The Age of (Not That) Innocence
May 18, 2020 6:24 AM   Subscribe

 
I prefer Richard Thompson.
posted by bassomatic at 6:30 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]


Fine, if you insist, I'll listen to "Lucky" a couple times before this meeting.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:36 AM on May 18 [2 favorites]


There's something so corporately right with the wrongness of "Jive" Records biggest acts being white af.
posted by Your Childhood Pet Rock at 6:42 AM on May 18 [5 favorites]


I prefer Richard Thompson.

I'm more a Max Raabe person.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:48 AM on May 18 [2 favorites]


An interesting corollary to Britney Spears story: You're Wrong About Jessica Simpson
posted by MrJM at 7:23 AM on May 18 [4 favorites]


Now is the perfect time to learn the choreography.
posted by swift at 7:32 AM on May 18




I just watched the Britney video for the first time ever, and I have to say I also prefer the Richard Thompson one.
(Which I had seen before, so maybe that has some bearing on my vote?                    - nah)
posted by MtDewd at 8:22 AM on May 18


... although I haven't seen Titanic yet, either, so I like totally missed the reference[s] to it.
posted by MtDewd at 8:24 AM on May 18


She was the vestal pseudo-virgin at the center of that neon helix between impeachment and implosion in a perfumed Abercrombie & Fitch nation, soundtracked by Swedish pop shamans and their sparkling American veneers.

My goodness. That certainly is a sentence.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:37 AM on May 18 [15 favorites]


I prefer Richard Thompson.
I'm more a Max Raabe person.


Craig Ferguson's is more fun.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:43 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]


She was the vestal pseudo-virgin at the center of that neon helix between impeachment and implosion in a perfumed Abercrombie & Fitch nation, soundtracked by Swedish pop shamans and their sparkling American veneers.

My goodness. That certainly is a sentence.


No kidding. Pop crit has a tendency to do this kind of extrapolation, and I'm never sure if it's meant to be descriptive: this is how things were when this cultural moment happened, or explanatory - this cultural moment happened because of how things were. I suppose the latter is how Chuck Klosterman made his money.
posted by Think_Long at 9:49 AM on May 18 [3 favorites]


Craig Ferguson's is more fun.

That's usually the case for anything.

Although, here is the comment that lead me to discover the Max Raabe version - it has a video where a fire-eater act was doing a performance using Raabe's version, and they included a dude playing a flaming tuba. (I have since been informed the formal name for such instrument is a "tubatron".)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:53 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]


I had never seen the video: I was hearing the song constantly because my daughter was a pre-tween twenty years ago. And I missed the Titanic reference, too. Missed that one. I was AWOL for so many cultural flashpoints it's as if I missed the last twenty or forty years. (Hey, I did see Flashdance when it came out, so I was in the loop stochastically.)
posted by kozad at 10:08 AM on May 18 [1 favorite]


But by the late ’90s, “hitting it” meant something distinctly different in the hallways of American high schools... Not to mention the terminally literal Tipper Gore types, who interpreted it as a subliminal S&M manifesto.

As a parent at the time, it was a fairly uncomfortable job having to explain to another parent, who was seethingly incensed that their little one was listening to a song encouraging battery, what "hit" actually meant. I was never sure which meaning they were more uncomfortable with.

It was also interesting watching it suddenly occur to them that their little one knew the meaning all along.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:17 AM on May 18 [5 favorites]


I've never really been a Britney fan although there's no way to deny her impact on the music scene. I do hope she's in a better space with her life now, 20 years later. She's had a very public rough time and I just want her to feel happy more than not happy.

Interesting article, I'm glad I read it. Thanks for posting!
posted by hippybear at 10:51 AM on May 18 [2 favorites]


If you prefer the version of this song sung by a whiny dude with guitar that's fine but maybe examine your biases here and question why you feel like you 'have to say it'.

I'm saying this with love; as a cis het millennial guy more interested in raging against the machine I too automatically rejected Spears as a phony when she became a mega star during my teenage years. Then I listened to 'Blackout' at some point in college and it was like hearing the entire next decade's worth of pop music distilled into one amazing, disturbing, super intelligent meta-album beamed back from the future like some kind of highly dance-able warning about the perils of celebrity culture. I realized I had a lot to learn about Spears.

Britney Spears is a genius artist who has had more cultural influence than perhaps any living musician, and done so while navigating and subverting an intensely misogynistic and patriarchal system that has never stopped trying to beat her down and literally control her life.

Anyway great post, thanks for this. I'd never actually seen the video for 'Oops', fantastic on so many levels.
posted by soy bean at 12:00 PM on May 18 [21 favorites]


Britney Spears is a genius artist who has had more cultural influence than perhaps any living musician

This is a bit of hyperbole given that Paul McCartney is still alive, but she did definitely shape a whole path of things that is still unfolding. That whole generation of young women artists never really captured my ear much even though they were inescapable. A generation earlier for me was Janet and Paula and TLC and other strong women of the 80s. Today I'm listening to Carly Rae Jepsen and Janelle Monae. They aren't at all the equivalent of what Britney was in her time, though.

Very influential, very strong. But not quite as much as that statement.
posted by hippybear at 12:15 PM on May 18 [2 favorites]


This is a bit of hyperbole given that Paul McCartney is still alive

Yeah, I should have written 'more cultural influence than almost any living musician', I'll definitely cop to being hyperbolic here. DJ Kool Herc is still alive too as far as I know.

