
- In a Kids in The Hall sketch, a garage band kid battles Satan in a duel of rockers. Whereas the Devil is able to use six arms to play a blistering solo that would leave any guitar hero in tears, the hero is nonetheless able to blow his mind simply by playing the opening riff of Smoke on the Water. Even though Satan is the frontman of Evil, Bobby had something Satan didn't have -- a Wah-Wah pedal!
- G - A - B / G - A - B - A / G - A - B - B - A
- Inverted in a Saturday Night Live sketch, where Garth Brooks sells his soul to the Devil (Will Ferrel) for a hit song, but it turns out the Devil's songs suck, coming up with such gems as "Fred's Got Slacks."
- Mephistopheles rocks in the opera Beethoven's Last Night.
- Pre-rock example: Irving Berlin's song "Pack Up Your Sins" suggests that "all the nice people" are having A Hell of a Time down there dancing to Satan's music, i.e. Jazz.
- Charlie Daniels' song "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" is one of the straightest examples, except that it's not rock guitar, but country fiddle playing.
- Remarkably, it nevertheless rocks, hard.
- Expanded on in the sequel, "The Devil Comes Back to Georgia". Features more modern Country Rock from Travis Tritt, and "narration" by the late, great Johnny Cash, who was inherently hardcore. Actually fits the trope better than the original, where instead of it being clear the devil lost, the musical duel plays out the song with no resolution.
- The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion frequently point out that they are not in the service of the devil. No one has ever accused them of such, but it sure makes for good lyrics.
- Legends often circulate of blues musicians having sold their souls to the Devil to gain supernatural musical talent. This usually is said to have happened at a certain crossroads in the Mississippi Delta, between Clarksdale and Yazoo City.
- Most notably Robert Johnson, as several of his songs allegedly reference the Devil. This infernal bargain informs the plot of the mid-80s film Crossroads with Ralph Macchio (and a cameo at the end by guitar legend Steve Vai which is really the only reason to watch the movie).Robert got the idea from Tommy Johnson.
- Nineteenth century violinist Niccolo Paganini was also accused of selling his soul to the Devil for his virtuoso skill. Mindful of good PR, Paganini insisted his mother received a message instead from the angel Gabriel while he was in utero.
- Much has been made of Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page's obsession with the works of British occultist Aleister Crowley. Crowley was not technically a Satanist, but did exploit Satanic imagery (calling himself "The Great Beast 666"), and Page was originally supposed to compose the score for the film Lucifer Rising directed by fellow Crowley devotee Kenneth Anger.
- Tenacious D's song "Tribute" is a subversion, as they are able to drive away the Shining Demon by playing the best song in the world.
- The Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil":
" Please allow me to introduce myself, I am a Man of Wealth and Taste, I've been around for many a long year, stole many a man's soul and faith"
- Finnish heavy metal band Lordi have basically made a career out of this, with such songs as The Devil is a Loser and Hard Rock Hallelujah.
- Or averted or even inverted it. Sure, Mr. Lordi looks demonic, but the actual devil is a loser (and his bitch).
- Orange Goblin has "You're Not The One (Who Can Save Rock & Roll)". A guitar player wants to save rock and roll, but the Devil tells him he can't because he doesn't have the blues. A decade later the guitar player's burned out and the Devil offers to give him the blues in exchange for his soul. He accepts, and becomes a rock and roll superstar, "singing the blues cos [he] ain't got no soul".
- Implied in Pentagram's "Relentless". "Do you know my name, I doubt if you do / But you'd be surprised if I told it to you / My looks are deceiving, I'm not what I seem / For I've got more power than you may believe!"
- Subverted by Jethro Tull on their album A Passion Play, at one point implying that the most devout of Christians are actually favored more by Satan than God.
Show me a good man, and I'll show you the door
The last hymn is sung, and the Devil cries more!
- Black Sabbath's "N.I.B." is about Satan falling in love and actually becoming good, according to Geezer Butler.
- Pagan Altar, "The Black Mass": "This is the age, the age of Satan! / Now that the twilight is done! / Now that Satan has come!" Can't get much more blatant than that.
- Pretty much any Slayer song.
- the power metal band Domine offers us the Elric version, with Arioch the chaos star, feeding on screams, smashing your dreams, casting your souls into the deepest hell...
- "I'm Talkin' 'bout Satan" by Sean Cullen, sang in the style of gospel music.
- While a lot of death and black metal include demonic references, Behemoth's song Be Without Fear contains the following lyric:
Heed my call, LEVIATHAN!
Bless my path, ASMODEUS!
Lift me up, BELIAL!
Through Thy wrath my will manifests!
- Larry Norman, one of the pioneers of Christian Rock, wrote "Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?".
- The Grateful Dead's "Friend of the Devil."
- Fireaxe's 4 hour magnum opus Food for the Gods has several songs featuring the devil, but Welcome to my Realm deserves special mention. It's a Religion Rant Song sung by the Big Man Downstairs himself to the new arrivals using the screams of the damned as the choir.
- The Band's "Daniel and the Sacred Harp" implies something along these lines.
Tabletop Games Edit
- An official series of campaigns (the Revelations Cycle) for Steve Jackson Games' In Nomine starts with this trope. Lucifer promotes a minor demon to "Demon Prince of Hardcore."
- Delta Green has Charnel Dreams, the house band for NYC's Club Apocalypse. The band's lead singer/guitarist is a sorcerer, assassin, and worshiper of Nyarlathotep. The rest of the band either also worships dark gods or is willing to go along for the fame.
