sat 24/03/2018

New Music CDs: Favourites of 2009 | reviews, news & interviews

New Music CDs: Favourites of 2009

New Music CDs: Favourites of 2009

Top tunes of the last year including Muse, Lady Gaga, xx, Tom Russell and Oumou Sangare

Lady Gaga: So 2009
theartsdesk's critics look back fondly on their favourites of 2009. An eclectic selection full of eccentricities, our favourite music from the past year varies from the pop strangeness of Lady Gaga and Muse to "world-mariachi" from Tom Russell, West African grooviness from Oumou Sangare, electronica from Tim Exile, jazz from Branford Marsalis, Brazilian seduction from Céu as well as a couple of old warhorses on top form: Tom Waits and Neil Young. We've made it easier for you to purchase our recommendations: all you need to do is click on the link at the end of each review.

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Generally a very interesting piece, however one thing leaps out at me in the first few paragraphs... she has come to define a new ... model of femininity in pop. This seems to be an oft repeated meme about innovative female artists. But when was the last time you heard the inverse? The idea of a male artist "coming to define a new model of masculinity in pop"? It just seems such an odd thing to say. Men are not charged with reinventing their entire gender every time they put on a new outfit. Especially since the "icy robot" archetype of womanhood has been with us since the 1920s and Metropolis at least!

I must disagree with you there M.B., on both points. - The idea of a male artist "coming to define a new model of masculinity in pop" is at the very heart of what pop music has been from the very beginning. Where did the power of the stage personae of Elvis, Little Richard, Jagger, Bowie, Lydon, Prince etc etc etc come from if not from subversion and re-examination of what maleness is? - The "icy robot" may have been around for a long time, and Gaga certainly plays with that (see her album inner sleeve photo by David LaChapelle that directly references Metropolis!) - but I used the word "cyborg" rather than "robot" with good reason. Gaga in particular is not a robot built by man but a woman empowered, amplified and made bigger and scarier by her use of technology. Her version of this role IS new, and IS - I think - subversive and questioning of gender roles.

Although I would agree with your principle, I think you're missing the subtler point. I've oft seen Elvis, Little Richard, Jagger, Bowie, etc. described as "gender subversion" or "gender bending" in the extreme cases, but it's very rare that I see them described as "redefining *masculinity*" - the unspoken assumption being that the default gender being subverted or bent is male. When you changed that focus in your reply, rather than in the original post (Gaga subverting/questioning "gender roles" rather than "redefining femininity") it has more of an impact to me. This may seem like semantics to you, but it's rather an important distinction to me.

Ha, well if you want to split semantic hairs, what I actually said was "define a new, disquieting, gothic cyborg model of femininity in pop". Not (re)define femininity per se, but define a *model of it* - as the theatre of pop always does: create new, exaggerated, strange models of the familiar which people can project onto the realities of their lives, try on for size etc.

Phantom Band - Phab!

No votes for my record of 2009 - the Duckworth Lewis Method.

Lady Gaga is really something interesting. I was reading in a book today that noted how we (meaning humans) tend to confuse "originality" with "uniqueness". Originality actually has to do with the root word "origin", which has more to do with being "connected to the origin" than being unique. Somehow originality got twisted and morphed into "being different" or "cool" and I think Lady Gaga is a prime product of this perverse way of thinking.

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