Singles Club #95

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Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj

A buttload of reviews this week sees GetintothisChris Burgess address two different sides of Japanese culture, take a swipe at cliched videos and spring to the defence of Nicki Minaj.

Nicki Minaj: AnacondaSingle of the Week

It has to be, doesn’t it?

This video is making headlines across the world for its over-the-top sexual nature and has drawn a lot of heat in the press and on social media, with Minaj facing a barrage of comments deriding both her and this video.

However, you get the feeling that – as often happens with Nicki Minaj – people are missing the point. Yes, ostensibly this is a just a show of tits and ass, skirting the line between music video and porn, but deeper down there’s more to this.

Unlike Miley Cyrus, Lily Allen or Taylor Swift (more of whom to follow), Minaj comes across as genuine and authentic. She’s not misappropriating black hip-hop culture, she’s living it. For all the accusations of denigrating women with this video, is it anything worse than hip-hop has already seen from its male stars, including the video to Baby Got Back, which this song samples? Minaj is in complete control, making herself a sexual object rather than just being put there in the background as many male performers would have done (Robin Thicke, for example).

As for her being a bad influence on young kids watching this video – why are they watching it? With its liberal usage of the F, B and N words and references to guns, penises and cocaine, it’s hardly a child-friendly song to begin with. In fact, not many of her songs are.

But maybe that’s the problem in a nutshell, there seems to be some crazy expectation for Minaj to act a certain way – like Beyonce or Katy Perry – as a wholesome role model. She isn’t though, and never has been. Despite the dalliances with pop stardom and collaborations with David Guetta, she’s hip-hop through and through.

Whether you like the song or not, Anaconda is written and performed by a woman being playful, cheeky and incredibly knowing, having tons of fun and using her sexuality as she has every right to. Unlike other female stars there’s no chance that she has been forced into playing the sex card by a cynical record label, and you just know she doesn’t give a shit what anyone thinks of her.

 

Taylor Swift: Shake It Off

On the flip side to that, compared to Nicki Minaj, Swift’s new video looks positively virginal.

It’s a fun, catchy yet ultimately shallow tune, but surely someone should have told Swift that this isn’t the best week to be releasing a video featuring any amount of twerking. The dancers towards the end all look as though they’re being attacked by invisible wasps, too.

Haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate though, apparently.

 

Peaking Lights: Breakdown

Managing at once to be futuristic, modern and retro, Breakdown is a delightful little tune, full of West Coast cool and lo-fi disco beats. Mesmerising and simple, the LA-based duo Aaron Coynes and Indra Dunis continue their laid-back sound, last heard in 2012’s Lucifer.

All bodes well for their new album Cosmic Logic, released at the start of October.

 

SiM: Gunshots

As weirdly catchy as this Japanese ska/dubstep hybrid is, it’s incredibly hard to understand what it is they’re singing about. It’s either a glorification of aggressive sex or an anti-rape message that preaches that violence and murder is the answer. Either way the lyrics don’t sit comfortably at all with the bouncy tune beneath it, and the whole thing seems extremely ill-judged, sordid and incredibly offensive.

 

Dustin Wong & Takako Minekawa: She He See Feel

Certainly the weirdest single this week, and the opposite end of the Japanese spectrum to SiM, She He See Feel is a cute and quirky song.

It sounds like Helen Love, if she was born in Tokyo. Or maybe a Fisher Price version of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Nothing you say can do this justice, you just have to watch and let the tune bury itself into your head.

 

The War on Drugs: Under The Pressure

A soaring piece of work from the Philadelphian indie rockers here. Clocking in at nearly nine minutes, it shifts from ambient sounds to indie meanderings with a simple piano riff and driving drums, before building to a Springsteen-like crescendo and collapsing in on itself.

There’s a distinctly 80s vibe to their latest album (which is probably their most accomplished) and is certain to end up on many a list of the year’s best.

 

Gerard Way: No Shows

The former My Chemical Romance frontman has decided to branch out on his own.

Looking like a young Billy Corgan, Way shouts his way through this glam-rock stompalong. All credit to him for trying something new, but quite honestly this sounds like a Menswear B-side from 1995.

 

Marianne Faithfull: Sparrows Will Sing

Admittedly we’ve never been a fan of Marianne Faithfull. We’ve never thought she had much of a voice and seemed to have all the personality of an overly-sedated Phil Neville. However, there’s something genuinely endearing about this Roger Waters-penned tune, taken from her new album Give My Love To London. Faithfull’s gravelly voice finally appears to have a bit of character to it.

Having said that, it’s a becoming a bit of a cliché, making videos like this. Taking an aging singer with an earnest song, making them look sadly reflective and putting a few home-video style inserts alongside it has been massively overdone following Johnny Cash’s Hurt. Time to move on, maybe?

 

Pale: Silence

An understated and altogether smooth offering from Pale, one of the most intriguing new bands around, taken from The Come Back EP released early next month.

This is a classy and distinguished piece of songwriting, mellow and sumptuously produced.

 

astronomyy: Nothin On My Mind

A busy man, is astronomyy. Not content with producing solid downtempo grooves like Nothin On My Mind, taken from his recent There For U EP, he also directed the video.

As chilled out as the track itself, the video washes over you, with its perfect sunrise and beachside scenery.

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