— I have been thinking about this couplet a lot lately. And the intensity of that rhyme in a chorus to a contemporary pop song that also rhymes “undeniable/unreliable”.
My first full-length album, The City Phenomenal, is now available from my bandcamp page, for the low price of whatever you feel like paying for it (you are, of course, welcome to download completely free if you would like).
If you like the album, it would really help me out if you could share it with other people you know who you think might enjoy it, too. You have my permission to burn them copies or anything else to make it convenient for them to listen to it.
I’ve worked really hard on this for two years and I’d really like for people to hear it. I have no skills or budget to promote this, so I’m relying entirely on word of mouth (or however else you communicate with your friends) to get these songs into people’s ears.
You guys you guys, this is my little brother and I’m obviously biased because we share genetic material and a lot of it is about where we grew up, but I think it’s pretty great and I’m super-proud of him.
Whitney Houston’s isolated vocal track on “How Will I Know.”
running mascara as stand-in for sadness and symbol of an unmakeupping/unmaking process as a deconstruction of beauty/fame/consumption in pop videos about Girls Who Got It All But Are Still Sad:
the Lucky story
So much yes.
via Keith Harris
was hoping to see more results like this:
Andy Hutchins: If I ran Pitchfork, I would have put Super Bass #1.
maura johnston: ahead of fucking holocene at last
maura johnston: oh well
maura johnston: can’t complain
Sometimes I forget that everyone doesn’t agree that Nicki Minaj is amazing.
A dialogue on pop music’s prefiguration of the Occupy protests
Max (X): So why is Third Eye Blind’s Occupy Wall Street song so obviously a failure?
Mal (L): If it were opportunistic, it would have a better beat. It’s so earnest and guileless that it’s completely unappealing. It really shows how pointless endorsing Occupy Wall Street is as a gesture. You also can’t dance to it.
X: It reminds me of the woman at the union march at Foley Square calling “mic check” over the amplified sound system they obtained a permit for – what that’s supposed to overcome (no amplified sound) has already been accomplished. The signature of Occupy Everything is reappropriating spaces, which includes spaces in pop culture. It seems like Third Eye Blind is jumping into the spaces OWS has reappropriated here – and the occupiers have done fine getting the message out so far without Third Eye Blind’s weight.
“I notice that you got it
You notice that I want it
You know that I can take it”
— Britney Spears, “Till The World Ends”
L: It’s curious that in all the discussion of Occupy Everything, which has already reached the heights of meta-meta-commentary, we haven’t seen anything about pop culture besides who does or does not show up to the park or march. In the haze of “What could the protesters possibly want?” I side with Doug Rushkoff calling foul on the whole ignorance pantomime. The same industry that made a movie literally about murdering management—
X: “Don’t you want to kill your boss? Instead, watch Jennifer Aniston die a gruesome death in Horrible Bosses!”
L: They are shocked – shocked, I say! – when their target audience takes to the streets. Of course you know what we want, you’ve been selling it to us for years!
Aside from a few deservedly marginalized, Fed-obsessed Paulites, the crowds don’t have official policy goals. But they do have common affects. In a society where resistance is co-opted before it even comes into existence, shouldn’t we be able to better understand the protests and their near future through the way capital has already prepackaged them?
X: Yes, we should. If capital has co-opted it, then we finally know what it is! This should resolve the debates over what the right form of effective resistance has to be. Just because it capital has brought a thing inside itself doesn’t mean that thing can’t be threatening to it. I mean, it contains labor within itself, it contains communism in itself. It is contradictory, and the condition of its own demise. These are supposedly the premises of a lot of Marxists.
Following Chris Chitty’s line of argument, we can read ads for movies like Horrible Bosses as simply revealing the fact that they express the conditions of their production, which unavoidably includes both resentful workers and smug one-percenters. Our encounters with commercial cultural products have probably the highest concentration of capital that we ever experience. In a 30-second TV spot, we see what $100 million looks like. So when the spot speaks, it’s no surprise that it speaks as capital. It barely matters what the content is; the voice of capital can’t help but overpower it.
But since capital is a relation between itself and its opposite, labor (or the revolutionary subject or whatever you’d like to say), it’s never totally clear whose voice is speaking in any given instance. Is it capital who’s saying, “This is our time”? Is it labor who’s singing, “Till the world ends?” It’s interesting also that this last line comes from Britney’s latest single, because the two contenders for her position as most profitable female pop singer, Gaga and Ke$ha, occupy the two voices, the one of capital singing to its opposite and the one of that opposite singing to capital. But in a bonus trick, what is sung is a sort of liar’s paradox. Neither can really say which one it is, because as dialectical poles, each voice depends on the other for its own identity. So we get Gaga saying more or less, “I’m not capital. Capital is a liar.”
