Disturbed’s lasting success with “The Sound of Silence”

disturbed-promo

This year’s Grammy awards had many familiar artists nominated, such as Beyonce and Adele. However, one nomination in particular popped more than others.

Disturbed is a heavy metal band that was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Rock Performance category for their viral March 2016 performance on “Conan” performing their cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence.” This was their second nomination; the award went to David Bowie. The heavy metal group consists of lead singer and frontman David Draiman, guitarist Dan Donegan, bassist John Moyer, and drummer Wike Wengren.

Yet this sudden global fame seems unprecedented. Prior to covering “The Sound of Silence,” Disturbed released singles along the lines of “Inside the Fire,” “Down With the Sickness,” and “Ten Thousand Fists.” While these songs are all hits with the heavy metal band’s fans, they are far too heavy for fans of other genres to enjoy. “The Sound of Silence” opened the doors to these new fans to be introduced to Disturbed. The question, however, is why did Disturbed’s cover of “The Sound of Silence” cause such a largely positive reaction with so many different people? The answer is modernity.

While there is no denying that Simon and Garfunkel is a classic group that wrote some of the best music of the 20th century, the problem is that they are a classic group. To a young, modern ear, their music feels outdated. With music nowadays taking cues from past generations (and sometimes even blatantly copying it), listening to Simon and Garfunkel’s version feels stale. Disturbed’s cover breathes new life into the classic song.

There is also the added element of David Draiman. He is extremely charismatic on stage and possesses a very low-pitched voice. The low-pitched voice is more soothing than Simon and Garfunkel’s higher-pitched original. Draiman manages to completely capture the essence of the lyrics. The meaning of the song is not lost, but rather heightened and intensified through his interpretation and further helped through the instrumentation.

The reason this song resonated with so many different people is because it really is genreless. While you can put the song – and the group – into a certain category, this version speaks to so many different people because it encompasses the best of music. Fans of classical music all the way to heavy metal, and everything in between, found something that they liked in it, thus making it approachable.

In today’s modern world, where most music ends up sounding like a pale imitation of something that’s been done a generation or two ago, Disturbed managed to succeed at breathing life into something that had gone stale. An entire generation has been introduced to Simon and Garfunkel in a new and positive way, while Disturbed has broadened their fan base – all because of “The Sound of Silence.”

Post by Karen Shalev

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