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March 12, 2005 2:26 AM   Subscribe

Galang-alang-alang-a. (insane, 18MB QuickTime music video)
[MusicFilter] Cranking out music somewhere between hip-hop, electronica, Nintendo cartridges, and reggae, 27-year-old Maya Arulpragasam is getting a lot of attention for the results of tinkering with one box. M.I.A. (her stage name) dresses in garish flourescents like it's 1983, dances like no one's watching, and is making waves all around the critic-o-sphere. [RS|NYT|Eye|pm|pfm|New Yorker|CBC] Want a sample? The video for "Galang" takes her grattifi-esque art, animates it, and mashes it all together with her, um, unusual style of dance, for a music+video experience that is hard to forget. Is M.I.A. redefining the world of 21st century global pop... or is it just crap?   (via WG)
posted by blacklite (118 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Just crap. And, if you want garage, Tinchy Stryder.
posted by Jeff_Larson at 2:36 AM on March 12, 2005


Ummm.... I mean grime, of course. It's been a long night.
posted by Jeff_Larson at 2:36 AM on March 12, 2005


Wow, women wear actual clothes in music videos from other countries! Think that sort of thing will catch on in the United States of Puritania?

No comments on the music, but "dances like no one's watching" was a very... charitable description.
posted by DaShiv at 2:48 AM on March 12, 2005


She's really exceptionally attractive and looks like something straight out of L'Trim, so I'm gonna go with "cute, harmless, retro pop."

But it does beg the question: When all art is merely nostalgic self-parody, will it implode on itself? And if so, will it create a rip in the space/time continuum like in Time Cop?

I mean, I guess all this "Let's Pretend It's the 80s" gusto is okay (Electroclash, fucking ridiculous looking fashion, cocaine chic, self-obsession) but at what point do we say, "Okay, but what's the future?" Every time I hear about some new band that's the future of a genre, I swear to god that they sound exactly like the genre's past.

I understand that being derivative is unavoidable and oftentimes a blessing in disguise, but when everything is derivative, who's pioneering? What happens when the only thing that comes next is what came before?

Uh, but, yeah, like I said - she's gorgeous and sounds like Roxanne Shante or something and that's fine by me
posted by StopMakingSense at 3:00 AM on March 12, 2005


Those cool backgrounds in the video were by far my favourite part. This dancing girl kept standing in front of them, though.
posted by flaneur at 3:19 AM on March 12, 2005


I haven't heard an album as immediately satisfying in a long while. I think the point is rather that she isn't grime, and is very pop inclined. Who knows if pop with such harshly textured production can have broad success.

The articles touch on it, but her use of Tamil Tiger imagery in her videos and what she says about them on record and in interviews is the subject of substantial debate amongst critic bloggers. See Simon Reynolds' piece, Robert Christgau's response and (if you've got a lot of time) a big long I Love Music thread.
posted by too many notes at 3:30 AM on March 12, 2005


Don't we need either a) a new drug or b) a radically new technology for a new genre? Or preferably both?
posted by kerplunk at 3:33 AM on March 12, 2005


I think those backgrounds were designed by her too. She designed cover art for Elastica, as one of the links points out, and did the cover for the album.
posted by too many notes at 3:35 AM on March 12, 2005


It's a good thing you included those raving reviews. Cause otherwise I woulda thought this was crap.
posted by recurve at 3:37 AM on March 12, 2005 [1 favorite]


So far, I don't get it. Don't get the beats, don't get the vocals, don't get the lyrics, don't get the dancing, don't get the outfits.

I Approve the use of stencils, but there's nothing really extraordinary there either.

I heard of her a few weeks ago, and while I am very flexible and accommodating and will listen to and enjoy sheer sonic nonsense, with this chick I just don't get it. I'll give her album or that ep a spin or two, but I'm not expecting much.

There would have to be a three-quarters of a mile long ILM thread about her... shocka.
posted by techgnollogic at 3:38 AM on March 12, 2005


Yeah, the backgrounds were really well done.

DaShiv, I could have said "hey watch this movie, this girl looks like a complete fool!" but I figured I should be nicer. You never know.

It is very self-referential, StopMakingSense. Dropping phrases like "London calling" and "purple haze" (which really are the only words I could pick out, other than 'galang alang alanga') with square wave beats embedded in our consciousness from video games and not really anything else going on... it almost sort of like it's been decided that music doesn't really need useful content anymore. Which has been true for a while in pop, but at least they were sort of pretending before. This is semi-unintelligible and it's still getting four stars and a-pluses.

Mostly I just can't believe she is wearing what she is wearing and dancing like she is dancing. But I had to put together some context for a post.

On preview: I think a new drug is precisely what this album needs to take off.
posted by blacklite at 3:40 AM on March 12, 2005


To be slightly more serious, though, it's still a bit catchy in a weird way. I do like the way the music works underneath her vocals, even though it's pretty repetitive. I'll have to check out Tinchy Stryder etc.
Like too many notes said, a lot of the press attention has been centred on the fact that her dad has some connection to the Tamil Tigers and she's from Sri Lanka and what-not, but I didn't think that was entirely relevant to "hey, watch this." Your dad can be Che Guevara; it won't help you sound good.
posted by blacklite at 3:48 AM on March 12, 2005


Dit dit dit on your mobile phone Dit dit dit on your mobile phone
posted by Sir Mildred Pierce at 4:41 AM on March 12, 2005 [1 favorite]


I downloaded (probably from a link on boom selection--the original home of bastard pop)Piracy Funds Terrorism Vol. 1 M.I.A. & Diplo Hollertronix's mashup mix-tape, and took it for what it was: a bit of fun with slightly edgy vocals. Where it sits in the music pantheon for me is as a drop-in on my mix-cds, something that a lot of people won't have heard, but that sounds familiar. The pitchfork review above seems consonant with the rest of the (overblown, imo) praise for M.I.A.: while trying to make her sound like the next big thing, the reviewer can't seem to stretch beyond the typical trite hogwash: sounds like x+y with a touch of z! WoW!

