Microphones: they convert sound waves into electrical energy so we can all accurately hear which number is being called at Bingo. But if you’re a show pony who wants to give punters an experience as spectacular for the eyes as the ears, why stop at your standard stubby black and chrome on a metal stand? Here are our favourite oddities of vocal transducer and accessory, and the musicians who had them custom-made.
Taylor Swift, diamante-encrusted mic
Let’s start small: here’s Taylor at CBS Radio’s annual We Can Survive showcase, in October 2014. It was the very month Swift released her juggernaut fifth album 1989, so totally fitting that her diamante-encrusted mic has a subtle ‘89’ on it. Very nice, Schwifty.
Rihanna, brass knuckles mic
Knuckledusters are a Class M weapon in Australia (thanks for the info, Pott’s “If you or someone you know have been charged with Possession of a Knuckleduster you have come to the right website!” Lawyers), so I wonder if this vicious-looking mic holder/stand has ever made it onto an international stage. Rihanna debuted the piece during a medley performance on Good Morning America in November 2009.
Marilyn Manson, butcher knife mic
Certainly not the creepiest thing he’s ever done, but there’s something about Marilyn Manson’s knife mic that gives me the willies, moreso than someone just holding a knife usually would. Maybe because the grip means it’s poised for a pretty powerful downward strike? Maybe he could easily forget what he’s holding, and end up grabbing it right on its blade? Accidentally stab his own thigh? Drop it into some chick’s adoringly-upturned eyeball? I bet it’s rubber or collapsible, but still.
Ninja (Die Antwoord), phallus mic
I got to see this brilliant one in the flesh a few years back when Die Antwoord visited Melbourne. It’s exactly what it looks like: Ninja is wearing Spongebob boxers, out of which snakes an extremely long and flexible phallus, which is in fact his mic.
These pics were presumably taken by actor Jared Leto, as I initially found them on Leto’s slightly weird personal site, which has since been redirected to that of his band Thirty Seconds To Mars. In other meta info, in 2016 Die Antwoord accused Suicide Squad director David Ayer of ripping off their style, referencing in particular the similarity of Leto’s Joker to singer Ninja.
Korn, H.R. Giger’s bionic nymph mic
Late surrealist artist H.R. Giger, favourite of anyone who is fascinated with science fiction and the organic/bionic divide (or let’s face it, whoever’s seen Alien) worked across several different mediums during his 45-year-long career (Giger died in his native Switzerland in 2014, aged 74).
In 2001, Giger was asked to design a mic stand for Korn’s Jonathan Davis, a Giger fan. On the adorably lo-fi official Giger site there’s a first-person account of how the project and relationship unfolded by Giger himself – listening to Korn’s music, watching Davis perform, inspecting the stands Davis used in the past – as well as some dewey-eyed quotes from Davis. A totally symbiotic collaboration.