Here is a love song for people who think that the possibility of shooting themselves in the head is somehow romantic. Yes of course it’s a metaphor, a loaded one, if you will. It’s for those moments when we need to take a deep breath and just plunge blindly into what’s probably something stupid and entirely preventable, aka an adventure. And also, of course, people who think that the stakes in their love lives should be equivalent to playing with guns aren’t healthy and should probably seek help. Your love life should not have stakes of life of death. Rihanna herself could tell you that. Rihanna would probably also tell you that if you can’t distinguish between symbolism and real life, you should seek help. You know what, just seek help already, you sick fucks.
Here for you dose of turn-of-the-century nostalgia, it’s No Doubt. If you remember gluing gaudy plastic “bindis” from Claire’s to your face in honor of Gwen Stefani, congratulations, you’re a 90’s kid. I myself never did that. I didn’t listen to No Doubt in the 90’s, because my adolescent “I hate everything” was really strong, and I could not permit myself, on my honor, to enjoy normal-people shit. That didn’t stop me from having a raging fashion-crush on Gwen, but, you know, in secret. In hindsight, I can admit that No Doubt was a pretty good band. Not a great one, by any means; Gwen Stefani’s style and charisma carried the day far more than her vocal talents. But so what, it was a great image.
The Human League never covered any Del Shannon songs. If they had, it might have sounded something like this. This is also, technically, not a cover of Del Shannon’s famous hit; somehow no one has noticed that it has the same hook and Ladytron has been allowed to claim sole songwriting credit. Call it an homage, I guess. But it does make me want to hear Ladytron cover some early-60’s pop songs. I also want to hear Ladytron do a collaboration with Phil Oakey, because if anybody can replicate the sound of Dare for the new millennium it’s Ladytron. Or, you know, I just want Ladytron to make another album. Which they’ve been promising to do, but haven’t done. I would like it to be a 1960’s pop cover album featuring Phil Oakey, but I’ll take whatever they want to give me.
Here’s a Blondie song you may not have heard on the radio. Because deep cuts from 2003 don’t come up through the cracks very often, not when you can keep playing the old hits. Anyhow, I thought The Curse of Blondie was a pretty great album (especially for a band that had been in and out of hiatus for nearly 20 years.) But it was definitely a weird one, thematically at least. The band was meditating on things not usually found on a pop album; aging, death, the squicky metaphysical implications of May-December romance, and the idea of reincarnation, which some people apparently find romantic.
This here’s my jam. In case you haven’t noticed, a lot of Rihanna’s songs are my jam. You gotta love her ballsy attitude and truth-telling. Rihanna gives us a lot to unpack with it. You can start by asking whether this kind of sexually explicit banger is trashy or empowering. I think the latter, personally; in a pop culture that oils its wheels ogling women’s bodies, somebody needs to step up and ask those boys how big they are. Flip that sexual entitlement right back around on them. Some of you might say that you can’t fight sexual entitlement with more sexual entitlement, but I think Rihanna would say that ladies are entitled to the good D, and if you can’t bring the good D, back in on outta here, boy. It’s always men with sad dicks who are suddenly all against sexual entitlement and body shaming when women start to talk about their dick preferences. Yeah, Rihanna just came out and said it: she wants the big dick and don’t you dare slut-shame her for it.
The world needs a band that can mimic the sound of corny 70’s era Europop, and isn’t afraid of fingersnaps or gallopy-horse sound effects. The world also needs a sensitive yet witty songwriter who loves English folk music and listens to The Smiths too much. That group is Belle & Sebastian, that songwriter is Stuart Murdoch, and they’ve made their career as the millennial incarnation of twee-pop. That made-up genre title smacks of our culture’s tendency to mock anything that isn’t sweating aggression, but it’s also descriptive of a certain aesthetic type. You know, the self-consciously anti-aggressive too-smart-for-the-mainstream types who wear cardigans and Wellies even when they’re not in the north of England. You’d call them hipsters except that that’s how they really are and they can’t ever be any other way. You (we) know who you (we) are.
Here Lies Love is a record that rewards delving deep. (Why do you think I’m still writing about it so much?) Obviously, it should inspire an interest in learning the history of the Philippines. It’s also a treasure trove of talent to follow up on. Nearly every one of the 22 tracks feature a different vocalist. Some of them you are sure to know of: Cyndi Lauper, Tori Amos, David Byrne. Some were still obscure-ish in 2010 but later became huge huge stars, such as St. Vincent and Sia. Most, however, are under-the-radar artists who don’t get much press, but are worth discovering. This one is Canadian music royalty Martha Wainwright, who is a singer-songwriter in her own wright but doesn’t have all the accolades of her brother. (Hahahaha, see what I did there?) Worth checking her out!