Me? I thought it sounded reminiscent of the Dixie Cups 1965 hit "Iko-Iko". Both are based on call-response folk chants. Catchy. I even catch myself dancing like no one is watching...
posted by beelzbubba at 4:50 AM on March 12, 2005


OK. I went back & watched the qt video. If "video killed the radio star," then videos like this mike bring back radio. She dances a bit like Elaine Benes, nicht wahr?
posted by beelzbubba at 5:03 AM on March 12, 2005


Wow, speaking of self-parody, check out Lady Sovereign. I'm waiting for Supergreg to pop up in the corner or something.
posted by blacklite at 5:08 AM on March 12, 2005


Ruben Fleischer's videos always seem to get linked on Metafilter. I'm pretty sure his DJ Format and Dizzee Rascal videos have been posted here, and maybe even his Electric Six video too.
posted by tapeguy at 5:21 AM on March 12, 2005


The "death of [pop/art/poetry/the novel/etc.]" meme-fragment is certainly one of the most durable ideas of our time...

... cute kid, though. And I guess I'm not getting what's retro about it. (Retro...now there's another durable meme-fragment...)
posted by lodurr at 5:24 AM on March 12, 2005


For me the vocals are really annoying and pretty much ruin any chance of me listening to this song, regardless of how cute she is. Aside from visual/fashion elements, it doesn't even sound all that retro to me compared to other retro stuff out there, more just like maintream pop meets grime/2-step.

That said, I did hear one mashup that improved the song. Cry On My Console's Superlangalang, complete with edited Super Mario Bros theme as the backing track. Avaiable on his site Scroll down the page about half way to Dec 13 entry
posted by p3t3 at 5:39 AM on March 12, 2005


Good God, I hope the hype doesn't ruin her...
posted by iamck at 6:34 AM on March 12, 2005


man did that suck.

i'd like to see mu (qt video) kick her ass. (previously discussed here)
posted by brevator at 6:37 AM on March 12, 2005


Wow, I'm quite mystified by you guys. Nothing about M.I.A. is retro. Listen to the album, please, without drawing all your judgments from the clothes in the video. The songs are amazing and having nothing to do with 80s nostalgia.

I've been listening to Piracy Funds Terrorism and Arular for a while now sans hype, and they are both great records. Whether they are the best thing ever for you or not is up to you, but don't let the hype around M.I.A. convince you that she's all hype.

The mashup of "Fire Fire" and "Walk Like An Egyptian" on the Diplo mixtapes is one of my favorite moments in music.
posted by josh at 6:41 AM on March 12, 2005 [1 favorite]


I saw that video on Ruben Fleischer's site about a month ago and couldn't get the song out of my head. Totally great and addictive. I'm a huge fan of Ruben's work-- I linked to one of his DJ Format videos two years ago.
posted by gwint at 6:45 AM on March 12, 2005


I've been listening to both Piracy Funds Terrorism and Arular for a while, and I greatly enjoy them both. [on-preview: fully agree with with what josh said]
posted by jimmy at 6:46 AM on March 12, 2005


Like, massive misunderstanding here.... the video is supposed to be funny because M.I.A. isn't retro! The part at the end with all the tigers and pink palm trees is AWESOME. And the whole concept, which is M.I.A. being silly and dancing around in a goofy way wearing absurd clothes, is awesome and very winning.

Go to her website and listen to Amazon and Fire Fire, they are both totally awesome songs.
posted by josh at 6:50 AM on March 12, 2005


When I first heard this stuff, I couldn't get over how great it was. What helped me get over it was going to see her show at the Knitting Factory in NYC.

She came on about 3 hours late, and brought about 4 dance moves to the floor, which were executed with the confidence and conviction of high school repertoire theater.

But what was really on my mind when we were watching was, you know the story of MIA, the part where she's the daughter of a leader in the terrorist group LTTE, known as the Tamil Tigers (as noted above, this thread unravels over here, for example). If I remember, Arular, the name of the album, is her father's nom de guerre. And in case you missed the lyrics about resistance in Palestine and Colombo, there were all the neat-o graphics of running tigers (get it?) and airplanes and bombs.

I was thinking about all this because I was about 10 blocks away, at the moment, from where the World Trade Center stood, and I was thinking about how the Tamil Tigers invented the suicide bomb in its modern incarnation. I was thinking about the line from those tigers to the big hole, and that truly, this was as radical as music was going to get. I thought, you know, everyone's getting upset that the prince of England is wearing a swastika, but here's a pop star celebrating terror attacks half a mile from a big hole in the ground, and everyone's just nodding their head.

Now, I'm not saying the swastika is ok. And I'm not saying the Tamil Tiger issue is a simple one. But, in that dark club with a pretty woman singing and dancing, it felt a bit like a Cabaret for 2005. Like Cabaret, but upside down, do you know what I'm saying?
posted by cloudscratcher at 6:55 AM on March 12, 2005 [1 favorite]


oh my god, I'm in love. Dancing is far better than our mainstream shit in the states. I wish this darn video would load completely though.

i think she's pretty rocking and she will soon be on my ipod. And damn if she isn't cute too.

dalangalangalangah!
posted by freudianslipper at 7:07 AM on March 12, 2005


StopMakingSense : "Every time I hear about some new band that's the future of a genre, I swear to god that they sound exactly like the genre's past."

Exactly?

Then you're listening to the wrong people telling you about the future of a genre.

What I do notice happen, though, is that people forget that music evolves, instead of springing full grown into a vacuum. As such, any band that is the future of a genre will probably have aspect A, which exists in current or past music, and aspect B, which is new / different. Some people will listen to the music, focus on aspect B, and say "This is amazing, cutting edge, future music!" Others will focus on aspect A, and say "This sounds the same as current / older music!" And some people (patting myself on the back here, sorry) will listen and say "This sounds like current / older music with some new bits", and after enough of these evolutions happen, the new will outweigh the old.

It's like the search for "the first human". There was no "first human", evolutionarily speaking. Change is gradual, and any animal will look basically like its ancestor, and its offspring, with extremely minor differences. But that doesn't mean that nothing is changing. Each person may have basically resembled their ancestor, but somewhere along the line you realize, "Hey! Humans look nothing like shrews!"
posted by Bugbread at 7:18 AM on March 12, 2005


Hum. Now I'm trying to decide if I miscontextualized it: should I have been as neutral as possible and mentioned the whole Tamil Tigers thing and not pointed out how silly she looks? Should I have played up the controversy and the cultural significance? Should I have put nothing up there but 'Hey look at this crazy video?' The art of posting is a tricky one.

