Sophie, I love you.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sophie B. Hawkins is one intense lady, and I love her. But she is also a sort of living testament to the fact that a life lived in full adherence to emotional truth inevitably heads towards living with lots of pets, and writing songs about them -- for her, it's all about shadows of life and death, the merging of body and soul, drumming and Virginia Woolf. But for me this is of course an entirely good thing, as I prefer my emotion to be *bluntly* expressed through music.

It's ironic that someone who consistently channels such a sexual energy is probably most well known for the TTfm (as it was then) staple As I Lay Me Down and the Dawson's Creek soundtrack, as well as, of course, the classic Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover, with its famous sleeveless flannel shirt. But running through most of her work is a theme of destructive sexuality -- an evocation of a sexual/spiritual force (of the elemental variety) that can never be fully expressed, and would most likely tear you apart if it could be. Thus the pets. Thus the drums. I don't really have a point here, except that I like my music overblown, and I think Sophie B. is often overlooked. Looking back, her unrestrained and forceful music is quite refreshing. She also had a fight with Sony Music over a banjo, which I think is pretty cool. Try that Delta, Tina and the rest...

Your Madgesty is dead... long live Shakira!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

If one needs any more evidence of Madonna's increasing musical irrelevance, here it is. Celebration is a dud. While theoretically I support her return to dance, this is a track with zero originality -- it could be anyone's track. She doesn't even seem herself in the spoken word sections, normally a Madonna strength. And despite it's celebratory intent, there is no soul. Once again she sounds like she's phoning it in. She makes all the right noises about being yourself, chasing pleasure etc., but she may as well have been recording it from the treadmill, slave to her insatiable work ethic. A sad day this is. I was hoping that after such a setback as Hard Candy, she would be reborn.

Shakira on the other hand has snuck out of hibernation to produce a killer track with a fantastic clip (which echoes Madge's Sorry, as if to emphasise some kind of changing of the guard). She Wolf is disco fun at its best. My hips shake even writing about it. And I love the clip's bizarre concoction of contrary scenes: Shakira gyrating in some kind of glitter womb; her recreation of MJ's Smooth Criminal 'lean forward' move; the bit where she basically detaches her hips in some kind of cage; and her climactic dance solo which evokes early 2000 J.Lo 'house' dance in a thoroughly satisfying way. This is adventurous, progressive and full of soul. Shakira is the new pop innovator.