Monday, August 07, 2006

Balboa versus Meat Loaf: Who Rocks Harder?

It's gonna be the season of brute force nostalgia. Two classic favorites are rolling back in and showing us what made them so awesome in the first place. The fact that they're working in two different media? Irrelevant. Ass gets kicked either way.

In the red corner, we have Sylvester Stallone as Rocky Balboa in a final installment of the famous boxing series that I was too young to appreciate. I grew up in Philly, though, so I knew about Rocky. I knew every time I wanted to visit an art museum.

In the blue corner, we have Marvin Lee Aday, returning as Meat Loaf for Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose. I keep accidentally typing his name as Meat Load, but it's kind of appropriate, because Aday is gonna bring us a killer new load of theatrical rock and roll.

In a world of shit-faced remakes and bad song covers, this might seem painfully typical. A resurrection of content we're happier to leave in the cradle of nostalgia, to sing along with on the radio and quote to other people our age (or older)... we don't need anyone dragging BOOH and Rocky's I - V out of their resplendent pop culture crypts, right? Is it going to be any better than it was seeing Jessica Simpson blaspheming Daisy Duke?

The answer is YES, people, because there's a critical principle at work here. These may reference our collective childhood, but they're not remakes or revitalizations. The classics always pale in comparison to their imitations, and nothing's gonna change that. But these aren't imitations. There are the original artists, coming back to defend their titles.

If Vin Diesel was to play a new Rocky, I'd be pissed, and the last thing I could ever want to see is a cover of "Life is a Lemon" by some jackasses like Linkin Park. But instead, we have two classic acts coming back, working under new conditions, to show us what they're made of. Agreed, the guitars in BOOH III are marginally updated (as per this demo song), and Rocky is now fighting a young punk who's grown up in the hip-hop generation.

But that's really the essence of the thing. It's not actually Meat Loaf versus Rocky... it's The Originals (aka RockyLoaf) versus The Imitators. That's right, neuvo metal heads and young punk action stars, it's time to pay dues to the people who inspired you. The Rock versus Rocky Balboa. Nickelback versus Meat Loaf himself.

Somebody thought to dig up the roots. And this Fall, they've got me in their corner.

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