friday afternoon links – gratuitous umlaut edition
Heavy metal uniquely combines a horror aesthetic with a heightened taste for idiosyncratic spelling. Much orthographic controversy in metal revolves around the umlaut (e.g., ö):
- The first group to use the dreaded umlaut was German prog rock band Amon Düül back in 1967. Düül is the name of a character from a Turkish novel. The first gratuitous umlaut was Blue Öyster Cult in 1970. See Will Farrell mock them in this video. Key phrase:“More cowbell.”
- The gratuitous umlaut is a topic of discussion among metal aficionados who created the “heavy metal umlaut” wiki page to parse out legitimate and illegitimate umlauts.
- Legitimate umlauts: Icelandic diva Björk, German rock band Die Ärzte, Rhode Island’s Swedish “Viking Metal” band Vänhørwick.
- Gratuitous umlauts: Mötley Crüe (neither is needed), Frank Zappa’s 1996 album Läther, Canadian thrash band Infernäl Mäjesty.
- The gratuitous umlaut has even spread to non-Germanic/Nordic languages where there is no need for them, such as Spanish band Mägo de Oz (Wizard of Oz). A satirical metal band uses the umlaut over a consonant: This Is Spin̈al Tap. Band leader Michael St. Hubbins says: “It’s like a pair of eyes. You’re looking at the umlaut, and it’s looking at you.”