TV On The Radio has that teenaged feeling on new song 'Happy Idiot'

TV On The Radio has that teenaged feeling on new song 'Happy Idiot'

To keep my mind off you

TV On The Radio is feeling a little moody. A little distraught, a little post-grunge sad. "Happy Idiot," the rock band's first single off their new album "Seeds" is super-pop, and yet bumming out in the corner of the party.

Tunde Adebimpe sings about becoming that happy idiot in a blaze of teenaged feelings -- banging his head against the wall to feel nothing at all, et cetera -- as the band bounds underneath him at a health BPM. I'm particularly keen on those drums and the tamborine, and the tight adherence to the melody.

But it's simple. There's a restraint like a Nirvana verse that never quite pays off. Will the rest of "Seeds" be equally resistant to The Big Chorus?

"Seeds" is due Nov. 18 via Harvest. Fans may want to pre-order the album, giving them pre-sale access to the few fall tour dates the Brooklyn crew's announced so far. The "Happy Idiot" lyric video precedes the dates.

Here are TV On The Radio's tour dates:

Oct 17: Santa Barbara, CA @ The Santa Barbara Bowl*
Oct 18: Big Sur, CA @ The Henry Miller Library*
Oct 19: San Francisco, CA @ Treasure Island Music Festival*
Oct 22: Los Angeles, CA @ The Regent
Oct 24: Pioneertown, CA @ Pappy and Harriet's Pioneertown Palace
Oct 25: Las Vegas, NV @ Life Is Beautiful Festival*
Nov 12: Toronto, ON @ Phoenix
Nov 13: Montreal, QC @ Corona
Nov 14: Boston, MA @ Paradise
Nov 16: Washington DC @ 9:30 Club
Nov 17: Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
Nov 18: New York, NY @ Apollo
Nov 21: Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
Nov 22: Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

* indicates no presale tickets available

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Summer Music's Winners & Losers: Mariah, Iggy, Ariana, Charli, J-Lo and... Bieber

Summer Music's Winners & Losers: Mariah, Iggy, Ariana, Charli, J-Lo and... Bieber

Who really lost out on the charts and in our hearts?

At the beginning of the summer, Melinda Newman and I tried to deduce who would be winners -- on tour, at festivals, in sales and on the charts.

Many panned out: Iggy Azalea had a literally historic summer. Ariana Grande scored three big singles. Charli XCX became a household name. 5 Seconds of Summer helped buttress One Direction's highly successful ticket-selling stronghold.

There are also some artists we could have looked at and gone, "ehhh..." Mariah Carey has had a rough go for the last three years. Robin Thicke wrote his destiny when he named his album "Paula." Justin Bieber didn't kick off his 20th year on this earth with great acclaim.

In the slides below, we point out some of what worked and what didn't some we couldn't tell was coming. Who'd heard of a little band called Magic!, for instance? How about that first No. 1 album from Tom Petty? And, whoa, how 'bout that Weird Al?

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New music from The Weeknd: Still high and getting laid and sad and weird about it

New music from The Weeknd: Still high and getting laid and sad and weird about it

'Often' and 'King of the Fall' are similarly molded to the R&B singer's previous output

The Weeknd has a brand to maintain. I get it.

For all the sex he's getting on the road, for all the drugs he's taking, and for all the times he sings about all of it, no wonder his video are always gray-hued, with washed out specters of women floating about him like he's the center of the saddest little universe.

But, damn Weeknd, can't it be any fun at all? Because lines like "She gon' give it up 'cause she know she might like it" (ugh) and "All my hoes are trained, I make all of them swallow" (TRIPLE UGH) are depressing as hell for your females, what are you dragging your sad-ass feet for?

I'm referring to "King of the Fall," a title so morose Drake's kicking himself for not thinking of it first. And the Toronto connect is a propos, as The Weeknd (aka Abel Tesfaye) takes a stroll through his hometown, with cameos from locals like Jazz Cartier. While the slow-motions between beddings and parties and the street keep the singer and producer looking cool, check out the Confederate flag up at the world's most melancholy dance fiesta. How about the rain and the pace and the longing glances when Adderall is his atmosphere? Someone should call his mom, because I'm freaked out.

All this: a shame, because "King of Pain," er, "King of the Fall" is one of the better engineered and mixed songs we've heard from The Weeknd ever. It's a slow creep (heh), with a crescendo that will have you thinking you've got a midget on your chest too.

