Archive for defiance

55. ‘Entertain’ by Sleater-Kinney (2005)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on July 11, 2010 by G.K. Reid

I miss Sleater-Kinney.  It’s a neat trick to be consistently tearing the world a new one and spitting on human weakness in disgust, yet make it sound so irresistible.  Obviously, I’m on board with them a lot of the time, but I can also often be guilty of what they’re ferociously denouncing.  Such is the case with ‘Entertain’; me being something of an out-and-proud sucker for crap reality TV, I can hardly pretend to not be part of the problem that Carrie and Corin are howling about here.

So what saves Sleater-Kinney from sounding like a bunch of self-righteous, no-fun grouches (aside from the fact that they’re completely on the money?)  Well, for starters, there’s no sanctimony here – it’s genuine anger; the band exist not to lecture, but to liberate themselves.  Despite their targets here being pretty damn easy ones, lyrically the band avoids both cliché and cheap leering.  Mostly though, it’s because their disapproval is so well-mounted, with those explosively intertwining, whip-cracking vocals galvanised by some unruly guitarwork and the reliable vehemence of Janet Weiss’  drums.

In short: COME BACK, GIRLS. WE NEED YOU.

Bonus points: Despite their protestations, I still reckon they’d enjoy a good Coach Trip marathon now and again.

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57. ‘Dirrty’ by Christina Aguilera (2002)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2010 by G.K. Reid

How fortuitous that I’ve just been banging on about the wonderful nonsense that is pop music, only to find that next on my list is this, arguably the most brazenly ludicrous pop event of the decade.  As the above picture succinctly demonstrates, ‘Dirrty’ is a towering specimen of camp self-affirmation, and a no-holds-barred assault on public taste and decency that John Waters would be proud of (oh, if only Xtina weighed 300lbs!)

Aguilera’s claims to independence and self-possession here can easily be dismissed as cliched, but they’re far from disingenuous – ‘Dirrty’ has a real violence of intent and tangible fury embedded within it, strongly evoked by the almost cacophanous force of the production.  That Aguilera figured a noisy embrace of (and insistence upon) sexuality as the key to liberating her from the deathgrip of the Disney Club was arguably as dubious and depressing as it was wholly successful; ‘Dirrty’ provides one hell of a text for feminist debate to pour over.  In response to any criticism, however, I suppose Aguilera can always say: ‘well, that wasn’t me with the shaved head and the umbrella and the parasitical husband and the baby driving the car. I’m just sayin”.

Bonus points: Redman is a strong contender for the ‘Best Guest Rap of the Decade’ award. So many choice lines, but my favourite will probably forever remain: ‘I keep my car lookin’ like a crash dummy drove’‘waiting for Sister to Act, like Lauryn Hill’. ‘We blessed, and hung low, like Bernie Mac (b’nnie mck!)

59. ‘Don’t Tell Me’ by Madonna (2000)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on June 13, 2010 by G.K. Reid

Madonna: Version 12.3

That enigmatic expression in the above photo, as the reigning Pop Icon of the 20th Century stares down the Millenium and her advancing years with a kind of sad, shaky contempt, found its sonic counterpart in this single, which could handily act as Madonna’s entire manifesto: she needs to be here, and be seen, and you could change the laws of nature before you could ever dream of stopping her.

The collaboration with Swedish knob-twiddler Mirwais yielded some or the most truly radical pop music in Madonna’s career. Coming off the back of the lush but self-consciously ‘mature’ work she did with William Orbit on Ray of Light, the Music album saw Madonna reclaim a sense of delirious investment in what she’s doing that had been shelved in favour of critic-wooing. Rather than pontificating vaguely (nigh on sanctimoniously) about love, or her dead mother, or the evils of mankind, the focus is upon Madonna’s own insecurities, and thus she delivers a minor masterpiece like ‘Don’t Tell Me’.  

Mirwais’ jerky, stop-start stylings may infuriate some in their foregrounding of artificiality, but they’re completely in service to a strained/pained vocal that expresses that quality that Madonna so often finds somewhat elusive: i.e. tangible humanity. Madonna’s traded on her brashness and impudence to get where she is, but at a cost; ‘Don’t Tell Me’ exposes the self-doubt that fuels her defiance.

 

Bonus points:  Undaunted by the heinous legacy of Billy Ray Cyrus, Shania Twain and Steps, Madonna dabbles in some linedancing. Let the size of her balls never be questioned.

 

95. ‘Good Luck’ by Basement Jaxx feat. Lisa Kekaula (2003)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on December 8, 2009 by G.K. Reid


One of the best, most emphatic “fuck you”s of the decade, this phenomenally layered track benefits massively from the bruised defiance of Kekaula’s storming vocals.

Bonus points: ‘No…more…lies! No…more…lies! NO…MORE…LIES! Without yooooooooouuuuuu…’