- While he isn't the devil, Chaos God Slaanesh of Warhammer and Warhammer 40000 fame granted his followers weaponised guitars, until those were changed into the sonic blasters of today. Why? Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll of course.
Video Games Edit
- Emperor Doviculus from Brütal Legend isn't quite Satan, but he's a good enough substitute, and he rocks harder than anyone else with his quadruple-headed guitar.
- The final stage of Guitar Hero 3 is a rock-off against a demon who may or may not be the Devil but is your manager, Lou, with your band's souls on the line. Set to a rock cover of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia", no less. (Charlie Daniels thinks this use of his song is a perversion of it, and finds Guitar Hero 3's content for Lou's Inferno to be shocking and inappropriate. No, really.)
- The trailer for the Neverwinter Nights 2 mod Lute Hero is presented not by Lord of Darkness himself, but Death fills his role instead.
- In the bonus ending of Warcraft III's expansion pack, The Frozen Throne, Arthas the fallen prince and newly-crowned Lich King rocks out to L80ETC's 'Power of the Horde'.
- In the Kingdom of Loathing, an optional side quest involves finding appropriate music to perform before Satan. "Appropriate music" is, naturally, heavy metal.
"Oh, evil Satan
oscillate my metallic
sonatas live. Ho!"
- Not immediately obvious, but this is, in fact, palindrom haiku. Astounding.
- Quickie: if you look better, you'll see that the middle words ("Satan oscillate my metallic sonatas"), when put together, give you the title of a Soundgarden EP that was packaged with Badmotorfinger in its 1992 re-release.
- Not immediately obvious, but this is, in fact, palindrom haiku. Astounding.
- Darkstalkers gives us Lord Raptor, a metal rocker who wrote occult text into his songs. At his final concert, he killed his audience and himself, and a demon lord was impressed enough to make him an undead.
- Played with in The Conduit by Fang Jorgenson, host of the "Fang Bang Metal" radio show. He starts off as a stereotypical heavy metal DJ, but as the game's Alien Invasion proceeds, he interprets it with unrestrained glee as a demonic uprising.
"So it comes down to this, the attacks are not done by terrorists after all. They are demons here to take the world for the Lightbringer! The Bug has plagued the masses. Demons are attackin' on our streets. Death seems to be at every turn. We may live to see the end of days!"
Web Comics Edit
- Inverted and taken Up to Eleven by Headbanged, where Jesus plays the drums, is a huge fan of black metal, and is apparently friends with Gaahl, an (in)famous black metal musician. Satan, however, hates metal and prefers easy listening - pop at the heaviest.
- Similarly, Penny Arcade has established that Jesus is "fucking metal".
- It should be noted that the awesomeness of Rock (and Metal) is pretty much the only point that Jesus and Satan agree on.
- In Devil Bear, Bearalzebub does this when challenged to a music duel (by some souls trying to get out of their Deal with the Devil).
- In Adventurers, the electric guitar is the instrument of "dark musical arts". Villain The Axe plays it.
Western Animation Edit
- An episode of American Dad ends with a guy proving he went to hell because he came back with a guitar with a goat skull on it.
- Metalocalypse explored that concept: When Dethklok are forced to sell their souls to the Blues Devil for blues fame, they end up negotiating the contract so that he would get only a $5 gift certificate for Hot Topic. They end up destroying his car during a performance (having summoned a tornado with their music)...
- Re Boot: In the episode "Talent Night", Megabyte rocks the hell out, and then has a guitar duel with Bob. This scene wouldn't look too out of place in Guitar Hero--and keep in mind, this show predates Guitar Hero by about a decade.
- Robot Devil in Futurama loves music of all kinds.
- The Squidbillies episode "Mephistopheles Traveled Below To A Southern State Whose Motto is Wisdom, Justice and Moderation" features the Squid Devil teaching Rusty how to play guitar, and this version of Beelzebub can rock pretty hard. He plays a song called "Hoofprints," which features the following line: "As I ram your carcass through an impossibly small hole into a sea of flaming hot human feces, when you can't draw a breath, yet your lungs are filled with that same flaming hot human feces."
- Rusty and Early also gain incredible guitar playing abilities (Early plays so fast the strings turn white hot), at the cost of sucking the town into hell and both of them turning into horrific demons.
- On an episode of The Simpsons where Bart goes to hell in a near-death experience, the Devil amicably advises him, upon leaving, to "lie, cheat, steal, and listen to heavy metal music!"
Bart: Everyone knows all the best bands are affiliated with Satan.
- The "Odyssey" segment of the "overdue library book" episode uses this for an atrocious yet hilarious punchline. In it, Odysseus (Homer) learns that he and his crew must cross the river Styx. They get there and find the hordes of the undead writhing and rocking to (what else!) Styx's "Lady." Odysseus moans:
Homer: Oh, no, this really *is* Hell!
- In the Looney Tunes cartoon "Three Little Bops," the trumpet-playing Big Bad Wolf finally find his place in Hell, and the Aesop is pronounced: "You gotta get hot to play real cool."
- Despite being the Anti-Anti-Christ, Beezy on Jimmy Two-Shoes is apparently quite good at playing an invisible rock guitar.
- This shirt.
- Subverted by an old Weekly World News article, which claimed that the Devil has switched to Gangsta Rap as his personal genre because he felt that rock music nowadays was for pussies.