go to content
Tech

How Metal Is Apple Music?

We convened a panel of passionate experts to get to the bottom of this one mystery.

Posted on

A major new music product from Apple raises all kind of big questions, many of which our colleagues in music and tech journalism are busy answering right this minute. How does it stack up against the big players in streaming music that have stolen business from Apple over the past decade? How do its revamped 24/7 radio stations compare to XM and Pandora? Will the new artist discovery features give music fans a one-stop shop and push SoundCloud out of the burgeoning star game?

These are all worthy things to wonder on the day of the Apple Music launch, and wise words will be written and shared.

And yet isn't there an even deeper, more elemental question? An ur-query, white-hot and pure, from which all other lines of inquiry flow like so much spurting magma?

Is it… fucking… metal?

Of course, Apple Music has oodles of heavy metal; it also has dance pop, "chill" electronic, and "workout anthems". But having metal is a box to tick, an obligation; being metal is a calling, a state of mind.

BuzzFeed News gathered its resident metalheads in the most metal of all collaborative productivity environments — Slack, of the integrated metal emoji — to determine whether the brainchild of Eddie Cue, Dr. Dre, Jimmy Iovine, and the overlords of entertainment technology are committed to the righteous cause of metal, or just pretending.

joe [11:38 AM] ok @channel

joe [11:38 AM] i am about to start looking at how metal apple music is but

joe [11:38 AM] before i start

joe [11:39 AM] let's get predictions from everyone: how metal will apple music be?

ellencushing [11:39 AM] what is our scale

joe [11:40 AM] i'll start with mine— apple is a giant, terrifying, powerful, inscrutable and crushing beast with a bottomless thirst for expansion and the will to power

joe [11:40 AM] that is metal as shit

joe [11:41 AM] on the other hand it's called "apple", which sounds like a twee indie pop band from north carolina

joe [11:41 AM] i'm going with 7 on a scale from 1 to METAL

ellencushing [11:41 AM] that said, EL CAPITAN could definitely be a metal band

ellencushing [11:41 AM] well, maybe

pczki [11:41 AM] My guess is just barely metal enough. I expect unforgivable omissions.

ellencushing [11:41 AM] a bad one:

ellencushing [11:42 AM] :-(

joe [11:42 AM] errors are not metal

joe [11:43 AM] software updates are not metal

ellencushing [11:43 AM] definitely not metal

joe [11:43 AM] you know what is metal tho? trying again

joe [11:47 AM] ok JUST GOT IT here we go

joe [11:49 AM] here's my first test — spotify, which i have been using, only has the latest yob album

joe [11:49 AM] yob is the greatest metal band in the world right now

joe [8:51 AM] Four full Yob albums:

joe [11:52 AM] and a live album (which spotify has)

pczki [11:53 AM] ok. i concede that is pretty goddamn metal.

joe [11:54 AM] right now i'm imagining steve jobs stabbing out power chords on a flying V on top of a mountain in valhalla

joe [11:54 AM] as randy rhoades smiles in approval

ellencushing [11:54 AM] Tim Cook really letting a riff fly

joe [11:54 AM] tim cook: "and just one more thing: SLAAAAAAAAAAAYUUUUUUURRRRRRR"

pczki [11:54 AM] please search for FINNTROLL

joe [11:57 AM] "Trollish hoedown metal"

pczki [11:57 AM] Ok. This is actually *very* metal. I am impressed.

joe [12:00 PM] ok it's asking me to choose 3 or more of my favorite metal artists

joe [12:00 PM] they suggest some heavy hitters

joe [12:03 PM] i'm going pantera, at the gates, neurosis, and melvins

joe [12:05 PM] hmm, after inputting those artists, apple suggested a hip hop playlist by champ bailey, who is an nfl star... and there's no metal on it

joe [12:05 PM] and then a collection of jay-z's most personal songs.... which is kind of funny because it's apple giving tidal a titty twister

joe [12:05 PM] which is metal

joe [12:05 PM] but jay-z is not metal

ellencushing [12:06 PM] whut

ellencushing [12:06 PM] rude

ellencushing [12:06 PM] not metal

joe [12:06 PM] and then the third playlist is an "Intro to mastodon" which is a great band, but like, does a guy who says one of his favorite bands is at the gates need an "intro to mastodon"?

