HUMP DAY GRAB BAG: Alternative Alternatives

August 25, 2010

By Max

NOT TO BE A HUGE JERK, but there’s This Pop Singer Who Is Really Famous Right Now and kind of bumming me out. I don’t want to shit-talk cause it’s a total waste of time, but it’s gotten to the point in my life where when people mention how much they love this singer, I feel deep pangs of personal guilt, because it means that the person I’m talking to and I are fundamentally disagreeing on some things. It’s like how in the early 00s (‘member?) sometimes you’d be at a soccer game or the supermarket or a PTA meeting and someone would say nonchalantly that they had voted for Bush, and it would just send up a red flag? It feels like that.

The thing that bugs me about This Pop Singer Who Is Really Famous Right Now is that she purports to be something of a Performance Artist. Now, I’m not going to say that Pop Music and Performance Art are mutually exclusive, but I will say that the kind of Pop Music this singer is making is absolutely antithetical to the goals of performance art. According not only to my, but in fact anybody’s definition of performance art. Performance Art necessarily means something that is expressed / transmitted via (you guessed it!) PERFORMANCE. This Singer’s work is almost always mediated through studio magick, the radio, MTV, YouTube, Fashion Photography, Twitter, etc. It’s deliberately a kind of Art that doesn’t need to be performed live, since it’s readily accessible. Just saying. So when I am getting bugged out about this I figure I can either rage against the dying of the light (incorrect use whatever) or I can offer some alternative to This Pop Singer Who Is Really Famous Right Now. So let’s do that.


Maybe you already know about her. The thing with This Pop Singer Who Is Really Famous Right Now is that she often claims that the biggest misconception about her is that she’s fake, that she’s artificial, and she wants you to know that she is Always Glamorous, Always In Drag, and very Real. OK I’ll bite: BULLSHIT. This video for the title track from Murphy’s second solo album Overpowered plays with a similar idea, in a much more interesting way (I think). The premise of the video is that Murphy’s stage persona never comes off, that she wears her ultra-bizarre high fashion outfit (Courtesy of Gareth Pugh– Murphy was wearing Pugh long before Kylie, Rihanna, BeyoncĂ©, and the Pop Singer In Question) in cafes, on the bus, etc. as a way of juxtaposing the artificial with the real. It makes an interesting comment on the nature of celebrity culture and beauty. Oh also, this came out in 2007.


HAD TO GO THERE. The thing about Kylie Minogue is that she’s world-famous everywhere except for the USA. In most of Europe, she’s more famous than Madonna. Madonna has, for those Europhiles (and American Fags) who have been keeping track, been ripping off Kylie for decades. SO while This Pop Singer Nowadays rips off Madonna, she’s actually not even citing the Minogue sources. The almost-Goth, sort of vaguely “dark” aesthetic that This Pop Singer employs was much better used, again in 2007, by Kylie in the video for “2 Hearts”. Other than the fact that this song and video are excellent, the fact that the shiny skull is a reference to Alexander McQueen, the skull itself was actually a symbol of triumph. When this video came out, it was the lead single from Kylie’s “comeback” album X. Comeback, I mean, from breast cancer. Kylie has an authentic right to glamorize the macabre because unlike the Pop Singer Nowadays, who’s whole shtick is utterly devoid of anything involving “the real world” or “obscurity”, when Kylie released this video, singing into a skull microphone, she has just beaten Death. Top that.


It’s no secret that I love Grace Jones. I listen her every single day and she is a totally guiding force in my life. It is with no small amount of disappointment that I continually see This Pop Singer referencing her work. Grace Jones’ eccentricity is best exemplified by the video above (total. personal. anthem.) Unlike the current Pop Singer, who equates randomness and embellishment with intellectual weight, this video shows Grace in what appears to be her natural habitat, running from Keith Haring’s studio to the wardrobe closet to the chiropractor. The message here is that even with this totally unsustainable, unreal level of glamour, she is able to look directly to the camera and sing a love song. The layers of artifice serve to create a distance which the song’s message ostensibly crosses, rather than simply mask the singer’s face. Grace wants you to know that you and her are meant to be.


Look, one of the things that I don’t understand about This Pop Singer, is how she simultaneously seems to be singing about her “feelings” while denying any trace of actual human emotion. She is bloodless. Does pop music have to be this way? Not if Robyn has anything to say about it. The marriage of a human heart and a dance beat may sound strange on paper, but with Robyn it makes perfect sense.


Thought it’d be nice to have a non-girl, non-superstar in the mix. Toronto’s Diamond Rings proves that you can do really cool interesting pop music without a multimillion dollar budget. Look, even Kathleen Hanna is a fan. That ought to be enough. This video is really cool and proves that really, real people can and do succeed at aspiring to glamour and art. Who needs a custom haute couture outfit? Just put a sexy kid in a Karl Lagerfeld t-shirt. Signify, baby. This is what postmodernism ACTUALLY looks like.

So whatever. These are some things you can listen to and watch instead. Check them out.

Stay dry, America. Stay motherfucking dry.


RIP Corey Haim Hump Day Grab Bag

March 10, 2010

By Tatyana

It’s strange. I recently made an off-handed comment about how the music industry has lost more greats than the motion picture industry, and then snarkily suggested that the motion picture industry kill off some of their greats. Then lo and behold, 2 days later Corey Haim bites the dust. First of all, I’m not necessarily saying Corey Haim is a great. He is an… all right? (RIP Corey Haim). Second of all, this is not the first time that I’ve accidentally willed a celebrity to die. I have been known to randomly mention actors the day before they keel. This guy knows what I’m talking about.

