15) T-shirt on young woman shopping on Rue du Jour: Mrs. Ryan Seacrest.
14) “Girls Lie Too,” Terri Clark & Jacques Lacan. Clark has always been a faux Patty Loveless, with an emphasis on the latter: less style, less aggression, less twang, not quite as much sweet remorse or resolve, just slightly less of the curious crypto-feminism that Nashville allows. But this song, as easily as it settles into its conceit of listing classic chick lies, still gathers up more of everything, and it’s especially pleasing the way she growls “size don’t matter anyway.” Bonus: it sort of sounds like she’s saying “signs don’t matter anyway.” What’s that you say? There might be some relation between the signifier/signified chain’s security and castration anxiety? Did someone mention the Teeny, Tiny Other?
13) R. Kelly and his judges. I love Ta-Nehisi Coates’ beat, and I love that he’s on it. Still, his R. Kelly piece torqued hard under the strain of trying to reconcile the object’s aesthetics and the ethics surrounding its production, a task which’ll get even the smartest and most humane critics twisted (see, for example, Bob Christgau’s various defenses of Eminem). Predictably enough, Coates’ essay engendered some sanctimonious bullshit in the form of “agreement.” I don’t mean anything like tinylucky’s furies regarding Mr. Kelly; it’s the unicorn’s absolute free choice to focus on the moral actor and set aside the art. But if you’re not going to ignore it, you better give up on explaining how “Ignition” must perforce be as bad a song as R. Kelly is a person. You’ve got to fucking deal with how good it is, because it’s real real good (though not quite Ginuwine’s “Same Ol’ G,” yet another reason to worship Tim Mosely). Listen: The desire for an unambiguous world is not going to work out for you. Awful people will make thrilling art, and vice versa. I checked my Infinity Calendar, and this is a “recurrent event.” It’s not hypocrisy; it’s exactly one of the things that makes art more than a victory garden on the chateau grounds of philosophies of right. It’s what makes it art. And then one has to figure out how to live with this; that’s what makes it life.
12) While we’re on the topic of art and moral ambiguity, when all the deeply evil and fucked-up multinational guns’n’oil’n’mercenaries companies are meeting in their secret chamber under the South Pole wearing smoking jackets sewn from baby’s blood, the Carlyle Group gets to treat the other Groups and Corps and so on like the bitches that, in comparison, they are. And now, a little birdie tells me, the Carlyle Group hath acquired the Loew’s Theater chain. This ‘pon this while deciding where to go see Spiderman 9/11.
11) “Freak Out,” Avril Lavigne. The closest to fine on her album, because, being a sort of jumpy power ballad, it’s the closest thing to metal. I know she’ll never do the Cookie Monster voice, but she should be making heavy metal like pigs make iron. Her career highlight is still the cover of “Fuel” during the MTV Metallica tribute.
10) “Midnight Blue,” Lou Gramm. “I remember what my father said. He said ‘Son, life is simple. It’s either cherry red, or midnight blue.’” I remain unclear how, as paternal advice goes, this is simple.
9) Bureaucracy. And so, after walking around in the rain to find a photobooth in the Montparnasse metro station, submitting said photo at the front bureau so as to add to my growing collection of cartes d’identité (along with passport, museum pass, and metro card), waiting an hour, getting redirected to a different bureau to receive a three-page contract to sign — in duplicate — I had a one month gym membership.
8) Josie and the Pussycats (movie and OST) & Noise From The Basement, Skye Sweetnam. You may recall that, in the opening of the 2001 film, the *NSync-tastic crew DuJour (including an uncredited Seth Green...sigh...dreamy) is bumped off by the record company, which has decided its commodities future lies no longer in boybands but in angry teen girls like Josie (sung by Kay Hanlon, the least-named and most excellent thing about soundtracks over the last decade). This before the appearance of Avril Lavigne, before Katie Rose, before Skye Sweetnam...who sounds exactly like Josie and the Pussycats. Did this movie make the future happen, or just see it with an inconceivable clarity?
7) Hey, how come Christian hard rock isn’t called “life metal”?
6) Lisa Lisa, Having a moment. Quoted in both Nina Sky and Kylie Minogue songs, not samples, just phrases floating loose, because Lisa Lisa is just completely of the atmosphere of dance-pop, the vernacular, has dissolved into a few of the billion signs that make a genre itself and not something else. This is not a diminishable achievement.
5) Models. Or, rather, the extreme communicability of narcissism. I don’t know about you, but I just cannot sit next to a model for more than about eight minutes without thinking I gotta go to the gym.
4) “That Hoobastank song,” Hoobastank. Just as big here. Bigger.
3) “Shannon Stone,” Go Home Productions. Yes, since you asked, there is an original version of a song. It’s the one that establishes the distance to the referential remake. There is simply no way to think meaningfully about, for example, Dynamite Hack’s version of “Boyz N Tha Hood” without having Eazy-E’s original in mind -- not the notes for it, not the charts, but the famous recorded performance. Songs aren’t ontological objects without being social objects always-already. If it helps with the linguistic anxiety, you can always jettison the word “original” in favor of “originary” -- from whence spring future versions. Anyway, this question has been bandied about at least since the vogue a couple decades back for associarting the birth of pop culture with the immense sales of sheet music in the 19th century (a narrative which figures heavily in the film Under The Roofs of Paris). “Shannon Stone,” like your basic mashup, has two originary versions. It is both cherry red and midnight blue. It is what Jackson Browne cowered in fear of, when he wrote “Disco Apocalypse.” Sasha pointed me to this track, but it was Chris who said, “You have to wonder what they thought when they heard this. Shannon was probably all, like, ‘whoa.’ Mick Jagger was probably all, like, whoa!”
2) “Holidae Inn” (screwed version), Chingy. It turns out that, content aside, the only annoying thing about Chingy is his voice. And this in fact ceases to be a problem if you slow it down enough, plus you don’t really have to notice the usual all-about-my-dick blabber (um, Chingy? I have Terri Evans for you on line one). Mainly, you notice that they seem to do things like play the screwed version of “Holidae Inn” in the locker room at the Montparnasse gym in Paris France. Dude. Sweet.
1) “I’m Ready,” Cherie. Douglas brought this to our attention, though sugarhigh! prefers the unremixed version, where the sample still sounds like Foreigner’s original. Wouldn’t this all be better if she was named “Cherie Red”? Anyway, one perfect song. But still manages to remind me, as does almost every bit of female teenpop, of Robyn, who kicked off the whole contemporary teenpop-as-the-ultimate-Swedish-song-technology era. Robyn fucking ruled.