Hard News by Russell Brown

Read Post

Hard News: Friday Music: The Story

115 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 Newer→ Last

  • Martin Brown,

    ASCAP.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2013 • 137 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Littlewood, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    That's one way to put it - and with all due respect to Mr. Stone, I think he was doing more to " take away from the ridiculous racial tension" just by having a band with white folks (and women who weren't just there to sing backup and wiggle their arses, not that there's anything wrong with that) making incredible music. Yeah, it didn't eliminate racism and sexism. But I think you can make a pretty good case that Prince's best band - The Revolution - would have been a more monochromatic, testosterone-heavy beast without Sly and The Family.

    Oh, absolutely! The lyrics for songs like "Everybody People" , "Everybody is a Star" and "Stand!" ask for tolerance and understanding without ever preaching about it. "If you get bitten/just hate the bite" and "different strokes for different folks" get their message out as clear as day, but give their listeners a helluva lot of credit.

    It also helps that their "pleas for tolerance" are backed up by some of the most euphoric, melodic and downright funky music ever to be laid down in a recording studio. It's desperately sad that Sly is in his current state, but also, hell, he did his bit.

    On another topic, I assume many PAS-ers have already read Lorde's clear-headed and striking op-ed this weekend. She really does seem like someone who knows the score, in the best sense of the term. And the fact she name-drops Patti Smith and Nicki Minaj leaves you in no doubt of her age, too!

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 449 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to Matthew Littlewood,

    I preferred Kim Hill’s interview with Lorde yesterday here. Pretty impressive for a 16 year old to hold her own against KH. She came across as very warm and funny too, which I didn’t really get from the op-ed.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 830 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Matthew Littlewood,

    On another topic, I assume many PAS-ers have already read Lorde’s clear-headed and striking op-ed this weekend. She really does seem like someone who knows the score, in the best sense of the term. And the fact she name-drops Patti Smith and Nicki Minaj leaves you in no doubt of her age, too!

    I thought it was interesting that people seemed to have been so surprised by it -- and one or two people who really should have known better aired the possibility that she hadn't really written it. Sheesh.

    It kinda brought home to me that most people actually haven't been paying close attention. There seems to have been an assumption, absent evidence, that she must be an exploited airhead.

    If she'd handed it to me as an editor, I'd have thought it was great. But I'd have subbed it here and there, where she overcooks it. It's almost a relief to discover she does still have a little of the 16 year-old about her prose style.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    I preferred Kim Hill’s interview with Lorde yesterday here. Pretty impressive for a 16 year old to hold her own against KH. She came across as very warm and funny too, which I didn’t really get from the op-ed.

    How good was “I’ve grown up listening to you – you’re like my fairy godmother.”?

    It was good listening, but I actually Kim might have better questions – especially about literature.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Littlewood, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It kinda brought home to me that most people actually haven't been paying close attention. There seems to have been an assumption, absent evidence, that she must be an exploited airhead.

    I like the fact she's very articulate about the nature of her "collaborative process" with Joel Little. You get a sense of what both bring to the table. It's a very refreshing change from the likes of Gaga, Katy Perry, Miley and their ilk, who go out of their way to claim they write all their material by themselves- in spite of evidence to the contrary (some of the co-credits on those artists' records are mindbogglingly large- less songwriting than an industrial operation). It's an absurd ruse- Gaga comes across (to me) as selfish by her inclination to often not give credit where it's due. In fact, I would respect them more and find them more interesting if they talked about the process.

    The history of pop music is built on the art of cooperation, or even picking the right artist to sing someone else's song. Why do we need to pretend otherwise? .

    Of course, in some cases, such as many of the great Motown artists, it was a bit of both. For instance: I love Marvin Gaye's duets with Tammi Terrell as much as almost all his "solo" 70s work. I don't care a jot that Asford & Simpson, Norman Whitfield, etc wrote and produced most of those duets. But that's for another discussion, perhaps...

    Today, Tomorrow, Timaru • Since Jan 2007 • 449 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Sjorn,

    Probably not the done thing but there is a very interesting, smart discussion going on here about Lorde.

    http://www.ilxor.com/ILX/ThreadSelectedControllerServlet?boardid=41&threadid=96646#unread

    Many people seem unhappy with the lyric to Royals - thinking it specifically attacks hip hop - lumping it in with Macklemore et al.

    New Zealand • Since Sep 2013 • 39 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Simon Sjorn,

    Many people seem unhappy with the lyric to Royals – thinking it specifically attacks hip hop – lumping it in with Macklemore et al.

    Ah. hadn't seen that, but a few of us having been talking about a really batshit Marxist critique posted recently. The imputation of a racial message to 'Royals' is maddening. She was specifically writing there about the Jay Z/Kanye album, which really is end-to-end bling. The idea that a kid in New Zealand can't contemplate that and measure is against her own experience is nuts.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Simon Sjorn,

    Many people seem unhappy with the lyric to Royals – thinking it specifically attacks hip hop

    Wow. I guess I should have expected people to get hooked on interpreting every word but that thread was impressive.

