What artist(s) specifically stand out, or are particularly meaningful to you (and why of course)?
Being that I am OP, I'll start with myself I guess.
There's only one artist that really stands out significantly to me, Marilyn Manson. Unfortunately, I missed the 90's, the turn of the millennium, the early 2000s, and almost all of the late 2000s as well, as I was only first introduced to him by my older brother in 2009 (when I was 14) when he showed me the music video for a cover of the song "Personal Jesus" 'Manson did (originally by Depeche Mode), so I surely missed the "golden age", in terms of his career/popularity.
Thanks to the magic of recording technology and the internet though, I was and am still able to find a lot of articles, concert footage, interviews, etc dating all the way back until even 1990 (little known fact, the band actually started in 1989). After beginning to listen to more and more of his music, and becoming a fan on that level, I then began watching lots of documentaries about him, and lots of old interviews he did, especially those back in the 90s and early 2000s. I was very impressed with his intelligence, as well as his ability to make effective "come backs".
As just a couple examples:
1) In 2000 he was on a show on the MTV channel, he was sat in a living room like setting with Carson daily and a couple mother daughter "teams" as well as one father/son "team", and there was a live studio audience as well. The video on youtube is titled "Mothers Against Marilyn Manson". The parents were voicing their "concerns" about him. One mother said "She used to be catholic, but ever since she started listening to you she isn't anymore". 'Manson's response to that was "Maybe that's because it's your religion, and it wasn't meant to be hers" followed by "Maybe she believes in aliens, maybe she believes in herself".
2) Again in 2000, he was on Bill O'Rielly's show "The O'rielly Factor" on Fox News of all places, where when Bill kind of leaned into him saying that some of his lyrics are pretty shocking and can make kids think "when I'm dead everybody's gonna know me". 'Manson's response to that was "well, I think that's very true, and the news media, not necessarily this station but the media in general is largely responsible for that. Just look at Columbine, those two kids were put on the cover of Time Magazine, they got exactly what they wanted".
Musically it is hard for me to pick a definite favorite album because they all sound very different from each other, but the albums from the "Triptych" (Antichrist Superstar, Mechanical Animals, and Holy Wood) will always be "peak 'Manson" in my mind.
I do have a favorite song though, it's the song "The Reflecting God" off of Antichrist Superstar, and my favorite lyrics are also from the song:
"I went to god just to see, and I was looking at me, saw heaven and hell were lies".
To me that get's to the core of 'Manson's main message, to believe in yourself. There's even an interview from that time where he talks about this song as says "it's about searching through religion, drugs, sex, and realizing that in the end, there is nothing to believe in but yourself", and then another interview in which he said "The Antichrist is not someone with a 666 on their forehead, it's just a powerful individual who can make their own decisions".
I find a lot of his work not just musically stimulating, but also intellectually stimulating.
I do enjoy other heavy metal and hard rock artists as well, and other genres, too, however Marilyn Manson for me is in his own special category far above anyone else.
So that is my answer, what's yours?
Van Gogh is another favorite along the lines of Monet, but a little more intense with a lot of his work. Michael Angelo is a favorite too, and the quaint, down-home paintings of Norman Rockwell are also a pleasure to look at.
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