(this is a parody of tinymixtapes’ review of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s Nanda Collection. I have some major issues with the review! Since I don’t just want to drive traffic to them I’m hopeful it can stand as a more general illustration of how ridiculous certain modes of writing about non-Western music are. You have to pretend I’m American. This is not meant to imply this is specifically an American problem, it was just the best fit I came up with. I haven’t heard the album in question; it didn’t seem necessary)
Take the Crown
Styles: UK-Pop, cups of tea, extravagant weddings
Others: The Killers, Justin Timberlake, Daft Punk, British costume dramas
On 29 July, 1981, Prince Charles - the heir to the British throne and a national superstar of sorts - married Lady Diana Spencer in a fairytale ritual at St Paul’s Cathedral in London. The following year, American audiences were treated to a TV movie recreation of their relationship and the event.
Which brings us to Robbie Williams. Take the Crown - the ninth album from dancer and charity soccer player turned music sensation Robbie Williams - is the sound of a stoic Brit with a stuff upper lip taking himself to St Paul’s Cathedral and reciting vows. Isn’t it beautiful? Hear how it is steeped in history, tradition and duty. For like that royal wedding, Take the Crown can only be described as a staid, meticulously-staged fanfare of performed Britishness. And indeed, it is beautiful.
Take the Crown is not simply UK-pop par excellence. It is UK-pop personified. It is a multi-faceted, hyperdimensional prism simultaneously articulating, parodying, and problematizing a genre, a moment, a culture. Which is why we ought to be paying particular attention. See, whatever function UK-pop might serve in its native country, it’s clear that the genre’s appeal to American audiences has always relied on certain voyeuristic pleasures. Like an overheard phone call or a tantalizingly open window, UK-pop lures us in with the promise of an unedited peek into a world that doesn’t realize we’re looking. And in the case of UK-pop, this view is all the more seductive for its impossibly alien Otherness. And if you haven’t already peeked through the window, one look at a Robbie Williams music video and you’ll understand. But this, we tell ourselves, is what Britain must look like when no one is watching. And so the bizarre, carnival world of UK-pop takes its place in the American consciousness as a warped, mutilated synecdoche of the country as a whole.
But like Princess Diana before him, Robbie Williams has an uncanny knack for perfectly anticipating his real audience. Indeed, Take the Crown is no more meant for British audiences than the royal wedding was. Look at his name. Almost a sensible American name, you can imagine it as “Bobby Williams”, but it is warped into British nonsense. Look at the song titles. “Candy”, “Gospel”, “Shit on the Radio”: a mixture of British approach and pure American English. Look at the fact that he recorded an album of Rat Pack covers, rendering American classics British. For like Diana’s ludicrously anachronistic union with hereditary rule, the Robbie Williams image is not so much a statement of British identity as it is a performative gesture towards a foreign, decidedly American notion of what British-ness is. Because in the end, it is all meant for us, for the voyeurs half a world away. And turns out the joke’s on us. Because it turns out the world we were peeking into realized we were here. And then it all became a performance. A fiction.
Take the Crown is more than just an entertaining, well-produced pop album. It is a mirror held up to an America that has naively taken for granted its notions of Britain. It is a ridiculous, terrifying, spectacular reflection of our own picturesque fantasies for a Britain that never really existed, a projection of a parallel dimension where Ladies get married to Princes in fairytale events and musicians live like Wombley country gents. And when they take their crowns, they are made of candy.
"For the last 13 years Japanese photographer Miyoko Ihara has been taking pictures of her grandma, Misao, to commemorate her life. 9 years ago, 88-year-old Misao found a stray odd-eyed cat in her shed: she called it Fukumaru, hoping that “the god of fuku (good fortune) would come and everything will be smoothed over like maru (circle).” Miyoko has been photographing their beautiful friendship and the way they go about their daily routine ever since.”
V Man Magazine November 2013
Join us for part 2 of Yuletide Yingtime, as quixotic elfin editor Chris Ying continues his expedition into the peppermint-y heart of Swedish Christmas.
And make sure to tune in for the shocking* conclusion of this miniseries tomorrow!
(If you missed part 1, you can find it here.)
(*The conclusion probably won’t be shocking unless Ying shows up to dinner at Fäviken in a holiday-themed body stocking or something. A boy can dream! - PFM)
Aww, this kinda makes me miss Christmas in Scandinavia. Christmas markets! Gløgg! Julebord!
Liu Bolin (Shandong, China) camouflages himself against various surroundings as a protest over the lack of recognition of individuals in Chinese society. His aim is to momentarily disappear.
This is one of the reasons why I watch Eurovision every year. 12 points to you, Romanian Dubstep Opera Glittery Vampire in Space.
A mandopop classic. One of my parents favourite singers (we still have a laser disc of her greatest hits). Heard in many Chinese households. I’ve heard it sung at weddings, played in restaurants, malls, in tv shows, movies, etc. It is a must-have in any Chinese karaoke songbook.
Bare with me as I relive my childhood for a bit. Cantopop ballads from the 90’s were legit.
The video: what’s happening! How did Leon teleport? Through his dreams? Does he have a TARDIS? Is the old lady who gave him the fobwatch the same lady who’s in the picture? Why would she torment him like that? I’m so confused.
Look at those croccodile tears at the end! (His acting has definitely gotten better since this video was made, see: Fallen Angels, Comrades: Almost a Love Story, etc.)
EXO-M - XOXO
I slightly prefer the EXO-K version, but I like this version well enough annnd I don’t think I’ve ever posted mando/cantopop on my tumblr yet (sorry, my peoples. I will post some 90’s cantopop ballads soon, because they are legit classics/integral to my early childhood years. My parents played them nonstop. Four heavenly kings, that’s what’s up).
Dynamic Duo - Three Dopeboyz (feat. Zion.T)
Abidaz - Nitti5 (feat. Robyn)
skulle ønske at denne sangen var nittifem sekunder lenger. still a jam tho.