April 23, 2010

Pop Mu$ic

Ke$ha made a minor PR spla$h in the blog ocean (a drop in the Photobucket?) with a mediocre-to-bad performance on $NL last week (I’ll spare you the clips, but you can find them here). Yet pop pundits from across the internets have come to her defen$e, speculating that the “not dumb” pop$tar/rapper will eventually command some kind long-term po$t-reinvention cult following. In other words, we can already fondly look back at the passable Uffie-meets-Gaga single “TiK ToK,” because $he’s charting a path back to Na$hville.

Fred Falke transforms the bubbly electro party jam into a disco-funk banger, which I like about as much as the original (i.e. I’ve heard worse):

» Ke$ha – TiK ToK (Fred Falke Remix Radio Edit) (3:55) – 6MB mp3 @ 208kbps

Ke$ha in Interview Magazine; via Buzzfeed

Ke$ha in Interview Magazine; via Buzzfeed

Of course, Ke$ha is almost willfully eclipsed by the mega-ego of Lady Gaga’s hair alone, to say nothing of the Celebrity Incarnate herself. Indeed, insofar as Stefanie Germanotta’s alter ego represents pop-cultural cynosure the world over, she is regarded as a symbol (or symptom) of postmodernity, the subject and object of an ever-growing body of meta-commentary… not to mention a shitload of YouTube covers. There’s the usual conspiracy theories and folk psychological drivel, not to mention the sort of cultural criticism that is slightly too smart for its own good, namely Mark Dery’s recent ‘rockist’ retort to Sasha Frere-Jones’ review of Gaga from a year ago. (My own analysis, below, is decidedly less clever.)

Dery’s dissection of Lady Gaga and her (purportedly) apocryphal brilliance is worth reading, though I should caution that it’s on the heavy side: in a brief riposte from the pro-Gaga camp,* one commenter characterizes [Lord] Dery’s essay as “ridiculous long, very smart, [and] very namedroppy.” As far as I can tell, it comes down to a matter of whether fun and intelligence are mutually exclusive.

Lady Gaga iPad decals

Lady Gaga iPad decals

A decidedly less clever analysis, if knowingly (read: ironically) so, in the form of a crude analogy: Lady Gaga is like the iPad. In both cases, a prodigiously autocratic visionary has created a sui generis device,* a polarizing yet altogether consummate brainchild* dressed in the chameleon sheen of sex appeal to spare.

The question, then, is whether there is actually substance beneath the electric veneer of couture and/or tactility.

Or, once again: are fun and intelligence mutually exclusive?

Postscript: I suppose I have no license to coin the term “Personance Art” as the bastard spawn of Performance Art and Celebrity, but at least give me credit for discussing Lady Gaga without mentioning A.W. or D.B.

*Pun intended. Terrible, I know.

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Cobrasnake via HRO

Cobrasnake via HRO

James Murphy—fun and brains in one, as far as I’m concerned—assesses the situation with his usual dry wit:

Yeah you wanted it smart / But honestly I’m not smart.
No honestly we’re never smart / We fake it, fake it all the time.
Yeah you wanted the time / but maybe I can’t do time.
Oh, we both know that’s an awful line / but it doesn’t make it wrong.

You wanted it right / No out of mind and out of sight,
No dirty bus and early flight / No seven days and forty nights.
Yeah you wanted a hit / But tell me where’s the point in it?
You wanted a hit / But that’s not what we do.

–LCD Soundsystem, “You Wanted a Hit,” from the forthcoming full-length This Is Happening

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via Pitchfork

M.I.A. talked some uncontroversial smack about Lady Gaga last week; search for it if you must know. The Biesenbach-via-David Byrne critique—that Germanotta is not a performance artist—is certainly more telling albeit more oblique and admittedly misstated. While we’re at it, Grace Jones also has beef.

lady-gaga-marina-abramovic-artist-is-present-designboom

Of course, if we’re talking pop-turned-performance: Artforum approves of Peaches Christ Superstar. As SF-J notes:

Lady Gaga semi-raps and recalls the weirdo she’s borrowed a few moves from, Peaches, a Canadian musician who, like Germanotta, presented herself as a sexually ambiguous performance artist, though Peaches did it a decade ago. It was actually a plausible claim when Peaches made it—she has no worldwide No. 1s. (Yet.)

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Besides the new LCD Soundsystem, jj’s take on Jeremih’s “Birthday Sex” is the best thing I’ve heard all week; it’s right up there with Anya Marina’s sultry cover of “Whatever You Like.” (Sincerely Yours via Stereogum)

» jj – CEO Birthday (4:02) – 9.4MB mp3 @ 320kbps

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