mixtape time vol 3: UNDER COVER

Everyone loves the time-honored tradition of cover songs! Here are some tunes that female musicians took and made their own:

  1. Thee Headcoatees – Swallow My Pride (The Ramones)
  2. Neo Boys – I’m Free (The Rolling Stones)
  3. Britta Phillips – Drive (The Cars)
  4. Angel Olson – Attics of My Life (Grateful Dead)
  5. Kaki King – Close To Me (The Cure)
  6. Pharmakon – Bang Bang (Nancy Sinatra)
  7. Mr Little Jeans – The Suburbs (Arcade Fire)
  8. Mirah – Lion Tamer (Old Time Relijun)
  9. Dog Party – Los Angeles (X)
  10. Mapei – Baby It’s You (The Shirelles)

mixtape time vol 2: Late Nights & Early Mornings

Being a near-ancient 31 years old tomorrow, I don’t really have late nights or early mornings anymore – I’m solidly a “sleep 10 hours every day” type person. But there’s lots of beautiful music about the end of the night, and the beginning of the morning! Here’s the tracklist for this mix, and a Spotify link below:

  1. Foxes – Night Owls Early Birds
  2. Hannah Diamond – Every Night
  3. Carly Rae Jepsen – Making the Most of the Night
  4. Got a Girl – Friday Night
  5. Suzi Analogue – Late Nite
  6. Low Roar – In the Morning
  7. La Luz – Morning High
  8. Little Boots – Better in the Morning
  9. Teen Daze – Morning World
  10. Meg Myers – The Morning After

BITCH BETTER HAVE MY MONEY

(cw: violence)

It’s funny how I have notes on a million films I want to write about, drafts on pieces I have a lot of (possibly smart) thoughts about really beautiful, meaningful films I have seen lately; but the things that actually get me writing are pop culture and “low” art. The older I get, the more I turn to pop music as an illuminating part of culture, one that overlaps with my other interests – film, feminism, art – in increasingly fascinating ways.

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Tonight, Rihanna released her long-awaited video for “Bitch Better Have My Money” – you can watch it here (be warned, it’s startlingly graphically violent for a mainstream artist’s video). The video is the story of Rihanna (um, spoiler alert? It’s only 7 minutes long, so watch it now!) taking revenge on her accountant who screwed her out of her money by kidnapping and torturing his trophy wife, with the help of her girl gang. It’s as gaudily violent as anything Nicolas Winding Refn has put to film, as dizzying and debaucherous as a Gaspar Noe movie, as colorful and filled with gleeful, uninhibited feminine aggression as Spring Breakers (which, for the record, I hate).

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As I mentioned, the violence is notably graphic for a pop artist to include in a music video (I’m tempted to call this a short film, but that seems like it devalues music videos, as well as the accompanying music, and this video proves it’s foolish to do so!) – Rih and her friends hang a topless woman from the ceiling by her feet, lock her in a chest, hold her underwater, and ultimately presumably murder her in a bloody way. Eventually, the woman’s husband (Mads Mikkelsen, who definitely has some fans on the FR staff) is also captured, but he escapes any on-screen brutalization. Why? I’m not sure – though I am sure that this will be a huge point of contention in the discussion of this video in the days to come (Anita Sarkeesian’s recent criticism of Mad Max Fury Road as a feminist film comes to mind). Perhaps it’s just kidnapper logic that hurting the thing closest to your target will get you what you want; perhaps it’s a statement on the abundance of violence against women; probably it’s something I haven’t even considered yet.

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But if the violence – particularly the violence against women – is shocking, the most startling part is the video’s political declaration. It’s a black female artist taking back ownership of her art, and her economic assets, from the white patriarchal machine – she has a knife designated for “people who fuck up my credit,” as well as one for “dead beat dads” and a chainsaw for “cheaters.” Rihanna is pushing back – in a graphic, stylish way you can’t ignore – against slights to her as a black woman, and she has her girlfriends help her out. They’re a pot-smoking, uber-fashionable, post-modern version of Thelma and Louise, but on the offensive, striking out at people who fuck with them. It’s their world – a world with no rules and no consequences, at least not for them. Sisterhood is indeed powerful.

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Even putting politics aside and focusing purely on aesthetics, this video brought out so many feelings in me. It’s no secret that one of my favorite cinematic images is that of a woman with someone else’s blood on her face – and this video ends with a closeup of Rihanna’s face absolutely covered in blood. I love music videos where female artists strike out with symbolic (feminist) violence – Nicki Minaj’s “Lookin Ass” is a recent example of this (although she doesn’t inflict any actual onscreen violence), and even going back to the outrage and furor over Madonna’s “What It Feels Like For a Girl” video, which seems tame in comparison now but at the time was absolutely shocking, only to be showed on MTV once. One of my all-time favorite videos, Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights” is a male fantasy on the subject. So “Bitch Better Have My Money” does have a precedent, but I’ve never seen anyone go quite this far – which is exactly why I love it. Rihanna takes the kind of female violence that we don’t see in movies – Spring Breakers again comes to mind, but that violence was muted in favor of beer bongs and pool parties – and crams an entire film’s worth into 7 minutes.

