Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dirty Pop

Na na na na na C'MON! * Disclaimer... I'm getting pretty wordy and will probably offend so read at your own risk

I had a conversation with my housemate the other day about how everyone can 'make it' in this day and age. Our society is geared towards quick success... the advent of performers being discovered via You tube, reality television like Jersey Shore, competition reality shows like American Idol, X Factor and so on. It seems as though people have gotten bored of really working hard to make it on their own and as a result the universal standard has sunk. This is all coming after the Rebecca Black fiasco, which has now become an anthem among teens, and although it is referenced in a joking manner, it is a shame that we give it attention, when it is just plain bad.

My dad once asked me to name the 'Stairway to Heaven' of my generation and I couldn't... how sad is that? Many of my peers or those of the generation below probably couldn't name the band who wrote it (it's Led Zeppelin by the way). What happened to the miracle that was the 8 minute epic from musicians like Pink Floyd or Led Zep or classic rock by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones? There are few artists who slave for their music. The best example I can give of this is one of my favorite bands, Muse. Their songs are cleverly written, composed and even better performed live - or so I've been told by many folk. Another example, which will garner some criticism is Lady Gaga who has made it known on countless times that her fans are her everything and always gives 110% when performing her live spectacles.

I feel as though music has lost it's heart. When you listen to the radio or Top 40, many songs blend together and don't really stand out. Most are saturated in heavy backing beats, repetitive choruses and synthesized voices. Now, the problem is... these songs are catchy. I can't help but listen to 'On the Floor' by Pitbull and JLo or 'Blow' by Ke$ha even though I've heard the whole 'betchez in the club, drank in hand, partying til we drop' bull before. I'm not a music saint, I listen to this stuff... but I feel that I'm slightly grounded, as artists like Rihanna and Pink are sandwiched between the Stones and Queen on my iTunes.

When did music become almost entirely about music videos and a repetitive hook? Granted sometimes the videos are cool, but now it's all about product placement or shock factor or how many views... 

Na na na na na C'MON!
So, we start our game with Rihanna and her wonderfully inappropriate anthem 'S & M'.
'Cause I may be bad, but I'm perfectly good at it
Sex in the air, I don't care, I love the smell of it
Sticks and stones may break my bones
But chains and whips excite me'

With lyrics like these it's no wonder this song got very little air time and when it did, well there wasn't much of it left after the censors had their way with it. Where to begin, I'm not much of a music critic but this song gives me plenty of fodder. Firstly, the message: behind all the sexual innuendos this song isn't really exclusively about bondage and whips, but about of surveillance culture and how there will always be those who talk about you and spread rumors and in the end you need to be strong, thus the sticks and stones line. 

This theme is evident in the video when Rihanna is dragged kicking and screaming into the press conference wearing her newspaper headline dress surrounded by reporters in bondage and later when she prances around while wild headlines flash around her. This idea of surveillance is very popular among our current crop of pop stars and is getting slightly tired and cliche. I mean, really, this is what fame brings so get used to it, if you can't handle the heat then get out of the kitchen girl. And in this day and age, making a video as risque as this is probably not the best way to dispute it, it's only going to get you more attention.

And on that note, the video itself... Wow, well it was banned in multiple countries, in addition MTV gave it very limited airplay and I can see why. There isn't an obscene amount of nudity, but it is the suggestiveness that is what is getting it in trouble. The reporters in bondage, her dominatrix scene and the banana episode are all pretty heavy, especially for someone with a pretty young fan base. I'm getting alittle bored of Rihanna these days, she's getting too 'I've gotta be Bad (the capital B is there on purpose) and push boundaries' for my taste. The whole Chris Brown incident is taking its toll. What he did is inexcusable but let's get off that train and start to like Rihanna for more than being a victim of abuse.

In addition the video was slapped with a plagiarism lawsuit by photographer David LaChapelle who accused the singer and director of the video of appropriating several of his photographs into the video without his permission and I can totally see the similarities. Check them out side by side (Rihanna on the left, LaChapelle on the right)
It sucks, but how original can we be these days? Everything has root in something else. But I mean, clearly Rihanna copied NFL star Troy Polamalu and my hairstyle for this video, please. We should get some credit for that mass of red fuzz on her head, am I right?
Whatever, thanks for the shout out Riri! Finally, she does get brownie points for using one of springs hottest designers in this vid. When it starts one can see poofy haired Rihanna bouncing around that psychedelic room wearing this fur stole, courtesy of Miuccia Prada. It's so hot, Marc Jacobs was seen wearing it in public and that is a massive shout out from one designer to another. 
All in all, you can probably tell I'm not a huge fan of the video... or the song really. It can be catchy, but it doesn't mean that it is good. I was playing on Youtube today and discovered some new bands that make me hope for the future... it should keep me off the pop circuit for a while.

Listening to: 'Chemicals Collide' - Cloud Cult
Observations: NHL
Craving: Meh

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