19 January 2010

Modal Nodes: GaGa, Keisha and the Liberation of Early 21st Century Chicky Pop

This notion has been stewing around in my head for quite some time. Modern "Chicky Pop" Music, as I call it has vastly changed in the past decade. Now, today I am considering a very specific genre of Pop Music, one that is comprised primarily of white, blonde females with little lyrical substance and immense popularity. From what once was a sea of identical-sounding, corporate manufactured blondes swooning about missing guys like candy and getting hit another time ten years ago, we've currently morphed into an extremely independent, aggressive variety of girl music. Before I go any further, I want you to watch and listen to this (as if you haven't heard it a dozen times so far this week on your local Top 40 Station):

Is she Keisha or Ke$ha? I don't think it really matters, but this video in particular highlights a lot concerning the current Chicky Pop movement. "TiK ToK" is primarily a song about getting plastered and hooking up with boys who look like Mick Jagger. This is a departure from earlier "innocent" songs by female artists, songs like "Genie in a Bottle" by Christina Aguilera or "I Wanna Love You Forever" by Jessica Simpson are primarily really just garbage songs with cliched cookie-cutter lyrics. Many of these songs from the turn of the century hinged on these girls loving some boy - always in need of male support instead of true independence (Not to say that on the opposite end of the spectrum bands like The Backstreet Boys were any better).

"TiK ToK" is a simultaneous affirmation of this man-less independence as well as helping a foundation of the new drunken trashy chick stereotype that has taken hold in the early 21st-Century (See also as well as 80% of CollegeHumour.com). The assertion and value of exhibiting this kind of trainwreck, hungover image greatly contrasts with the precision media control required to maintain the public's conception of the general epicurean virginity of late 90s Pop Icons such as Britney and Jessica. It's very interesting to see these girls break the bonds of propriety and class to essentially write and sing about some things that would shame some of the most chauvinistic male rock groups. Even Britney's latest single, "3," a song about getting drunk and having threesomes with two dudes is accomplished through inference and innuendo rather of forthright novelty. The raw honesty of "TiK ToK" still astounds me, it captures that late teen/early twenty-year old party girl zeitgeist so accurately it's stunning.

Ke$sha is far from the only girl to sum up this movement. A lot of Fergie (B.E.P.) songs capture this pro-feminine movement in pop ("Lady Humps," as generally retarded as that song is, is incredibly anti-male) as does Katy Perry and of course, the current Queen of Pop, Lady GaGa. I believe to track the past few years however, everything is derived from the following:

That is still the dirtiest video ever made. Ever (This is so true). This was way back in 2002, though (if you'd believe it). This yearning for overtly sexual pop icons rather than girl-next-door-barely-legal, creepy uncle kind of shit took some time to develop. I'd place Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl" as one of the first songs that I couldn't believe was on the radio. I still love every moment of that song and video, but clearly this was not only a girl casually doing something radical but its mega mainstream popularity signaled that most of our populace was actually okay with it. Katy's flirts with lesbianism didn't matter at all really, which was a great signal to shifts in our culture. I wonder what was to blame for that.

Perry ultimately leads to GaGa. I daily can't decide if this woman is brilliant, retarded or a good mix of both. I consider "Just Dance" one of the greatest songs of 2008, if not the Millennium. I said it. It's a completely "in the moment" song with little regard to set-up or consequence. The "Dance" can be seen as an analogue to "play," which brings forth all kinds of religious and philosophical connotations. I tend to think of Finite and Infinite Games by James Carse as one example, in essence GaGa's command to "Just Dance" is to simply play life with a delightful casualness instead of treating it with a very determined serious disposition. There are also Hindu concepts of many dancing gods creating Cosmos through joyful, meaningless dancing, basically that a world full of the random and absurd must have surely been created by an equally thoughtless act. GaGa incorporates all this into a single hook while simultaneously funding her current culture's zeitgeist and changing young women stereotypes and concepts of spiritual and societal independence. Breathtaking.

"Bad Romance" is also a very interesting song, mostly for its innate ability to not be locked down. It's very similar to GaGa herself in that it simply refuses to be categorized or give an easy impression. Both lyrically and rhythmically it's nearly schizophrenic, switching languages, singing styles and concepts rapidly while remaining thematically unified. It builds the idea that GaGa isn't really part of a genre or movement or whatever (although I certainly ascribe her to one here), but is instead simply herself. It's a revolutionary concept that strains against much of what Hollywood and New York attempts to gurgitate to the public. When everything else must be defined or fail (ie Jack Black and Adam Sandler are COMEDIANS, we refuse to accept them as anything else - see King Kong [2005]), GaGa struggles to just be GaGa, a strong departure point in a world full of manufactured, literal American Idols and predictable strives towards mass market filmaking (see AVABAR's broad storyline and retrod characters). Whatever the hell sort of music GaGa and KeSha are making and regardless if I even personally like it or not I'm glad they're making it. It's an incredibly fresh movement, albeit one that should get stale around the 8th time during the day that I hear "TiK ToK" and "Bad Romance" played back-to-back on the radio. Until then, bring it on.

"I would believe only in a god who could dance." - Friedrich Nietzsche

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