Josh: the video is supposed to be funny because M.I.A. isn't retro!
I think that would strongly fall into the self-mocking category, then. The video is pretty 80sish, which is not diminished by the fact that, yes, the palm trees and everything were very amusing. And to me personally, I think lo-fi square wavy electronic music is fairly retro. Sure, she's doing something new with lyrics, and that's good. I don't know if it's really my cup of tea though. [On preview, perhaps bugbread is right. I am perfectly willing to believe I'm a music philistine.]

And then there's this whole suicide bomber support thing. Hmmm.
posted by blacklite at 7:20 AM on March 12, 2005


I agree with Josh, this stuff isn't retro. It's ultra-current hip hop. This is what I hear coming out of cars here in North Philly where I live. Just because some of the sound banks in her sampler reproduce Junos and 808s doesn't mean she's new wave. If this isn't already huge in the ethnic dance scenes here, it probably will be - unless someone fucks up the marketing.

The animated backgrounds were really good in that pop art kinda way (which is stuff I like). I actually think her clothes are more on the cutting edge than most of us white-boy internet types would really know about. Her dance style seems reminiscent of some videos of Reggae Hall stuff I've seen, and the vocals are of course influenced by the modern Jamaican rap scene.

I could take it or leave it except for the artwork (which I think is cool).
posted by password at 7:25 AM on March 12, 2005


doesn't' take much to impress some of you. You kids ever hear of "arrangements"..."tension and release", "melody" or "composition"?

Weeee...another loop track song crafted on a drum machine while some hotty makes reference to 'edgy' topics. Gee, no one's done that before. What a pioneer she is. She's pretty to look at. Beyond that, you must be smoking crack to suggest she is redefining anything.

When I think of a true pioneer in this genre, like Beck, and then hear you guys fawn over this girl, it's no wonder the Ashlee Simpsons of the world go Platinum.

It used to take some latent talent to make music. It used to take thought, time and consideration of how all the elements fit together. It used to take consideration of how different instruments reacted and complimented each other. It used to take talent. Now it takes a drum machine and any pimply faced dork who is brazen enough to dance around like a court jester and (cough) sing out of tune.

Comparisons here with Reggae are so off the beaten path it's laughable. Suggesting it's kind of like DanceHall Jamaican music might be more accurate but let's not confuse Dance Hall with Reggae for Christs sake.

Oh yeah..it's just crap
posted by j.p. Hung at 7:34 AM on March 12, 2005


ugh. that was bad. Music was crap, dancing was just stupid, song is annoying. Just bad all around.
posted by puke & cry at 7:39 AM on March 12, 2005


well j.p. Hung, I never said she was a pioneer, nor mention anything about redefining anything. But I do think she's catchy and she has a nice poppy lyrical structure. i'm not a big fan of the mm ts mm ts mm ts mm ts 4 to the floor beats all the time but somehow she allowed me to listen. And her being pretty had nothin to do with that.

i can't speak for where she comes from or whatever but for fucks sake it's just some music, listen to it and move on. Sorry if it didn't move you. I don't think it's groundbreaking, but I don't think it's crap either.
posted by freudianslipper at 7:40 AM on March 12, 2005


blacklite : "And to me personally, I think lo-fi square wavy electronic music is fairly retro."

Huh. That's interesting. Maybe it's because I listen to a lot of techno, but what stood out for me was not the lo-fi-ness, squareness, or wavyness, but the specific kick bass sound, which is late-90s at best (sounds like a really slowed down glitch or gabber kick sound). While, admittedly, this may be "retro", since the sound is still used, I think of it more like a current sound than a throwback (in the same way that we don't think of cymbals as being retro, because they're still normally used in drum kits).

So I'm not saying you're wrong. To me, it doesn't sound retro, but it doesn't sound futuristic. It just sounds like normal electro stuff with hip-hop style vocals.

And I don't get what's so odd about her dancing, either. Looks like a random person dancing. Nothing great, nothing bizarre, just some random dancing person.

j.p. Hung : " When I think of a true pioneer in this genre"

Er, which genre? I don't think she's particularly unique or cutting edge, but I don't see how she and Beck are compared as being in the same genre. It's like saying, "Yeah, my friend's heavy metal band kinda sucks. When I think of true pioneers in this genre, like Miles Davis..." Sure, Miles Davis is hella better than my friend's heavy metal band, but "this genre"?
posted by Bugbread at 7:41 AM on March 12, 2005


well, beck is all over the map in his music, lately it's the chiptunes meets hiphop thing, which freakin rocks by the way, check out "Hell Yes".

but yeah...not sure if the comparison stands.
posted by freudianslipper at 7:45 AM on March 12, 2005


Thanks for the link. The animated graffiti stencil-art backgrounds were interesting enough, the music itself (minus the singing) reminded me of Gold Chains. I can see this being a hit on the dancefloors this summer.
posted by furtive at 7:50 AM on March 12, 2005


and one last thing j.p. hung.

Now it takes a drum machine and any pimply faced dork...

I think you have your priorities wrong in general. The means to an end should not matter, in my opinion. How music is created doesn't matter. It's the music itself. If you don't like this song, that's fine. But it doesn't matter if she had a symphonic orchestra behind her or a drum machine in her room. Know what I mean?
posted by freudianslipper at 7:54 AM on March 12, 2005


Sorry j.p. Hung, I incorrectly used "Reggae Hall" when what I was thinking of was Dance Hall. My mind must lump the 2 together because they're both Jamaican music styles (sad but true). I would agree completely that she doesn't sound like Reggae, and that it would be an incorrect comparison. Still, no need to get snarky - and at least I didn't compare what she does to Beck. That just makes no sense to me at all.
posted by password at 7:55 AM on March 12, 2005


Ok, oversimplifying the Beck reference. I guess I was trying to respond to blacklites references to the many styles of music being used to produce this. No one (IMHO) did it better than Beck.
posted by j.p. Hung at 7:55 AM on March 12, 2005


How was I snarky with you password? I agreed with your assertion regarding dance hall. The other Reggae reference was geared towards the poster, not you. Sorry if I offended.
posted by j.p. Hung at 7:58 AM on March 12, 2005