    Did it occur to them that the song could simply be what it says on the tin. How did they go from a girl singing about the disconnect between the music she hears and the life she and her friends actually lead all the way to racist anti hip hop agenda?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4461 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    The imputation of a racial message to ‘Royals’ is maddening. She was specifically writing there about the Jay Z/Kanye album, which really is end-to-end bling

    Even there, if you find the whole no-homo bling-and-bitches strain of consumerist hip-hop macho bullshit somewhere between “deeply problematic” and “fuck that shit” you’re racist? I’m not even going to touch that with the proverbial barge-pole because, among much else, that’s just ignoring an enormously complex and long-standing debate.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to "chris",

    That was a great piece Robyn, I fully appreciated the generosity of:

    a serious rock band like the Feelers

    Probably about as serious a rock band as Nickelback. Still a lot more serious than the boy band pretending to be a rock band known as 1D.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5445 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Did it occur to them that the song could simply be what it says on the tin. How did they go from a girl singing about the disconnect between the music she hears and the life she and her friends actually lead all the way to racist anti hip hop agenda?

    For the sake of completeness, here's that Marxist one:

    Lorde and her followers don’t crave the buzz of rattling bass, wobbly drops, or maxed-out textures. The “buzz” this song asks us to crave is vocal harmonization. The musical climaxes of the song are built by layering in more and more harmonizing female voices to the ends of lines in the chorus. If mainstream, hip-hop influenced pop has made traditional tonal harmony obsolete (rejecting it in favor of soars and drops), Lorde’s “Royals” re-centers it. (Again, I’m not saying that tonality is absent in contemporary pop--I’m arguing that from the perspective adopted in “Royals,” that appears to be the case.) In this way, “Royals” offers us white female bodies vibrating in harmony, not synths or AutoTuned vocals. Its musical pleasure is (supposedly) “in the flesh,” whereas mainstream pop is, like diamond engagement rings, an inherently screen/tech-mediated experience. (Obviously, it takes a lot of bad faith to buy “Royals” argument--it’s no less mediated or more “in the flesh” than any other song on the radio or YouTube.) So, the use of harmony and harmonization--which can and has been thought of as stereotypically “white,” especially when contrasted with stereotypically rhythm-oriented Afro-diasproic music--is a way to dis-identify with two different aspects of mainstream pop music: its blackness, on the one hand, and its tech/capital alienation, on the other. One implication here is that some kinds of black culture are vulgar and unruly because they can’t sufficiently moderate the use/effects of technology.

    In the song, some precious ueber-femmy white girl singing about how “we” disidentify with mainstream hip hop culture and its blinged-out aesthetics. (Insofar as hip hop culture is stereotypically hypermasculine in a distinctly racialized way, the singer’s performance of white femininity is itself a dis-identificatory gesture.) Here, implicitly black (often masculine) hip hop culture represents mainstream bourgeois society, its norms and values. So the way to critique The Man is by situating yourself in opposition to representations of blackness. This gender and race dynamic flips more traditional scripts, in which white guys disidentify with mainstream white bourgeois culture by identifying with black subcultural aesthetics (from blues to bebop to rock to hip hop to jungle).

    “Royals” shows that this disidentificatory work is now women’s work. It’s not prestigious work, like conventional male hipsterism (think of Mailer’s “White Negro” essay); it’s “second-shift” style feminized labor, like cleaning up messes always is. White women, in performing their white femininity, do the political work of multi-racial white supremacy. They devalue and reject the aspects of blackness that are still too unruly to be folded into multi-racial white supremacist patriarchy.

    So there.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Robyn Gallagher,

    That was a great piece Robyn, I fully appreciated the generosity of:

    a serious rock band like the Feelers

    Probably about as serious a rock band as Nickelback. Still a lot more serious than the boy band pretending to be a rock band known as 1D.

    Same goes for the Beddingfield siblings.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5445 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    For the sake of completeness, here’s that Marxist one:

    Well, that was a remarkably pretentious, flatulent way to tell the uppity bitch to STFU while the menz be talking. Isn’t tertiary education grand?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Well, that was a remarkably pretentious, flatulent way to tell the uppity bitch to STFU while the menz be talking. Isn’t tertiary education grand?

    It's actually a middle-class white woman lecturing a young white woman on behlf of black men ... but, yeah.

