Tag: gaga

Gaga, Spears and Avril in a Time of Devastation

by on Dec.14, 2013

hwy36This is what the houses look like on the way to my house. Last week I returned home after being displaced for three months due to the September floods in Colorado. Undoing the devastation is both an ongoing and perpetually deferred process.

In the meantime I can confirm that Britney Spears’ new album is better than Avril Lavigne’s and Lady Gaga’s combined.

This is not to say the Gaga album is bad. It’s a mixed bag but so is Madonna’s Like a Prayer, with three transcendent hits (“Like a Prayer,” “Express Yourself,” “Cherish”) obscuring all the sap and filler. There’s nothing here approaching the gradeschool rapture of “Like a Prayer,” but when Gaga’s just being an emotional psychosexual weirdo instead of indulging in art pop self-reflexivity it’s great. That’s really where it’s at for her. Her performance of “You and I” at the 2011 VMAs (for example) is one of the most confident pop performances I’ve ever seen. It’s not as iconic as Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” performance at the first VMAs in 1984 or MJ introducing the moonwalk to this planet at the height of “Billie Jean” during Motown’s 1983 TV special, but it’s just as legit. This is an image artist at the top of her class. Here Gaga split-personifies a spurned lover with the face of a pubescent Ralph Macchio. Everything about this is real:

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Bieber, the Stains and the triumph of the false pretender

by on Mar.01, 2011

Over at Big Other, the marvelous Tim Jones-Yelvington wrote first a response to the Bieber movie, Never Say Never, that wonderfully captures the uneasy desire the film and its subject invoke; and second, a review of sorts. He pretty much articulates my own responses to the film: euphoria, confetti!, realization.

I don’t think the Biebs’ performance of nonsexuality is as much the same-old as Tim and other critics have said — in general I think any kneejerk dismissal of repetition and difference in celebrity cycles is unfortunate — Gaga’s “just copying” Madonna, Bieber is this moment’s Backstreet Boys — it’s all the same, no it isn’t. Cintra Wilson in her essay collection A Massive Swelling: Celebrity Re-Examined as a Grotesque Crippling Disease discusses boy bands and “the unhealthy love of rock stars by little girls,” pointing to the “amorphous nonsexuality” of the Monkees as the crucial difference between then and now, where teen stars are “possessed of a mature, diabolically supercharged megasexuality.” “Now” for Wilson’s book is 2001; now, ten years later, post-Britney/Backstreet/nSync, teen pop megasexuality is pretty much boring, and Bieber’s nonerotic loving fits in well with our cultural moment of Twilight abstinence porn. In his first piece, Tim writes, “And the climax of this infomercial will be when I remember I have no sexual interest in Justin Bieber whatsoever” — and then imagines fucking Justin’s biological dad, rewriting the asexual narrative. Likewise, plenty of Bieber fans rewrite the asexual narrative in their own ways, just as Twilight fans have done.

Others are content to express romantic nonsexual desire, which tends to involve marriage — which for these girls generally means ownership. At one point in the film the camera locks in on a particular group of fangirls arguing over who’s going to marry Justin first. When one of them, obviously the most powerful in the group at least in this territory, claims it — “No, you’re not, I’m going to be Justin’s first wife” — the others shut up and sort of smile in uneasy support/defeat. If the film shows quite clearly that Justin’s priorities are, unsurprisingly, hardly romantic, it also highlights the ways in which his Beliebers are pretending. The screaming, the crying, the unhealthy love and simulation of desire: all obligatory aspects of the role of the committed and competitive megafan.

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another music video with unicorns and rainbows

by on Feb.28, 2011

Shearon Van Riggins’ unofficial video for MEN’s “Who Am I To Feel So Free” ft. Antony:

here’s the official video:

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