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Music / Meat Loaf

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"I was nothing but a lonely All-American boy
Looking out for something to do
And you were nothing but a lonely All-American girl
But you were something like a dream come true
I was a varsity tackle and a hell of a block
And when I played my guitar I made the canyons rock
But every Saturday night I felt the fever grow
All revved up with no place to go."

Michael ( Marvin) Lee Aday (September 27, 1947 – January 20, 2022), a.k.a. Meat Loaf, was an American singer and actor best known for his hit 1977 album Bat Out of Hell and its two "sequels". With the assistance of songwriter and producer Jim Steinman, Meat Loaf's bombastic, Wagnerian style made a huge splash in the Arena Rock genre and paved the way for many acts to follow.

Born in Texas, Meat Loaf dabbled in musical theatre from an early age. When he received a draft notice in 1967, he tore it up, stole his father's credit card, and moved to California to break into the music industry. In the early '70s he made several forays into stardom — he performed in several small-time bands, released a duets album with Stoney Murphy which largely went under the radar, sang lead on Ted Nugent's Free-for-All album, and performed in touring productions of Hair and The Rocky Horror Show, landing a role in the film version of the latter. His big break was to come while performing in an off-Broadway show called More Than You Deserve, when he befriended its writer Jim Steinman. Steinman had been toying with a sci-fi Rock Opera adaptation of Peter Pan and saw Meat Loaf as ideal for the lead role in it. Though the project, called Neverland, didn't come to fruition until forty years later (in a much altered form, as Bat Out of Hell: The Musical), the songs Steinman wrote for it became the genesis of Bat Out of Hell.

After several years shopping the concept around before getting Todd Rundgren's attention, Bat Out of Hell hit the shelves in 1977. While not immediately a hit, the album grew with popularity over time. It spent 485 weeks on the charts in Britain (second only to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours at 522 weeks), is presently the #5 best-selling album ever released with more than 43 million copies sold worldwide (14 million in the United States alone), and still sells about 200,000 copies per year. A "sequel" album, Bat Out of Hell II: Back into Hell, was released in 1993 with new songs by Steinman, including his only U.S. #1 single, "I'd Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)". A third in the series, Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose, was released in 2006 featuring songs written by him and by Bon Jovi lyricist Desmond Child. This was the first Bat album not produced and written solely by Steinman, although several older songs written or recorded by Steinman beforehand are featured. In addition to the Bat Out of Hell trilogy, Meat Loaf released several other albums, with varying levels of involvement on Steinman's part.

Unfortunately Meat Loaf suffered a complete loss of his voice in 2016 and struggled to perform live since then, heavily relying on backing tracks. In 2018 it was announced that on his next tour he would not actually be singing at all, handing off vocal duties to 2014 American Idol winner Caleb Johnson while Meat Loaf would act as host and storyteller during the shows.

He died on January 20, 2022 at the age of 74. His death came nine months after Steinman's death on April 19, 2021. He had recently stated that he and his band were preparing to get back together to record another album, but he died before any recording could happen.

Meat Loaf discography:

  • Stoney and Meatloaf (1971)
  • Bat Out of Hell (1977) note 
  • Dead Ringer (1981) note 
  • Midnight at the Lost and Found (1983)
  • Bad Attitude (1984) note 
  • Blind Before I Stop (1986)
  • Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell (1993) note 
  • Welcome to the Neighborhood (1995) note 
  • The Very Best of Meat Loaf (1999) note 
  • Couldn't Have Said it Better (2003)
  • Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose (2006) note 
  • Hang Cool Teddy Bear (2010)
  • Hell in a Handbasket (2011)
  • Braver Than We Are (2016) note 

Notable film/TV appearances:

🎶I don't know who you are, but you're a real dead ringer for tropes...🎶

  • Abusive Parents: In the song Objects In The Rear View Mirror (May Appear Closer Than They Are), in verse 2.
    And my father's eyes were blank as he hit me again and again and again
  • Adam Westing: His duet with Chef has him go overenthusiastic to the point where Chef has to calm him down with food.
  • Age-Progression Song: From Bat Out of Hell 2 with "Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are". Other songs may also fit. For example, "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" could count, as most of the song takes place on a particular night in the singer's life, and the end of the song is implied to be in the present, years later.
  • Album Title Drop: The only place you'll hear "Hang Cool Teddy Bear" is spoken during Peace On Earth.
  • Anti-Love Song: "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad", "Paradise By the Dashboard Lights" and "Not a Dry Eye in the House".
  • Audience Participation Song: All together now: "You took the words right out of my mouth... oh, it must've been while you were kissing me..." When performing with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, he stopped the show because the singing from the audience was lacklustre, and he said they sounded like they were from Sydney. The audience suddenly got a lot more involved, but exploded when he screamed at the top of his lungs "ARE YOU TOO OLD TO STAND UP?!" During live shows, he was known to stop the band mid-song and call out a particular audience member who was not singing along.
  • Author Appeal: Jim Steinman really had a thing for Peter Pan - aside from Bat Out Of Hell itself, references to "lost boys" and never growing up or changing appear throughout his lyrics. Additionally, Meat Loaf's touring band was called "the Neverland Express".
  • Auto Erotica:
    • "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" centers on a developing make-out session in a car — hence the "dashboard".
    • "Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear": The third verse is about him and his girlfriend in the back of his convertible, and the music video for that song even features a steamy scene of the two of them going at it in the backseat:
      "The stars would glimmer and the moon would glow
      "I'm in the back seat with my Julie like Romeo"
  • Awful Wedded Life: The couple from "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" rushes into a relationship without thinking things through, and wind up stuck in such a loveless marriage so that they are "praying for the end of time" just to get away from each other."
  • The Band Minus the Face: Jim Steinman's Bad for Good, an album he recorded with Meat Loaf's band after he'd lost his voice.
  • Beast and Beauty: The theme of the music video for "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)". In the video, Meat Loaf plays some kind of creature with a deformed face and hands who has supernatural powers and is hunted by the police. One day he spots a beautiful woman and falls in love with her from afar, but she notices him watching her and he flees. She tracks him to his castle, and he hides from her while contemplating approaching her. She finds him when he starts smashing mirrors in shame of his appearance. As the police arrive at the castle, the woman caresses his face and accepts him for who he is, and The Power of Love causes him to return to his human form. The two of them then escape and ride off into the sunset.
  • Bittersweet Ending: "Lost Boys and Golden Girls" ends Back into Hell on this note.
  • Call-and-Response Song: "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" and part of "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)".
  • Call-Back: Subverted by "Souvenirs" from his 2016 album Braver Than We Are features the line "You been cold to me so long I'm crying icicles instead of tears", one of the most memorable lyrics from "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad", one of the big hits from Bat Out of Hell. In fact, "Souvenirs" predates "Two Out of Three" by some years, coming from a very early Steinman musical, so "Two Out of Three" was in fact calling back to it.
  • The Cameo: Saxophonist Lenny Pickett (best known for his work on Saturday Night Live) performs a riff at the beginning of "Good Girls Go To Heaven."
    • Happens on several albums; people like Cher, Brian May, Roger Daltrey, Hugh Laurie and Lil John have all turned up.
  • Canon Discontinuity: Stoney and Meatloaf has been out of print since before the CD era, and is not listed in the discography on Meat Loaf's website.
  • Closer than They Appear: Inverted with "Objects In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are".
  • Concept Album: Hang Cool Teddy Bear, in which every song represents a possible future scenario in the life of a wounded soldier. Meat Loaf also stated that every song Jim Steinman ever wrote was treated as if it was part of the aforementioned, unproduced Neverland Rock Opera.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Often came across as an eccentric character when he gave interviews. However, Meat also said that this was his first impression of Jim Steinman, whom he described as "One weird dude."