joe [12:06 PM] no

joe [12:06 PM] not metal apple

ellencushing [12:08 PM] this is so bizarre

ellencushing [12:08 PM] like it's so hit-or-miss

ellencushing [12:08 PM] this is great and seems like something a real metalhead would think to create

joe [12:09 PM] yeah

ellencushing [12:09 PM] it's not even just the obvious pantera songs!

joe [12:09 PM] do you think like there's a secret room in cupertino where apple keeps like, a group of heshers stoned and fed and asks what they want to listen to

ellencushing [12:10 PM] brings them out into the sunlight once a quarter for a focus group

joe [12:10 PM] and to crush beers on their foreheads

joe [9:41 AM] Apple music really exposing me to some new bands

joe [12:45 PM] but goddammit when the levee breaks is the metalist thing ever

joe [12:54 PM] ahh, the mastodon playlist only has one song from remission, that is not metal at all

ellencushing [1:09 PM] i still cant get apple music on any device

ellencushing [1:09 PM] not metal

joe [1:32 PM] thats really not metal

ellencushing [1:38 PM] deeply unmetal

pczki [1:48 PM] ok. i am in same boat as ellen.

pczki [1:48 PM] this is annoying.

joe [1:48 PM] maybe you guys aren't metal enough?

ellencushing [1:49 PM] omg

ellencushing [1:49 PM] it's a test


ellencushing [1:49 PM]
The Machine Knows

joe [2:19 PM] provisionally: apple music is very metal

pczki [2:21 PM] Overall, Apple Music seems pretty metal. The biggest setback I've come across is my inability to use it — at all.

mat [2:30 PM] Hey don't worry

mat [2:30 PM] I've got this. I'm very metal

mat [2:30 PM] So, in Radio, do I tune into "Metal" or "Classic Metal"

mat [2:30 PM] quien es mas metal?

joe [2:30 PM] no no

joe [2:31 PM] go 'for you'

joe [2:31 PM] then select 'metal' as ur kinda music

mat [2:31 PM] Hey man, I just want to hear some metal. Who are you to tell me how I should listen to metal?

mat [2:31 PM] Should I try metal or classic metal?

joe [2:31 PM] fuck sorry that is not very metal'

joe [2:31 PM] u wanna do classic metal and i'll do metal?

joe [2:32 PM] (that's not an age dig)

mat [2:33 PM] Okay, first track is Battery from Master of Puppets. I love this song! Have you guys seen that picture of James Hetfield shopping?

mat [2:36 PM] People are complaining that the music coming from my headphones is too loud.

caroline.odonovan [2:37 PM] it's very loud

caroline.odonovan [2:37 PM] it's like it's playing... out loud

mat [2:38 PM] But okay, I touched the little heart on that first track. But now it's playing Motley Crue Live Wire, which is.... I mean.... Even I know that's not metal. Okay I had to skip that.

pczki [2:38 PM] mat has the WORST headphones

pczki [2:38 PM] they are inverted speakers

mat [2:40 PM] Motorhead Damage Case is on now. Which you probably already know because of my rocking Grado SR80s

mat [2:42 PM] Now we're onto AC/DC Girls Got Rhythm. This classic metal radio station sucks, yo

mat [2:42 PM] Swapping to Metal

mat [2:43 PM] Aaaaaaannnnnnddddd Judas Priest - Freeweel Burning

joe [2:57 PM] this modern metal station is garbage

joe [2:57 PM] they're playing christian metalcore from the early 00s by something called 'haste the day'

joe [3:05 PM] and like, 3 lamb of god songs in 20 songs

joe [3:06 PM] oh my god there is an amazing cavalera conspiracy song on here

joe [3:08 PM] its really annoying you can't click straight from radio onto the artist or song page. thats terrible

joe [3:09 PM] inconvenience is not metal

joe [3:11 PM] dang its like just me in here... it's like i'm ~trapped under ice~

ellencushing [3:12 PM] i am listening to defaheaven and waitng for the new ios to download


ellencushing [3:12 PM]
i had to delete every app but candy crush from my phone

ellencushing [3:13 PM] can't tell if that's metal or not

caroline.odonovan [3:18 PM] p sure candy crush is not metal

ellencushing [3:20 PM] idk caro I'm REALLY GOOD

joe [3:28 PM] caroline if you aren't going to contribute get the fuck out of this room

caroline.odonovan [3:29 PM]

left #is-apple-music-metal

ellencushing [3:29 PM] bai


joe [3:29 PM]
see you fucking never, you are not metal

ellencushing [3:30 PM]:

ellencushing [3:30 PM] Also not metal

pczki [3:32 PM] that is the opposite of metal

ellencushing [3:37 PM] finally got on

ellencushing [3:37 PM] first song i got on metal radio was die by the sword :)

ellencushing [3:37 PM] happie ellen

joe [3:38 PM] yeah, i got that too!

