“Without music, life would be a mistake.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
Since the age of 12, and likely even earlier, I have been a music lover, more specifically, a diehard metalhead. I love fast, heavy, aggressive, and thought-provoking music. I love the “chug chug chug” of a great riff. I love the artistry of a great solo. I love the fantasy imagery that the lyrics project.
Like many teenage metalheads, I had a bit of a superiority complex regarding my music, but as I grew older, I came to appreciate other music, too. For instance, I really like Electronic Dance Music (even though I can’t dance to save my life). In my heart, however, I remain a diehard fan of all things heavy metal.
This week, Steve Browne wrote a new blogpost called #HRMixedTape2019 – HR Edition! In it, he challenges HR bloggers to post a “mixed tape” of songs that connect to HR concepts. I thought this was an awesome challenge, so I accepted! Plus, writing about heavy metal AND HR really excites me! So, here’s my #HRMixedTape2019 – Heavy Metal Edition! \m/
Black Sabbath – “Black Sabbath”
Any heavy metal list MUST begin with Black Sabbath. Without them, the entire genre wouldn’t exist. So, I chose this song to satirize how HR is sometimes seen as the devil!
What is this that stands before me?
Figure in black which points at me
Turn around quick, and start to run
Find out I’m the chosen one
Many HR pros have likely been there! “Shhhh, HR is coming!” Looked at as an evil force that is out to get employees rather than someone that’s an employee resource! It’s a tired story, but one HR pros must keep rewriting by showing employees we can be a positive influence for and with them!
Exmortus – “Moonlight Sonata”
Exmortus are Californian power thrashers, who have some incredible guitar picking chops! I chose this song because it symbolizes to me the seemingly hidden value HR has to offer the world. Such is Exmortus when taking a beautiful Beethoven classic and adding some metal edge. It comes off so masterful! It’s is akin to HR showing up and demonstrating why high employee engagement is great for the bottom line, but doing it while headbanging!
Iron Maiden – “The Trooper”
Who doesn’t love guitar harmonies!?!?! Two guitars strumming the same riff at the same time enhancing the power from the epic hook! Few metal bands perfected the guitar harmony better than Iron Maiden. So, much like a great guitar harmony, HR colleagues can create amazing music together when they support one another. We know that HR professionals have a difficult job to do, and we must be troopers and stick together! Many of us live this every day by connecting via social media (#HRTribe, #HRPeeps) and in real life (shout out to my peeps in the #StateLineCrew in IL/WI!) Forming bonds is essential for HR pros to develop in the profession.
Dio – “Holy Diver”
Not all metal is gloom, doom, war, and evil! Sometimes, it’s pretty damn fun – full of exciting fantasy worlds where dragons roam the sky, knights save villages from trolls, and princesses save their kings from magic spells! Almost no one was better melding fantasy worlds with metal than the late, great Ronnie James Dio (also in Rainbow and Black Sabbath for a period). His voice is legendary! Many HR professionals know to have fun, too! It’s not all policies, PIPs, and performance reviews! Offices full of lava lamps, Magic 8 Balls, Funko Pops, toys, and many other awesome items create an atmosphere that relaxes people and invites them to come in and join the fun.
Metallica – “One”
I am biased. Metallica is my favorite band. Like, not just favorite – I am borderline obsessed with Metallica! So, it was tough to choose one song to put in this post! (See what I did there?) I decided to post “One” as a shout out to HR Departments of One! Often left to do it all themselves, HR Departments of One likely feel paralyzed at times, unable to move forward – trapped by a world that doesn’t give them much help! OK, that’s a bit dramatic, but still. HR Departments of One, you rock! Also, the double bass drumming in “One” is just so sweet!
Rammstein – “Ich Will”
I took German in high school and fell in love with the language, the culture, the food, the beer! 😊 Naturally, I gravitated towards the industrial metalers, Rammstein. With their huge stage theatrics and controversial lyrics and themes, it was a young rebel’s dream band! Why did I choose “Ich Will” (I Want). Well, the lyrics are an interplay between the band and the crowd talking (if you will) back and forth navigating a world of understanding and misunderstanding. It seems to me this describes HR’s challenge communicating with employers and employees! Sometimes, HR pros are great at creating an understanding, open environment. Other times, not so much! At least Rammstein creates a more entertaining medium to work with misunderstanding situations!
Slayer – “Seasons in the Abyss”
Oh Slayer. How many concerts have I been to where some random person yells “Slllllllllllaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyerrrrrrrr!” for no reason? Does every single one count? Well, no metal list could be considered whole without a nod to the thrash titans! They’re controversial. They’re talented. They’re legendary. Seems like HR and Slayer have a lot in common. If anything, “Seasons in the Abyss” is a GREAT name for some of the situations HR finds themselves in! Raise your hand if a manager asks you how to discipline an employee, yet he or she has no documentation…. Feels a lot like the following lyrics:
Close your eyes
And forget your name
Step outside yourself
And let your thoughts drain
As you go insane, insane
Killswitch Engage – Rise Inside
Killswitch Engage is my second favorite band. They’ve helped me through some very difficult times in my life, as well as been there for me when things have been great. I’m ending with this band and song to showcase an important point. We all must watch our biases, unconscious or otherwise.
“With a name like Killswitch Engage, they must be violent, hate filled people!”
(Unfortunately, this is actually a common comment I hear all the time about my beloved music genre).
Well, not in the least! The band members in KSE are incredibly kind, positive people. The band has written songs about women overcoming abusive relationships, individuals fighting through mental illness and depression, and groups working to overcome hate with love. At the same time, they don’t take themselves too seriously. They’re FUN as all get out – after all, they covered Dio’s “Holy Diver,” which is a fun song! (Go watch the video if you don’t believe me).
I chose “Rise Inside” because it’s their call to action – a call to putting aside all the petty differences that keep us separate. It’s a call to finding common ground to stamp out hate with love and understanding. It’s aspirational, yes, but isn’t that what HR is all about at the end of the day? When done right, HR brings people together.
Hidden Track! Led Zeppelin – “Immigrant Song” (Metal Cover)
Hidden tracks are awesome! So, I chose a metal cover of the Zeppelin classic, “Immigrant Song.” The original is better, yes, but I needed to stick with the theme! Much like the Viking explorers Robert Plant sings about, HR needs to be fearless as we chart new waters and face challenges never before seen — AI, anyone? Doing things the same old way isn’t an option. Like the Vikings, HR professionals must adapt and overcome as we explore the new worlds in front of us!