Oops, sorry again. Damn internets.
posted by password at 8:00 AM on March 12, 2005


bugbread, maybe I am drawing too much on my video game experience. I played a lot of video games once upon a time, when the music was largely created out of some very simple waveforms and occasionally a bit of noise for crunchy goodness. It can be (and is, in places) construed as a musical genre, and started to sort of get into its own around the debut of the PS2, but I'm mostly thinking of the really old stuff, when most people were just going "haha, beeps and clicks", but some really impressive stuff was created within the considerable confines of the medium.
So when I hear tracks that use a lot of the same elements and arrangements that I am used to old-school video games using, I think of it as sort of retro, but perhaps it's way too specific of a reference to be 'retro'. In any case, I enjoy it. Especially the big crunchy thing on every fourth beat in "Galang". I guess I should come up with some other term for it.

j.p. hung: I guess I was trying to respond to blacklites references to the many styles of music being used to produce this. No one (IMHO) did it better than Beck.
If I could go rewrite the post and incorporate all the stuff I've learned in this thread, I would, but mostly I was just trying to provide some landmarks to the average Joe who wanted to watch the video and isn't totally familiar with Grime and Dancehall and Extra-Crispy Special Gungho Folk or whatever. In any case, I never said that M.I.A. is great or not. I was just linking some stuff.
posted by blacklite at 8:01 AM on March 12, 2005


I love this song, but as a whole I find her two albums unlistenable (Arular and Piracy Funds Terrorism).
posted by Quartermass at 8:03 AM on March 12, 2005


But it doesn't matter if she had a symphonic orchestra behind her or a drum machine in her room.

Her producers would have to be pretty damn impressed by the quality of her music before spending the money to hire the orchestra. To hire a drum machine programmer, not so much.
posted by kindall at 8:04 AM on March 12, 2005


Anyway. If the bleeding-edge right now is mixing chiptunes (or whatever you want to call it) with hip-hop (or whatever you want to call that) and making it sound really good, I'm all for that. Hell Yes is good stuff.
posted by blacklite at 8:04 AM on March 12, 2005


kindall: Her producers would have to be pretty damn impressed by the quality of her music before spending the money to hire the orchestra. To hire a drum machine programmer, not so much.

i understand, but you're missing the point of my post. The music making process (perhaps it's just my opinion) does not matter. If I bang on a toaster or I create beats on a computer or i play the violin... the music should speak on it's own. I was just saying, it doesn't matter if she used a drum machine, it's no means to knock her down.

/moving on.
posted by freudianslipper at 8:11 AM on March 12, 2005


She's just another hottie milking terrorist chic for all it's worth. Didn't anyone read cloudscratcher's comment back there?
posted by bigdaddy at 8:16 AM on March 12, 2005


freudianslipper, you like it or you don't. I agree that the end is ulitmately what the consumer cares about. Is it all that matters? Well, that's another question all together and obviously being debated here. Personally, the 'means' do matter and I try to apply that concept in all aspects of life. Music is slowly losing it's human element and although it may not matter to the consumer, I feel it's a terrible loss for the 'art'.

On preview...I'd hit it and like you...move on.
posted by j.p. Hung at 8:17 AM on March 12, 2005


j.p. Hung : "It used to take consideration of how different instruments reacted and complimented each other. It used to take talent. Now it takes a drum machine"

...and someone with consideration of how different instruments react and compliment each other. It talent.

So things haven't changed that much, have they?

I like the speech on Cex's "Ice Pirate Not Stealer":
Look, I'll tell you exactly what my setup is. A NordLead 2 with an S-2000 Akai sampler. I've got my computer running Qbase and Cooletter pro (?). Look, you still can't do the thing. I can tell you all the notes on my album in the right order and the tempos, and you still couldn't do what I do. I could give you my whole computer; you couldn't even make one track of my Rollplayer EP, or even any of my 7 inches.
Not that I believe it, but the obvious counterargument is:

"Music used to be the sole domain of people who had technical proficiency, agile fingers, and fast feet, regardless of how horrible they were at composition or making anything half-way good sounding. Now, thanks to sequencers, music can be made by people with a sense of composition, balance, interplay, theory, and the like, not just people who can put their fingers on the right frets at the right time."

(Not that I'm saying that Galang-alang-alang-a is an example of good composition. This is more an aside on the common complaint that "because of drum machines, anyone can make music", as if that were a bad thing)

kindall : " Her producers would have to be pretty damn impressed by the quality of her music before spending the money to hire the orchestra. To hire a drum machine programmer, not so much."

Eww....The fact that you can say that so plainly just shows how fucked up music has become (by the way, that's in no way impugning on you, it's impugning on the music industry). We think of producers hiring musicians to play music for other musicians as common sense, instead of the obvious converse: musicians gather together to make and play music, and music companies sign them up to release albums and take a cut for their help in PR, distribution, and perhaps recording.

And, on second-thought: Her music is sequenced electronic music and vocals. If they hired a drum machine programmer for her based on "her music", does that mean that her music was just that sung melody?

And, for reference for folks not really into electronic music: I seriously doubt (like, 99.6% doubt) that you could make that track with a drum machine. You'd definitely need a sequencer, perhaps a sampler, and probably a keyboard. But, far more likely, it was made on a computer. Drum machines are really not very powerful.
posted by Bugbread at 8:18 AM on March 12, 2005


haha hey j.p...i think i can sort of agree with you on that. i definitely think the means is interesting, i create art in several different forms so it's something i'm passionate about, etc. But the process is not always something that a critique can be based upon, at least not all the time.

Sometimes the process is part of the outcome, sometimes it's not. cody chestnutt had a 4 track, some guitars and his voice and yet his music was raved about, and i'm sure there are plenty more examples. you work with what you have. i'll just say this, i can play a mean toaster :)

i'm sure we can have some awesome discussions together.

i'm done, work time.
posted by freudianslipper at 8:27 AM on March 12, 2005


If they hired a drum machine programmer for her based on "her music", does that mean that her music was just that sung melody?

This western bias toward melody is crazy when you think about it: the littlest snip of melodies can be copyrighted as if it is pure genius but rhythm is completely ignored. You can't copyright it, you don't own it, and it gets no respect from fans (think about all those drummer jokes) which is pretty stoopid when like 80% of a lot of black music like funk and house is in the rhythm.