It arrives on the heels of another new single from Weeknd, "Often," out last week, which has a similarly looping, repeating, sweet-dripping chorus that belies an equally messed up premise of one of his one-night-stands: he does it how he wants it, and is happy to hand off that pussy to one of his crew when he's done.

Hey, he's talking about groupies: we could talk about power, fame, empowerment, gender and commodification for days. There, again, though is that deficit, a melancholy that creeps into seemingly all of The Weeknds endeavors, making these ballads and especially the music videos hurt for the audience like a VD flare-up. He's not extolling his life as healthy, he hints at the "temporary-ness" of it, but then again here are a series of women as props, clothed and unclothed, "performing" for the Dr. Frownpants who need do little else in his videos except float through them, like it's all "happening" to him, almost like a victim and not a participant. (Robin Thicke has a penchant for that too.)

If only he didn't sing so beautifully? If only some of those choices on synths and beats didn't hurt so hard with him? Wishing this was in gibberish.

"Often" and "King of the Fall" arrive ahead of The Weeknd's outing with Jhene Aiko for the King Of The Fall Tour, four dates below.

09/19 – Brooklyn, NY @ Barclays Center
09/21 – Toronto, Canada @ Molson Ampitheatre
10/09 – Hollywood, CA @ Hollywood Bowl
10/10 – San Francisco, CA @ Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
 

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Exclusive: My Brightest Diamond song premiere 'This Is My Hand'
Credit: Bernd Preimi

Exclusive: My Brightest Diamond song premiere 'This Is My Hand'

Fans invited to submit photos for use in the music video: Read our interview with Shara Worden

Shara Worden, aka My Brightest Diamond, wants you to put your hands up -- on social media.

The artist is preparing a Sept. 16 release of her next album, "This Is My Hand," and today HitFix exclusively premieres the title track from the set.

Like the full-length, "This Is My Hand" is lush and intense, sensual but confrontational, arranged with detail and imploringly original. All songs feed into an effort that Worden says "tortured" her, at least when it came to crafting lyrics.

But it's exactly those hard-fought lyrics that My Brightest Diamond wants fans to riff on: launching today, the songwriter invites listeners to ThisIsMyHand.com, to take a picture that matches the lyrics and use Instagram tags to send her way, to help compile a crowdsourced music video entirely from those images.

Head to the website to read all the lyrics and get started.

Below, I interview Worden on "This Is My Hand" and her recent EP "None More Than You" and writing about her whole self. Tracklists, tour dates and more are beyond that.

"This Is My Hand" arrives next month via Asthmatic Kitty, and was recorded in Berlin, New York, Los Angeles and Detroit with producer Zac Rae. It is her fourth album, coming on the heels of 2011's "All Things Will Unwind." You can pre-order "This Is My Hand" here.

(Listen to previously released My Brightest song "Pressure" here.)

HitFix: You're releasing your album only a couple of months after you dropped your EP. How has your opinion changed over they years on the value of an "album" -- versus the compiling and releasing of EPs, singles, music videos, et cetera?

Shara Worden: I love making records. I love the history of the form. This is our fourth record since 2006, so we have seen a lot of changes in the industry to be sure. When I first started thinking about making another album, I did feel pretty bleak about the value of recorded music, but then I did a lot of reading and thinking and inputting, and then became really excited about the process again. I made a big pile of recordings this time around, writing at least 20 songs and then we chose the material that made the most sense as a unit, and the other songs we are releasing as EPs.  

"This Is My Hand," lyrically, is already so illustrative -- and very inspirational. What do you hope to achieve by opening up the music video to fan submissions of visuals?

I was writing this album thinking about an imaginary tribe of people, gathering around a fire, making music together, telling stories, hearing from the shaman, and so of course I also imagined everyone dancing, but then when I went to make "dance music" I realized how I have spent so much of my life disassociating from the body. I was brought up in a conservative Christian culture that in essence said the body was "evil" and then also as a female musician, from early on I felt that I wasn't going to be taken seriously as a musician if I was also dancing, so I just shut off my connection and focused on my mind. 

This song is really about self acceptance and re-integrating the WHOLE self and there is so much happening right now across the globe, with body image, our sexuality, slavery, racism, that I just feel like this song belongs to "the larger tribe" and I want to open up this video format so that more people can have a "ritual" of sorts, accepting themselves and the tribe shows itself to be beautiful and varied as possible.

