“Beth” by KISS

Caution: This cover contains no less than four lies.

Just a few more hours
and I`ll be right home to you
I think I hear them callin
Oh Beth what can I do
Beth what can I do

“Beth” was KISS’s first and, most likely, only top ten hit; originally a b-side from their 1976 album Destroyer, released on the flip side of “Detroit Rock City”. Written primarily by drummer Peter Criss, “Beth” has the dual distinctions of being the only song other than “Rock and Roll All Night (And Party Ev-er-y Day)” to still get radio airplay on rock formatted stations (seemingly played “Ev-er-y” day by area station WZZO), as well as probably the wussiest rock single ever to be certified gold. While most of segments at KISS concerts involve loud, hard rocking; over-the-top makeup and costumes; seizure-inducing lighting schemes; guitars that shoot flames; blood dripping from Gene Simmons’ eight inch tongue; and most likely legions of women throwing various undergarments in the direction of the band, the staging for “Beth” consists of a single spotlight beaming down on Criss as he bellows from a stool to a prerecorded backing track. You see, despite being written by a drummer, the song contains no percussion. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find any “rock” instruments in it. The accompaniment consists of a heavyhanded string section and a piano, lightly highlighting the melody line.
What makes this song so terrible isn’t just the arrangement of it, though. It’s the arrangement combined with the subject matter. You see, while most of the album’s songs deal with rocking, becoming a god of rocking, living out your dreams by rocking, shouting out loud, dying in a car accident on the way to rocking, or the pleasures of S+M, “Beth”‘s theme is asking permission of your girlfriend/wife to spend the night rocking. That’s right. A guy in a band whose acronym stand for “Knights in Satan’s Service” is on the phone, pleading with his girlfriend to let him stay out a few hours because the band can’t get the song done the way they want. Peter,Peter, Peter, haven’t you learned anything from hanging around with Gene? You’re in effing KISS! You don’t ask permission! You just do it! It’s not even like you’re out partying all night or every day. You’re just playing in your band, singing songs about partying… and maybe shooting some flames out of a guitar. You shouldn’t have to ask permission if you’re on the clock. Especially if you’ve fought– and defeated– the “Phantom of the Park“.
What makes this song laughable though, is its grandiose nature. Criss has taken something truly mundane, and potentially humiliating in the rock community, and treated it with overwrought seriousness, movie score-scope strings, and a deadpan, raspy, wheezing delivery that would make Rod Stewart proud. Come on Peter, be a man!


“Beth” gets two stars for managing to stay around for so long, being the only top ten hit off of twenty-six albums released by the band, and somehow finding a way to make hardcore fans forget about the flames, lights, and fake blood, if only for a brief time. On the other hand, it’s probably the most unwarrantedly dramatic song I’ve ever heard, and would do good to be the anthem for a large population of men who are whipped. I guess that’s why Gene had the demon makeup and Criss was dressed like a cat.

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6 responses to ““Beth” by KISS”

  1. Sorry, Dan. I file KISS under the category of “Should’ve quit 3 decades ago.” Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll get your fill of KISS nostalgia while watching your Family Guy reruns…over and over and over again.

  2. I haven’t watched my Family Guy DVD’s for two years, thank you very much. I mean, I could go out and buy all those Futurama sets, but while I’m at it, I might as well buy some 2×4’s to make a cross out of and some Romans to harass me while I’m up there. “But the show was so good!” — “Crucify Him!!!”

  3. […] A programming note: Being that one of the goals of this site is to avoid becoming a “rant blog,” I’ll apologize for my three most recent reviews. (Those two links are only coincidentally related to computer topics — they’re on the first page of google results for “rant blog.” You guys strike me as the type that check your ‘external page links’ section of your log analyzer, so that’s why you’re getting some hits from this crazy, random site) Upon deciding to review a collection of three Cleveland-related things, I didn’t realize that even though I was planning on negative reviews, my opinions weren’t creatively negative. There’s nothing wrong with negativity, but unfortunately, the way that the Cleveland items were bad was more in the “disappointed” way than the “this sucks more than anything has ever sucked before” way. So, with that in mind, on to the last Cleveland-related review. The Cleveland Marriot at…” […]