As for MIA, I think it's pretty awful.
posted by dydecker at 8:28 AM on March 12, 2005


Apparently Coral sucks, or something, so it's not downloading so well right now.

So in case you're downthread here wondering what the hell the fuss is over, here's a realmedia version of the video.
posted by blacklite at 8:31 AM on March 12, 2005


dydecker : " This western bias toward melody is crazy when you think about it: the littlest snip of melodies can be copyrighted as if it is pure genius but rhythm is completely ignored."

That bias has decreased somewhat, though, with the influence of electronic music. I don't think it will go away, of course, but I think there are more people now listening to the rhythm bits than there were before. Sure, pop / rock is all about melody, but there's at least a slightly larger segment of the population now that listens to rhythm.

Of course, the rhythm peak was in the early 90's, with jungle, where the rhythm was the focus of the song and the melody just formed a background element as a foundation, precisely the opposite of rock/pop, where the melody is the focus and the rhythm forms the foundation.
posted by Bugbread at 8:34 AM on March 12, 2005


And now the realmedia link is swamped. Meh.
posted by Doohickie at 8:36 AM on March 12, 2005


Of course, the rhythm peak was in the early 90's with jungle

What are you talking about? Even though jungle is in the past, plenty of primarily rhythmic genres are still going strong, esp. electronic ones. You live in Tokyo, right? Any night of the week you can go out and hear techno, house, electro, hip-hop, trance, drum n bass, etc.
posted by dydecker at 8:54 AM on March 12, 2005


so, um.....terrorist?
posted by puke & cry at 9:17 AM on March 12, 2005


Dydecker: I didn't say the rhythm stuff went away. Not by any means. Just that it peaked in the 90's. Techno, house, electro, hip-hop, trance, and DnB all put a heck of a lot of emphasis on the rhythm (er, well, trance and house put it more on melody, but subgenres like minimal trance or hard house are pretty rhythm oriented, so I'll include them), but not to the degree that jungle did.

If you want to be really generous, you could say that during the Jungle days, rhythm focus was 576 rhythmons on the rhythm focusometer, while now its 532. Still plenty high, just lower than the peak.
posted by Bugbread at 9:34 AM on March 12, 2005


As the cliche goes "Excuse me Maya, yeah the 80's called and they want you back."
posted by jackdirt at 9:37 AM on March 12, 2005


M.I.A. is awesome. Lady Sovereign is awesome, too.
posted by mr.marx at 9:42 AM on March 12, 2005


Nathan Barley

(in general)
Terrorists are gay - it's fucking obvious
posted by asok at 9:45 AM on March 12, 2005


Well, I think that particular song is kind of crappy, but there's definately promise there. I like the vocals. I don't see why the critics are going nuts though.
posted by falconred at 9:47 AM on March 12, 2005


terrorist?
guilty of trivialising a complex (and unpleasant) situation? yes, but what "political" music hasn't?
posted by andrew cooke at 9:50 AM on March 12, 2005


There's a link to an acapella version of "Galang" on the website. I so do not have the guts to download it.
posted by sachinag at 9:52 AM on March 12, 2005


Now it takes a drum machine and any pimply faced dork who is brazen enough to dance around like a court jester and (cough) sing out of tune.

No, all it takes is a drum machine and a hot chick. Which is all this is.

And I doubt you really need the drum machine.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:53 AM on March 12, 2005


Bugbread, I sitting here listening to Brutalga Square by DJ Koze which is 95% made of rhythm and your assertion simply does not compute.

Did your interest in dance music peaked in the early 90's? This sounds like a case of better-back-in-the-day-itis.
posted by dydecker at 10:01 AM on March 12, 2005 [1 favorite]


If it wasn't for the references to her family history, it would be squarely in the category of Las Ketchup, and The Macarena.

Her dusky ethnic voice mixes well with the garagey sound,and the track has a nice rhythm. I began to watch it, initially thought it sucked, but now I won't be able to get it out of my head all day long. It's just a catchy tune with just enough edge to keep it from being too cute.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 10:03 AM on March 12, 2005


This fascinating song and its incredible video worked their way into my head a few months ago and just stayed there. Good post, blacklite.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 10:19 AM on March 12, 2005


cloudscratcher, heh. I thought almost exactly the same thing. I can't say I'm too surprised. It makes a great deal of sense. With all the widespread widespread fear of terrorism, the idea of wrapping it up in some video game music and a pretty face and selling it back to people is just genius. This woman's connection to the LTTE and her support for the PLO--well, there's money to be made here and where there's a market there's a way. I'll not be surprised when others catch on and start dabbling in "terrorist chic,"but it will be interesting to see how the question of who's an authentic terrorist and who's just a poseur gets settled. This might well lead to rap stars actually shooting their fans at concerts--something I also think is on its way.
posted by nixerman at 10:24 AM on March 12, 2005


she's playing wednesday at the independent in sf, for those of you who might be curious...
posted by judith at 10:33 AM on March 12, 2005


dydecker : " Bugbread, I sitting here listening to Brutalga Square by DJ Koze which is 95% made of rhythm and your assertion simply does not compute.

"Did your interest in dance music peaked in the early 90's? This sounds like a case of better-back-in-the-day-itis."


Nope. I got really interested in the late 90's, only losing interest in maybe 2003 or so (still like it, but not as into it as I used to be). But I seriously think you're misreading my position. I'm not saying it was better back in the day, just that it placed rhythm more prominently. And, of course, there are exceptions, but as a wide-spread and semipopular genre, jungle had the most emphasis on rhythm. Sure, there's really super rhythmically oriented stuff coming out today, there's just not quite as much. But I'm not talking about "good" or "bad", I'm talking about popularity. It's like saying that the use of the flanger and phaser peaked with Acid House. Sure, the flanger and phaser are still used aplenty, but not like they were when Acid House was popular.

Looking at it from the other end, it seems that you're agreeing that electronic music has put rhythm in the forefront, but that either the focus on rhythm in electronic music has never varied, or that it's been constantly increasing. I find the first possibility unrealistic, and the second just improbable. There's always some up and down, and if there is, there will be one point higher than the others, which is the peak.
posted by Bugbread at 10:37 AM on March 12, 2005


it's not terrible, but i'm with the Roxanne Shante comparison (or Salt without Pepa and Spinderella)--very late 80s-early 90s dance. I'd rather hear this than JLo or Britney or any number of other acts around today.
posted by amberglow at 10:50 AM on March 12, 2005


Okay, that kicked ass.