There are lines in this song and others on the album that reference female-ness, and play with sex and gender. Can you talk about any evolution or approach you've had to incorporating these themes in your compositions?

As I began making this music, uncharacteristically starting from the beats first, I was really forced to deal with my questions about my body, my sensuality, my sexuality, and even the violence and love that I am capable of, and embracing all aspects of who I am as a human being.  It still feels like I'm in a process on the subject that is going to continue for a long time.  

Describe the most challenging day, instrumentally, you had in the studio for this album.

All of the instrumental aspects of this record felt super easy, actually. All the musicians are such incredible artists, but strangely enough it was the lyrics for this album that really tortured me. Normally lyrics have been my foundation, but this time around I ended up changing almost half the songs, some of which had existed for at least two years at the last minute. I knew that I had to be more vulnerable and more honest, so there were a lot of desperate moments where it felt like I was pushing on this wall that I had to crumble and it was really quite scary and then on the other side, it feels quite liberating.

 

Here is the "This Is My Hand" tracklist:

1. Pressure
2. Before The Words
3. This Is My Hand
4. Lover Killer
5. I am Not the Bad Guy
6. Looking At The Sun
7. Shape
8. So Easy
9. Resonance
10. Apparition

Here is the "None More Than You" EP tracklist:

1. Dreaming Awake
2. Whoever You Are
3. Dreams Don't Look Like
4. Dreaming Awake
5. That Point When

Here are My Brightest Diamond's tour dates:

September 19 /// Detroit, MI /// Music Box
September 20 /// Toronto, ON /// Drake
September 22 /// Boston, MA /// The Sinclair
September 23 /// Philadelphia, PA /// World Café Live
September 25 /// New York, NY /// Bowery Ballroom
September 27 /// Washington, DC /// Rock & Roll Hotel
September 28 /// Pittsburgh, PA /// Altar Bar
September 30 /// Charlotte, NC /// Visulite Theater
October 1 /// Atlanta, GA /// The Earl
October 3 /// Austin, TX /// Austin City Limits Music Festival
October 12 /// Dallas, TX /// The Kessler
October 10 /// Austin, TX /// Austin City Limits Music Festival
October 17 /// Stockholm, Sweden /// Scandic Grand Central
October 18 /// Gothenburg, Sweden /// Folkteatern Foajebaren
October 19 /// Copenhagen, Denmark /// Loppen
October 21 /// Hamburg, Germany /// Knust
October 22 /// Berlin, Germany /// Postbahnhof
October 24 /// Brussels, Belgium /// Botanique Rotonde
October 25 /// Amsterdam, Netherlands /// Paradiso Noord-Tolhuistuin
October 26 /// Paris, France /// Bababoum
October 28 /// London, UK /// Village Underground
October 29 /// Leeds, UK /// Brundenell Social Club
October 30 /// Glasgow, UK /// Oran Mor
October 31 /// Dublin, Ireland /// Workman’s Club
November 12 /// Grand Rapids, MI /// Wealthy Theater
November 13 /// Chicago, IL /// Lincoln Hall
November 14 /// Madison, WI /// High Noon
November 15 /// Milwaukee, WI /// Vogel Hall
November 16 /// Iowa City, IA /// The Mill
November 17 /// Minneapolis, MN /// Cedar Cultural Center
November 19 /// St. Louis, MO /// Old Rock House
November 20 /// Indianapolis, IN /// White Rabbit Cabaret
December 2 /// Denver, CO /// Larimer Lounge
December 3 /// Salt Lake City, UT /// Urban Lounge
December 5 /// Portland, OR /// Doug Fir Lounge
December 6 /// Seattle, WA /// The Crocodile Café
December 7 /// Vancouver, BC /// Electric Owl
December 10 /// San Francisco, CA /// Great American Music Hall
December 12 /// Los Angeles, CA /// The Roxy
December 13 /// San Diego, CA /// The Casbah

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Miley Cyrus slams media for 'going after' her homeless friend Jesse

Miley Cyrus slams media for 'going after' her homeless friend Jesse

Pop star 'disappointed' for the attention turned on spokesperson's 'legal issue'

During the MTV VMAs on Sunday, Miley Cyrus used her platform to raise awareness of homeless youth, but attentions also turned in on her awards show guest this week.

