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Rated: E · Essay · Music · #2311642
A brief study of my favorite music and how it relates to animals
This essay is in response to a prompt from "Merit Badge Magic where one can choose a writing project and earn the corresponding Merit Badge for participating. My chosen MB is:

Merit Badge in Rock Star Dragon
[Click For More Info]

Thank you for participating in January 2024  [Link To Item #mbm] !

The exact prompt will be quoted at the bottom in the notes *Smile*

I suppose the first thing I should say is: I was thrilled to see this prompt, because I designed that particular MB myself by submitting an image to Richard ~ Shenanigans INC. during Pubby's Christmas Merit Badge Quest.
So this will be the story behind the Rock Star Dragon MB, which encapsulates my own love of music for the Writing.com community to share.

I approach music from an intellectual perspective and seek out artists that I feel I can trust to consistently provide decent lyrics, as well as having decent lifestyles without drama, drugs, etc.

Over the years I've settled upon two musical groups who meet my stringent criteria: OneRepublic and Imagine Dragons.
I do enjoy a wide variety of music, and there are several other bands I'm comfortable with, but for whatever reason I have become quite loyal to those two, learning as much as I can about their members, songs, album cycles, personal stories, and paths to commercial success.

Looking at Imagine Dragons, it becomes fairly obvious what inspired the badge I designed. Despite the name, ID have never associated themselves with actual mythical dragons.

I could rattle off the names and describe in detail the cover art of each of their five albums to date, and none of them feature dragons.

One of their earliest self-titled EP's (created when the fledgling indie band had only one member in common with the current lineup) did have cover art using one of those patterned optical illusions; if you stare at it long enough it turns into an image of a dragon, but I have no patience with those illusions and have not seen it within the artwork myself.

The one time they did connect themselves to a "real" dragon was when they featured as cartoon versions of themselves in a brief cameo in the Disney sequel movie Ralph Breaks the Internet.
In that scene, the four band members were seated around a table, on which was a little red dragon figurine. They did this because their song Zero, released as a single from their 2018 album Origins, was used in the soundtrack for that movie.

A fun fact about the name Imagine Dragons is, no one knows why the band chose that name. The members have made a point of teasing fans about it, and it has been a topic of animated discussion ever since the band gained international fame with their debut album Night Visions in 2012.

Lead singer Dan Reynolds explained that the name is an anagram of a phrase that has great significance to all the members.

Many fans have tried to reconstruct the anagram to determine the original phrase, coming up with terms like "Aged Men's Radio," "God is in a Manger," "Go Sing in a Dream," and the infamous "Ragged Insomnia," which the band actually went by long enough to release one song (which was titled Imagine Dragons!) as a promotional teaser. There is speculation, fuelled by playing certain portions of ID songs backwards, that the whole anagram story is made up... But no one knows for sure!

The four members of Imagine Dragons are as follows:
Dan Reynolds, lead singer, principal songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who founded the band as a college dropout in 2008.
Wayne Sermon, guitarist and longtime friend of Dan.
Daniel Platzman, drummer. He is currently on hiatus from the band, pursuing an indie music career. Former band member Andrew Tolman is filling in for him.
Ben McKee, bassist and friend of Platz. These two joined the band directly from the Berkeley School of Music.

If I had to assign animals to each Imagine Dragons band member, I would consider them all to be different breeds of dogs, because their collective personalities are warm-hearted, goofy, and good-natured.

Since Ben McKee owns a much-loved beagle, he automatically is a beagle.
Dan Reynolds is a Doberman because he's big-hearted and strong and protective of his family, plus he did own a Doberman at one point.
Platz is a bulldog, because of the stamina, tenacity, and patience required to be a good drummer.
And guitarist Wayne is an Afghan dog: quiet and mysterious with a stunning head of hair!

This is my all-time favorite Imagine Dragons music video: Shots, a single from their 2015 sophomore album Smoke + Mirrors. The visuals throughout are inspired by the surrealist artwork of Tim Cantor, whom the band commissioned to oil paint cover art for each song off of the album. The painter himself makes a cameo appearance on the video, in the living portrait of the man holding a snake.


Now for OneRepublic. This band is held together by the dynamic, energetic and insanely busy Ryan Tedder. His twenty-year career in the music industry is impressive, to say the least.

He has written and produced hit songs for as many pop artists as you could possibly name, while guiding his own band to a permanent spot in pop-rock history at the same time, plus juggling many other projects, ranging from being a judge on the TV show SongLand to setting up his own line of energy drinks.

The members of OneRepublic are as follows:
Ryan Tedder, lead singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist.
Zach Filkins, lead guitarist and longtime friend of Ryan.
Drew Brown, rhythm guitarist, the only member who wears glasses.
Brent Kutzle, cellist and bassist. It is unusual for a pop band to include a cello, but this has been a hallmark of 1R's music through the years.
Eddie Fisher, drummer, perhaps the most tattooed member of the band. (I know a band is my type when the members' tattoos are of artistic/nerdy things like manuscripts, birds, palm trees and sailing ships!)
Brian Willett, keyboardist, percussionist, violinist and also the man entrusted to replicate the whistling notes when performing live. He is a relatively new member, officially joining the band around 2020.

The nifty thing about 1R as it relates to this writing prompt is, they've already assigned themselves spirit animals. The cover art for their blockbuster 2013 album Native features five different animals, rising from the mist against a multicolored backdrop of warm earth tones.

As Ryan and the others explained in a video, each animal represents a band member, expressing their individual personalities which work together to create the rich atmosphere and powerful textured sound of the album. Ryan Tedder is a fox, Zach Filkins is a bison, Brent Kutzle is a gazelle, Drew Brown is an owl, and Eddie Fisher is a mountain lion.

Each animal is a symbol of strength, wisdom and grace, deeply rooted in native Earth cultures around the world. Cellist Brent Kutzle suggested the album title, which speaks of indigenous world citizens and the unifying effect of music.

Fun fact: the word "autochthonous" is a fancy way of saying "native." I once made some digital fan art inspired by the Native album cover, featuring this longer and more arcane word.

This is my favorite music video off of Native, for the single Feel Again. It portrays a fanciful story of Ryan and the other band members following a trail of glowing orbs, stumbling upon a fairy concert in the forest, and joining in the fun.

Music has always meant a lot to me, and I've spent many years cultivating my tastes and playlists. I find that a really good song sparks my imagination and fills my head with beautiful images inspired by the sounds in a way I find hard to describe.

For instance, several Native tracks (Au Revoir, Don't Look Down, Preacher) create a dreamy soundscape which makes me picture birds flying across the sky at sunset, or something sweeping and peaceful like that.

My love of music has contributed much to my life, inspiring me to create digital art, handwritten script quotes, stories, poetry, song lyrics, and more, while introducing me to many new communities and ways of channelling emotions into works of beauty.

© Copyright 2024 Amethyst Angel🌸📝🪽 (greenwillow at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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