Music Reader: Haim, Miley, Lorde, Naked And Famous, more
The week in music articles that you should read immediately.
Haim, Lorde and the Monogenre by Chris Deville (Stereogum): In the wake of last week's wild success of Lorde and Haim (pictured)—two young artists tagged as "indie" but actually signed to major labels and enjoying life at the top of the charts—Deville argues that the "singularity" is approaching. "Pop music’s convergence into a single unified style I like to call the monogenre."
He cites the recent genre-melting collabs between Coldplay and Rihanna, Avicii and Aloe Blacc, Taylor Swift and dubstep as examples of this gentrification, and poses Lorde and—following Steve Hyden's lead at Grantland ('Indie Rocks Death Rattle')—Haim as examples of this gentrification actually becoming the style.
Hyden comes at it from another angle, arguing that we're currently in the midst of the death rattle of indie.
In the past month, there's been a series of releases — including Haim's Days Are Gone, Chvrches' The Bones of What You Believe, Lorde's Pure Heroine, Icona Pop's This Is … Icona Pop, and the 1975's self-titled debut — that have been slotted as "indie pop," ostensibly because they're positioned outside "regular" pop just as Pearl Jam once was placed outside regular rock music.
But the "indie" modifier is instantly extraneous once you've actually heard these records — in sound and form, there's nothing that's weird, experimental, or potentially off-putting about them. (The same can be said of indie-favored pop records released earlier in the year, including Charli XCX's True Romance, AlunaGeorge's Body Music, and Ariana Grande's Yours Truly.) They're well produced, catchy, immediately likable, and fashioned in the mold of successful trends. They are simply pop pop records.
Cool Story: What Does Cool Even Mean In 2013? by Carl Wilson (Slate): People want to be cool, they want to do cool things. MGMT have a song on their new LP called 'Cool Song No. 2'. Carl Wilson here (who knows his stuff, having written an excellent book about the incredibly cool Celine Dion) explores the idea of "cool" and how it probably works in reality.
Get Back, And Just Let Miley Grow Up by Jon Caramanica (New York Times): In the wake of Sinead O'Connor's open letter to Miley Cyrus (and its three sequels thus far), there's been a fair bit of writing about Miley Cyrus and feminism and sex - here's Amanda Palmer (who's not averse to nudity) writing an open letter back defending Miley; here's Rebecca Shaw arguing that Sinead had some good points between the slut-shaming bits; here's Michelle Smith at The Conversation talking about the different viewpoint within feminism and how Miley will probably appeal to second-wave feminists but not third-wave feminists.
Note that Sinead seems fairly convinced that Miley Cyrus wouldn't actually *want* to do the things she does, and seems to assume that she has 'advisors' or 'her people' pushing her to be slutty for maximum $$$. But I think it's fair to say that, while Miley may be young and naive, that she is making her own decisions to a very real extent. And, of course, Caramanica is very good on where Miley is coming from in a pop kind of way, and what she's likely hoping to achieve.
The Girlie Show: The Boundaries Of Sex And Pop by Philip Matusavage (How Upsetting): Of course, Miley's not the first pop star to explore sex; Madonna's Girlie Show, which Matusavage explores here in excellent detail, was fairly scandalous at the time, but Madonna saw it as art, and she didn't back down or give in to her detractors.
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