ellencushing [3:38 PM] huh

ellencushing [3:38 PM] i wonder if it's just the SAME

joe [3:38 PM] whatever, apple sending slayer to multiple people is not an issue

joe [3:38 PM] it's metal

ellencushing [3:42 PM] so based on very quickly flipping through the metal station

ellencushing [3:43 PM] i feel like it's a relatively good intro to metal

ellencushing [3:43 PM] they did give me marilyn manson tho

ellencushing [3:43 PM] oh dip GOJIRA :) :)

joe [3:43 PM] yea i just got slipknot

ellencushing [3:43 PM] :(

joe [3:44 PM] also one weird thing they keep doing is giving me bad songs by great bands off their recent albums

ellencushing [3:44 PM] o like what

joe [3:44 PM] like, no one wants to hear contemporary megadeth

ellencushing [3:44 PM] ew

ellencushing [3:44 PM] that is notionally metal, but spirtually not metal

joe [3:44 PM] i'd like to continue pretending dave mustaine stopped existing after 1991

joe [3:50 PM] yea now i'm getting some marilyn manson

joe [3:51 PM] it turns out he has not improved

pczki [3:55 PM] does it have weakling, @joe

joe [4:01 PM] @pczki: no weakling

pczki [4:01 PM] that is UNMETAL

joe [1:02 PM] But this little ditty just came on......

joe [4:02 PM] this song is so good i want to punch somebody

mat [4:04 PM] Have we reached a consensus as to whether or not Apple Music is metal yet?

joe [4:05 PM] i would say it's on the right path. they need to cut out all the crappy metalcore and lame intros to bands everyone already knwos

mat [4:06 PM] That's not a very metal answer, Joe. I was looking for a yes or no.

mat [4:06 PM] does metal equivocate?

joe [4:07 PM] honestly, NO........ but every time i think that something else that is so fucking metal it rocks my planet comes on

joe [4:07 PM] like CELTIC FROOOOOOOST

ellencushing [4:07 PM] I would imagine it's the same diagnosis for all genres

ellencushing [4:07 PM] it's just not granular enough

ellencushing [4:07 PM] you can't please entry level metal people AND the bernsteins of the world

ellencushing [4:07 PM] i imagine a metalhead and a business guy like arguing somewhere in cupertino

ellencushing [4:08 PM] because the metal guy wants some phreeky norweigan shit

ellencushing [4:08 PM] and the other guy wants to not terrify people

joe [4:09 PM] yeah i'm going to have to say apple has made a good effort but this is not metal

joe [4:09 PM] Oh my god

joe [4:10 PM] i kept scrolling forward through radio

joe [4:10 PM] and it... RAN OUT OF METAL

ellencushing [4:11 PM] OMFG

that's your art, dog

This Slack channel discussion was lightly edited to make it not completely confusing. (Thumbnail image: YOB, YouTube)

Joe Bernstein is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Bernstein reports on and writes about the gaming industry and web culture.

Contact Joseph Bernstein at joe.bernstein@buzzfeed.com.

Ellen Cushing is an articles editor for BuzzFeed News' tech section and is based in San Francisco.

Contact Ellen Cushing at ellen.cushing@buzzfeed.com.

John Paczkowski is the managing editor for BuzzFeed San Francisco. Formerly deputy managing editor for Re/code and AllThingsD, he's been covering the intersection of technology and culture since 1997.

Contact John Paczkowski at John.Paczkowski@buzzfeed.com.

Mat Honan is the San Francisco bureau chief for BuzzFeed News. Formerly a senior staff writer at Wired, he has been writing about the technology industry and its impact on society for nearly 20 years.

Contact Mat Honan at mat.honan@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.