I'm sick again (not swine), which is making pop less enjoyable. I am however sampling bad morning TV (how sweetly Sunrise dovetails into The Morning Show). Only today I had the pleasure of watching the delightful Samantha Brett (aka Sam and the City) and Melissa Hoyer(fashion gatekeeper) in the one program. Sam Brett was helpfully talking about dating strategies for "desperate 35-year olds". Isn't she, like, 23? These strategies include dating with wine. As part of this expansive examination, she also helpfully referred, straight-faced, to the "Bridget Jones syndrome" in which 35-year-old women become, like, desperate. Her column is bad enough, but seeing her delusions of Sex and the City-style-glamour being lived out visually is so much more painful.
Almost time for Ellen, but I should note that despite my grumpiness, this has made me happy (although it might be one of those viral things that everyone has seen except me):
10 Years Younger in 10 Days is surprisingly hardcore, as if a team of aliens had descended from planet Botox to mold us in their image. For one, it sprinkles low-key cosmetic surgery procedures into an average makeover show (this somehow seems more sinister than Extreme Makeover, which is a bit more up-front about things.) But more bizarrely, it deposits its participants in large perspex boxes, smack-bang in the centre of Circular Quay... to be judged. And then there's Sonia Kruger who emanates a hardcore, gym-buffed, tanned, no-nonsense Sydney socialite vibe.
But there's also a naff element to things. The advisory teams seem a bit... clunky. Lots of awkward silences and uncomfortable laughter. Like they're trying to be either Carson or the horrid Trinny and Sussanah. And the "looks" they create are somewhat kitchen-sink... Whiter teeth, less weight, more tan... pink for the girls, blue for the guys. "Let's bring out your feminine side", and so forth.
And most shockingly, last night the "lack of hair" problem "suffered" by the male participant was solved by shaving off the top plate of his head, and then glueing on a "semi-permanent" hair solution. This reminded me of the unconvincing room makeovers delivered by Changing Rooms -- you always got the sense that the "nautical themed" kids room wouldn't survive a week of real-life living, and nor do you get the sense that a "semi-permanent" hair solution is gonna look quite as permanent in a few weeks time. But seriously, the evil subtext is that it's making botox, eye-lifts and tummy tucks seem as everyday as dye-jobs and a new fringe. Maybe it is a bit of an arbitrary boundary, but stretching the scope of conformist self-recreation to include the body is a bit frightening.
I have officially become one of those crazy-obsessive fans willing to waste resources, endure severe jetlag and compromise career aspirations to follow a star who flogs bed-sheets. KylieNY, here I come!
To be honest, I didn't watch all of it because it does *go on* a bit, and the voting component seems to channel the worst of cumbersome EU bureaucracy. However, the following things seem significant, and, channeling my inner bureaucrat, I will list them using dot points:
The UK sucked. SUCKED. Not only did they actually bring the ghoulish Andrew Lloyd Webber on stage, but the Diane Warren-penned lyrics lazily repeated 'It's My Time' ad nauseam. Eurovisionis your time? Because if it was, you sucked! Neither elegant or pleasingly tacky.
Greece seemed to thrust a lot in white pants, which was unsettling. But the giant stapler thing was pretty cool.
The German had shiny pants that made him seem like he was floating. The sexual tension with Dita Von Teese seemed unconvincing.
But enough with the foreplay, because 2009 was all about the Ukraine! Seriously, this performance seemed to answer some deep, long hidden longing for a certain kind of pop magic that I never knew could feel so good. Let's break it down. Industrial props, homoerotic centurions -- the best of William Baker, Ukraine style! A suspiciously plastic and utterly disposable singer -- amazing! Upside down singing (at 2.14) -- transcendent! But the bit where it truly soared was when the singer, of doubtful musical ability, started banging the drums, while being wheeled on a platform by the aforementioned homoerotic centurions, surrounded by Ukrainian flags andflames. I almost jumped off the couch. Amazing.
A pleasing evening of trash-dance at Tim's last night. Highlights included the dance remix of Don't Cry For Me Argentina ("this is the gayest song ever", cried a bystander), Xtina's jaunty Come on Over, and Mariah's Heartbreaker. The highlight was of course the epic, 9 minute Freemasons' mix of The One. Sustained pleasure.
I know I'm fuelling the fire here, but oh how she irritates... I'm not sure why, but her creative flourishes just come across as brattish. Perhaps underneath it all I'm just angry that I'm not Lady GaGa... could it be? No.
A weekend of intense Love My Wayviewing was perhaps not the wisest of moves. Now all roads seem to lead towards loss and painful self-evaluation. Although on the up-side, this is to apparently occur in beautiful Sydney cliff-top real estate, at great rental rates, in the perpetual summer that is Australian TV with designs on the export market.
It was strange, Love My Way. It made me *feel* things. So much so that, at key moments, I had to embark on little mini-projects, such as reading The Guardian auto section, until these uncomfortable sensations subsided. While it is obviously very uncomfortable to feel feelings (shudder... push.... down), it is even more uncomfortable to write about them, so, for this reason, I thought it appropriate to re-examine one of the most meaningless, yet pleasing, pieces of recent pop.
