"The Dope Show" is a song from Marilyn Manson's 1998 album Mechanical Animals, released in September of that year as the album's lead single. The lyrics were written by Marilyn Manson and the music composed by Twiggy Ramirez.
"The Dope Show" came at a point in the history of Marilyn Manson which saw the band shedding the dark, nihilistic trappings that had characterized the previous album, Antichrist Superstar. The single, a hard rock song styled after the 1970s work of T. Rex and David Bowie, acted as a sort of introduction to the band's new approach. Jeordie White (Twiggy Ramirez) has stated on the Q/A section of his website that the song came from "Ripping off Iggy Pop's song Nightclubbing" from his album The Idiot. He also called it "A mixture of Oasis and T. Rex".
The song's verse and chorus structures, delivered in drastically different styles, give the song a "hybrid" feel: electronic sounds are juxtaposed with classic rock-derived guitar sounds for a tone that is both classic and futuristic. The verse is carried by a deep, rolling B-to-D walking bassline provided by Twiggy Ramirez and accented by repetitive, synthesized hi-hat. The chorus, on the other hand, features a 4/4 stomp that drummer Ginger Fish described as "a full bump and grind. . . stripper beat", power chords also played by Ramirez, who also played the simple, but effective lead guitar parts in the final chorus. The song was written and recorded in 12/8 time, using a swing beat in the verses.
In keeping with the album's themes of narcissism and consumerism, the lyrics are an admonition against buying into idolisation and fame, and helping to perpetuate life in the public eye, including especially mass culture and show business:
There's lots of pretty, pretty ones
that want to get you high.
But all the pretty, pretty ones
will leave you low, and blow your mind.
Further references are made to the obvious attractions and glamour of the world of fame, obsession, and drugs — and to the vacuity and absurdity of such a world. Echoing Andy Warhol's prediction that everyone "will be world-famous for fifteen minutes," Manson reproves society for partaking of this glittery, sinister utopia, declaring that "we're all stars now, in the dope show".
"The Dope Show" was nominated for a 1999 Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance.
An excerpt from the song was included in "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Polka Power" medley in 1999.
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