Despite the impressive amount of revelers who came out to enjoy last weekend's 8th annual Afropunk Festival in Brooklyn's Commodore Barry Park, there were looming criticisms about how this year's festival deviated from the nonconformist and anti-consumerism philosophy at the heart of the Afropunk scene.
Today, the mash-ups that came to mind—Katy Perry, Maya Angelou, and Sylvia Plath—are a tiny smidge more controversial than usual, but all I mean to do is share some works that I believe have echoes of each other and start a discussion. Just a bit of a Tuesday shakeup. Are you ready for some shaking? Shukka shukka, here we go!
Although it's often used as a stand-in for elevator music, bossa nova really doesn't deserve the square reputation it's somehow acquired. When it began, it was actually considered cool and bohemian (bossa nova literally translates to "new trend"). If you've never listened, it's time to give bossa nova another try, and what better way than to check out the many great ladies of bossa nova past and present? It's super '60s, the perfect soundtrack to your Mad Men kick and ideal mellow end-of-summer music. This mix can only provide a small sampling of the bossa that's out there, but it's enough for you to temporarily pretend you're lounging on the beaches of Brazil, wearing a retro swimsuit and sipping a daiquiri.
If there's one pop star who can make me nearly swerve off the road while driving, due to wild one-armed dancing action paired with a silent weep, it's my good friend Kelly Clarkson. Here is my confession: I am a big blubbery emotional softie smoosh. Like, the emotional equivalent of Dairy Queen. Many things set me off, but nothing moreso than a good impassioned pop tune. I like to play such hits on my banjo, but I often have to take breaks for my voice to crack when I start to sob ever so slightly at the chorus or bridge. And "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)" by Kelly Clarkson is one of those that brings a tear to my eye almost every time.
Not a welcoming space for women? Why would you say that?
Pitchfork released its People's List of the top albums since 1996 today, and it is chocked fuller o' white males than the Augusta National. Now, saying that you're surprised Pitchfork readers like Radiohead is like saying you're surprised Todd Akin doesn't have a uterus, but lists like this one still reinforce the notion that indie music—and the street cred that comes with it—is Just For Men.
Temperatures are still in the mid 90s and the sun's still setting after eight o'clock, but we need to brace ourselves for the eventual changing of the seasons. Luckily, we've got the perfect cure for, or accompaniment to, the end-of-summer blues: Brooklyn's Katie Crutchfield, better known as Waxahatchee. Her quiet tape echo ballads seem borne of the universe found sandwiched between two sheets and covered by a well-worn duvet.
For today's installment of RetroPop, the groove-friendly series in which I invite you to join in on my mashing of lady-driven Top 40 pop songs with great female works of art from the past, I suggest you flip the switch. Turn out those desk lights, turn off your overhead chandeliers, snuff your candles and for goodness' sake unplug the lava lamp. Because today we're going deep into the dark with sisters in song, Ellie Goulding, Ella Fitzgerald, and Emily Dickinson.
Welcome again to RetroPop, where we mash up lady-driven Top 40 tunes with the work of great female artists from history and explore what they have in common, maybe elevate some readers' respect for Billboard hits, and revel in some great women writers in the process. Your reactions, disagreements, and playlist suggestions are welcome and encouraged. So let's jack the volume to 11 and get down with some Gothic romance!
One fateful evening in a kitchen in Brooklyn in the winter of 2008, I stood leaning on a window, freezing air seeping into the sweaty room. A woman emerged from the bathroom wearing a modest black dress with a white collar. In the smallest voice, she said, "We're Screaming Females and we're from New Jersey." My eyes lit up.