The other day as I strode through a Fred Meyer, I was somewhat appalled by the musical choices of whoever was running the PA system. Of course, the music in Fred Meyer is always bad, but on this particular day, it was especially offensive because jumping from the speakers was the absolutely insufferable music of Styx, one of the most insufferable bands to come out of the 1970s.
If you’re not familiar with the music Styx, that’s good. Keep it that way. They are most known for Mr. Roboto, probably one of the worst songs ever inflicted upon airwaves. While I hate Styx for their music, that’s not thing thing that annoys me the most about them. No, the reason I really hate Styx is that they don’t deserve their name.
Styx, of course, is the river in Greek mythology that runs through the Underworld. It runs through the darkness of Erebus and Tartarus, where the dead wander and eat dust for eternity. It runs past the mighty guardian wolf Cerberus, the great three-headed monster that keeps the dead in and the living out. It runs through the mighty fields of Elysium, where heroes feast in eternal splendor. Daily and nightly Charon, the ferryman of the dead boats upon the Styx, shuttling the departed to their final fate. Such powerful, iconic, resonating imagery, should not be the province of a terrible seventies progressive band. The name “Styx,” in a just world, would belong to a far better musical entity.
Somewhere, there’s a metal band whose guitar chords scream like the fiery wails of demons and, whose basslines thunder like the rage of the gods. But, they cannot name themselves after the river of hell.
Somewhere, there’s a darkwave group whose sythesizers echo like lonely cries of the forever damned and, whose singer cries like liquid darkness. But, they cannot name themselves after the waterway of eternal regret.
Somewhere, there’s an industrial act whose beats echo into hopeless eternity and whose refrains screech out the hows of Cerberus. But, they cannot name themselves after the boundary that divides the living and the dead.
It is just and proper that Nirvana, a band named for Buddhist enlightenment, did actually change the world. It is good and laudable that Black Sabbath, a band whose name recalls dark covens and hideous rituals, delivers on what their title promies. It is entirely appropriate that AC/DC’s music is exactly as electric as their name suggests. Styx, though, abuses their name. Their insufferable and flaccid music recalls nothing of the mighty mythological imagery that they summon up. They wish to invoke Death itself, but instead deliver horrible music that is already its own parody.
So, you suck, Styx. You stole one of the most potentially awesome names in music and mythology. The most badass geographic feature in Greek myth really should belong to a better band, but you ruined it, and I hate you for it.