It's rare, but I have nothing to say!
To compensate, here is one of my songs of the moment.
One of my favorite songs at the moment is Fela Kuti's Colonial mentality. I find it to be both profound and hip while disagreeing fully with its title and its message, which is a proof of the universality and greatness of Kuti's music (it is difficult but to enjoy it, I have to ignore his politics and his misogyny).
I stopped a long time ago to believe that there is such a thing as blackness and africanness/africanity. I have realized that the quest for authenticity is similar to Caligula's destructive and impossible one for the sun in Camus's play in the sense that it always ends with a witch-hunt for there must be monsters to blame for shortcomings and traitors to chastise for their refusal to be 'true africans' or whatever else is considered to be pure or socially acceptable.
Colonial mentality is a great song with a political message that I despise because it is culturalist and defines identity in terms that are too absolute and too reactionary to be productive. To put things bluntly, since existence precedes essence, what matters is the choice for people aren't being in themselves. Whether a mentality is colonial or not is no longer an essential question for what matters is individuality and responsibility. That said, the song is awesome and Fela Kuti's message is worth listening too because although his conclusion is erroneous, it is both legitimate and pertinent while being too self-absorbed and ideological to be complete.
The sentence of the day is from Michael Hinds's review of Morris Dickstein book's Dancing in the Dark: A Cultural History of the Great Depression:
At least in the 1930s they had Cary Grant. We have Lady Gaga.
Is it reassuring or just solely depressing that pop art during depression is about flash, visually stimulating distractions from thought and analysis?
Some have trouble acknowledging it, but the best French music in our time is made in the West Indies. Now, what does that tell us is about French national identity (I have Eric Besson, the French immigration minister, om my mind) if the the Brel and Gainsbourg of today live in the DOM-TOMS? All you have to do is to listen to this song to get it. Zouk is in my opinion what Jazz was 50 years ago, that is at it. Since I just can't just write a cheerful post on a artificial day, I just hope that Zouk doesn't get Americanized in the bad sense of the word (yes, there is such a thing as good and even great Americanization).
I don't love the Beatles (one shouldn't love the same singers as one's parents), but I love this song even though it is too corny to be true and that its message is too syrupy to be simply erroneous.
I like Jennifer Hudson, which surprises me because I have stopped liking RnB. She has something, which makes her universally likable and she isn't over the top. I watched her performance on the MJ thing ( I don't know how to call it, but I don't want to disrespect it either) yesterday and it was just right.
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In honor (I use the word sarcastically) of France's defeat to Italy (again ) yesterday in Euro 2008, here is a great video of Josephine Baker singing Cha Cha. It is heartbreaking to watch Les Blues take every blow against them with fatalism by viewing them as signs that victory is impossible and that therefore they must do everything not to embarrass themselves further by accepting fate instead of trying everything to win even if means losing spectacularly. Anyway, thank god that it's possible to cha cha with a broken heart.
Just saw the speech of Hillary Clinton. I'm not going to comment it because it is unnecessary. All of it reminds me of one of my favorite eighties french song about how hard it is to be une Femme libérée. The one lesson that I've learned from all this fascinating, but pathetic drama is that women have to stop to apologize for being bitches and for being flawed, imperfect and wanting more. Here is the video from the song, which explains it all.
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This is the song I'm currently listening to in order to escape the madness of the month of March. Of course, I'm still following March Madness and by the way I hope that Duke loses today, that Davidson upsets Georgetown tomorrow, that UCLA doesn't make it to the Final Four this year, and that the Tar Heels win the whole thing.
I'm still hung over form all the caramelized love that comes with Valentine day. I can't think clearly so I guess i just going to have to wait a day or two until I recover from all that noise that comes with the thirst for love. Anyway, this is a video of one of my favorite songs of the last five years. The singer is Marc Lavoine and the title of the song is J'ai tout oublié and he sings it with Cristina Marocco.
It's a beautiful Sunday and yet, I feel as moody as this beautiful Yves Montand's song. The trouble with February is that it is either the ideal month to write or to decry the fact that you have no inspiration and that your brain is an casket. It's neither cold nor hot enough to avoid thinking and to surf on thorny realities.
In this scene taken from François Ozon's 8 Femmes ( 8 Women), Isabelle Huppert sings one of Françoise Hardy's best song Message Personnel (Private message). What is surprising is how good Huppert's voice actually sounds if she were an American actress and a little bit younger, I'm sure that somebody would have persuaded her to make a music album. It seems that in America, everybody wants to be Leonardo Da Vinci and to be good at different things, the problem is that Da Vinci even in his time, was the exception not the norm and that doing too many things most of the times means sacrificing greatness.
When American politicians try to be cool and to act, to dance or to sing, it usually works because Americans have a native easy-goingness that makes it possible and that helps them avoid the ridicule because they aren't afraid of it. When European politicians try to be cool, it usually ends badly. In this video, Bernard Kouchner is singing with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steimeyer, a song about integration. They get an A for effort, but a D- for substance (it is hard for me to give Kouchner an F on anything). In other words, my advice to them is to only sing in the shower when nobody is there to listen to them
Mark Hooper wonders where have all the feminists gone in the Guardian Entertainment Blog. He makes the following point, which leaves me pensive because I wonder whether he is missing the point or just pointing out the obvious:
What message are these icons [Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse] sending out to their young female fans? That without the presence and guiding hand of a male figure, they descend into self-abuse, self-harm and bitching.
