but I don't think you can assume that a statement HAS to claim to be more than mere entertainment (i.e. entertainment is full of statements, as much as it is full of things which don't claim to do anything other than 'be' (if this is possible)) so statements and entertainment are not necessarily compatible. I was complaining that matt's attack on lex implied that he wasn't allowed to take seriously paris's records as statements because they could *only* be entertainment (rather than *also* entertainment)
I like the idea that paris's baggage means we are all decadent sophisticates, but surely the baggage on paris is nowhere as bad as the baggage on Michael Jackson, say, and no-one sees him as not making statements, however crass and dull they are. When my brother bought a Sam Fox single aged 12 he knew she was a page 3 model (because my mother told him so in no uncertain terms to explain why she didn't like women like Sam Fox) but accepted this baggage -- does that mean he liked it knowingly?
i.e there is always mediation (first lesson in dialectics!) so yr initial opposition of statement to entertainment needs to be made in different terms (I take the difference to be one about ambition, statement says I am something else other than / as well as entertainment ). so-called 'poptimism' sometimes runs the risk of equating pop with spontaneity, but it would be more interesting to see pop as sophisticated i.e. statements, i.e. the things usually denied about it, despite the fact that the statements are really obviously all over it for everyone to see!
― alext (alext), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 11:56 (6 years ago) Permalink
― AleXTC (AleXTC), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:05 (6 years ago) Permalink
that'd be awesome, Lex, thank you! "i do wonder how much my love of paris ANYWAY informs my love of her songs" this is surely where pop lies! They can be fucking fantastic in their own right just like some anonyswede chart hit can be fucking fantastic in its own right, it's not the same as the kind of fucking-fantastic that they are because they're Paris Hilton songs off the Paris Hilton album, oh man, paris hilton made an album, that's so [insert adjective here].
no one else (sane) does
I don't think this is true! all the people who bought 'stars are blind'? they're not collectively insane, they have reasons, they must have truly liked it (for whatever mix of reasons, love of tune, love of paris-the-phenom, whatever else) else they wouldn't have bought it.
― stop moving. (cis), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:06 (6 years ago) Permalink
To take this further, it's not merely about distinguishing between entertainment and meaning and placing pop on the side of entertainment, but also putting other music on the side of meaning! Which is unfair to other music.
I don't see the point of cordoning off pop with special rules that apply to it and not to other music - in fact if anything my point of disagreement with Lex would be that he ocassionally appears to make qualitative distinctions based on what-pop-is (or what-not-pop-is - e.g. indie music featuring boys and guitars, and worst of all boys with guitars) rather than what-pop-does. I'm not sure if he is actually doing this though, it's probably just an impression that some of his rhetorical devices create inadvertantly.
Alex is right here: the word I like to use rather than "statement" is "strategy", which I think is less loaded with conventional notions of "meaning" in art. All successful pop is the result of a strategy-for-success, and this is also the cause of its ocassional sense of spontaneity: sophisticated strategies in pop can be so successful that we don't see them coming. What appears to be simplicity is as much a design so sophisticated you can't see the joins.
― Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:07 (6 years ago) Permalink
― alext (alext), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:10 (6 years ago) Permalink
I guess the distinction i'd make is that one of the meanings of "style" is that it sort of exists for the purpose of identification - i.e. "I recognise this as a ballad".
Whereas for me "strategy" is about how music forces you to come up with new categories or notions in response, how it prevents you from merely saying "I recognise this as a ballad" and moving on indifferently. How it sneaks in some point of difference which might move Lex to paradoxically talk about the living, beating heart inside plastic pop. One of the implications of "strategy" is precisely that slightly Macchiavellian overtone of doing something in a way that can't be identified until it's too late and it's a fait accompli.
So "style" and "strategy" become two sides of the coin perhaps: familiarity versus surprise. Both of which are crucial to how we receive music.
― Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:18 (6 years ago) Permalink
this is surely where pop lies! They can be fucking fantastic in their own right just like some anonyswede chart hit can be fucking fantastic in its own right, it's not the same as the kind of fucking-fantastic that they are because they're Paris Hilton songs off the Paris Hilton album, oh man, paris hilton made an album, that's so [insert adjective here].
Lex, I suspect I will like it for reason b - it's astonishing how little pop actually deals with the notion of Real Love head-on when you think about it.
yes, Reason B is my favourite reason as well - and this reason is particularly effective because of who Paris is, the gilded princess with everything who not only hasn't found Real Love but also has no idea what it is beyond a hotchpotch of childhood references (but her Real Love fantasy is also very alluring...)
― The Lex (The Lex), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:21 (6 years ago) Permalink
To prevent this from just being me hijacking this thread with random meanderings, my point here is that I agree that the danger of simple pop(tim)ism is the entrenchment of this notion of pop as simplicity/spontaneity/entertainment - and the problem with this notion is precisely that it unwittingly buys into notions of "manufactured pop" whereby people like a pop song just because it is the same as the last pop song they heard (pop fandom as consumption as brand loyalty).
The problem with this is not so much that it undersells pop, but more fundamentally that it's not how people actually engage with music - at least I don't think it is. I do believe that everyone likes music insofar as it slightly exceeds their expectations, and can't quite be explained simply by reference to their enjoyment of a prior song.
― Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:25 (6 years ago) Permalink
Ie Thom Yorke's attack on Blair no matter how noble matters less if the music is viewed as tedious and dreary by the majority of listeners, even those predisposed to like it. Whereas this piece of fantastically eurphoric Serbian Eurobeat about a bear may mean nothing whatsoever if everyone agrees about its sonic aceness.
If the statement and the music are both there, brilliant. But no one other than the usual rockist grouches are making the argument that the Paris album is shite because its a plastic pop album, it's because it's a BAD plastic pop album, especially compared to Britney, Xtina, Rachel, GA, whoever. What I was criticising Lex for is his assertion elsewhere many times before that the actual music of Stars Are Blind is of secondary importance to What Paris Is Saying.
I may be approaching this from a skewed point of view because I am very good at just not noticing hugely prominent celebrities ie I had no idea who Nicole Richie was before about four months ago and cottoned onto Paris relatively late as well, so I disagree totally that its impossible to listen to the album without baggage. I'm 90% certain, for example, that my mum doesn't know who Paris Hilton is.
I'm not sure I like spontenaeity in pop really. I like it when an awful lot of work has gone into making something feel spontaneous, but that's a side issue.
Many xposts now .
― Matt DC (Matt DC), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:29 (6 years ago) Permalink
all coat-trailing about urban sophisticates and ironists and entertainments and statements, soul and lack-of-soul apart, when it comes down to it, this is what it comes down to:
"i don't know why a lot of the people who will freely admit to loving, i dunno, britney spears or kylie minogue on both a superficial look-at-those-beats-and-her-tits level AND a 'deeper' emotional level, find doing this with paris so hard."
it's the songs, stupid!
― Bashment Jakes (Enrique), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:30 (6 years ago) Permalink
i agree, though i'd insert the word 'only' before 'simplicity/spontaneity/entertainment' - i don't think there's anything wrong with emphasising these aspects of pop, but i do think it's a mistake to emphasise them to the exclusion of anything beneath them. and it's a mistake that lots of sites, eg popjustice, make - it's the kind of thinking which leads to a very conservative defn of pop as "a proper tune which the milkman can whistle".
― The Lex (The Lex), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:30 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Britain's Obtusest Shepherd (Alan), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:31 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Britain's Obtusest Shepherd (Alan), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:33 (6 years ago) Permalink
it's the songs, stupid!
it's NOT a bad plastic pop album, and EVERYONE (except alex/tim/cis/myself) is criticising it purely because it's paris. it's a really fucking good album with really good songs which are made even better by the fact that it's paris singing them and that she gives them some sort of heart/meaning/statement.