The response on the internet is, as usual, incredibly profound.

I would be lying if I said I knew much about Corey Haim. My childhood was devoid of the pop culture that informs most of the party jokes of my peers, as I was only allowed to watch a handful of movies–usually based on books featuring scrappy, but well-mannered Victorian girls– or retrospectively terrifying PBS shows.


Sometimes, if I was lucky, my grandma would encourage me to write letters to Barbara Bush about how much I loved to read.

Something else Barbara Bush and I have in common.

It was only recently that I even watched the Lost Boys for the first time!

Obviously, it’s always very sad for anyone who loses a Corey too soon, and RIP Corey Haim. But this whole thing really got me thinking about the teen pop culture of the generation just before ours, or maybe that of our older brothers or sisters, and how now all of those celebrities are old. Remember the John Hughes tribute at the Oscars? Maybe you didn’t catch it because the Botoxed skin of the Brat Pack was reflecting the diamond broadcasts a little too brightly. How terrifying was that? Anyway, that was a bit of a nail in the coffin for the genre of sentimental 1980s movies. Sorry about your feelings, Ally Sheedy. Sorry about your face, Molly Ringwald.

So RIP Corey Haim, and RIP all of us eventually. Nobody’s forever young. Except of course for these guys.

Happy Holidays Hump Day Grab Bag

December 23, 2009

By Tatyana

Ho ho ho, amiright? Here we are, T-minus 2 days until the nondenominational celebration of Christmas, which everyone all over the world celebrates unless they are terrorists. I’m guessing that anyone who is at an office right now has either stopped working about a week ago or is busily trying to undo any holiday party mishaps with some straight up busy beaver work performances. Hint: it’s not sexual harassment if it happens for Christmas –Your Boss. In any case, since we’re all looking to juice up our holiday spirit like the male cast members of Jersey Shore, my Hump Day Grab Bag is themed “holiday steroids to make your Christmas muscles throb with only minimal ball shrinkage.” (What? Ew.)

Nothing embodies the spirit of Christmas like Christmas music, which represents the corny, the annoying, the amazing, the body, the blood, the holy ghost, etc etc etc. Somehow at midnight on Thanksgiving a giant spirit reindeer hooves a button in the sky and any radio station, store, and phone line that does not immediately play Christmas music is promptly strangled by tinsel or choked by chestnuts (which, coincidentally is is the name of my new holiday album). In all likelihood, the way you handle Christmas music is the way you handle Christmas– either you bite the bullet and embrace the tiny morsels of joy that you extract with your giant yule tweezers from the flaming pile of fruitcake cake shit that is the holiday season, or you whine about how the holidays are for consumerist clowns and you make everyone miserable. Rolling on with this delightful metaphor, here are my favorite golden shit nuggets of holiday jams.

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All Points West, Day 1

August 1, 2009

by Tommy


I have to make this quick cos I’m leaving for Day 2 in like negative five minutes. They day started out promising enough, I.E. dry. The ferry from Bowling Greene to Liberty Park only made me want to throw up for like the first five minutes. I made some Wayne’s World jokes (“if yr gonna spew, spew into this…) and all was well.

For the record, this is my first music festival, so Wilkes and I entertained ourselves for a bit just walking around and getting free shit (little tubes of cherry lip balm at the H&M booth [which the vendor kept shouting were “H&M suppositories!!!”], deliciously refrigerated Twix bars, hors d’oeuvres in the VIP tent [cos we go like that]). And then it started to rain. You can read about our plastic pancho purchase here (the press follows us wherever we go).


Made it to Ra Ra Riot. They are babes. Read the rest of this entry »

Birdsong Micropress Presents: Hump Day!

July 25, 2009


The prefect cure for humpday doldrums, come see rising alt-country star PAPS play Second Stop Cafe!

with opening salvo readings by various members of the Birdsong Collective.

hosted by Tommy Pico

Wednesday, July 29th 8pm
Second Stop Cafe,
524 Lormier Street
at the Corner of Lorimer and Ainslie, a couple blocks off the Lorimer L stop
Free! Come!

Why So Brown, Emo Kid?: Miami S’nice

May 21, 2009

by ultramaricon

My flog this week is a report live from Miami, except not live because it was last weekend. The point is I had a good time in my hometown and that never happens. Here are the highlights in the form of 3-5 plugs for places and peoples who are all together bringing hipster joy to downtown MIA.

I’m a week into one of my twice annual trips to the Cuban family enclave in Miami, during which time I do a lot of whatever this is:

I call it hipster guajiro.  Take it home.

I call it hipster guajiro. Take it home.

This time, though, I had to roll off the beach for a sec to deliver a gift of recycled-object jewelry to my friend Raffa from one of her fans (my roommate, her sister). In seeking her out I landed in the radical thick of a funtimes hipster scene full of nerds, talent and vintage eyewear finally taking root in my hometown.

I was terribly psyched, because I grew up in a Miami whose nightlife was all velvet-rope douchebaggery. Indyqueerbabies like me tried to make the best of chain coffee shops and fleeting goth/punk nights (sofla peeps, let’s get some Old Times going in the comments?!). Inspired by all the blossoming of hipster fauna I seem to have missed while I was away at college, I decided to turn the gift delivery into a weekend-long Miami hipster reconnaissance mission for birdsong.

The following is a bit stranger in a strange land (which speaks more to my coolness cluelessness than the scene itself, cause it’s f’reals), but here is a heads up and some linkage from one weekend in MIA’s indy scene.

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