I am squeezed for time this week, and my drafts folder is full of half-baked ideas and quarter-researched posts. So I was thinking that this might be the inglorious end of TMFW. Then on the train ride home, fate stepped in and pointed me to today's entry.
My inspiration was three-fold. First, on my commute earlier this week, I heard "The Sign" by Ace of Base. I legitimately love that song. If you disagree, I will fight you. Ace of Base does not get the respect that they deserve (over 30 million records sold!)
Second, a few weeks ago I read this excellent appreciation of Time Life's ubiquitous-in-the-80s Mysteries of the Unknown book series. (And their memorable commercials: "Read the Book!" "It's dismissed...as coincidence.") I had and loved the first three books, which I cannot believe my mother bought me. When I was a kid, I loved UFOs and mysterious happenings and secret symbolism, and even as a (more cynical and science-minded) adult I still appreciate how people can weave almost-plausible theories out of crazy, random connections and innuendo. I am not a conspiracy theorist but I like conspiracy theories.
Which brings us to inspiration #3 and today's TMFW. Via a post on boingboing.net, I learned about this firmly-tongue-in-cheek-yet-oddly-compelling Cracked article that details all of the "hiding in plain sight" clues that Ace of Base is...secretly a neo-nazi band. (No, for real.)
The premise is not a totally crazy one: the main guy behind the group - a fellow named Ulf Ekberg - was unambiguously involved in the neo-nazi movement as a young man. He was a member of the band Commit Suiside [sic], which featured songs with (translated) names like "Don't Touch Our Land" and "White Power, Black Head Slaughter" and lyrics like "men in white hoods march down the road, we enjoy ourselves when we're sawing off [n-words]’ heads/ Immigrant, we hate you! Out, out, out, out! Nordic people, wake up now! Shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot!" Ekberg has said repeatedly and eloquently that he held onto those beliefs only until he was 17, and that he left them behind completely and reformed his thinking.
Only 5 years later, Ace of Base put out their first and biggest record, which sold 19 million copies (9 million in the US). So with the background knowledge that the main dude had a radical history, take these into consideration:
* Particularly successful German U-Boat commanders were called "aces," and a famous U-Boat base was known by the Allies as the "Base of Aces" because there were a number of hot-shot Commanders whose boats were parked there. If Ace of Base wanted to tout their mastery over low musical notes, one would expect their name to be Ace of Bass. (Hmm...)
* The song "Happy Nation" - the title of the record everywhere in the world but the US - talks about people "living in a happy nation, where people understand, and dream of [the] perfect man," and has a verse about "a man will die, but not his ideas." (Double Hmm...)
* The song "All That She Wants" tells the story of a lazy, drag-on-society woman who wakes up and decides "it's not a day for work, it's a day for catching tan, just lying on the beach and having fun." The song goes on to warn that "all that she wants is another baby, she's gone tomorrow," suggesting that the woman is of impure motives and loose morals. The video depicts just that, and the woman who is no good is shown right away (within 15 seconds!) in two close-up shots holding jewelry with the Star of David. (Okay, case closed.)
So there's your TMFW for today: if you try really hard, you can make the case that Ace of Base was out to indoctrinate the vulnerable youth of the world with a hateful neo-nazi message. One might even say that the band hoped that the kids would see the sign, and it would open up their eyes. It's a shame that it took over 20 years to figure out.
BONUS FACT: TMFW-favorites The Mountain Goats do an excellent cover of "The Sign."
POINT OF CLARIFICATION: I do not actually believe - and you should not either - that Ace of Base were neo-nazis.