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Wizened Old Crone Rages Against the Hits Machines…. 4, September 2006

Posted by babychaos in General Wittering, Grumpy Old Bag, Play.
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Today I will be mostly talking about my complete inability to tie in with the current popular zeitgeist or principally, what am I missing in the music of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Shakira, Beyonce et al? Why don’t I like it? Why do I squirm when I have to sit through one of their videos…. Am I turning into a curmudgeonly old git, chanelling the spirit of Mary Whitehouse, homophobic or just plain old jealous?

So I have been trying to work out why the divas get so badly on my tits, they’re young, successful and they’ve got fabulous Aretha-level voices. Many women admire these ladies for being sassy, sexy and succeeding in an industry which is still very male orientated. This, they have done. More power to ‘em. They have also succeeded using the oldest trick in the book, sex. Again, more power to ‘em. But instead of honestly acknowledging this, they appear to be in denial. They’re feminists they say. Yer right. They’re not boosting their exposure by exposing their boobs. Yer right. They’re doing women like me a favour aren’t they? Yer right. In a nutshell, they’re not honest. Ok so reason number one, they’re delusional and I hate that.

They may be great manipulators but they have talent too so what’s wrong with me? Why can’t I admire them like so many other women do? Then again if you’ve got a superb Aretha style voice why sing so much dross? If you want to be taken seriously as a musician, write some seriously good music or find somebody else who can – sometimes they do but not consistently. Then there’s the content. Sing about something other than how everybody wants to shag you – more songs like Christina Aguilera’s Beautiful – and sing it on video with a little more than your bra and pants on. Accept what you do and that you’re good at it, don’t pretend to be something else. If you genuinely are deep the only way you will convince your fans is to stop doing all your gigs dressed as a hoowar, stop singing about how everybody wants to shag you or what a great lay you are and sing words that mean something… Actually you might get away with it if you’re utterly honest, the way punk bands are – Christina Aguilera almost does. Warning genuine punk attitude requires a brain.

Reason number two then, squandered or unrealistic use of talent?

Do you remember the Cher song “do you believe in love”? There’s a bit in there where they put her voice through some kind of synthesiser and played the notes she was going to sing. Cher can sing and she left it in there because she liked the hooty owl like effect. I hate it (Sorry Cher). I read somewhere that you can use this to tweak people’s intonation and have also read that you can put a pitch perfect voice though this thing to imbue it with the same hooty quality. What is this thing? Is it reverb? Let’s call it a phlanger – thank you Mr Martin. Well it’s got to the point where it’s used on every single song by every single multi-million dollar broad apart from Madonna. Think Hips Don’t Lie and Christina A’s latest. It’s like bloody synn drums. ‘Remember those? They appeared on every single blummin’ disco record in the early 80s and not forgetting that annoying cow bell tinky thing in Witney Houston’s “I wanna dance with somebody” which appeared, ditto in every single late 80s trash-pop song. Enough already ladies! Switch it off! Cher did the hooty thing. Years ago. If I want to listen to hooting I’ll buy a sodding owl.

Reason number three, overt phlanging.

Ok so you listen to the record on the radio and it’s catchy, a little bit over-slick on production maybe but we can give ‘em some slack, the words are the same old anodyne schtick but they’re not too offensive and you even find yourself humming it as you do the hoovering albeit, like Agadoo, against your will… And then you watch the video which is squarely aimed at the Kleenex brigade and you think ewwww……

So as a lady… (use Little Britain voice) what am I supposed to get out of watching another lady with a great bod and not much on doing a lot of humping and grinding? I mean, I don’t get off on girls so it’s not like I can sit there and have a quiet J-Arthur with the boys is it? Does that mean I’m uncomfortable with my own sexuality and if it does, how come I am perfectly relaxed with my gay friends – male and female? Am I supposed to admire the buns of steel and the finely honed tum? Where am I supposed to look? What am I supposed to do with my hands? As a woman, who isn’t a lesbian, what they are trying to say to me? Yeh yeh, I know sex sells and I guess if you’ve got a great bod you’re foolish not to use it but in another sense it’s like doing a filthy stand-up set. It may go down well but it doesn’t necessarily prove you’re funny.

So number four… exclusion. Why the hell should I praise and admire somebody who’s ignoring me…. except to gloat that is?

Which leads me to my final grumble. Guilt. Guilt at the reaction they provoke in me. They’re only kids, they’re doing all their growing up in public in front of millions of people. That’s hard for anyone. And the reason they are singing about how they’re sexier and sassier and a better lay than any other woman in the entire world – in their spangly sequinned bras and pants – is because inside they’re just as scared as the rest of us that it might not be true. It’s difficult learning to be comfortable with who you are and how you look but it must be nigh on impossible with the whole world watching. So when I next watch Shakira’s video with Mr BC and I’m getting annoyed by the hooting thing, or when some other leggy vocally enhanced (needlessly I might ad) lady is writhing about with not much on and I’m wondering whether I should just strip down to my bra and pants and get up there with her. When I don’t know how I should react or where to look and am wondering whether I should hand him a box of Kleenex and leave the room, I should have a bit more of a heart. Really I should.

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