  • The Cover Changes the Gender: Jim Steinman wrote "It's All Coming Back To Me Now" for a female vocalist. Meat Loaf's cover redoes it as a duet.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: The first two verses of "Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear" deal with terrible aspects of the singer's past. The first was about a boy's best friend who died in a crash.
  • Death Seeker: "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" ends with the once-passionate couple now stuck in a loveless marriage and waiting for the bitter end to come sooner.
  • Dirty Old Man: Averted. In Meat's later years, singing "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" to a young woman who looks like she's still in high school brought up all sorts of nasty mental images, so the female vocalist usually dressed up like a frumpy housewife to make the whole thing feel more like a flashback.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Do not call him "Marvin". Don't even call him "Michael", for that matter.
  • Double Entendre: Pervasive in Steinman's lyrics.
  • Drama Panes: has scenes in the music videos for both "I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" and "It's All Coming Back to Me" that briefly show him posing dramatically by huge curtained windows with lightning flashing in the background.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: "Bat Out of Hell" and "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" both go about two minutes before the first vocals are heard.
  • Epic Rocking: Many of Meat Loaf's songs (particularly those written by Jim Steinman) run considerably longer than the average pop tune and go through two or three major changes in key or tempo before the end. "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" is 7:38 in its short version, making it, at the time, the longest song to have reached #1 on the US charts. (The album version is an even twelve minutes — Steinman reportedly wept when he was told they'd have to trim it down to get it on the radio. More to the point, Meat Loaf's autobiography describes the original studio version pre-album as fifteen minutes long, needing a shave presumably due to the limited space of a vinyl LP.)
  • Everything's Louder with Bagpipes: The main theme of "Everything Louder Than Everything Else" is played at the end of the song on bagpipes.
  • Fading into the Next Song:
    • From Bat Out of Hell 3, the Ominous Latin Chanting track "Monstro" smoothly transitions into "Alive".
    • "One More Kiss (Night of the Soft Parade)" clumsily segues into the title track of Blind Before I Stop. Also, from the same album, "Execution Day" overlaps into "Rock and Roll Mercenaries".
  • The '50s: "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" evokes the era, thanks to its "doo-wopping" backup singers.
  • Forever Young Song: "Forever Young"
  • Guardian Angel: In the music video for "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through", Meat Loaf plays a benevolent being who provides comfort and protection to people in distress: a teenage runaway (played by Angelina Jolie), a young boy being pressured to join a gang, a man struggling with alcoholism and depression, and a blinded woman struggling to learn braille.
  • Heavy Meta: "Rock 'n' Roll Hero", "Rock 'n' Roll Mercenaries" and "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through".
  • Heavy Mithril: The artwork for the Bat Out of Hell trilogy is provided by fantasy illustrators Richard Corben, Michael Whelan, and Julie Bell, and makes frequent use of giant bats, motorcycle-riding swordsmen, and the like.
  • Heroic BSoD: After the original Bat Out of Hell Tour, work on the follow-up album was impeded by the theft of Jim Steinman's manuscript, which he apparently took a long time to get over.
  • Heroic RRoD:
    • Meat Loaf struggled with vocal polyps for decades due to his singing style and lost his voice more than once.
    • His habit of literally collapsing from exhaustion backstage after a performance nearly had fatal consequences when the crew didn't realize he was having a heart attack.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: Meat believed that, to some extent, "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" is about him and Jim Steinman. He explained, "I love Jim Steinman, but I wouldn't French kiss him!"
  • I Work Alone: "Party of One".
  • If I Can't Have You…: Averted; a song on Hang Cool Teddy Bear has the same name as this trope, but instead the next line is "I don't wanna be me." It's that kind of song.
  • Incredibly Long Note: On several tracks, most notably the end of Bat Out of Hell. In concerts he'd go for even longer.
  • Intercourse with You: 99% of his output.