DanniiMinogue, Love Fight.
Love Fight is notable for two things. Firstly, its welcome revival of naughty-patient, dirty-doctor themes, and secondly, its deft excavation of the fraught intersection between eroticism and violent physicality. Never quite answering the question of what a "Love Fight" actually is, Dannii instead trawls through a serious of erotic vignettes: "teacher teacher, I'm the student now"; "heavy petting always makes me feel/ like I'm Lois with the Man of Steel"; "Doctor, doctor..." etc. This is very much in the Minogue tradition of Carry-On sexuality ("nod, nod, wink, wink"). But it's the epic chorus that lifts this flimsy concept higher. One can almost feel the moment at which Dannii would ascend to the tabletop at QBH for some bump'n'grind, as the chorus peaks and everything veers upwards. Very much of the "throw it all in", "more is more" production philosophy that also seems to have steered Dannii's facial fengshui. And what wonderful results all round. I miss the summer of Love Fight...
OMG. WTF. Kylie is touring the US!! I never thought it would happen. Shockingly, her hardcore American gay fan-base will finally be able to see their queen. Finally sub-standard US pop tarts will get a glimpse of true pop art (take that GaGa). Somehow, no matter what, I'm seeing her in NYC. In honour:
UPDATE: Cute US Today show appearance. Surprisingly candid about not being financially sensible to tour the States.
The Logies are always tragic, but I watched, and I feel I must comment. Briefly. I love you Gretel, and it was great to have you back on TV. Your hair looked great too. But unfortunately you didn't do well -- this truly is the curse of the Logies. Perhaps it's the stilted pre-scripted humour? Where was your bite? You certainly seemed bitter, but not in a pleasing way...
In summary: the fashion was shiny; Annie Lennox was scary; Rove was annoying; Rebecca Gibney looked refreshed; Sigrid Thornton looked frightening; Rachel Griffiths seems difficult; Crown is an inevitably trashy venue; too much Underbelly; NatBass looked OK but Joan Collinsesque in her stage gear; lots of overly earnest Home and Away starlets... BUT, this was amusing:
For some reason Kylie can't stop touring. Perhaps, as some would speculate, she's deferring the inevitable post-tour void that awaits self-obsessed, control-freak superstars (not my words or theory, I should add). Speaking of, Madonna's also sending Sticky & Sweet out on the road again, which means that a bad album (Hard Candy) is getting not one, but two tours in its honour, possibly because Madge doesn't quite know what to do with herself.
Watching stadium artists play at festivals (K's playing at the "Ischgl Festival," whatever the hell that is. It seems to be in a ski resort. On a mountain) is a bit like seeing peacocks plucked of their beautiful, shiny feathers. The lighting's always a bit unflattering, the stage a bit low-rent, and there's generally no floating video-screens and descending glitter skulls. Which explains K's somewhat bodgy "big reveal" (I see you dancers!) But I love the new costume, sleazy sunglasses and all. And she looks great, and seems in good voice. So yay to more touring. And after the build up to Homecoming, and the question of whether she could tour at all, it is quite heartening that she's travelled the world with KylieX2008 and still doesn't feel like stopping.
I just read the EG piece on GaGa properly, and eh, she is irritating. I feel like she doesn't quite understand the concepts she's playing with, but you can never pin her down on it because, according to the logic she claims to be using, so what if she understands it or not -- whatever *it* is becomes meaningful once we start viewing it as meaningful, etc. Key points:
'All music is inspired by sex. It's the primal rush and instinct and the insatiable need for orgasm and procreation. Isn't that why we're all here? Love and sex are the only reason to make art.'
'I want to transform the ideas into something simple that everybody can understand. I don't want to shock to the point of confusion or molest the audience. I want them to feel free and that they are a part of my exhibition, not at its mercy.'
Even though The Age might have stepped into line and started fawning over Lady Gaga as the 'First Lady of Pop', something good is nonetheless happening to music right now. And the locus of this rebirth has to be Taylor Swift. Seriously. I was so skeptical at first, but now I really do believe... in her talents as a lyricist, her high-concept revisitations to the schoolyard, her stage charisma, as well as her high quality twittering, which is much more evolved than, for example, Miley Cyrus' constant preaching ('Jesus Christ loves YOU'). Does this not break your heart? My only gripe is with her slightly unhealthy idealisation of marriage, but this is perhaps a mandatory aspect of being a country artist.
Also very much enjoying the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs, which is almost pornographically melodic, and with a lovely melancholic bent. A bit late to the party with this one, but also liking Lykke Li, who provides another link within the pleasing Scandinavian musical nexus (Lykke Li>Royksopp>Robyn>The Knife>Jenny Wilson). And speaking of, I hear that Robyn has begun working on her new album with a tentative Snap and Technotronic influence. This is, of course, amazing, but I was actually hoping for more of a Colette influence... And as if I needed more evidence that the musical stars are aligned, now they're playing Babooshka on Rage.