― The Lex (The Lex), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:34 (6 years ago) Permalink
I think it's a bit sad that so many people upthread seem to find it impossible to believe that P Hilton can have put her name to a terrific, or even good, pop record.
When I read you talking about it though Lex the impression I get is of someone who was determined to like it before he heard it. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS before the carpers start - I *love* that feeling of "This is going to be the best record EVER" before I play something for the first time. It just means I don't necessarily trust you on it.
― Tom (Groke), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:36 (6 years ago) Permalink
i don't hate 'stars are blind' but 'a fucking fantastic song'? really?
― Bashment Jakes (Enrique), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:38 (6 years ago) Permalink
I think the thing about the Paris Hilton baggage is that it's very simple and consistent - esp as opposed to the M Jackson baggage which can contradict and cancel itself (plus he was around before his bulkiest baggage came into existence, so if you want to wilfully ignore it that is, I think, more possible). It is more like the Sam Fox baggage, I guess, though I don't know that much about how her records played off her mythos (weren't they heavily sexualised? (the way that the 'stars are blind' is kind of shiny and listless and 'if you show me real love, baby, i'll show you mine' is really key, I think, it's like a comment on the paris-persona while also being a lovely dreamy pop song)).
― stop moving. (cis), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:39 (6 years ago) Permalink
(How long until the Coleen record comes out, btw? There must be one around the corner.)
Xpost - Tom OTM really. However I will freely admit to having a kneejerk reaction when the Tara Palmer-Tompkinson record comes out (which IS actually happening).
― Matt DC (Matt DC), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:40 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Torgeir Hansen/MRZBW (MRZBW), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:40 (6 years ago) Permalink
when i read back what i wrote it reads like someone who has thought that and is indescribably happy that he has been proved right!
(in my plan b singles column, i wrote that i expected it to be amazing in a very specific way, but i was genuinely shocked that it was emotionally compelling as well - i mean, 'stars are blind' was certainly not what i was expecting)
― The Lex (The Lex), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:40 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Dom Passantino (Dom Passantino), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:41 (6 years ago) Permalink
― The Lex (The Lex), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:42 (6 years ago) Permalink
Worth noting because unlike The Lex, I didn't want to like/love Paris as pop star (or anything really).
I'm actually only criticising the one Paris record I've heard because it sounds like a bad UB40 cover
what makes it so bad exactly? inauthenticity? should it be 'stronger' in sound even tho this wouldn't be a true reflection of PH's personality (supposedly - she's playing up to a girly stereotype perhaps, but not necess. a bad thing)? this UB40 comparison seems pretty lazy.
― Konal Doddz (blueski), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:42 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Britain's Obtusest Shepherd (Alan), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:43 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Dom Passantino (Dom Passantino), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:44 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Josh in Chicago (Josh in Chicago), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:44 (6 years ago) Permalink
Tim -- 'style' = my term of the moment for thinking about things, makes slightly more sense with literature than music so I should have kept it to myself really. I think I agree with everything else you're saying.
Matt -- if poptimism means elevating the entertainment value of something above everything else, then I have no interest in it at all! Surely the correct name for this is 'hedonism' or possibly 'decadence'.
Bashment -- 'it's the songs stupids'. Julia Lennon principle -- where does the song start / stop? It's never 'just' a song.
Of course I haven't heard the Paris album, it may be drivel for all I know.
― alext (alext), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:44 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Bashment Jakes (Enrique), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:44 (6 years ago) Permalink
I personally do not rate Sam Fox's singles that much - "Touch Me" is OK but she's no Sabrina.
― Tom (Groke), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:45 (6 years ago) Permalink
Yes, Paris didn't 'fall from grace' as it were. In many people's minds she started from zero/with nothing and her rep could only improve as a result. It's now v difficult to see how I could dislike her/idea of her more or as much as I did when The Simple Life first started showing now that she's made a pop album this is not bad (even if it's not in same league as Xtina or whoever), which seems like a good thing.
