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Backmasking

In the Introduction of Lawrence Grossberg’s We Gotta Get Out of This Place, Grossberg mentions backmasking, and how it can be used incorporated into music.

Backmasked messages are messages that are recorded backwards and incorporated in music, and they are believed to be capable of somewhat brainwashing people.  He mentions that, “all of rock, even the mellow sounding stuff” is all part of an evil scheme by Satan to, “lull the youth of the world” (p.5).   The book points out how this happens a lot with rock music, but it does not only happen there.

The TV show The Simpsons shows a great example of this backmasking in music.  In one episode, Bart joins a boy band and they make a song that nobody can understand at first.  Lisa discovers after playing the video backwards that the chorus “yvan eht nioj” when played backwards really says “join the navy”.  Some controversy follows and the boy band eventually breaks up pretty quickly.

Part of the music video in The Simpsons episode

Part of the music video in The Simpsons episode

The saying “yvan eht nioj” actually became popular for a few days after that episode. I remember one of my friends  sang the song for a couple of weeks just as a joke.  Amazing how a backwards sentence can gain fame.

I’ve never actually heard one of these backmasking elements in a real song that I could really believe.  Popular culture is all about controversy, especially sexual controversy, and people will try to get others to believe all kinds of things about subliminal messages in music.  If anyone knows of a good one, let me know!!

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