    Another of many very silly things in it is the declaration that harmony and tonal quality = white privilege. Um ... waiata?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    Someone with some knowledge of New Zealand tried to salvage her argument in the comments by theorising that our racism expresses itself as a more generalised rejection of American cultural expressions, so Maori and Pasifika hiphop is coded as an imperialist "other" (but it's actually us being totes racist). I have a bit more time for that as an idea, actually, but a) she didn't fucking know any of that when she wrote her post: she didn't even know Lorde was from New Zealand, so it's retroactive CYA from a fellow theorist; b) the context of the song is part of a broader New Zealand context in which we are basically forced to engage with and react to these sorts of American popular cultural texts, because colonialism; and c) conversely, it's infuriating that the author didn't even get that we are an ENTIRELY OTHER COUNTRY and not *everything* is mediated through American structures of racism (our racism, for example, is a different sort of animal in many ways). The insularity of that post was *so annoying*. I almost tore my hair out over it on Twitter. :)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Russell Brown,

    For the sake of completeness, here’s that Marxist one:

    Bat shit crazy only just touches the surface.

    Just for a second imagine that Lorde really did mean to imbue her lyrics with all these crazy ideas - that takes incredible skill - to do that within a pop song would take really amazing talent. To do it at 16 when her life experience is basically nil would imply she has to be one of the true geniuses of our age (if racist). In a way it's almost a compliment ... if it wasn't bat shit crazy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4461 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Lorde really did mean to imbue her lyrics with all these crazy ideas

    Well, to be fair, that's not exactly how cultural theory works. In that the text can unconsciously reflect societal attitudes without necessarily deliberately setting out to do so.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Danielle,

    Well, to be fair, that’s not exactly how cultural theory works.

    Yeah I figured that much and that would have been fine if the blog hadn't gone so ... er ... deep. You can't really describe the purported allusion to Marxist bees as mere (racist) cultural heritage. That does kinda imply deep intent on the part of the songwriter.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4461 posts Report Reply

  • Jason Kemp,

    Lets hope Ella / Lorde stays grounded through all of this.

    On the HAIM ? thing - there is a full concert on iTunes Festival which I watched a bit of. I liked the idea of it ( and the good news is no Shania Twain ness) but after a few tracks I switched it off as there is also a Pixies concert on there too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 368 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Danielle,

    not exactly how cultural theory works

    At the risk of oversimplifying, does that mean cultural theory actually works in practice by means of analysts basically going, “Look how much meaning I can wring out of this!”?
    If so, then, as your earlier comment makes clear, the text needs to be located in a cultural context that appropriately allows that meaning to be extracted – which was blatantly not the case here.
    (Without such a licensing context, it’s difficult to read that Marxist analysis above as extracting anything other than the Michael, or perhaps the micturate; if the author was serious, it’s a serious FAIL.)

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1944 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Simon Sweetman has pulled himself together and written -- apart from its repeated fits of sulking -- a reasonably sensible review of the album. It's not his kind of music, but that's okay. Note that he now thinks 'Royals' is a "standout".

    I did think this line was funny:

    But fuck the hype, let’s look at the music this time right?

    Um, yeah.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Russell Brown,

    written – apart from its repeated fits of sulking – a reasonably sensible review of the album.

    (emphasis mine).

    Yeah. Age doesn’t always bring maturity.

    And can he really have hated the EP but liked the album? Trolling for attention?

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3895 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    I’m not saying she’s cleverly manipulated her audience of won’t-hear-a-bad-worders, strangely split between 16 year old girls and 50 year old men it seems.

    Heh, apparently I was in Lorde’s target market after all, who knew. And cleverly manipulated to boot (not that Simon is saying that, no he wouldn’t mention that at all).

    Again I’m interested in the way the music is being reviewed. It seems to me that this album was never expected to be anything other than a first effort. Her first go at writing and putting her words to music, a first go at seeing what could be done with a pretty nice voice. Nobody in their right minds could really have expected it to be anything other than a blip in the local market.

    Had that been true I wonder if the reaction might have been more balanced. Recognising it for what it is, a pretty decent first go and perhaps, hopefully, a sign of things to come, “someone to watch” but still learning her trade.

    Instead this first go has turned into a hit beyond anyone’s dreams. Well probably not – I suspect 16 yr old girls dream pretty big :). And somehow having become popular some people feel the need to review it differently. Even to extent of being critical to prove they aren’t “one of the crowd”.

    It’s a pity, cause the music really is quite enjoyable, but hey I would say that since I’m her target market.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4461 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Another of many very silly things in it is the declaration that harmony and tonal quality = white privilege. Um … waiata?

    Or a little closer to home for an academic in Charlotte, North Carolina -- the long and living tradition of African-American church music and the near incalculable influence it's had on black music from the Blues, through Jazz to Hip-Hop. When it comes to "white supremacist" othering and erasure of African-American culture, someone needs to check herself before she wrecks herself - and it's not Lorde.

    Well, to be fair, that’s not exactly how cultural theory works. In that the text can unconsciously reflect societal attitudes without necessarily deliberately setting out to do so.

    Sure, but it actually helps if the theory is actually grounded in some culture. Bonus points if you're modest enough to acknowledge that not everything is going to fit tidily into your theoretical construct, no matter how hard you wave your hands at it.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 4 5 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.