The article above is certainly an interesting addition to the Spice Girls/feminism discussion - however I will take issue with the whole, “we hated The Spice Girls because they were a manufactured group controlled by men.” The Spice Girls were five women from several walks of life who at ages as young as 17 made the decision to go after their dreams. They were smart businesswomen. Once they made it into the band and realized that Chris Herbert was bent on turning them into something they didn’t want to be: (a sexy five-some in matching sequin gowns), they packed up their shit and left. They stole the master recordings of their songs, to ensure that they’d have control of their work. Each girl took charge of a different aspect of managing the group (Victoria was in charge of finances!), and for months, they hustled on their own, going from management company to management company to try and get a break, until they finally met Simon Fuller. Their personas were their own ideas and creations. Yes, they had about a bajillion endorsements, from Pepsi to Chupa Chups to Polaroid - but guess what? They were a pop group - and in that respect they pretty much smashed it. They became one of the biggest girl groups in history on their own terms and if that isn’t ~girl power~ I don’t know what it is.
reblogging for the commentary because i didn’t know any of that and, uh, that’s awesome. (the article is fine but i was like 9 when the spice girls were popular, so they like, ARE my childhood — we’re talking first CDs i ever bought [off a dude selling CDs on 113th and broadway, ahaha NYC childhood], trivia and sticker obsessions with friends, all seeing the movie in theaters together, and yes, TRUE STORY, I REMEMBER WHERE I WAS WHEN I HEARD THEY WERE BREAKING UP ;_; and that my fourth grade teacher was all mock shocked/sad about it on monday, which is really hilarious in retrospect — and therefore didn’t particularly feel that the spice girls needed defending so it felt kind of redundant i guess.)
the spice girls revelation i did have belatedly, like in high school revisiting the albums with a friend, is that oh my god, like all of their songs are totally about fucking!
I did really like the article, but I honestly never really thought they needed defending. I guess I’m a bit older than Isabel (old enough that I thought they were goofy when they came out but I mostly liked them in retrospect mostly because they were girls goofing around and having fun and feminism). I do remember reading columns where people were like “man, they’re totally commercializing girl power”
I really want to talk about this part:
They were replaced by Britney Spears. And Christina Aguilera. And others like them, setting the trend of iconic, sexy, solo pop superstars that persists up into our current day of Swift, Gaga, and Beyoncé. Girls had told the world, “If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends.” And the entertainment industry responded with, “Lose the friends. Then we’ll talk.”
Because like, one, Beyonce actually started out as part of a girl group. A girl group that did send mixed messages but also recorded big hits about female independence. And I don’t have any problem seeing Bey as an unambiguously pro-woman lady. Her frequent overt pro-feminism statements, her choice to hire an all-woman touring band, and significantly her collaborations with Lady Gaga.
I think that’s significant. When Brandy and Monica recorded a duet together in the 90s, it was “The Boy Is Mine”, a song that played on their established public rivalry. Britney and Christina were always publicly seen as rivals, I remember hearing lots of rumours of them not getting along. Lindsay Lohan and Hillary Duff were apparently fighting over a boy (because he was dating both of them at the same time). There was a thing about Lindsay Lohan and Ashlee Simpson too, wasn’t there? (The whole “I didn’t steal your boyfriend” rumor-mongering song.) I think there was some drama between Ashlee and Avril Lavigne as well.
Now we see the big solo pop superstars supporting each other.
Beyonce and Gaga have both featured each other on remixes. The video for “Telephone” (the bigger hit) shows them as Thelma-and-Louise-like girl criminal buddies. Rihanna appeared on Nicki Minaj’s first album singing a song about achievement, and Nicki was on RihRih’s last album as well. Even Taylor Swift, who is the hardest of all the current ladies of pop to claim for feminism, is apparently a big Nicki Minaj fan, and even invited her to duet on her song “Super Bass” (a happy, arguably very sex-positive song about wanting to bone dudes).
The point is, although there is much less room for feminism in the music industry these days, I do think that it’s significant that once these ladies achieve a certain amount of control over their own images, the stories they put out there about themselves and each other is positive. Maybe it’s because the pop world is so female artist dominated right now that there is room for ladies as different as Taylor and Nicki to support each other, but again I find it hard to see that as a bad thing.
Dancing On My Own (acoustic) - Robyn
oh my god. […]
This exists! So great.
I have a slightly odd and stat-packed essay about pop and narcissism in this week’s New York.
I really enjoyed this - it is full of stats, but they are used to good effect.
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