Regalia

This is my second favorite Savoir Adore song. Dreamers is obviously the best Savoir Adore song, but this deserved to have been almost as popular. It sounds like the 80’s, which I’m a sucker for, as you well know. This would be great for the soundtrack of some ridiculously peppy TV show. Heck, it would be great in a commercial. Since those two things are the new modern measures of success in the pop world, and also the main avenue for artists to earn a living nowadays. But both of those things have probably already happened. I wouldn’t know.

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Reflektor

This is a song for speeding through the Texas prairie at 100 miles per hour in a black muscle car, in the dark of night. The shrubbery whips past and there isn’t a single light to be seen on any horizon. The rhythm is propulsive but you feel a sense of stillness. You’re suspended in space and time. Time may be a flat circle, but Texas is a globe you can circumnavigate indefinitely. Your dog is snoozing in your lap and you’re in love with the drive, though only as much as the money he spends on you. At four minutes and 50 seconds in, David Bowie enters to remind you, for the nth time, that there is no resurrector. It’s September 9, 2013 the world premier of Arcade Fire’s soon-to-be hit single, brought to you by Sirius XM satellite radio. It’s one of the most unforgettable moments of synthesis between music and sensory experience, completely undrugged, for once, a memory to take to your deathbed. The rest of the album is pretty good, too. End of story.

Recover

The pop scene moves at blazing speeds nowadays, what with the instant gratification culture of the internet, the social media news cycle, etc. So timespans of only a few years begin to feel like decades stretching forwards and back toward infinity. 2013 feels like a life cycle ago, but it was practically yesterday. Time is a flat pancake, is it not? I discovered a lot of new things in 2013, because that was the year I listened to the radio a lot. So when you discovered the same things two years later, I can confidently say that I’ve known about those things for ages, just ages and ages, like eons of geological time. Ahem.. I was listening to Chvrches before they became well known. Four years ago. Do you know how many fruit flies have lived and died in that timespan?

R U Mine?

As promised, I’ve made an effort to learn more about the Arctic Monkeys. Since some of you like them so much. And I have to admit that I’ve come to regret that time I didn’t stick around to see them play at ACL. I mean, I’m sure that whomever I did end up seeing that day was much better, but I was right there and if I’d stayed I probably would have been converted right then and there, instead of several years later. Anyway, they’re a rock band, in the unpretentious classic sense of writing songs on guitar, and this is a rock song. The title is a either a millennial colloquialism or a Prince homage.

Put a Light On

Here’s another indie radio favorite, complete with a video that belongs in a time capsule of 2013 hipster aesthetics. The images of a dude smashing a television in an alleyway aren’t trying to say anything. They just look cool in slow motion. Totally average looking people in normal clothes look cool in slow motion. Everyday activities look cool in slow motion. Everything looks cool and nothing is meaningful. Welcome to #HipsterBait. The band in this case is Generationals. They’re two scruffy white guys from New Orleans and they’re indistinguishable from every other electro-indie pop duo in the world. They made a pretty good album. You should check them out.

Purple Yellow Red and Blue

This has to be one of my favorite hits in recent memory. I think about this song when I go to ride the subway. It’s so indelibly catchy and it should have been on every radio on the planet 2013. As it was, it was only on indie radio and most of you probably don’t know Portugal. The Man from Portugal the geographic location. But you should. (They just released a new album a few days ago, which I’ll get back to you on.) The world needs more ironic club kid anthems like this one. It’s upbeat as fuck, but it speaks to The Way We Live Today, or rather a specific subset of young adults whose personal aesthetic and hashtag lifegoals were formed by Paris Hilton’s sex tape. There’s no higher aspiration than a well documented joyless performance of the act of partying. Because Millennials, amirite? It’s a little disturbing and once again begs the question what is reality and is it even worth experiencing without chemical and technological filters?

Pour It Up

Are you ready for some very NSFW stripper exploits with your girl Rihanna? After you fap to the video, we can have a debate about the delicate intersection of sexual exploitation, body politics, and artistic liberty. In a word, Rihanna has produced a strip club anthem for the ages, and she doesn’t hold back on the imagery. People of delicate sensibilities may find this offensive. Some may want to slut-shame the singer for exposing herself in this way. Some may hold it up as a gross example of the overall pornificiation of popular culture and its seemingly unbreakable habit of dehumanizing women. Those are all valid arguments; we have indeed reached a saturation point where the aesthetics of pornography permeate the mainstream, and it’s mostly geared to the gratification of the male gaze, at the expense of female performers; and some of the worst examples of exploitation and objectification occur at the upper echelons of pop music. All of which, I’m sure Rihanna is well aware of. She’s a performer whose success allows her control over her image, and it’s unlikely that anyone tells her how to present herself. That she’s chosen to show herself as, in the words of pearl-clutchers, ‘little better than a common pole dancer’ is a self aware move, and a show of solidarity. Being a pop star isn’t all that different from being a stripper; it may be degrading or empowering, depending on what you make of it, but all it comes down to people throwing money at you in return for a fantasy. Another point, too often ignored in these debates, is that for women of color, there are not that many avenues towards the good life, and they often find themselves making choices that white women don’t have to. Strip club culture is in many ways black culture, just as criminal culture is intertwined with black culture, as a necessity and a result of outsider status. For many dancers, a few hours of getting naked is worth going home with a few thousand dollars cash, and separating yuppie douchebags from money earned sitting down is its own kind of empowerment. It’s merely turning to your advantage all of the forces that are supposed to be working against you, it’s rising up when you’re supposed to be kept down.

The lesson of Rihanna’s song may be that though critics have often dismissed her and shamed her for being provocative, she is not ashamed. No, when you compare her to a stripper, she is proud.