The pop star, in lieu of delivering an acceptance speech for her Video Of The Year win for "Wrecking Ball," sent up her new friend Jesse to speak about his experience of living homeless. Cyrus directed fans to her website to learn more about Los Angeles non-profit My Friend's Place and to learn more about the plight of poverty and homelessness in America.

But Jesse -- identified Jesse Helt, 22, this week -- actually has a warrant out for his arrest in his homestate Oregon, for violating probation. According to the Associated Press, he'd previously been arrested (as a juvenile) for criminal mischief, criminal trespass and burglary in 2010. Court documents said he'd broken into an apartment of a man "who had been selling what Helt believed to be bad marijuana."

His mother, Linda, said that Cyrus had given Helt money to fly home to visit her; she said that Helt was welcome home at any time, and that he'd moved to L.A. to "make it on his own." He intended to pursue a career in modeling.

This has immediately led to concerns that Miley Cyrus' homeless date wasn't homeless enough. Or was selected because he was good for cameras. Or wasn't vetted to be "representative" of homelessness.

Rewinding a little, Cyrus' move to hand over precious media time on Sunday is what audiences were calling her' "Sacheen Littlefeather moment," mirroring what Marlon Brando did for his Best Actor acceptance speech in 1973. He sent Sacheen Littlefeather -- a spokesperson chosen by Native Americans involved in the American Indian Movement -- to deliver a long speech he had written about the poor and underrepresented culture of Native Americans in Hollywood. (It was a move that then caused the Academy to ban proxies from accepting awards on people's behalf at the Academy Awards, which is why now presenters accept for non-present winners.)

Miley Cyrus made waves at the VMAs last year for her twerking with Robin Thicke; she's spent the year trolling awards and entertaining at concerts, the nature of which you could file under "rebellious" since establishing her post-Hannah Montana persona.

This current move in the great Miley Cyrus re-branding is the most illustrative and widely covered example of Cyrus' charitable works. She has been an activist and donated time and effort to other causes, from Haiti relief to HIV/AIDS research to Rock the Vote to PETA support.

Which would explain, in part, why Cyrus' camp reacted with vitriol toward those who would call her VMAs move a "stunt." Representatives told Mashable that MTV didn't even know what Cyrus had planned.

That could also be why homelessness' moment in the sun turned into another moment in the sun for her, as she stood awkwardly and stagey in-frame of the honorees platform. Cuts to Cyrus crying profusely certainly added drama to Jesse's statements, but also fed skepticism. This, from the young woman whose orbit is around her own image, to the degree that merchandise is manufactured to match that long, unruly tongue.

Of course people would side-eye that moment. It's a damned shame it diminishes her motive: to make good come out of her fame, for a cause that affects more that a million and a half young people in America. Perhaps of the millions of people who watched the VMAs, many hadn't given a second thought to those who suffer unwantedly from homelessness.

(And guess what? Some homeless are criminals. Some are recovered criminals. Or mentally ill. Or abused. Or addicts. Or recovering addicts. Or victims of poor Child Protective Services or broken homes. Some are down on their luck. And many want and need help. Understand those needs more at My Friend's Place.)

Miley Cyrus spent the last year trying to convince people to lighten up, to have fun with her brand of pop, to expect wild things to come from her mouth/Twitter/Instagram/concert. The careful Miley Cyrus business is a multi-million dollar business -- maybe the backlash came from the notion that the brand hadn't vetted and prepared for the moment when Cyrus actually tried stepping back from the mic?

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Taylor Swift's new video 'Shake It Off' features twerking, for you haters

Taylor Swift's new video 'Shake It Off' features twerking, for you haters

Timing '1989' and the unrest in Ferguson: You can't please everyone, you should please a few

There are people who hate hate hate hate hate Taylor Swift, and they will hate her more for this video and this song precisely because of the phrase "haters gonna hate."  It is class-A trolling, trolling the trollers. It's colorful, featuring people of color, using styles and tropes we've grown to hyperbolically love or hate, on a white background of shake-shake-shake. It's its own meme.

It also borders on dangerously upbeat and ill-timed. This month we're glued to our media, watching the ongoing hostilities in Ferguson, Mo., and bombarded with a much-needed conversation about race relations. There are costs to ignoring the scourge of racism, some of which play out in 140-characters, relatives' poorly worded Facebook posts, half-formed editorials and half-informed talking heads...

"Shake It Off" isn't about Ferguson, it just fell on the calendar where the context renders it seemingly tone-deaf.