And as far as the death of rhythm goes: have any of you been listening to hip-hop? Some of Timbaland's beats (I'm thinking Cee-Lo & Timbaland - I'll Be Around, here) are so spare as to have no melody at all, just the hint of horns (essentially used as percussion). Or hell, Snoop's latest album (esp. Drop It Like It's Hot).

I'll be honest, though, it took me a long damn time to warm up to electroclash-y stuff like this, but I'm on the wagon now.

Thanks for the tip!
posted by Coda at 11:01 AM on March 12, 2005


bugbread: you have a lot of Internet stamina and a theory and the logic, so why not back it up with some tracks? Let's hear this 100% percent rhythm focused jungle then which is measurably more rhythmic than what passes for dance music today.
posted by dydecker at 11:19 AM on March 12, 2005


this thread jumped the shark here:
This might well lead to rap stars actually shooting their fans at concerts--something I also think is on its way.

please tell me that was a joke...

let's not confuse Dance Hall with Reggae for Christs sake.

dancehall is a form/style of reggae.

So, when someone plays up a guitar, is that retro?
Dr. Dre's solo stuff is retro? Derivative - yes, retro - no.
808 sounds are still around because they sound great and they get asses on the floor.

And what are people dancing to today? Everything. Any night in any major city there's a hip-hop night, a techno night, a jungle night, a reggae night, a pop night, an electro night, a goth night, a house night, a funk night, a punk night...isn't that a lot different than things say, 20 years ago?
posted by hellbient at 11:37 AM on March 12, 2005


electroclash-y stuff like this

This is not electroclashy. Not with those vocals. I like it okay (and I totally want a monster-face hoodie), but it is really more dancehally.

Also, screw rhythm. Melody forever!
posted by dame at 12:05 PM on March 12, 2005


I second amberglow's observation; although I'll be uber-hipster-ish and namedrop J. J. Fad and E.S.G. in this comment.

(Aside to the MeFi-er from N. Philly (and other locals): I will totally be dropping this funky-fresh science along with some dope J.J. Fad (Supersonic) and the new Fischerspooner (Kick in the Teeth, maybe) tomorrow night at Fluid. Haul yer butt south to 4th street (take the 57) and get yer punk/drunk on. Email me to get on the list.)
posted by red cell at 12:46 PM on March 12, 2005


I really like Amazon, which the Current plays at least once a day here in Minneapolis. Good stuff.
posted by graventy at 12:46 PM on March 12, 2005


[12:49] Nelson Minar: galang is hurting my head

[12:49] Nelson Minar: it's like the music is awesome, and the vocals are horrible, and the visual design is great, and the dancing is terrible.
posted by Nelson at 12:48 PM on March 12, 2005


dydecker : " bugbread: you have a lot of Internet stamina and a theory and the logic, so why not back it up with some tracks? Let's hear this 100% percent rhythm focused jungle then which is measurably more rhythmic than what passes for dance music today."

"What passes for dance music today"? You don't like modern dance music? There's a hell of a lot of good stuff out there, you should look into it. Finland is making some absolutely kick-ass psychedelic trance, for example. Dance music is still quite alive and kicking.

I'm not sure what you mean by "more rhythmic" (and I apologize if I used the same expression somewhere above). If something has one or more time signatures, it's rhythmic. Stuff now is as rhythmic as it's ever been. I'm just talking about the focus on rhythm as a part to be listened to. Hard house, for example, has rhythm as an extremely important element, but the focus is on feeling the music, not listening to it. Epic trance, on the other hand, uses rhythm more in the rock way (but not as much as rock), which is a framework in which to anchor the melody.

Actually, I should also point out that I'm probably overlooking the recent rise in German and Swedish minimal psy, which is pretty darn rhythm oriented.

As for backing it up with tracks: Man, you've gone and rubbed salt and vinegar into some wounds there. I like jungle, especially the stuff made with just bass and drums (and I'm not referring to Drum N Bass, but jungle with just drum and bass). I've heard some good stuff at clubs, and on an old regular radio show on Rice University Radio, but when I asked the DJs at the club what they were spinning, they said it was mostly older early 90's stuff, and mostly released on white label vinyl (no CDs). Unfortunately, I have no turntable and no plans on buying any, so I have no idea who made all this music.

An aside: Aphex Twin's set here two years ago started with hard house, turned into more recognizable Aphex stuff, and then turned into pure "bass and drums jungle". Very excellent, and a good example of what I mean by "focusing on the rhythm". Actually, no, a very bad example of focusing on the rhythm, now that I think of it. The rhythm was provided by the bass, and the "part you listen to" (not really melody, per se, being generally non-pitched percussion) was the drums. And I note that reviews refered to said live as ending with "old-school retro drum and bass jungle".

So, actually, I probably take a lot of that back. What I'm refering to may be better phrased as "focusing on the drums", not "focusing on the rhythm".

hellbient : "Any night in any major city there's a hip-hop night, a techno night, a jungle night, a reggae night, a pop night, an electro night, a goth night, a house night, a funk night, a punk night"

Lucky you. In Tokyo there's one jungle party per month (sometimes every two months), run by a group called Champion Bass. That's it. Plenty of parties that have "jungle" on their fliers, but they're DrumNBass parties playing loosely with their vocab.

Plus, occasional live jungle shows when AV Yochien (Adult Video Kindergarten, in English), Psycheouts, or Kastro play. But that's maybe 4 times per year in Tokyo.

Man, was that all off-topic. Sorry.
posted by Bugbread at 1:24 PM on March 12, 2005


I also get the impression that I'm not expressing myself well. From your responses, it appears you think I'm saying this (data point 2 being the peak of jungle's popularity):



What I'm actually trying to say is this:


posted by Bugbread at 1:38 PM on March 12, 2005


Well now I finally know what to do for the next MeFi CD Swap.
posted by furiousthought at 1:52 PM on March 12, 2005


you know revisiting this later in the day I now find myself like a deer in headlights. There is something absolutely horrifying about this yet at the same time incredibly appealing and I can't tear myself away. I better go look at that accident on the side of the road there now to distract myself.
posted by jackdirt at 1:56 PM on March 12, 2005


Listened to the Diplo tapes a while before they "blew up."
(pun intended)
Had never seen a video...i'm impressed. I particularly like the stencil graffiti "animation."

