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Why Smart Women Love Heavy Metal

Cameron Diaz, Jada Pinkett Smith, Rachel Weisz, Demi Lovato, Lady Gaga, and Liv Boeree are all very successful women in their respective spheres, be it in acting, music, or poker. They are also all very smart. The one key thing they may have in common, though, is that they are all metalheads and proud of it.

So, what is it that attracts these women to heavy metal music? Despite all the stereotypes, none of which associate the scene with intelligence, in fact, quite the contrary is true in many cases. Studies have shown that a disproportionate amount of clever students listen to metal and so it is no surprise then that it is also so popular with a lot of very smart women.

It has also been shown that heavy metal music can have the “same effect as a warm hug,” helping those who listen to the music deal with anger issues in addition to just feeling calmer and more at peace.

Indeed, this particular piece of research, which was conducted a few years ago by the University of Queensland’s School of Psychology, revealed huge benefits to heavy metal music. Leah Sharman, one of the co-authors, concluded in her findings that the music “regulated sadness” and helped to “enhance positive emotions”.

The results also showed that metalheads, and other listeners of so-called “extreme” music, not only had reduced levels of stress after being exposed to the music but also felt higher levels of inspiration.

The lyrics themselves are important, too, of course, and while song lyrics are often dismissed or viewed as off-hand or casual, there are a lot of hidden meanings in them. Indeed, unlike a lot of other genres, heavy metal often triumphs in being not only non-commercial but challenging, and thought-provoking, too.

In fact, the band Thrice has written music inspired by Thomas Pynchon’s 1963 debut novel ‘V’, Sepultura’s tenth album “Dante XXI” is based on parts of the Italian poet Dante Alighieri’s “The Divine Comedy,” or to be more specific the song lyrics to “Heavy Metal Rules” by Pantera. On the face of it, the latter song is just about “too many rules if you wanna play the game,” but further on we hear:

“They blame it all on the rock ‘n’ roll youth
That don’t stop me, I’m on a roll…”

Here, an off-hand phrase such as “on a roll” reveals etymologies as surprising as they are unexpected. And it is the same across the whole heavy metal scene including being the case with all-female heavy metal bands as well. There is a lot of research, cultural and historic awareness among lyric writers in just the same way as it is with writers of other music and writers in other fields. It also validates why heavy metal is just as worthy of study as say a classic novel or anything else considered high-brow.

William Shakespeare, Jane Austin, Emily Brontë, Pantera, Mystica Girls, Scatha, Burning Witches are all arguably comparable in a way. It’s no surprise, then, that smart women love their heavy metal. With benefits such as producing a calming effect, it’s no wonder more women don’t wise up to the benefits of this music.

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