Now, hang tight.

Swift is featured as the "lead" dancer in a series of skill-specific dances -- hip-hop, ballet, cheerleading, modern, etc. The comedy here is -- as if you didn't already know it, gosh dernit -- Swift's skill set doesn't include the coordination to hold a candle to these athletes. She merely fumbles her way through choreography, but damn if she isn't having fun: here's Swift bunny hopping in a tutu. Here's Swift adorkably faking a break dance. Here she is, crawling under a bridge of twerking asses.

There are parts of pop star shelf life that require its participants -- particularly women -- to diverge into territory that isn't "them." Pantomime romances; dress for the job they want and not the one they have; smile when they're frowning inside. Stars like Britney Spears take flack for faking dance skills when they've long gone. Christina Aguilera eats sh*t for "forsaking" her 20-something, pre-baby body. Madonna has tried and often failed for her varied stylistic appropriations.

The point is, in "Shake It Off's" video, that Swift can approximate a thing she is not, but she will never succeed in being what she isn't. Just as Miley Cyrus was not that thing, smacking the butts of black backup dancers as they turn around and praise her dance. Just as Katy Perry is not this thing (Japanese) or this thing (Egyptian) or this thing (a Marine).

Swift is trying on the visages of other pop stars all at the same time, and similarly calling it: "it" isn't working. Do the ballerinas not remind you of Kanye's "Runaway" short film and performances? How about the futuristic goggles and platinum blonde, of Lady Gaga's "The Fame?" Or the cheerleader chant of the (admittedly poor and weak and awful) bridge from Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend" and her own taunting "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together?" Swift literally takes a line from Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" as she's Great Escaping the sexualized, bobbing butts of the dancers above.

So, yeah, in earnest, she's reinforcing her own precociousness, her ineptitude and yes, dammit, the joy she feels in performance. She comes into her own as a singer, leading a big band. She considers herself one of the Normies, just like the rest of us schlubs, when it comes to dancing, and specific adoptive styles. "Shake It Off" is cleansing, yet snarky, incurring haters' wrath and uncaring -- because dammit, you can't please everybody.

It just may not be what people want right at this second. Check out the elemental presentation of what is "hip-hop," with the oversized boombox and doofy color coordination, and of the bodies of the women of color during the twerk-off. Swift here isn't calling these "lesser" artforms, they're merely whittled down to a 2-D essence of Things I Can't Do And Things That I'm Not. Which doesn't add much to that race conversation above. African-American-founded art-forms (now co-own by the masses) and brown bodies (frequently co-opted by the masses) are deservedly under an analytical microscope now, and making caricature/commentary of them ought to do something earnest, or hopeful, or intellectual. In short, invulnerable, bulletproof. That's not the video she made. "Shake It Off" is a troll.

And one I happen to like, like, like, like, like. Like her video's characters, she's not gonna nail the landing, particularly in the current socio-political context. By it nature, this will be a tune impossible to avoid, just as it will be hard to avoid an analysis. Swift has made a certifiable hit that complicates and compliments her brand, her girl-next-door brand. I think it's a contagious melody, easy to listen to, fun, broad enough to apply to many but specific enough to reveal her as an artist. "Shake it off" is really credible advice and a decent message.

But was the video myopic in execution? Would the twerking or "this sick beat" or boom-box-on-a-shoulder read differently were it a black performer? Is that reading too sensitive -- or isn't it time we be more sensitive?

"Shake It Off" is the first single from Taylor Swift's newly announced album "1989," due Oct. 27. Check out the video and the album cover below.

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Macklemore and Fences get shot in in 'Arrows' video

Macklemore and Fences get shot in in 'Arrows' video

What kind of zoo animal are you?

Fences and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis have released the very colorful video for the collaborative song "Arrows," featuring the popular Grammy Award-winning MC getting shot.

As I mentioned in the writeup for the new single, Seattle-based Macklemore is obviously wrestling with the aftermath of his rapid rise in fame, following the runaway hits off of his and Lewis' album "The Heist."

In the clip, he's seen making a plunge off of a high dive into a swimming pool, its surface brandishing the covers of Rolling Stone magazine which pimp his very visage. He's also presented as an animal in a roving zoo, with reporters clicking his photo and then leaving after he gets shot.

It's true, we kill the ones we love. Fame is fleeting. Be careful out there. Also, it's really rude to spy on undressed ladies in their apartment with binoculars, don't do it.

