Sunday, December 15, 2013
SKEETWOOD MAC. Fleetwood Mac mashed up with hip hop. Rhiannon & Rihanna. 2 Chainz vs. The Chain! Q: Could there be anything better in the world? A: No, no there couldn't. This series by The Melker Project has been around for a while but it is still amazing and I love it. Also, no one in my real life gets it. When I meet the person who fully appreciates the wondrous, hilarious musical perfection that is this series I will have met my soul mate.
Beyoncé! More qualified people than me have spent the weekend slaving over their think pieces, I'm sure we'll see them hit the webz in the next week, but phwoar? That's my initial critical opinion for you. Bey is looking good. The styling on ***Flawless in particular is amazing (as is Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche's monologue of course). Joan, Jourdann and Chanel on Yoncé - three of the biggest black models working right now and Beyoncé holds her own. Grillz! I want some. I have never been interested in the power ballads so a big chunk of the album is inevitably lost on me but there are some great party hits. I've been singing Grown Woman all weekend. [N.B. Links are to Tumblr where the full length videos have been proliferating since Friday.]
I don't really have anything to say about the way that Beyoncé has released this album - she has always been a master of self-publicising and the secret aspect doesn't really interest me. The 17 videos slightly depresses me though maybe? Is it hopelessly passé and outmoded to wish that music was slightly more about music and slightly less about image? I understand that pop music specifically has always been image conscious and Beyoncé & co. have always traded on their images but this seems like the climax of the current Bey/Gaga/Rihanna trend of music as spectacle/visual and I'm basically over it. (If I was ever under it). The music feels almost beside the point here because we have 17 videos of Beyoncé's beautiful perfect face and her beautiful perfect body and great clothes and make up and so very much writhing to shove into our eyeballs. Maybe that is what we want? Beyoncé is nothing if not savvy and she's probably just catering to consumer demand but can't we demand more of her than her arse?
Which brings me onto my second issue with the whole circus - SEX. She is the biggest pop star in the world (I think that is fair to say? 1D & Bieber et al. can get back to me in ten years once they've proved their staying power), surely she doesn't have to be quite so reliant on soft core (and less soft core) porn? Why is it all so explicit? [Man, all of this is making me sound like a grumpy old man.] Pop is a youth genre and so so many of her fans must be teenagers and young girls and she makes a big show of being an icon and a strong woman and a pseudo earth mother figure to her fans and yet she is so aggressively naked and sexualised in so many of these videos. Let's talk about Partition. I hate that eleven year olds are watching their icon literally behind bars, basically naked and gyrating for a male gaze.
[Aside no.1 re Partition - why is everyone wearing those diamante bras? They look amazingly uncomfortable.] [Aside no.2 re Partition - He 'Monica Lewinsky-ed all on (her) gown'?? That doesn't make sense - if anything he 'Bill Clinton-ed all on her gown'. Monica Lewinsky didn't jizz on her own dress. I could read into this Freudian slip (?) almost forever - there are essays on women and sex to be extrapolated from this single line.]
I know that Beyoncé isn't at the front of the pack when it comes to unbelievably overt sexuality in pop music (hey there RiRi, Pour It Up was certainly something) but she must have one of the youngest audiences and she casts herself as a wholesome figure and feminist icon in a way that Rihanna never does. It just feels so hypocritical to me, hypocritcal and crotch-tastic. Beyoncé/The Visual Album is exciting and beautiful and I am going to dance happily to a bunch of the tracks on it but it also exacerbates my issues with Beyoncé, her image and self presentation, best summarised by AHP months ago.
Anyway, rant over. Thoughts and feelings, yes; coherence, no. What are your opinions on Beyoncé? Everyone has opinions. That's why this whole stunt worked.