If testosterone had a sound, that sound would be AC/DC. That’s what I realized after listening to Back In Black on repeat. Testosterone is about a few different things:

  • Power
  • Domination
  • Fucking
  • Competition
  • Display

It is a powerful, mood-altering substance, and under its influence, every one of those things is really, really fun. It does not give a shit about anybody’s feelings, and will not hesitate to crush its opposition and revel in doing so. I’m not a hardcore user, but as a male I’m still on a pretty steady drip, and what that means is that these songs sweep me up every single time. When that hormone is flowing, moments like Brian Johnson screaming “Don’t try to push your luck just GET OUTTA MY WAY” are just awesome. I’m plugged into the power, vicarious domination, and it feels good.

That’s the magic of AC/DC — between the pounding, bone-deep rhythm section of Phil Rudd and Cliff Williams, and the twin guitar onslaught of Angus & Malcolm Young, there is an enormous amount of force in their music, and Brian Johnson’s voice crackles along the top. They chose their name well, because this band’s sound is electric. Without testosterone, it could be scary. With testosterone, it is thrilling.

Back in Black album cover

It’s directly akin to the thrill I get from an action movie, or from watching a football game. There’s a damn good reason AC/DC was the sole artist chosen for the Iron Man 2 soundtrack, and why the song “Back In Black” opens the first Iron Man movie. The sound defines the character perfectly: the epitome of swagger, speed, sleekness, and strength, always ready to unleash fire and explosions. He’s testosterone on legs (and jets), and “Shoot To Thrill” is his middle name. Similarly, when Von Miller destroys Tom Brady (or Cam Newton, or Alex Smith, or anybody), the resulting crunch is a satisfying echo of “Hell’s Bells.”

When I witness those moments, my superego has left the building, and the id is bellowing “YEAH!!!” This all crystallized for me as I walked out of the Deadpool movie (which I loved), got into my car, and cranked up AC/DC like I’d been doing for days. It’s id, baby. Testosterone rush.

Now, when that rush fades and I shine a colder, more rational light on these things, they’re hard to defend. When people ask me why the endless explosions, punching, and mayhem of superhero movies are fun for me, the rational mind doesn’t have an answer. When Dante points out to me that those people on the football field are getting badly hurt, and I know that many of them live with constant pain and/or brain damage for the rest of their lives, I can’t tell him he’s wrong.

And god knows I can’t line up behind lyrics like “Don’t you struggle / don’t you fight / don’t you worry cause it’s your turn tonight” from “Let Me Put My Love Into You.” I’m a feminist, and the feminist in me is not cool with thinking of sex as “giving the dog a bone.” I recoil at “You bitch, you must be gettin’ old”, and can only giggle or eyeroll at the goofy Satanist imagery, or strident insistence that “rock and roll ain’t noise pollution.” I get that AC/DC has a sense of humor (“Big Balls”, anyone?) and that lets them off the hook partway, but I also couldn’t argue with anybody who is repelled by them on a lyrical basis.

But shit, those muted strums erupting into the power chords of “Back In Black”! The rhythm! The riff! The drums! The vocals! I am never not going to love that feeling, and my testosterone-fueled id has notified me that I’d better get comfortable with a little hypocrisy about it. Every single song on this album, including all of those I just mentioned, gets my foot pounding and my head banging. I can’t help the pleasure — it’s part of my nature.

And you know, as expressions of male aggression go, hard rock music is pretty damn safe. Rocking out in my car is nonviolent, harmless, and maybe even a little bit theraputic after a frustrating day. So shake a leg and have a drink on me, ’cause I got the power any hour to show the man in me.