  • Irrational Hatred: For some reason, the man utterly despised karaoke. Whenever he was asked about it, he vehemently declared it "devil worship".
  • Large Ham: His acting roles. His vocal delivery also qualifies. Wikipedia categorizes his vocal range as "Dramatic tenor".
  • Literal Genie: In "Paradise By the Dashboard Light", the singer swears to love his girl until the end of time. He then prays for the end of time so he can be released from his obligation. His promise comes off as coerced, because his girl presses him really hard for that promise by using a Lysistrata Gambit for it. Despite his repeated refrain of "Let me sleep on it/Baby, baby, let me sleep on it", she insists that she can wait all night for an answer, and finally, he makes his promise out of insanity following the pressure she applied.
  • Logic Bomb: "Ev'rything Louder Than Ev'rything Else"
  • Looped Lyrics: On Everything Louder Than Everything Else
    "A wasted youth is better by far than a wise and productive old age." x 4
  • Love Nostalgia Song: "It's All Coming Back to Me Now."
  • Ludicrous Gibs: "...and the last thing is see is my heart...still beeeating...breaking out of my body and flying away...LIKE A BAT OUT OF HELL!!"
  • Lyrical Cold Open: The title track from Couldn't Have Said It Better.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Like a Bat out of Hell" describes a gory crash, set to epic rocking music.
  • Lysistrata Gambit: "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" has two teens getting it on in the back of a car, only for the girl to stop the proceedings and refuses to let the boy go all the way with her unless he promises to marry her and stay with her forever. The boy in understandably reluctant, but his desire to lose his virginity eventually overrides his common sense and he makes the Rash Promise to "love [her] 'til the end of time."
  • Mood Whiplash: Tender love ballad one second, crude sexual innuendo the next.
    "Oh, I know you belong inside my aching heart
    And can't you see my faded Levis bursting apart?"
  • The Musical: Bat Out of Hell was expanded and made into a stage musical, essentially a retooling of the original '70s era Neverland concept altered to remove the explicit Peter Pan references, although this basically involved changing the names and not much else, that spent quite a while in Development Hellnote  before finally premiering in Manchester in early 2017, transferring to the West End a few months later, and making its North American debut in Toronto. No Broadway transfer has been announced as of yet.
  • Music Video Overshadowing: Pretty much all of his videos that aren't straight performance videos.
  • Noodle Incident: Well, Noodle Boundary in this case. In "I Would Do Anything For Love," the line that the speaker refuses to cross is never specified and has been a subject of debate among fans. Meat Loaf and Steinman have both claimed it should be intuitively obvious, but this may be trolling on their part.
  • Numbered Sequels: On records, unusually enough.
  • Ominous Spanish Chanting: "Monstro" from Bat Out of Hell III.
  • The One That Got A Way: In "Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are", the singer reminisces about a beautiful older woman with whom he had a brief, but passionate affair. Then one day, she simply disappered and he never discovered where she went. He is still haunted by her memory.
  • Past in the Rear-View Mirror: "Objects in the Rear View Mirror May Appear Closer Than They Are"
  • Piss-Take Rap: California Isn't Big Enough. Made blatantly obvious from the Precision F-Strike noted below.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • From Life Is a Lemon (And I Want My Money Back), we get "You can shove it up your ass!"
    • If you haven't heard California Isn't Big Enough yet, you may not expect the start of a slow, calm Double Entendre song to suddenly lose the 'double' part, when the volume kicks up and he belts out "I CAN BARELY FIT MY DICK IN MY PANTS!" Boastful Rap indeed...
    • From "Who Needs the Young:" "My sex just isn't what it was / Is there anyone left who can FUCK? SCREW 'IM!"
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "Bat Out of Hell" has probably one of the most over-the-top moments in rock music: "Then like a SINNER!... BEFORE!... the GATES of HEAVEN..."
  • Rash Promise: Meat Loaf's lengthy single "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" details how excited teens start a make-out session, until the girl suddenly exploits a Lysistrata Gambit: "Will you love me forever?" Unable to think clearly with raging lust, the singer makes a poor choice, and ultimately laments, "Praying for the end of time, so I can end my time with you."
  • Recycled Soundtrack: "Seize the Night", from Bat Out of Hell III', features lyrics from the English version of Tanz Der Vampire, a string intro borrowed from Steinman's Bad for Good album, and the guitar riff from "Good Girls Go To Heaven (Bad Girls Go Everywhere)."
    • "Wasted Youth" from Bat Out of Hell II is "Love and Death and an American Guitar" from Steinman's Bad for Good with different background noises.