"Arrows" is off of Fences new album "Lesser Oceans," out Oct. 14.

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The Black Keys 'Weight of Love' video: Sexiest cult ever

The Black Keys 'Weight of Love' video: Sexiest cult ever

Hair braiding, jumping jacks and more sleepover camp rules

The Black Keys' new music video for "Weight of Love" features not just a cult, but the most beautiful cult in the land.

It's a all-female cult led by supermodel Lara Stone, featuring subdued activities that keeps the white-clad model cult members active without delving into the realm of actual "fun," like braiding hair, topless laundry, jumping jacks, bowing down and shucking corn. Mother Stone gets all aggro in a girl's face and is, like, thisclose to kissing her, too. It's basically a teen boy's half-formed wet dream set to an extended Nautica commercial, with Black Keys' Dan Auerbach's visage from their "Fever" video on the endcaps.

So maybe it Auerbach's dream? Hm. Theo Wenner, who directed the clip, also helmed "Fever," so maybe they're branding a new religion. Auerbach recently produced Lana Del Rey's new album, so I half expected her to be in this somber, sunlit mix.

"Weight of Love" has a nasty guitar solo and a long instrumental intro, one of the stronger tunes off of The Black Keys' latest album "Turn Blue."

Weight of Love from Theo Wenner on Vimeo.

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Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora battle James Marsden in 'Black Widow' music video

Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora battle James Marsden in 'Black Widow' music video

HitFix
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Readers
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'Telephone' and... eep, 'Your Love?'

Iggy Azalea played up your "Clueless" nostalgia with her "Fancy" video earlier this year, and now she's stabbing you in the gut with "Black Widow" feat. Rita Ora, channeling "Kill Bill."

Yup, she and Ora grab katanas, with James Marsden topping both of their Kill lists, as they ride cycles, wield badassery and play poker in zip-up catsuits. Close... but not enough to warrant a Tarantino lawsuit. It was co-directed by Azalea and Director X -- the latter of whom may help explain that T.I. cameo.

The dual nature of wreaking havoc after a diner encounter may ring the Beyonce and Lady Gaga "Telephone" line, but another rival may also be paying attention to that samurai swagger. Nicki Minaj wagged her own weapons in her "Your Love" (remember that one?) video in 2010. I think Nicki did it better. Though none can compare to Big Wanda.

"Black Widow" is off of Azalea's "The New Classic." She and Ora will perform the song during the MTV VMAs on Aug. 24.

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'Thick' girl anthems: On Meghan Trainor and BJ The Chicago Kid's 'perfect' songs

'Thick' girl anthems: On Meghan Trainor and BJ The Chicago Kid's 'perfect' songs

Women of all sizes deserve better than songs like 'Perfect' and 'All About That Bass'

BJ The Chicago Kid released his new song and video for "Perfect" this week, just as Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass" rises more in radio ranks and singles sales.

Both of these songs are addressing body positivity, particularly for women who don't fit beauty standards found in fashion mags and, well, music videos. They both define what is "perfect" about "thicker" girls. And they are both imperfect in this pursuit.

BJ The Chicago Kid's fresh R&B jam is seemingly part of a suite, with his previous "Fly Girl Get 'Em" (which I prefer) playing part one. "I see you trying to disguise that potential," he sings in the latter. "She put her hair up in a ponytail / No make-up on her face / A wrinkled t-shirt and some jogging pants."

BJ's new ode "Perfect" turns his eyes again toward appearances, but more specifically to the body. He calls "Perfect" an "homage" to Fabolous' song "Thim Slick" feat. Jeremih, using that song's hook and beat. But you could also call "Perfect" a counter-argument to "Thim Slick"...

"Thim Slick"  (a tip of the hat to "slim thick" girls, follow?) reaches into the D-cups, ogles his girl, wolf whistles over 34-24-36 dimensions.

"That ass in the gym; squat life... 'This is all from my mama, this is not knife.'"

Oh, well as long as it's authentic. Cue to girls in spin class with lacy daisy dukes because that's how we do spin class.

"Perfect," on the other hand, has BJ's lady love gazing into the mirror, shorthand for his gaze at her. It comes complete with NSFW ass shots and bare side-boob, sending her out to the balcony to pose in unmentionables (just like Fabolous says in "Thim Slick").