Nu feminism is a product of its time; aimless and without much substance beneath the bluster and pull-quotes. At the launch last week of Riot Grrrl, compilation of writings on the politicised, feminist bands of the 1990s including Bikini Kill and Huggy Bear, it occurred to me that something vital has been lost along with all that kicking and screaming.
The supposedly independent feminist icons of today are a bit of a mess without their men, whereas the incarnation of 15 years ago really did have something to shout about. The Riot Grrrls stole the cliches of rock posturing from men. At the time, I thought they were welcome to them. But now as I watch Winehouse accept her time honoured position of the R'n'B victim and Allen tying herself up in knots, I can't help thinking we need a new Kathleen Hanna.
My main issue, though, is with the Guardian. Geri said some pretty bad stuff in that interview. Most obviously, she used "lesbianism" in a pejorative sense. She also did that irritating "let's disown the bra-burning" thing. Now, I've seen footage of that shit, and I think there was nothing wrong with it, in fact it was pretty damn great. But no digressions now. She also thinks feminism would emasculate men, and that we need to reclaim our femininity. Of course, I mean, she's Geri Halliwell. But even cutting her some slack, those are all far, far worse things to say than "Gee, I'm not really sure I'm a feminist, really...". Also, the Guardian did the same thing with Carmen Electra a while ago. And feminism isn't even remotely part of her job description. It's cool if she wants to be a feminist, but I'm certainly not going to lose sleep over it if she isn't.
It's important not to be afraid of the word, of course, and to use it and be proud of the history behind it. But not everyone wants to identify as feminist, quite often for very good reasons of their own. And most of those who aren't feminist, or choose not to self-apply the word, are still contributing plenty to society, and good enough for them. I don't think Missy Elliott is remotely a feminist, but she's doing a lot more for the cause just through being excellent at what she does than a whole truckload full of Pinks, Pipettes and Dittos.
Zenobia puts her finger on the problem with feminism, which is that it is too vague, too narrow, too strict, or too empty depending on your perspective. My critique of feminism focuses on its relevance and on the fact that it doesn’t mean it anything anymore for there is a disconnection between thought, reality, and action. Feminism is like rap. At the beginning, its aim was noble, but it has become superseded by glamour and pop. It is for that reason it is popular either to diss it or to embrace it without deep thoughts because what matters is its history and images and how hip they are perceived to be at the time. Feminism just like socialism (I’m not saying that the two are the same) is dead and t true believers are trying to keep it alive through necromancy. Unfortunately, the trouble with necromancy is that it doesn’t deal with le réel, with the real, it deals with the past and the sacred. Feminism is passé. Those who admire de Beauvoir and the others have to have the courage to admit it and to imagine something else, something with teeth that a pop singer cannot mindlessly and easily criticize and be taken seriously.
This is a song from my mother's time and the fact that I enjoy it makes me realize what an old soul I am. Anyway, the singer is Sheila and the title of the song is Pendant les Vacances (during the holidays). I keep waiting for the fall to start in DC, but it is still too warm, and yet, the summer and the holidays are over.
This is to me the perfect summer song because it is funny and relevant. Its name is EPO te quiero (EPO, I love you) and it is about the drugs in cycling and le Tour de France in particular. The group's name is La Plage (the beach) and they are the same guys who did the famous Zidane's head-butt song Coup de Boule last summer.
The weather this weekend was very enjoyable in DC so much so that it made think of this song. The name of the singer is Nilda Fernandez. He is a Spaniard who sings in French and just for that he has a special place in my heart because French is the toughest of all the Latin languages. The title of the song is Nos fiançailles (our engagement). The video is very nineties, but the song is timeless.
I love Françoise Hardy even though she's my mom's favorite singer. I think that you can tell a lot about an artisit and about a song by the way they age. I think Hardy's songs have aged pretty well for even someone like me who doesn't get the music of the sixty can appreciate it. The title of the song is La Maison où j'ai grandi (The house where I grew up). It's very nostalgic, very simple and it expresses very well what many of us sometimes feel when we realize that we can never go home again.
It's been a difficult and hot week so I'm looking forward to the weekend. This video shows Yannick Noah (My first idol and Joakim Noah's Dad) singing at the fête de la musique. The song is called Simon Papa Tara and it is about an experience, which Noah had when his dead grandfather came to visit him to tell him about life. It's a fun song.
The name of this French rapper is Abd al Malik and he is, I believe, the best French of the moment. The title of this song is 12 Septembre 2001 (12 September 2001) and it talks of course about what followed 9/11. Great song, original artist to enjoy a slow Sunday. Happy mother's day! On the subject of mother's day, why is it on different day in the US than in other countries?
Rochona Majumdar explains the fact that every Indian film is in fact a musical in the sense that they have all extensive dance and music scenes within them by making a link between film and Indian history. She argues that, “the song-and-dance sequences as a mirror reflecting—more or less intentionally—India’s social and political transformations. In the six decades since the country’s independence, inaugural prime minister Jawahar-lal Nehru’s nationalist, populist government, rooted in socialist ideals, has given way to neoliberalism and globalization.”
Everyday, we uncover something new about Iraq, which makes one wonder not only how the US got there, but where it is going and whether the war has more to do with American politics than with Iraqi politics and the facts on the ground. The hot news of the day is a slide leaked, which shows how bad things are getting according to the US military. It seems that it is easier to focus on Kerry's comment than to focus on the fact that time isn't making things better and that there might not be a way for America to win this war.
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Here is a fun song on Zidane Head-butt, "Coup de boule" by La plage. It is number one in France. I hope you enjoy it, but you can also reread what my take was on Zidane's Headbutt.