― Konal Doddz (blueski), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:46 (6 years ago) Permalink
well indeed, but when you're paris hilton you surely have to work *double* hard to get the song right because you have nothing else going for you.
― Bashment Jakes (Enrique), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:46 (6 years ago) Permalink
This isn't quite what i was saying though alan - I was saying that poptimism (in the sense of a style of talking/writing about music) can unwittingly buy into the same characterisation of pop as rockist decriers of "manufactured pop" use. In other words, I think it's a rhetorical failure to say "yes, it's nothing but entertainment, and that is why it is great!"
As much as it would be to say, "no, no, it's not just entertainment, it's filled up with meaning just like yr much vaunted rock!" Which is (I think) what Matt was accusing Lex of doing.
I tend to self-identify as a popist/poptimist though - I don't think these tendencies are fatal.
― Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:47 (6 years ago) Permalink
Where can I hear this record? Is the bear being mistreated?
― Raw Patrick (Raw Patrick), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:49 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:49 (6 years ago) Permalink
this is a point i don't really get. why is paris hilton's sleb persona so repulsive? i don't see it as any 'worse' than britney, or j-lo, or kylie, all of whom get approval from poptimists. if anything the ludicrous nature of p hilton's fame makes her a BETTER candidate to be a popstar.
― The Lex (The Lex), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:50 (6 years ago) Permalink
The first question I ask when I hear some music is "does this entertain me?". Obviously this isn't the only question I ask, and it may end up not being the most important.
― Tom (Groke), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:51 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Tom (Groke), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:52 (6 years ago) Permalink
haha there was a v sympathetic interview in the guardian about a month ago which made exactly this case. i guess it is easier to present someone as sentient in print. but it's not paris's person we care about, right? it's her persona which can include anything we choose to project on to her.
critics go O NOES
ironically, the actual critics in the uk have pretty much all given the album middling-to-good reviews, in a "haha these songs are actually ok despite her" way.
― The Lex (The Lex), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:53 (6 years ago) Permalink
She is an 80s pop star, with 80s-sounding songs!
― Konal Doddz (blueski), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:53 (6 years ago) Permalink
Curiously, Robbie is one of the few Very Famous Indeed popstars who most Poptimists (including the Lex) are ambivalent or outright hostile to.
― Matt DC (Matt DC), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 12:57 (6 years ago) Permalink
― Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 13:14 (6 years ago) Permalink
Tom, isn't this question - even by itself - a bit more complex than it appears though? Or rather, it's a simple question which is referring to an operation whcih may not be simple. Needless to say, I don't think pop records which are entertaining are entertaining in the same way.
I mean, I'd even be prepared to accept that "does this entertain me?" is the only question we need to ask about any music, but then I'd define "entertain" so broadly that you could fit half the world of pop music criticism inside that one question.
― Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 13:23 (6 years ago) Permalink
Isn't the Robbie problem also in the gravitas of his Big Singles? I think he occupies a similar position for ze poptimists as do, e.g, Coldplay/Keane, this thing which sonically isn't pop (owing more to 'guitar music' or wvs) but is popular. But, yeah, Robbie's early career is really interesting in terms of self-positioning - from Freedom's "take back your singing in the rain" male-artist-goes-solo-as-George-Michael onward.
― stop moving. (cis), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 15:38 (6 years ago) Permalink
Yes sorry that was sort of what I was trying to imply - the second question might be "how?" and the third "why?" for instance.
― Tom (Groke), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 16:56 (6 years ago) Permalink
― gear (gear), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 17:00 (6 years ago) Permalink
The more I think about it, the more a lot of the kneejerk criticism (mostly from the mainstream press, not message board debate) is there's a sense that Paris for some reason isn't ALLOWED to be a pop star. In the UK market the Paris album is broadly aimed at (the Heat magazine demographic, to crassly put it), she's (ahem) screwed by two big things:
1. An established tradition of laughing at Paris (as Tom's pointed out elsewhere), from bad dresses to what happens when she tries to work on a farm on TV.