BJ departs from "Thim Slick" by showing the "ugly" side of getting into cute clothes, like that jump-and-jimmy move at 1:25 that any woman who's tried on slim-fit knows by heart. Her bathroom vanity is covered with crazy bottles and makeup kits. Her shoes are are in masses on a shelf.

And yet this woman, too, is "perfect."

"She say her ass ain’t big enough / She feel her breast ain’t big enough / She think her abs ain’t flat enough"

Well, I wonder who gave her that idea.

His lady flips through a fashion magazine. Skinny Rihanna is on a cover. Skinny white women hold perfume bottles and pose. (Shhh, she has not yet discovered YouTube.)

"That body perfect, ain’t matched / No matter what they say, everything be just right."

Wait, what are 'they' saying?

"You got that blessing in disguise."

If we can just get past the patronizing effect that a girl's weight/size has anything to do with "disguises," we're left with that whole "blessing" notion. Blessing for whom, exactly? Going back to what BJ sang in his "Fly Girl," those thick bodies with no makeup are apparently "disguises," disguising "potential" and "blessings."

That hot breath you feel on the back of your neck may be a pickup artist, who puts you down first.

"Real n*ggas need love too / just because she's thicker than you doesn't mean a n*gga can't have fun with you too"

Thanks for the reminder. We nearly forgot about the guys.

"Got better head than she got body"

OK, ENOUGH. This so-called body positive song and video emphasizes the "blessing" women's bodies are for men, for the sake of pleasing the man. This video showcases a beautiful black woman without those exacting 34-24-36 dimensions, but says her perfection comes not from within, but in the eye of the beholder, who is beholden to her blowjob whether her hair's up or down with no makeup and sweatpants.

This: in a line of pop and R&B songs that pander to women's insecurities, the "I see you're pretty, even if you can't" syndrome that drips from John Legend’s "You and I," Bruno Mars' "The Way You Are" or One Direction’s "What Makes You Beautiful."

"Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top."

With newcomer Meghan Trainor singing the words, the delivery and context of "perfect" changes -- but only slightly. This adorable video for "All About That Bass" is matched with an equally memorable hook, hearkening back to 1950s and '60s girl groups and doo-wop, while also calling to mind Nicki Minaj's perfect* single "Super Bass." Lyrically, Trainor (who is GORGEOUS, btw) lays it out.

"I see the magazine, workin' that Photoshop / We know that sh*t ain't real... You know I won't be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll"

Again, the issue of The Authentic Women mixing with women/women's media prescribing unrealistic body standards unto other women.

"Cause I got that boom boom** that all the boys chase"

Which, as we've established, is very important.

"Yeah, my mama she told me don't worry about your size / She says boys*** like a little more booty to hold at night"

"My mama told me..." is a cliche that works well with this style of pop song. But, to paraphrase, "body acceptance comes from the sexual desires of men and not from within" means your mom needs to take a different tack.

"Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that / No, I'm just playing, I know you think you're fat / But I'm here to tell ya / Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top"

Do you remember the scene in "Young Adult," where Charlize Theron's character has a meltdown in the front lawn and plucks at Elizabeth Reaser's cardigan and whinnies "I love your sweater" in that high school girl voice where, back in the day, you couldn't tell she was being sincere or mocking you? Trainor frames her well-meaning "I feel your struggle" lyric against another stereotype, the music video's representative "skinny bitch" as a vapid, fun-hating, vain girl. It becomes binary, distinguishing girls with (b)ass from those with treble, right smack dab in the middle of a song that is purposefully celebrating bigger girls as superior. THIS IS WHAT THEY WANT, FOR US TO TURN AGAINST EACH OTHER.

 

"All About That Bass" says larger women's bodies are "perfect" because

1. Boys like them
2. Meghan Trainor says so

"Perfect" extolls "real-er" bodies as "perfect" because

1. Boys like them
2. BJ The Chicago Kid says so

As weight and size preoccupy many women, including young girls, I'm thrilled any song that spurs conversation has made its way up the charts. I love a loveable, smooth R&B song trying to project something "good" at its core female audience -- though it parades as one thing but doesn't hold up under scrutiny. I love a pop song from a bigger woman singing about bigger women, dancing with women of all colors and (many) sizes -- though it's flawed in its execution.

Women of all sizes deserve better.
 

* This song is not perfect but it's damn
** Boom-boom-boom-boom boom-boom-boom-boom you got that super bass
*** Not All Men, LOLOLOL

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