Funnily enough I was reflecting on the video for 'Oops' and wondering if it had any influence on Janelle Monae.
posted by soy bean at 12:39 PM on May 18 [2 favorites]


I love how all these kind of re-write history or at least leave out the bits that make artists actually interesting. It's a very 2020 kind of thing to do. Destiny's Child members, Kelly Clarkson, and Justin Timberlake are still making hits - the 'teen pop' era is not over. I don't get what Britney did that was special other than make some videos that girls and boys liked. And I don't get why that album is 'teen pop' and the others aren't, I mean she was 23 in 2004. JT is still making the same songs. Justin Bieber? Her videos were kind of crazy but nothing like Puff Daddys' or Master P's silver tank.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:39 PM on May 18


I'm saying this with love; as a cis het millennial guy more interested in raging against the machine I too automatically rejected Spears as a phony when she became a mega star during my teenage years.

It sucks how much music I rejected out of hand in my youth for stupid tribal reasons (and hmmm an awful lot of that just happens to be work created by gay people, women, and people of color). But it's kinda cool now to revisit music that I had heard but never really listened to and discover that some of it is actually very good.
posted by straight at 3:08 PM on May 18 [3 favorites]




If you prefer the version of this song sung by a whiny dude with guitar that's fine but maybe examine your biases here and question why you feel like you 'have to say it'.

Yeah, even though I was rather jealous of Britney and her rock-hard abs back then and wanted to decry her as an airhead, I was not impressed by all the acoustic covers that popped up, purporting to strip away all the bells and whistles and get to the ~real~, ~deep~ meaning of the songs. They actually made me protective of her, like, uh, she's a young woman with feelings about dudes... I think she's getting the emotional point across just fine.
posted by Recliner of Rage at 5:27 PM on May 18 [2 favorites]


I was not impressed by all the acoustic covers that popped up, purporting to strip away all the bells and whistles and get to the ~real~, ~deep~ meaning of the songs.

Well, de gustibus non est disputandum, y'know? And, personally, having a song in a genre/marketing slot that I usually wouldn't consider being covered by someone that's more my style can be a sort of gateway drug to the original, in the manner of Andy Samberg doing "I Want It That Way" on Brooklyn Nine Nine. (There's also some irony in the fact that, although Richard Thompson framed his cover as being an improvement, it seems that most if not all of his audience seemed to already know the chorus; if they didn't know it before 1000 Years of Popular Music, they sure know it now.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:57 PM on May 18


The vocal melody for 'Oops..' reminds me a bit of 'Woman in Love' by R.Gibbs, but there's also a few other songs with similar melodies too..

(as mentioned, I think the Swedish pop mafia are very talented, but I don't really feel the love for their pop artistry as much as I do for other various pop mafias)

TFA is swell music writing.
posted by ovvl at 6:51 PM on May 18


soybean:If you prefer the version of this song sung by a whiny dude with guitar that's fine but maybe examine your biases here and question why you feel like you 'have to say it'.

I'm saying this with love; as a cis het millennial guy more interested in raging against the machine


That is an interesting way to "say it with love".

Britney Spears is a genius artist who has had more cultural influence than perhaps any living musician, and done so while navigating and subverting an intensely misogynistic and patriarchal system that has never stopped trying to beat her down

You did see in the article where it mentioned Madonna, right?

Debbie Harry, Carly Simon, Linda Rondstadt and Joni Mitchell could be more cultural influences, while dealing with the added issues of sexism, etc. That is not even touching on R&B/Hip-Hop/Rap, etc.

I made it through about two measures of one of the acoustic versions and didn't care for it. That's fine! My taste has always led "eccentric" and I am used to people thinking what I like is awful. I don't like bread. Ice Cream and milk make me ill. But, I understand why people like these. I used to be able to eat all three with abandon.

That said, I don't see why someone preferring an acoustic cover of a dance song is doing it wrong. Calling those performers whiny seems a bit hypocritical.

And, if you are going to suggest:
maybe examine your biases here and question why you feel like you 'have to say it
have you done the same?
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 7:10 PM on May 18 [2 favorites]


have you done the same?

Yeah, 'whiny' may have been out of line there. I did mean as I said, it's totally fine if you prefer that version, I just wanted people to think about why that's something important that needs sharing. I could have been gentler or more clear though.

The Richard Thompson intro really rubbed me the wrong way though. "Let's take this song out of the original hands and perhaps we can reveal its splendor"...gross. Thompson has written some really great songs and is a very talented person, but far from a household name unlike certain 'crass pop-stars'. I guess his sour-grapes tone was on my mind when I described him as whiny.

I think it would be awesome to live in a society where Laurie Anderson or Alicia Keys was bigger than Brittney, and to that extent can identify a bit with where Thompson might be coming from if I'm being charitable, but that's not where we are.

I definitely admit to hyperbole and as noted above should have written 'almost any living musician'. All I really meant is that Spears is on a very very small list of cultural mega-icons in American pop music, and is a talented, hardworking, intelligent person. No disrespect to Madonna or McCartney (also both on that list of course) or anyone else, and I also don't mean to disregard the super problematic nature of the pop music industry framework that these people are working in.

My comment and tone was in large part working out issues relating to my teenage music preferences shaped by unexamined racism, sexism, and classism; it's what I wish I could say to myself 20 years ago.

Ultimately though Britney Spears really doesn't need me to defend her (#freebritney notwithstanding). I'll just echo hippybear and hope that she's doing ok these days.
posted by soy bean at 8:01 AM on May 19 [1 favorite]


She was the vestal pseudo-virgin at the center of that neon helix between impeachment and implosion in a perfumed Abercrombie & Fitch nation, soundtracked by Swedish pop shamans and their sparkling American veneers.

My goodness. That certainly is a sentence.


Leave Britney alone!
posted by carmicha at 9:22 PM on May 20


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