There are few songs I like less than Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl." I dislike most of her music (that skit she did with Elmo, however, is adorable), but "I Kissed A Girl" bothers me most of all. You'd think such a song would be tailor-made for me—after all, I have, in fact, kissed girls and liked it! But it's really not a song for me, or for any other queer woman (even though I know queer women who like the song). It's a song for straight men who have "lesbian" fantasies in which femme women make out with each other but don't present any actual threat to male sexuality and dominance. It's a song for straight women who find the idea of kissing other women to be a "scandalous" and fun way of entertaining men, but who ultimately aren't romantically or sexually attracted to other women. It's a song about false, constructed, performed bisexuality, and it isn't doing anything to help the acceptance of non-monosexual folks.
In Willow's defense, she tries to be inclusive in "Whip My Hair," emphasizing that it "don't matter if it's long or short" all you have to do is "do it, do it whip your hair." But the stark truth is, I can't really whip my hair back and forth; it sort of just goes along with my head which then renders my attempts at hair-whipping mere glorified headbanging. Of course, I am hardly alone in this reality, especially as more and more black women are opting out of the harmful relaxers that have become so normalized in our culture. That's why I was so happy to come across Les Nubians' first single "Afrodance" off of their new album Nü Revolution.
The institution as a recurring theme in pop culture tells us a great deal about how people think about institutions and mental illness, and music videos in particular provide a fascinating glimpse into perceptions of institutionalization and the institution as metaphor. Assembling this post, I pored through numerous videos depicting institutions and institutional life, ranging from the heinous to the fantastic.
This week's B-sides is in the flavor of "sad," unfortunately, in the way that finding out a band I loved last year has taken some missteps since then. I first wrote about Warpaint last November (see the previous link), where I caught a little flak about thinking they're pretty (heads up: still do) and also generated a thoughtful conversation about Native appropriation in the band's name and aesthetic style. That discussion stayed with me, and the video NPR just released for Warpaint's self-titled new single warrants further critical analysis.
My love of Beyoncé has been well documented on this blog before, so I won't get into it again here. However, I do want to talk about Bey's new video for "The Best Thing I Never Had," or rather, talk about the way other people are talking about it. First, the video, which is mostly just Beyoncé dancing around and looking really pretty in a wedding dress:
OK, first things first: I am a Beyoncé fan. However, fandom aside (well, sort of, because you can't ever really throw fandom aside) I must say that I'm surprised by all of the negative pushback Bey's latest video, "Run the World (Girls)," is getting. Not because it's a perfect video with a flawless, amazing message (it isn't), but because so many people are fired up about it. On the one hand, this pushback is terrific, because it means lots of people are talking about race and feminism and doing a close read of a music video, which doesn't happen all that often. On the other hand, this pushback is a bit harsh and asks more of a pop song and pop singer (whose heart I believe to be in the right place—more on that in a minute) than is perhaps fair.
Perhaps inspired by her recent divorce from Sum 41's Deryck Whibley, "What the Hell" describes kissing various people and blowing off societal expectations. Now, the song's not without its problems. There's the "crazy" issue, and the lyrics are addressed to an unhappy main squeeze, which begs the question of how consensual their non-monogamy really is. Still, as with the Lou Christie classic "Lightnin' Strikes," I hear it as an exploration of dating around rather than a glorification of infidelity. "What the Hell" gave me the same flutter as Cher's 1998 smash "Believe," which burst onto the radio between songs about miserable devotion with the revelation "Maybe I'm too good for you." Yes, Avril's latest got my stamp of approval.
But then I saw the video.
Official music video and commentary after the jump!
As much as I adore music videos at dance parties, watching choreographed dance moves on a giant screen in public typically does one of two things to me: infuses my limbs with rhythmic possibilities (rare), or yanks the slippery beat from under my dance shoes (less rare). Sometimes if I'm not in a dancing mood (or able to shake it in my current location) watching someone else dance provides a kind of psychic fulfillment. I hope Austra and CocknBullKid's new singles give you just that! Directly after sits a sedentary vogue-free video by Planningtorock. Apart from inviting you to a video dance, this B-Sides provides hope for the swarms of PTR fans who, like myself, have been chewing their nails impatiently for five years on the edge of the dance floor waiting for her sophomore release!
I know there are some humbugs out there who don't like the holiday season, and that's fine. Cheer and snacks and the spirit of giving (OK, and stress and consumerism) aren't for everyone, right? But when people tell me that they don't like holiday music, I have a tough time believing it. Just about all of the musicians you can think of have recorded holiday music at some point during their careers, and a lot of it is really awesome. So open up your minds, scrooges! I've polled folks around the office and compiled a collection of some awesome holiday tunes, perfect for gift wrapping, wasting time at your desk, or dancing around the tree/menorah. Tracks and videos after the jump!