Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Are these musical divas being creatively expressive or simply courting controversy?

Talk has been buzzing quite a bit on the music video scene lately since the release of Lady Gaga and Beyonce's new mini-movie of "Telephone." Many of the fans are thrilled with this hot topic take on the song while others are expressing shock,along with the usual "what about the children?!" rhetoric thrown in.

Personally,I like the song better than the video(it's too campy even by John Waters standards for my taste)and if some folks don't want their kids to see it,that's their right as parents as along they don't infringe on anyone else's right to view it for their next dance party.

Also,it's really hard for me to take most of the outrage seriously since this video is the ultimate tongue-in-cheek parody of a parody film. No doubt Lady Gaga and Beyonce had fun doing this but I hope their next video duet is less of an R rated cartoon and more like a Tarantino R rated flick instead(he's obviously a fan due to lending Gaga that infamous getaway vehicle from Kill Bill):

Chicks with controversial music videos are far from being an unusual sight on the pop music landscape but it's interesting to see just what people find offensive regarding content and presentation of theme at the time said video hits the airwaves.

The Queen of Video Controversy is still Madonna,who has run the gambit on scandalous imagery and while her bag of tricks is running low,can not be completely counted out of the game.

One of the last videos that Madonna released which had the attention of the media's talking heads was back in 2001 and like Telephone,it had a twisted Thelma and Louise vibe to it. "What It Feels Like for a Girl" took a more gritty approach to the material,mainly influenced by it's director Guy Ritchie(who was Madonna's husband at the time)and holds a rather haunting energy to it even after all this time:

While Telephone is ringing up the charts,fueled by it's talk of the town video antics,coverage on it may be dialed back due to the new "did you see that?!" sensation on the music video scene.

Erykah Badu's first single off her new album is called "Window Seat" and it has her visiting Dealy Plaza in Dallas,the infamous site of the JFK assassination. As she makes her way along the busy streets,Badu undresses until she is totally naked(her lady parts are covered by pixelation)and when she gets to that well known grassy knoll,a shot rings out and Badu falls down as if hit,with the words "group think" bleeding in blue from her head.

While I get the whole symbolism behind the strip tease here(shedding inhibitions and emotional baggage),again the song is better without the visuals here,in my opinion. Badu's artistic intent is clearly heartfelt but with the combo of her impromptu nudity and the chilling JFK connection,her message may get lost in translation:

What will be interesting to see is whether the Kennedy allusions or the nudity will stir up the most outrage. Naked singers have been showing up for quite some time now;even Badu was inspired by a recent Matt & Kim video where the band stripped down in Times Square.

It's kind of sad that when nudity is presented in a nonsexual manner such as in 2002's "Thank You" by Alanis Morrisette,it really seems to rile folks up more than any sleazy sex scene in a movie or on TV. What that says about our society speaks volumes:

While both "Telephone" and "Window Seat" may get some sales and major league publicity for both right and wrong reasons,it's truly up to the viewer whether or not there is any actual artistic value to the video showcase for the song.

The song is the thing here and as much as I love to be dazzled by a singer's imagination on film,sometime a simple straightforward performance of the tune in question is the one that goes over best. If you have a beautiful creation to begin with,a fanciful setting is not necessary to display it for others. They will admire it's loveliness even in the most mundane of surroundings and remember all the more fondly for it:

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