Art or Insensitivity?

Pop is expected to be easy. You hear a song once and you know the story almost instantly. However, when it deviates from the norm and becomes complex, it’s difficult to delve past the surface.

My initial exposure to Anohni’s “Drone Bomb Me” was a viewing of the music video and after watching, I was confused. The video clearly wants to emphasize pain. Throughout the beginning scenes of the video when Noami Campbell is sitting in the chair her expression is one of manic glee – happiness for finally ending her pain. There is symbolism in who Naomi Campbell plays. Maybe I read too much into the video, but you clearly see her wearing a Rosary and thorny headpiece, which could to be a reference to Jesus. Campbell symbolizes a desire to end pain with the sacrifice of her life so that others will not have to? There is also the unmissable depiction of the cross when Campbell horizontally outstretches her arms. All in all, there is something unsettling about this video.

Listening for the first time, I thought the song was about tragic love and perhaps there is truth in that assumption, but my scope was too small. My initial thought was that the song had been inspired by Anohni’s struggle dealing with the reminder of lost love – relief could only be reached by death, and more specifically death by drone. It was a morbid conclusion, but the video was anything but optimistic, so I thought my superficial interpretation was correct. Operating under this pretense, the song did not sit well with me. How could Anohni (and all those involved)  be so insensitive? To wish for a drone bomb was disrespectful and inappropriate.

Turns out, Anohni isn’t insensitive. The song represents the bleak and desperate yearnings of a girl living in Afghanistan who has witnessed the death and destruction of her family members as the result of drone bombings. There is nothing else for this girl, but to wish for the very same fate as her family. The music video, although visually beautiful (Riccardo Tisci is the creative director), does not explicitly indicate the true source of inspiration, but now that I’m aware of Anohni’s political message, I can listen to the song and try to build a sliver of understanding and empathy.

The “Drone Bomb Me,” music video is below. I will take the week to listen to the rest of the album and organize my thoughts. Clearly, I’m late in reviewing this album, but I know it will be moving and I’d love for us to share whatever feelings surface while listening.

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Bennie and the Jets?

I’m a huge fan of playing music in the background. It’s my way of pretending I’m a star of a tv show (sad, I know). Today, I had Beats 1 Radio playing and at some point “Sick Love” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers started playing. My gut told me that something about the song was familiar. Mind you, at this point I’d only heard the song once, but from one listen I was able to conclude that an element in the verses resembled Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets.” Was Elton John aware? Was he involved?

With this little piece of information, I took to the internet. According to an interview, “Sick Love” was already in progress when the Red Hot Chili Peppers found a similarity to “Bennie and the Jets.” This prompted the band to contact Elton John and propose a collaborative effort – Elton John plays the piano and has writing credit, as does Bernie Taupin.

This discovery prompted me to look into Lady Gaga’s “Girl,” which features Florence Welch and also sounds like “Bennie and the Jets.” “Girl” is a lady anthem depicting one of the most special and often ridiculed friendships. With lines like “we can make it easy if we lift each other” and “help me hold my hair back. walk me home ’cause I can’t find a cab,” you can’t help but find the duet fun and honest. After looking through a few sources, I found no credits to Elton John. The song was written by Mark Ronson, Lady Gaga, and Florence Welch. However, the piano is so similar. I’m surprised there are no credits to John or Taupin. Perhaps I’m missing something, maybe there is some obscure reference I’ve been unable to uncover, or maybe the close relationship between Gaga and John allowed for omission. Who knows! The point is that in a weird way it’s kind of the year of “Bennie and the Jets,” and I want to know if there are any other songs which have been influenced  it.

A Clear Out

If you’re anything like me, your iTunes library includes an array of songs you haven’t listened to in over 10 years. I’m only 23, which means I have songs from when I was in middle school, and let me just say that my wannabe angst filled preteen and teenage years weren’t my best years in terms of musical consistency – Panic! At the Disco and High School Musical soundtrack anyone? So, I decided to run through my library to get rid of and complete albums (when appropriate).

It’s weird to go through my old music, different memories and people are coming back to me and it’s a therapeutic experience. Also, as a person that’s trying to consolidate all her music into one place (I’ve used 3 streaming services in the last year) it’s helpful to get organized. There’s nothing more disappointing than forgetting to include playlists in the streaming service you’re actually using.

I honestly just wanted to provide an update and get back into the habit of writing. Hopefully, my consolidation and organization efforts will help me find new content to share. I know it’s been a while – I’ve been a bit discouraged, and I’m going through a lot of personal changes, but I really want to start focusing on what’s important and creating new and healthy habits, behaviors, and actions.