    • "Dead Ringer for Love" began life as, of all things, the theme song for the Animal House TV show.
    • Generally, if Steinman was involved, there was no small amount of Self-Plagiarism from his previous work.
  • Rock Opera: "Bat Out of Hell" and "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" both tell a self-contained story. The remainder of the Bat Out of Hell album, while not operatic in theme, certainly has a Wagnerian vibe to it.
  • Seduction Lyric: “Dead Ringer for Love” depicts a mutual seduction in a bar. The woman clearly thinks that the man is a bit clueless, but what the hell...
  • Self-Deprecation: He really didn't think much of his own songwriting abilities (although the title track on Midnight at the Lost and Found is popular with his fans).
    • The cover art for Hang Cool Teddy Bear includes the skeletal remains of the swordsman from the cover of Bat Out of Hell III.
    • A lot of the songs on that album have self-deprecating themes, including "Peace on Earth", "Living on the Outside" and certainly "Los Angeloser."
    I know I never was much more than you expected
    I expect now I won't disappoint
    • His answer to whether he was a singer or actor was actor. "I play a guy who thinks he can sing."
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: "Wasted Youth", a spoken word piece on Bat Out of Hell II which parodies "The End" by The Doors and builds up to an epic punchline.
    And just as I was about to bring the guitar crashing down upon the center of the bed, my father woke up, screaming "STOP! Wait a minute! Stop it, boy! What do you think you're doing? That's no way to treat an expensive musical instrument!" And I said "GODDAMNIT, daddy! You know I love you... but you've got a HELL of a lot to learn about ROCK AND ROLL!"
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: "Life Is a Lemon and I Want My Money Back" reaches Evangelion levels of cynicism.
  • The Song Before the Storm: Appropriately, "Stand in the Storm" from Hell in a Handbasket. The next track is, indeed, a lot of thunder and lightning (and titled "Blue Sky").
  • Spiritual Successor: Hang Cool Teddy Bear aims to be this for the Bat Out of Hell trilogy (the cover art is similar to that of the Bat series, and the back of the album has a big Roman numeral IV on it).
  • Stealth Pun: He's been cannibalized on screen at least twice: once in The Rocky Horror Picture Show ("Oh no, not Meat Loaf again") and once in an episode of Tales from the Crypt. In Sausage Party, he's depicted as literal meatloaf.note 
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: Bat Out of Hell 3 closes with a lullaby-esque song, of all things, titled "Cry to Heaven". It's kind of sweet.
  • Take That!: "Party of One" rails against all the people who have treated him like crap in his life.
  • There Is No Kill like Overkill: To say nothing else of the man, when he did anything (acting, singing, etc.), you could expect him to do it with enough bigger-than-life bravado to kill him (and it nearly has!). As Todd in the Shadows put it when describing "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad," Meat Loaf doesn't just not love you; "He very, very passionately does not love you. He is driven to the very height of heart-rending emotion by his lack of love for you."
  • Two out of Three Ain't Bad: Trope Namer
  • Updated Re-release: The Bat Out of Hell album has been rereleased on a couple of occasions by adding extra tracks to the end of the album. Dead Ringer for Love was added to earlier versions and a live rendition of Bolero and Bat Out Of Hell were later additions to newer releases.
  • Villain Song: From Bat Out of Hell III, "In the Land of the Pig, the Butcher is King", which was originally written as a Villain Song sung by the corrupt officials of Gotham City in an abandoned Batman musical. It eventually made an appearance in 2017's Bat Out of Hell: The Musical as a villain song for Big Bad Chief of Police Falco and his goons at the top of Act II.
  • Vocal Evolution: Meat's voice changes noticeably over the course of Bat/Dead Ringer/Lost and Found, becoming less throaty and raw, probably owing to the damage he did to it during the Bat tour.
    • His voice was also, sadly, declining steadily since 2005 or so. He still sounded pretty good on Bat 3 and the subsequent studio albums, but it's clear that his range had decreased. On the Melbourne and 3 Bats live albums, he struggled with some of the melodies and was frequently flat.
    • On Braver Than We Are, his voice is barely there at all; he rasps and growls like Tom Waits at times.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: "Godz" from Braver Than We Are; this quirk seems to have been invented for the album the original Neverland version (from all the way back in the mid '70s) is spelled normally as seen here.

And I would do anything for tropes, but I won't do that.


SAG 2022 In Memoriam Montage

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