Tag Archives: Christina Aguilera

Janelle Monae

Eric: I did not sign up for this topic because I had something coherent to say about Janelle Monae. Rather, it was blind and overwhelming enthusiasm.

AKIE BERMISS: Well, on the one hand, I too and writing from sheer, unbridled fandom. I think I heard a snippet of Monae’s “Tightrope” a few months back and I thought it sounded pretty funky. In fact, it led me to look up her bio and read reviews of her previous record — the self-produced Metropolis EP. And, as a geek and funkster, I have weakness for all things alien, cyborg, and futuristic. Funk is, after all, that futuristic music. Its the blues for robots. And, if you’ve ever read any Isaac Asimov you’ll know, when robots get the blues its heavy.

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Is This Photo Racist?

STEPHON JOHNSON: It comes around every year: a potentially racially-charged photo spread in a fashion magazine. But it doesn’t make Interview’s spread any less worthy of discussion.

AKIE BERMISS: Shock value — that’s all it comes down to. I don’t know anything about fashion or photography, but I do know about shock value. I do know about the social mores of the 20th and 21st centuries in America. I do know about the objectification of women and the theoretical hyper-masculinity of the black man. How one is the embodiment of purity, innocence, and beauty and the other is the paradigm of savagery, carnality, and evil. And that even when that innocence or purity is somewhat sarcastic (or, over the top, if you will) and even when that beauty is not really all that beautiful, and even when the savagery and the evil are meant to seem dangerously seductive — I know that the basic morality play is the same. This (good) versus that (bad). And who can resist so compelling a dichotomy?
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90s: The Golden Age of Music?

AKIE BERMISS: I should make it clear from the outset that it is not my position that the 90s was THE golden age of music. Just perhaps one of many golden mini-eras that come and go with the tides. And I should also make it clear that there is very little scientific evidence to back up the arguments I am going to presently make. What follows is, rather, a pseudo-scholarly attempt to draw up a basic outline of musical trends in the last half century or so.

I speak, of course, of music. Of the last great golden age of music: the 90s. But not as an isolated incident, rather, as a the most recent evidence of a decidedly unproven trend of artistic flowering under a Democratic presidency. It seems curious to me that we can so often think of artistic artifacts as being simply art’s domain when, in fact, we all know that outward influences are always at play. That often art is a sign of the times. Or art can act as a cultural and societal artifact as potently as an “artistic” one. Certainly anthropologists look to art in order to gauge the tenor and timbre of a civilization. Why shouldn’t we (albeit on a more micro-level)?

STEPHON JOHNSON: While the 90′s could be considered last real golden age for music, the way music was consumed and experienced back then might cloud our judgement of the decade. Continue reading

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