  4. […] August 11th, 2006 Nate Oh, those kids. Always at it. You guys really shouldn’t’ve. So here we are at the first of what may be a few reviews of our first milestone, 100 reviews. Not only is this the first review of this milestone, but of what could be very many milestones. We here at the Bookshelf like the word “milestone”, and don’t believe in Thesauruses. So here we go, our first hundred in a nutshell. The first actual review happened way back in October of 2005… remember that time before the Steelers won the superbowl, before “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” movie, before Dick Cheny accidentally shot his friend while hunting, and before Bristol, United Kingdom celebrated the 200th birthday of Isambard Kingdom Brunel (actually April 9) by relighting the Clifton Suspension Bridge? Dan’s first review was aimed at complaining about post-game hype surrounding an extremely long baseball game. Of course our readers probably care about boring Astros-Braves baseball games as much as they seemed to care about my terrible review of the dictionary. Even though that picture was good, it was nowhere near the five star quality of this image. I too tried my hand at reviewing food, but it was an utter failure. On the plus side, my review of the letter to the editor is one of my favorites, and my first review actually got eight comments, including this link. The few following that grilled chese review focused mostly on music, my opinion of “Good Night, and Good Luck”, a particular episode of Trading Spouses, and Dan’s opinion of My opinion of “Good Night, and Good Luck”. Dan also said that the Colbert report wouldn’t last, which seems to have been proven false. October seemed to be us finding our footing. November saw Dan’s Cleveland Trifecta, a diatribe against horses, a road that he liked, an episode of “Coach”, and his complaints about how much he aches, now that he’s an old man. I started the month strong with the Beth review, but struggled through the rest of it, with lame reviews like Thursday, a type of tooth”paste” that doesn’t work for me, and an insightful, yet completely unnecessary complaint about my nosebleeds. My FAO Schwarz review kinda made up for them, but the highlight of the month involved Dan and I sparring about how Christmas is coming earlier every year, and something about me being a time-traveling sheep. November didn’t see much improvement over October, but the Christmas stuff was entertaining. December got a bit better, even with a few less reviews. I busted out the old NES games, for a few reviews that I swear are not trying to copy off of XE, another personal favorite, Christmas Cards, Adam’s first review, Dan throwing the hate down on Pitchfork media, and a suprising amount of people commenting on Roger Ebert’s take on video games. The biggest advance in December was the pop-ins, that added added some clarity to our parentheses-obsessed-writing. December was a highly engaging and entertaining month, even with only nine reviews. 2006 rolled around, and January saw Dan get political, review half of a book, not like warm winters a lot. I only contributed three of ten reviews that month, but all three of them were relatively alright, mostly because “Where In Time is Carmen Sandiego”, and “The Simpsons” after season 9 is so easy to complain about. January’s topics fell off a little. February, while being the shortest month, was also a monster for us, as far as number goes. A whopping twenty-one reviews. To be fair, 17 of them came in our envelope-pushing live superbowl reviews, the biggest stunt pulled in the history of reviewing anything and everything on a five star scale. The only other reviews of any substance were my Gauntlet Review of the Beatles albums, and Dan’s digging up of our one-issue underground high-school newspaper. Despite the big stunt, and two good reviews, February was kinda lacking. March just plain sucked. Four reviews total. One by me. Three mega-reviews by Dan. April was slightly better, with another of my top five of my reviews, Legacy of the Wizard. The other four I would give an average of 3 stars to, but since there were only four during the month, that’s going to cancel out the Legacy of the Wizard bonus and take it down a half star. For my money, May was our best month yet. Dan’s contribution was the lengthy three-part TV landscape review. I threw out quality stuff with my Songs for Silverman, and Degree Navigator reviews. The shorter American Dreamz and Davinci Code video game reviews were serviceable, but my immense LOST season 2 review tops everything. June fell off a bit. Four reviews total. Split two and two. Mine were based on a ridiculous news story, and anger at other people for coincidentally coming up with the same ideas as me. Dan tried to put everything into perspective by seeing how well the entire history of human ingenuity and artistry stacked up in the interstellar community, and complained a little about how the national geography of roadways isn’t designed to suit his needs. July was filled with the (I gotta admit my ignorance as to the relevance of this phrase… and wikipedia does nothing to help) Navel Gazing set. I was had for a few minutes by a Jimmy Kimmel hoax, and I thought the critics were a little too harsh on Shayamalan. Despite the mediocre numbers for the month, I’d give it a 3.5 This gives us a per-month average of 3 stars, which isn’t too shabby. In my first ever review, I reviewed the concept of this website. I claimed that we wouldn’t be able to keep it fresh, that we’d run out of ideas, and that we wouldn’t be able to stay somewhat funny at least. I believe my exact quote was “It has the potential to provide hours of entertainment for readers, and shape their lives for years to come. However, the downside is that it could get old real soon, and provide us with nothing but an excuse not to get real jobs.” Well, I think we’ve significantly proven wrong every single point that I just brought up. We have 29 categories, 19 subcategories, and even two sub-sub categories. We’re still writing about reasonably different things, and while we may have slacked on the funny in recent months, we still bring the ‘A’ game on occasion. As far as my quote goes, I’d be willing to bet that we’ve provided maybe a few hours of entertainment for a handful of people, which probably did nothing to shape their lives for even the near fututre. On the upside, it hasn’t gotten old, and we have gotten real-ish jobs. For all of these reasons, I’m willing to up our star rating by half a star, over the average rating of 3. I’ve also realized that my method of calculating the rating might not be the best, so I’m gonna throw in another half star for a final rating of 4 stars out of five. And for those of you playing along at home, yes, this technically is the 100th review and so therefore should be included. This review receives 3 stars for not having much to offer in the way of witty musings, and for having a faulty overall rating method, but for packing so many subjects and links into one review. […]

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