I’m sure there will be more to think about, and to feel, about “Bitch Better Have My Money” in the future. For now, though, it’s surprised me, and pushed me to write, which I appreciate greatly. It’s a hugely accomplished directorial debut from Rihanna, and I want to see her do more things this daring – women who cast themselves as the antiheroes in their own stories are small in number, but vitally important. Thanks, Rih.

SPRING JAMS 2K15

In honor of spring, here are some HOT JAMS chosen by us to celebrate the warm, bare legs weather before it gets too hot to move!!

Emily

Not much to say about these, just that I love them, they are all completely incandescent in their own way, and they each give me that spring feeling. (“Baby Please Don’t Go To Town,” “Que te trae por aqui,” “Dayung Sampan,” “Sur Efem Atini”)
One thing I should note, though, is that the song by Niela Miller is the original of Hey Joe (made famous by Billy Roberts, later and famously covered by Jimi Hendrix. As per Niela herself:
In the late fifties, Billy Roberts was my boyfriend for awhile. I was a songwriter and had written a song called “Baby Please Don’t Go To Town”. It is copyrighted. He stole it from me, kept the melody and put different words to it. thereby turning it into Hey Joe. My music publisher at the time advised me against suing Billy because Dino Valente’s name appeared on the recording and it would have been a long and expensive process.
Please let Billy know that whenever he wants to make amends, I would welcome it.
I love the song even without that context but hearing her wavering strange ghost voice come through the speakers after it was shouted down by history feels pretty special. I found it via one of my friend Derek’s amazing mixes.
Eva
“Townie” by Mitski: A great song for blasting in the car when you’re feeling joyously sad about who you’re not.
“Heretic” by Lady Lamb: I almost put this on a mix for my boyfriend as a sweet gesture which maybe says more about me than it does about this song.
“Sad Emporia” by Freelove Fenner: Relaxing and wistful-yet-poppy tune that is made 20x better by the gorgeous video that accompanies it. So easy to get lost in!
Maddy
Troublemaker – Beach House
I spend a lot of warm weather walking, and usually with headphones in. The moment it gets warmer is the minute I turn back to Beach House. And since they’re just announced a! new! album! this feels appropriate. Warm weather is about celebrating what’s to come.
Hip Hop Spa – Fatima Al Qadiri
Reminds me of riding in a car in a city during a warm night. Hypnotic but menacing.
Life’s Illusion – Ice the Falling Rain
I only listen to sad songs, but this one is very danceable.
Amaka
Memory Cassette – Asleep At A Party
“Asleep At A Party” reminds me of the pressure to be busy during the Summertime. Summer is an invitation to daydream, to be visually stunning, relaxed, outdoors. It may encourage us to use silly words like “explore” and “adventure” when describing brunch outings or a visit to the park. Summer can badger us into being social. “Asleep At A Party” is soothing, but also has sounds of yearning, which perfectly articulates my views of the upcoming warm season.
The lyrics are mostly unintelligible, which leaves it open, in my opinion, to personal interpretation. The dreamy, repetitive phrase, “sleep with one eye open” is the most clear, and a kind reminder — amongst the entertainment that is expected to come with the beginning of Summer, stay alert! But take care of yourself too.
Beach House – Lazuli

No band makes me want to twirl around with grand delusion quite like Beach House — the hazy, dreamy sounds from the dream pop duo make this band perfect for the warmer months. From their 2012 album Bloom, “Lazuli” is dreamy, optimistic, and full of lust.

The chant at the end of the song, “Like no other you can’t be replaced” rings of longing and admiration. For me it’s a reminder — don’t be afraid to be a bit of a fool, to misstep, to say the wrong thing, to wear mismatched clothing. It’s Summer, and it will be over soon enough.

Dana

Cooly G – “1st Time”

Spring is for dancing and frolicking, yes, but it’s also for romance, and doin it. Cooly G’s entire last album, Wait Til Night is a celebration of slinky sexuality, and this song is just a huge come-on.

Yelle – “Coca sans bulles”

Okay, real talk: I have no idea what Yelle is saying in this song, or any of her songs. Being monolingual means I miss out on the joys of French pop lyrics, but I can still totally dance to it!

Mourn – “Jack”

Mourn is a female-fronted, all-teen punk band from Barcelona that I just found out about – they have another album coming later this year, which I’m excited for. I think this is a perfect closer to this summer mix, because it’s all about saying FUCK YOU. Fuck everyone else, have a wonderful spring!!