Good lord, a mixed-race person who is president of the United States just endorsed gay marriage several years after passing health care reform. Do you know how many of those things were inconceivable 5 years ago? You can be happy about this without having to be happy about everything else the man or the country does. Tomorrow morning we should certainly go back to being unhappy about drones and torture and global warming and everything else, but for today, let’s not pretend this was inevitable. This moment is a reasonably big deal. It’s a good thing, and it didn’t have to happen, but it did. The fact of its happening can be good without saying anything about the goodness of the person doing it. There’s still a ways to go, but this had to happen before we got there, and now it has. Hooray. Have a small drink.
This, this, this, this, a billion times this, Award For Accuracy.
I assume most of you have read this by now, but I’m just reblogging it to indicate my 100% co-sign. He’s made some good records since The Incident, but I honestly have a hard time listening to them, and I really was and still am sickened by how many members of the music industry rushed to his defense after it happened. The whole thing is just sad and disgusting. (And holy fuck, Ken Erlich needs to get fired for that quote.)
I’m sure you’ve all watched this video of Nicki Minaj meeting the two tiny girls who became a viral sensation singing “Super Bass,” because it is great. But I wanted to point out two things.
- The little girl’s reaction to Nicki is to scream “You’re real! You’re real!” This is a totally reasonable reaction for anyone to have upon meeting Nicki Minaj.
- Nicki tells the little girl to “stay in school,” like she’s a joke in a sitcom about what famous people say to kids. This is great! Fuck telling them to follow their dreams or some shit. Stay in school! Damn straight.
My current understanding of Nicki Minaj is as the Dolly Parton of rap, btw.
Award for Accuracy.
It’s easy to look at the stream of people cursing out “The Suburbs band” and think it represents some kind of real community. When of course it’s not: It’s just a bunch of data spun to make you laugh and feel better about the music you like. But this is the power of aggregation— it puts flesh on straw men, creating imaginary communities to rail against as well as pulling together real ones.
If you’re a kid in a world like this, what’s it like? Analysts talk glibly about “digital natives,” and parents focus on the stuff that matters most to them, like predators and privacy. I’m no expert either— but my guess is that the struggle to define yourself is as much a part of school life as it ever was, and the web is a powerful weapon in this. A teenager with a Tumblr, or Formspring, or Facebook account becomes a kind of living filter, using the vast resources of the net as a way to perform a self under the peculiarly intense spotlight of adolescence, on a stage filled with real-life friends, enemies, and consequences.
I… I can’t. Shot. Shot dead. Shot.
ROB SHEFFIELD: It’s sad to say, but the first week one-listen response to a record is very often the least interesting response. It’s funny because pop fans now have longer attention spans than rock fans, and longer memories! Pop fans are still getting into the Gaga and Ke$ha songs from a year ago. and pop fans have legacy artists, whether it’s Rihanna or Beyonce. But rock fans seem to be stuck in this opening-week-bonanza mindset, and that has nothing to do with how music is meant to be heard and lived with.
MATTHEW PERPETUA: I think a lot of the internet is chasing after the new shiny thing, and I get that totally, but it’s making people lazy and fickle and I hate that. The thing that aggravates me is how it seems like some people don’t even want artists to be consistent, and to keep putting out good, interesting work. They want them to make one classic, and then go away because there’s something new now. For some reason, a lot of people have a hard time finding it amazing that Spoon has made six excellent albums in a row. It’s more exciting that some kid made a demo, and you can get slightly ahead of the curve on it.
It’s hubris to think that you just got everything going on on a few listens. That you’re so much smarter than the artist. When an artist is really good I’m always going to assume they know something I don’t. I don’t think people respect artists and writers and musicians as much as we used to. I think it’s all been devalued economically and culturally. Everything seems to be worth less now.
ROB SHEFFIELD: I wonder why.
Lately he has been receiving some criticism for his extraordinary focus or, if you like, his lack of breadth — so much that he recently threatened to quit making records. But there’s something about his persona Baudelaire might have liked: his obsession with surfaces, the endless trysting, the strings of brand names, the way he concentrates his talent in pursuit of casual pleasures, so casual he seems to barely even feel them. Not everything he makes is great, but everything he makes is modern. (Even when he’s copying Prince. Even when he’s copying R. Kelly.) His best work feels quick and intuitive.
In “Make Up Bag” you hear finger snaps on the two and four, digital bass tones with Taser voltage, a piano plinking around an A-minor chord. There’s a trite little narrative: He’s been cheating on his girlfriend and actually has lipstick on his collar. But he’s been through this before.
The chorus brings his lousy advice: “If you ever get your girlfriend mad/Don’t let your good girl go bad/Drop five stacks on a make up bag.” Gracefully he hammers it in: “The make up bag. The make up bag. The make up bag. The make up bag.”
The song’s flaw is that it’s a little confusing. He’s talking about buying a purse, not a cosmetics container, to make up for his indiscretions. Its glory is how complicated a symbol the bag becomes: wealth, treachery, shallowness, his own power and anxiety, his girlfriend’s. Somewhere in there the narrator knows how craven he is. But The-Dream knows that he’s just repeating four syllables that sound good together. That’s it, that’s all. By the time you work this out, there’s a good chance you want to hear it again.