Josh said: The mashup of "Fire Fire" and "Walk Like An Egyptian" on the Diplo mixtapes is one of my favorite moments in music.

I would add recently and agree.
posted by schyler523 at 2:04 PM on March 12, 2005


I have her Arular CD, and I really like it. Mash-up, fuck-up, all that hipster "scene" crap is of no interest to me, but I ran across her by accident.

This song is one of the album's weakest -- Sunshowers is a lot better. Her lyrics are nonsensical at times, but they are cool sometimes, too. She also lived in Sri Lanka until age 11, so it is quite possible that some of the nonsense lyrics are in a language I don't speak.

And if I restricted myself to non-doggerel lyrics, I'd only be listening to instrumentals, so oh well.

She's pretty cool. That video isn't my style -- but luckily for me, I heard her before such visual images irrevocably altered my perception of her. That video is a poor ambassador. The Sunshowers video is up on Real's website -- it is much better.
posted by teece at 3:44 PM on March 12, 2005


Sounds like a more poppy, Indian flavored version of bassment jaxx.
posted by MillMan at 3:46 PM on March 12, 2005


I really miss Tommy James and The Shondells. Anyone else?
posted by jonmc at 4:34 PM on March 12, 2005


I think A-ha's video for "Take On Me" set a standard nobody's ever gonna touch.
posted by alumshubby at 4:46 PM on March 12, 2005


For pure evil, perhaps.
posted by jonmc at 4:53 PM on March 12, 2005


dame: This is not electroclashy. Not with those vocals.

Exactly; that's why I like this a lot more than standard electroclash - it's not just stupid shit said in a robotic European accent. That's one of the reasons I took so long to warm up to the beats - the silly French lady mumbling about toast or something. Now you take those beats, which are fun, dirty them up a bit, and add some dancehall-rhythm lyric-spitting to it, and I'm down.

The fact that she's a stone cold fox doesn't hurt the deal, either.
posted by Coda at 5:05 PM on March 12, 2005


A friend of mine put this song on a mix cd she gave me for my birthday

It's an awesome song. When the ya-ya-yay section starts I get minor musigasms which get release when the come in again. That's a beautiful moment.

I'm a bit baffled by all this talk of pro-terrorism in this video. I'm with Christgau there, I don't think that she's supporting terrorism. There's certainly the case (and a better case, I feel) to be made for an anti-war message. The birdshit bombs and mushroom clouds turning into fists don't seem particularly pro-war.

Also, the dancing is nice. It's just a person dancing. Very normal. This is the way people dance when they go dancing.

Oh, and clothes she's wearing? Shit hot is what!
posted by Kattullus at 7:07 PM on March 12, 2005 [1 favorite]


I've been listening to the Arular album on my iPod for a couple of weeks and I haven't decided yet if I like it or not. But the fact is that I keep listening to it. I'm more of an indie rock fan than a dance-music or hip-hop fan so I'm not at all tuned in to all of the genres referenced here. It's just catchy pop music. And there are other songs on the album that, IMHO, are stronger than Galang.
posted by matildaben at 7:22 PM on March 12, 2005


Here's an interesting remix of the Galang song. It mashes up sounds from an old Bollywood blockbuster, Sholay.
posted by dhruva at 8:18 PM on March 12, 2005


This is the reason this video is great to me:

After the stencil graffiti bombs fall, and she dances her dance for a few bars without singing, but right before the street cheer singalong climax--

the synth plays its two descending notes, she wheels her hand around twice, and then--with perfect sexxy--the blink. -ah!- She waves it all around. Ya ya hey, an army of her appears.

That blink! Musigasm indeed. Several of the other songs on Arular are better, tho.

(Also: cloudscratcher obv didn't read the Christgau piece. his post was a while ago but it's worth pointing out again how wrong it was.)
posted by greggish at 8:39 PM on March 12, 2005


Looks like "indie Bollywood" to me.

Crap? I dunno, but there's a lot of bad curry in the world... Not to mention all that greasy sag.
posted by paulsc at 8:43 PM on March 12, 2005


Hee hee, Coda. We're at the opposite ends of that spectrum. I was thinking, wow, I'd like this better if it were cleaner and the vocals were, well, not so Jamaican-influenced. To each. But really, French ladies mumbling about toast just get me.
posted by dame at 10:06 PM on March 12, 2005


i feel like i've been out of the cave too long; this sounds like a logical progression of some of the work the bug has done, a bit of a tangent off of dizzee rascal + wiley (warning, .mov file) and the eskimo thing that happened last year, and while good, doesn't seem to set any new standards for me. grimy in its texture, dancehall in its rhythm, electrotrash in that it's not a jamaican/london jamaican vocalist on top.

for someone who's never heard any of the above though, i could see how it might seem to be a 'future sound', or tha tit might just irritate you altogether.
posted by crabcakes at 11:40 PM on March 12, 2005


Holy information war !
posted by svidrigailov23 at 2:09 AM on March 13, 2005


music is a big reservoir
posted by Satapher at 8:29 AM on March 13, 2005


This would sound much better if I was drunk and in a club and trying to pick up some hot girl and wasn't paying much attention to the music.

[Ahh... I miss the 90s]
posted by papercake at 10:00 AM on March 13, 2005


Does metafilter reflect reality, or does reality reflect metafilter? (Boston.com)
posted by VulcanMike at 10:00 AM on March 13, 2005


(Also: cloudscratcher obv didn't read the Christgau piece. his post was a while ago but it's worth pointing out again how wrong it was.)

Thanks, greggish, for assuming that I'm male, and for assuming anything about what I've read and what I haven't. Welcome to MeFi.

Of course I read the Christgau piece. In particular, I read this:

I see no sign that she supports the Tigers. She obsesses on them; she thinks they get a raw deal. But without question she knows they do bad things and struggles with that. The decoratively arrayed, pastel-washed tigers, soldiers, guns, armored vehicles, and fleeing civilians that bedeck her album are images, not propaganda

And I don't suggest that she "supports" the Tigers either, any more than I would suggest that Prince Harry supports the National Front when he wears a swastika. "Support" is about what someone intends. What I'm concerned with has to do with the effects they have, independent of intention. If images only derive meaning through intention, there's nothing more to talk about, but I don't know anyone willing to take that position.