2. A general suspicion of presenters, actresses or other media personalities who turn their hand to releasing records. This goes right back to the 80s Aussie soap stars and only Kylie has really been allowed to transcend that (even J-Lo's still viewed with some suspicion). Mind you some Proper Pop Stars suffer from this as well, Rachel Stevens' album was fantastic and yet her Lads Mag persona was so offputting to its market that it scuppered sales. The exact same record given to Kylie would've been hailed as a classic.
Whereas the biggest pop stars (Britney, Madge, Xtina, Robbie) succeed because they ARE pop, it's not merely something to fill in the gaps between photo shoots. Likewise the moral disapproval side is maybe overplayed - R Kelly fucking underage girls didn't prevent Ignition from being a massive hit.
This is a totally rockist viewpoint to take but I reckon its pretty widespread outside the realm of interweb debates.
(I've now listened to Screwed and Nothing In This World - they're not outright awful and there's the basis of a good tune in both of them but the execution is poor. Melodically they lurch around uncomfortably and both the performance and the production are a bit limp and don't really take off).
― Matt DC (Matt DC), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 18:46 (6 years ago) Permalink
If we'd been following the last couple of years of Skanky Ho Britney without her ever having released a record, she'd be considerably less favourably viewed even if the debut single was as amazing as Baby One More Time multiplied by Toxic.
Or, to magnify the point, imagine how it'd be perceived if Jade Goody released an album tomorrow?
― Matt DC (Matt DC), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 18:51 (6 years ago) Permalink
dude, someone who proclaims she's in the same line as marilyn monroe and madonna has a few loose screws in her head. that's saying if she HAS any. she does take herself seriously and does really consider herself to be the shit (or hott). i think this is the main reason why i won't be able to enjoy the record, i have a pre-established notion of her being as self-absorbed. still i should give it a try...
In other words, the pop audience wants their popstars to at least come into their world with some mystique.
The more you know about a (pop) artist, the less you can be entertained. There's too much information, too much knowledge, so you can't build a dream, can't mirror yourself on the artist.
― Nathalie (stevie nixed), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 18:58 (6 years ago) Permalink
nathalie: i think " a few screws loose", "thinks she's hott" and "self-absorbed" as all v good qualities in a popstar.
The more you know about a (pop) artist, the less you can be entertained. There's too much information, too much knowledge, so you can't build a dream, can't mirror yourself on the artist.
i find this interesting - so for all the focus on people not taking paris seriously because she's fake...this makes more sense, not taking her seriously because her life is so public that we think we know what she's like already - and we think she's too dumb to get in character for a song, so essentially we are saying that paris hilton the popstar is too REAL!
this i understand. i find all the lyrics which double as both lovely dreamy romance words and comments on Paris The Celebrity cute, but we know how badly meta plays with many people, so...yeah, when she sings something like "since i'm already screwed" or "if you show me real love baby i'll show you mine" that could be TOO MUCH of what we perceive to be the 'real' paris impinging on the song.
in fact i did say on poptimists that i felt there was too much conflating of paris-the-persona and paris-the-person going on - and this interview reveals that curiously, paris herself has a good grip on the situation.
Hilton says the baby voice she uses on the reality TV show "The Simple Life" is an act.
"I'm always playing a character," she says. "I don't talk like this really -- like a baby. I don't act like myself in public, because I don't really want to show everyone the real me. Because I have no privacy whatsoever, the only thing I have is who I really am."
that's a really good quote actually.
― The Lex (The Lex), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 19:14 (6 years ago) Permalink
*not v good or detailed as originally intended to be capsule review in the print mag until i missed the deadline, idiot me
― The Lex (The Lex), Tuesday, 22 August 2006 19:18 (6 years ago) Permalink