Monday, May 02, 2011

I was randomly perusing Al's Music Rant when I came across an article published in June 2009, How To Lose Your Female Fanbase In 7 Easy Steps. In it, he apologised in advance for evaluating the physical appearance of a bunch of sexy musician-girls. The assessment could have been sexist, but he qualified the process by saying they were as attractive as they were talented. Such a qualification made me reflect upon my own wanton desire for a rather fetching, rather unstable Syd Barrett. Mick Rock's portraits of the kohl-smeared Barrett haunt me still, but I would be the first to admit that I care little for his music. Silly, lustful, shallow ol' me.

I thought of other musical crushes of yesteryear. John Lennon circa 1964, Freddie Mercury circa 1973, Morrissey circa 1986, Per Gessle circa 1991. It is perhaps odd to mention it, as I had once declared that my love of music was completely divorced from any notion of sexual attraction. At the time, I had been greatly influenced by Cheryl Cline's Essays from Bitch: The Rock Newsletter With Bite and I was keen to evolve into a pseudo-secure pop-feminist who engaged with music on a purely cerebral level. That meant relinquishing the gushing, the fanfic and even the very idea of a pop image. It only followed that my obsession with faceless, anonymous mod-revivalist groups meant that my engagement was solely based upon the music itself (and not upon the physical appearance of any musician involved).

Nowadays, I am far more likely to acknowledge the prevalence of sexuality in pop. I audibly applaud the grotesque contortions of Shakira. I feel great unease about the gender roles represented in Jessie's J's Like a Dude. I admit genuine concern when I insist that Ke$ha really needs a shower. It is far cry from the rueful swooning and blood-thumping obsession of a 16 year old girl, but I am compelled to speak frankly of the most profound of musical crushes past. Perhaps it is because I now accept that doing so will not diminish the sincerity of my relationship with music. It will not undermine my authority to speak about it, neither will it reinforce a stereotype that women cannot connect as men can: (cue stock footage of Beatle fangirls at Shea Stadium) they scream, cover their glowing cheeks, then faint...

Simon Day: Cautious

When I speak of the most profound of musical crushes past, I speak of the introductory moments of Ratcat's video for That Ain't Bad. At first, Simon Day's face is obscured by shiny black curls. When he tousles his loose curls from his face, it reveals a flawless, almost iridescent complexion. His cheek bones are sharp and his teeth are straight. I watch the clip again. He is too feminine to be masculine and yet too masculine to be feminine. Even as a 6 year old, I was mesmerised by his beauty. My attraction to him was only exacerbated by the arguably requited lyrics: "Ye-e-e-e-eah, I love you!"

The fascinating thing about That Ain't Bad is that Simon plays the role of the lovelorn. All his friends have warned him not to be with her, after all, she has a bad reputation. Unfortunately, Simon cannot heed to such warnings because he cannot see why she is so "bad". However, the imagery of the video would suggest that Simon is actually a "bad-boy" himself. He dons a leather jacket, manhandles a sizable tomato-soup-coloured Gretsch guitar and climbs through a wire fence with his mates in a dodgy part of town. Following this, I find it a little hard to believe that Simon would ever feel so vulnerable as to protect his heart from a callous femme fatale. Come to think of it, Simon is exactly the kind of boy our friends would warn us about... and much like Simon, I would duly ignore their every word of warning.

It is perhaps ironic that the most significant live recording of That Ain't Bad features not Simon singing, but a crowd of hysterical teenage girls singing over him at Melbourne's Metro. It makes absolute sense when they sing these words, you can hear them smile and shriek and carry on. You cannot help but smile too when you hear their yelps: OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! There is something wonderful about it. To me, it acts as an implicit pledge, en masse, to abandon all sense of caution, to ignore all sensible advice, to lust in vain. I long for a feeling like that again. I long to shriek mindlessly without qualm or qualification, along with a song and a man I really, really loved.

Cassettes & Chocolate Milk: Britpop Podcast #31
mclusky - To Hell With Good Intentions
LR Rockets - Renee Loves Losers
Carl Barat - Je Regrette, Je Regrette
The Good, The Bad and The Queen - History Song
The La's - Liberty Ship
Tim Tin Yen - Girl Number One
The Divine Comedy - The Pop Singer's Fear of the Pollen Count
Frankie & Heartstrings - Hunger
The Holloways - Reinvent Myself
The Vaccines - Wreckin Bar

Download (45.2 MB)

2 comments:

Peter said...

I had to think long and hard of the person I had a conversation with about the band Eraser. It took me just as long to think up the blog which she runs. Good to see its still going. Did you disappear at all?

Have to admit, I don't know many of the bands listed the recent podcasts. Big fan of The Human League however.

Might see you around

Pete

Eleanor said...

Haha, Bogie! So good to see you found your way on here!

Yes, you're right, I no longer have Facebook. It makes for a good, distraction-free lifestyle! Well, almost...

If you like Microbots Trance mixes etc, I recommend you the Italo Disco podcasts. Perfect, yet unknown synth compositions!

Take care!