Backmasking in popular music became infamous in the 1980s when fundamentalist preachers started saying that Satan was speaking to teenagers through subliminal messages hidden in rock music. One only needed to play the record backwards to hear such diabolical ranting as "It's fun to smoke marijuana", "I am Satan", "Serve the beast for money", "I love Satan", "Satan knows I love Him" and who can forget the famous, "Glory, glory to my sweet Satan, there was a little child born, it makes me sad, whose power is Satan", from Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven".
There were 3 trains of thought at the time in regard to backmasking in popular music:
1. Satan was using musicians as demonic pawns. The messages were put in the music unwillingly by the devil himself.
2. The musicians were Satan worshipers who purposefully planted the messages into the songs.
The controversy instigated teenagers across the country to play their records backwards in search of the next new "Satanic message". Most certainly a boon for the record industry as well as record needle manufactures.
On the not-so-humorous side, the band Judas Priest actually had to defend themselves in court for the suicide pact of Raymond Belknap, 18, and James Vance, 20 in 1985.
Supposedly, the subliminal messages "Try Suicide," "Let's Be Dead," and "Do it, Do it" found on the band's "Stained Class" album drove the youths to put shotguns to their heads and pull the trigger. Not only did the band win the lawsuit, but the case helped set a precedent. Law students study the case to this day in order to help them understand the difference between real science and junk science.
After this all unfolded musicians did what you would expect them to do. They began putting more subliminal messages into their songs on purpose. Sometimes in jest, sometimes as a marketing device and yes, even to glorify the devil.
You can listen to backwards clips and discover more at Backmaskonline.com.
10. Anthem - Rush
20. The 4th - Filter
21. Loser - Beck
30. Stairway To Heaven (Remastered) - Led Zeppelin
- subliminal messages