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.
The world’s biggest flirt has triumphed over a social revolutionary on the pop charts: Carly Rae Jepsen and her flouncy seven-week chart topper “Call Me Maybe” finally unseated Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” as the longest-running number one single for a female singer with the Interscope label.
Flirty summer fun winning out over social comment, according to the dollars we are paying for the music they are making, means something. And yet, since this ideological overthrow was executed in the arena of pop music, the philosophical shift our iTunes purchases are fueling is not being discussed in the same way it might be if we were talking instead about domestic themes culled from the latest Jennifer Egan book or other pieces of more “worthy” art.
So what if we worthified the Top 40 by considering it alongside thoughts and arguments from great women writers of the past? What if we made explicit connections between the music of Kelly Clarkson and the oeuvre of Charlotte Bronte? What if we could talk about the contrasts between Adele and Emily Dickinson?
Welcome to my new guest blog, RetroPop, where the messages from today's biggest female-created pop tunes are played right next to those of rockin' and respected female artists from the past—and where dancing while blogging is highly encouraged.