Given the national reaction to my last blog, I’ve decided that, if you care to indulge me this summer, I’ll be posting more of my running musings on substance, style and popular culture.
Music videos are by definition a triumph of style over substance. You literally have only 4 minutes to savor the hope of attaining your 15 minutes of fame.
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There are no more videogenic singers on the planet right now than Adam Levine of Maroon 5 and Rihanna, he the Magnum XL cum laude graduate of the Bryan Ferry dripping-with-detachment-school-of-personal-style, she the Barbados born beauty of the legs that start somewhere around her earlobes and end at the floor.
Both are perfectly matched in their vocal inability to (thankfully) make it past the top 12 on “American Idol.”
While they have each made compelling visual statements in their own videos, who knew that they would be so perfectly matched in the most palpably erotically charged and relevant music video of 2008 for the single “If I never see your face again?”
It’s a refreshing alternative to the insufferably pretentious Madonna and Justin Timberlake collaboration”4 minutes to save the world,” which wears its misguided attempt at substance right in it’s title.
“4 minutes” tries to sell us on the (yesterday’s news cliche) Madonna-as-cougar-Justin-as-boy-toy but the sexual tension comes off as pathetically Oedipal. Justin is no more than the wind machine to her current Stevie Nicks-like inability to move coherently or gracefully. “Stand back, stand back” I keep thinking to myself.
(Note to Mad: You’ve really lost your touch and missed the cultural vibe entirely, just like the other gal who was recently peddling her experience in an effort to save the world .)
“If I never” on the other hand, has it’s visual finger right on the jugular of the cultural moment. (To anachronistically combine Bill Clinton and Barak Obama’s political playbooks, “It’s about change stupid.”)
Unlike the pedantic “4 minutes,” “If I never” brilliantly oozes studied nonchalance both lyrically and, most importantly, visually. The on screen pairing of Adam and Rihanna is frought with at least as much transgression as that of the anscestoral Adam and Eve.
There’s no apple or serpent here, just a microphone which is audaciously wielded about like a shared sex toy and (given the political moment) as a middle finger to the historical interracial intolerance of the miscegenation laws.
Lyrically, the song reminds me of the best line of dialogue ever from an American movie. In “The Fabulous Baker Boys,” a film which oddly enough is famous for a scene involving a piano and a microphone, Michelle Pfeiffer confronts Jeff Bridges about their “relationship.” Bemused, he asks her: “Relationship? What relationship? All I did was [expletive] you twice!”
I assume that’s the exact same response we would get from our current president, as the next election looms, if we were to confront him as an electorate about our collective 8 year relationship.
And if he were ever to find it within himself to say sorry for the economic and military reality he created and is leaving behind, I can hear Rihanna singing her current solo single“Take a Bow” in its entirety, sort of an “Exhale to the Chief: “Don’t tell me you’re sorry cause you’re not. You’re only sorry you got caught.”