Friday, May 22, 2009

Songs Wot I Likes At Present

Not a very systematic list, just a couple of things that have been pushing my buttons of late. I will arbitrarily mention two things about each song.

Kyla - Do You Mind (Crazy Cousinz Remix)

The first thing that hooked me into this song is Kyla's vocals. They are so fragile. They remind me of the way one of the members of Girls Aloud sings (not sure which one - the one who does the 'Hello / Did you call me?' line in "Whole Lotta History") - there is a thinness, a trepidation - like the singer's words are a cold little birdie who has fallen out of its nest. Trembling and uncertain, yet at the same time, coquettish. Would you mind if I took you home tonight? If I stayed the whole day, would that be okay? Well, duh, of course it would be alright. What a ridiculous question.

The second great thing - the powerful piano stabs which stand out strong against the otherwise busy dancehall groove. It's like someone has melted down handbag house, thrown away all its inessentials, and left us with its most singular aspect - giant piano. It's very statuesque here - puts the 'monument' in monumental.

You can see the video here.

t.A.T.U. - Fly On The Wall

Ok, so you what you do is take the convention of the love song from the perspective of an obsessive stalker - the touchstone being "Every Step You Take" - and give it the unstoppable, crushing relentlessness of GIANT RUSSIAN TANKS. The little-known fact of the post-Soviet situation is that there are no longer displays of nuclear weaponry and mechanized vehicles on May 1st only because this armature has temporarily decamped to t.A.T.u.'s choruses. And what thoroughness is promised by those uncompromising Russian voices! Not just watching you in the shower, but knowledge of every thought in your mind.

The other great thing about this is that it fits into t.A.T.u.'s overarching lesbi-tragedy narrative. Great bands have narratives about the relationships between their members - ABBA, Fleetwood Mac, No Doubt (that last one is a bit tentative). t.A.T.u., being Russia's biggest pop export, has one too. If you listen across their 'Best Of' album, you can see it unfold: forbidden love and ensuing confusion as the girls, through their transgression, are thrust beyond the bounds of the normative ("All The Things She Said"'); the forging of a new revolutionary ethics ("All About Us", "They're Not Gonna Get Us"); yet more confusion as one of the girls falls for a boy ("Loves Me Not"); a Thermidorian inquest into the motives and consequences of the betrayal ("Friend Or Foe"); then finally, the realisation that the only place this utopian society can exist is in space ("Cosmos").

I guess this timeline makes "Fly on the Wall" the pop version of Stalinist totalitarianism. Dealing with break-ups, KGB (or Stasi)-style: surveillance, monitoring, keeping a very close eye on the subject.

(Thanks to Voyou for putting me onto this song.)

You can hear the song here, replete with a fan video mash-up of their other videos that is surprisingly effectual. In fact, if it doesn't receive a screening at the next Queer Film Festival, I will be disappointed.

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