I was trying to raise a question about what happens when you release these, uh, "images" into the mythological spectrum of pop, in particular in a building that was once in the shadow of those towers. About what happens when everyone at the show bops up and down to "bombs to make you blow" when those bombs, these days, are as real for us as they are for M.I.A.

And I'm not advocating censure. I'm not saying anyone can resist dancing when that shit comes on. I'm not saying it's wrong to use those images. I'm saying it's wrong to ignore them, to pretend they don't matter (or to fucking relegate your opinion to Robert Christgau!). It matters when you trivialize trauma and politics, especially there and then, here and now.
posted by cloudscratcher at 10:01 AM on March 13, 2005


after hearing the whole album (torrentbox), i'm loving Bucky Done Gun, and 10$ more--the whole thing is interesting tho.
posted by amberglow at 1:17 PM on March 13, 2005


cloudscratcher, I'm with you on this one. In a way I'm surprised more people don't share your perspective on this. It's strange that when people look at this music they see all these complicated genre relationships and pop histories, but utterly fail to place it in the context of modern terrorism and the meaning of certain imagery.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:28 PM on March 13, 2005


jonmc, is there something about the "Take On Me" video you don't like, or are you just being snarky?

I almost typed "being an asshat," but on reflection I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.
posted by alumshubby at 1:37 PM on March 13, 2005


is it just crap?

have you ever played with a 505?

i would suggest that if you think this is not crap, that you run right out and purchase a 505 immediately. because it will take you about 5 minutes to sound like this with one. although it's been done about fifty million times already.
posted by 3.2.3 at 1:51 PM on March 13, 2005


jonmc, is there something about the "Take On Me" video you don't like

There's plenty I don't like about it. It's cheesy,wimpy, girly pretty-boy synth-pop crap. It's the type of music and aesthetic that drove me bananas as a teenager in the 80's.

But while I liked MTV when it first arrived, I am now of the opinion that it's done more damage to popular music than anything else.
posted by jonmc at 2:08 PM on March 13, 2005


OK, well, it sounds like it's the music you don't like. I really can't argue with you there; as a song, it's not terribly memorable (although more so than the song in the video we've been discussing in this thread, which I forgot literally right after I viewed the video). As a music video, I thought it was a striking. fun combination of live action and animation; even if it wasn't groundbreaking, it still looks good nearly twenty years on. I think "Take On Me" is more striking visually and more competently done than this one, which isn't exactly unwatchable but hardly seems worth all the fuss.

I pretty much agree about MTV in general; I haven't really enjoyed watching it since the mid-eighties when it started turning into the Big Booty Network.
posted by alumshubby at 2:55 PM on March 13, 2005


BTW, the video for A-ha's "Take On Me" here, here, or here
posted by alumshubby at 3:04 PM on March 13, 2005


The best music video of those days (and of all time).

Let's bury the early 80's synth-pop era and nail the coffin shut.

Bring me the heads of Duran Duran!
posted by jonmc at 3:11 PM on March 13, 2005


Yes, and bring me videos with a sense of plot to them. That may be why I didn't connect with MIA's effort; there's no real sense of beginning, middle and end.

Come to think of it, that third link also has the Buggle's historic "Video Killed the Radio Star" (kitschy but competently done), REM's "Losing My Religion" (beautifully, shot, suitably enigmatic) and The White Stripes' "Fell In Love with a Girl" (interesting use of Legos). Don't watch the first one, jonmc, as it may induce seizures.

Someday MeFi ought to have a thread on Best Videos Never Made; I'd like to see what could have been done with Lou Reed's cover of "September Song."
posted by alumshubby at 3:34 PM on March 13, 2005


Actually alumshubby, I like two out of three of both those videos and songs. The exception being REM, not because I don't like them (I love 'em) but I'm really tired of that song.

We used to sing a version of that tune about Mike Tyson (post-buster douglas) :

That me in the corner/that's me on the canvas/losing by decision...
posted by jonmc at 3:51 PM on March 13, 2005


elwoodwiles : "It's strange that when people look at this music they see all these complicated genre relationships and pop histories, but utterly fail to place it in the context of modern terrorism and the meaning of certain imagery."

Not so strange. Musicians trying to be scandalous is pretty old. Musicians combining old musical elements in different ways is also pretty old. Folks who like politics more than music will probably be more interested in discussing the imagery. Folks who like music more than politics will probably be interested in discussing music.

Think back to Marilyn Manson: kids were more likely to talk about how good or bad a new song was, and adults were more likely to talk about how horrible and obscene a new video was.
posted by Bugbread at 6:59 PM on March 13, 2005


jonmc, you are just jealous because you don't have Morten's range. He's a regular Prince of Norwegan 80s pop!

Duran Duran are touring North America at the moment, as part of their successful come-back tour. But you already knew that because you have tickets!
ˆ..˜
posted by asok at 4:18 AM on March 14, 2005


Smile when you say that, partner, or I'll sic my buds on you...
posted by jonmc at 6:37 AM on March 14, 2005


Quite an attractive young lady. Also the 80's clothes and the sideways ponytail = teh hotness. The deja-vu triggered by her wearing that pink "Bahamas" shirt was almost overwhelming. I think I met her (pre?) Doppelganger in 1986.

The music is... odd. I don't dislike it, but I'm not sure I like it either. Definite southern asian influence.

Her dance style is very primitive. Very tribal. The chant-like vocalizations at the end of the song reinforce this characterization.
posted by Ynoxas at 8:01 AM on March 14, 2005


I like it.
posted by nofi at 12:10 PM on March 14, 2005


Ynoxas : " Her dance style is very primitive. Very tribal."

Heehee...Where the heck is everybody here from, that the dance seems so unusual? It seriously looks to me like completely average, normal dancing that real people (i.e. folks without choreographers) do.
posted by Bugbread at 4:03 PM on March 14, 2005


Looks like MIA is M.I.A. She's having Visa problems and can't get in to the good ol' US of A. Wonder if it is related to her , um, pop?
posted by fixedgear at 2:37 AM on March 17, 2005


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