Matt and Ryan listen to and discuss Charli XCX’s Sucker.[audio:http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/archive.org/download/tft138/tft138.mp3]
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- Sucker (affiliate link)
- Wikipedia: Charli XCX, Sucker
- P4K Review
- NPR Interview
- Charli XCX on SNL (video) via P4K
- Robert Palmer, “Addicted to Love” (video)
- The Death Set, “Negavive Thinking”
I was actually fairly enthused for this album, because Charlie XCX seems pretty interesting, and “I Love It” is a great song. However, I only made it a couple of songs in, because I got to that song about not wanting to go to school, and then it butted against one of my major irritations in music, and pop culture in general, and the world in general.
Ms. XCX is an adult, so her singing about not wanting to go to school is nonsense. She doesn’t have to go to school because she is an adult, and she should act and create music like an adult. I absolutely despite it when adults write songs as if though they are kids. We discussed this on my podcast not all that long ago, when I got my knives out for Blink-182, one of the biggest purveyors of this garbage.
I am fine with adults making music for teens, but I am not OK with them acting like they are teens or inhabiting some sort of teenage persona, because they are adults, and they should act like god damn adults. This also speaks to the whole school girl bullshit Charlie XCX does too. So, in short, I didn’t make it past the second song, and I probably never will. I do like “Boom Clap” though.
But you yourself are not a teenager, I’m guessing? I wonder if teenagers have the same complaint.
Because if you think about it, even if Charlie XCX was a teenager, it would be bullshit for her to write a song about not wanting to go to school. She’s a pop star! She isn’t worried about getting to first period on time every day, or college applications, or who’s taking who to the prom. She’s worried about her record deal. If you want music about the Authentic Teenage Experience by Authentic Teenagers, then you’re left with Lorde — and you’d better hope that the record industry can break a new Lorde every six months or so, because her stint as an Authentic Teenager was over and done with once “Royals” hit the top twenty.
A big part of the curse of the second album is that you get these songwriters who mostly write about being hungry. And then they break huge, and it’s time to write album number two, and they’re thinking “Okay, the way I got here was by writing about my life, the fans and my friends and the press all say that nothing matters more than authenticity, so all I need to do is stay authentic.” Except they’re not hungry anymore. So they write a second album that’s about what it’s like to have fame and money, and their audience doesn’t give a damn about that. It’s like, “Hey what happened? You sold out, man, there’s no edge here anymore. You used to talk about MY life. You used to be REAL.” But what’s ironic is that if the songwriter was willing to be just a little more fake, we wouldn’t be having this problem.
It reminds me of this story from the set of The Marathon Man. Dustin Hoffman had a scene where he’s supposed to be in really rough shape, and so, method guy that he is, he didn’t sleep for three days before the shoot, and ran five miles to the set. So he comes in late, and he’s sweating and panting, and his eyes are wild, and he’s probably not smelling too good. And Laurence Olivier is just sitting there with a cup of tea and a newspaper or whatever, and he says “My dear boy: have you tried acting? It’s much easier.”
Yes, I am very much a human adult, and yes, when I was a teenager I was not irked by this. But, since I was a teenager, I was stupid, and therefore my opinion was colored about that fact. That’s also why it is such a shrewd business move to cater your music, should you want your music to be popular, to pitch it to teenagers. They are young enough to still be dumb and to pay attention to trends and to worry about being “with it,” but they are old enough to make their own decisions and to have some modicum of disposable income.
I do agree, in a sense, to your notion that a disingenuous teen ager would also pose some problems vis a vis the validity of their music. I just have less qualms with that than with an adult acting like a child. That is a notion that I find much more irksome.
I’ve never personally cared about “connecting” or “relating” to a musician. I mean, my favorite band is Pavement, and their lyrics are nonsense that was half-improvised by Stephen Malkmus. On the other hand, I love Bruce Springsteen, who very much embodies an Americana and an aura that is not, entirely, emanating from his own life. However, he also clearly is talking about characters and such much of the time. Also, his lyrics are awesome and his music sounds good. Neither Bruce nor I necessarily have to live in the Badlands everyday, but the song is still cool.
So people can sing about being rich and that’s cool. And if they are rich but want to sing about struggling or whatever, it may ring dishonest, but I don’t have a problem with that. I just have a very specific problem with adults reverting to teenagerdom, in order to connect with the teens or whatever other nonsense they are up to. Also, on a side note, I think education is important and I do not think teenagers should be partying with drugs and stuff, because I am a square.
Ishtar is a good movie.
A thought just occurred to me. Charli XCX says that the Ramones were an influence on this album. In the song “Sheena is a Punk Rocker” they use the word “discotheque.” Now, Charli XCX uses it. COINCIDENCE!?!?
Okay, kind of off topic, but I listened to the last two episodes in pretty rapid succession (I was behind!) and it kind of made me wish y’all had been on this phase of TFT when LCD Soundsystem was still around, because I think James Murphy & Co. were actively engaging with the very things you discuss – the hierarchies and intersections of indieness and popness and punkness and how they relate to social positioning in different contexts etc. from the very start.
Which is to say that you’re losing your edge to better looking people, with better ideas, and more talent.
(I’m kidding about that last part.)
Josie M., I don’t think you can “j/k lol” a comment if it’s just an accurate description of the inexorable ravages of time. “In less than a hundred years, you and everyone you ever loved will be dead. Aww, I’m just joking!” “Even if mankind colonizes deep space and escapes the eventual explosion of the Sun, we still won’t make it through the heat death of the universe… NOT! As if! Guys, I kid because I love.”
I don’t know about that, I feel like Matt & Ryan do that all the time on this very podcast. (Using tone of voice rather than lol/jk but still.) Am I mistaken?