Lazy rascals, spending their substance, and more, in riotous living

The worst thing is, they’re good at their job

There must be someone employed by Jo Whiley whose job it is to think up the worst possible misinterpretations of songs, so that unlucky pop stars get to perform them in the Live Lounge. Girls Aloud, the best pop group in the world right now, perform “With Every Heartbeat,” one of the best songs of the past year and a natural fit for GA’s style. And I don’t think it would be possible to come up with a worse version:

Watch: Girl’s Aloud’s depressingly bad cover of “With Every Heartbeat”

And I didn’t think I could like Girls Aloud more

Men can be distinguished from animals by consciousness, by religion or anything else you like. They themselves begin to distinguish themselves from animals as soon as they begin to produce their means of subsistence, a step which is conditioned by their physical organisation. By producing their means of subsistence men are indirectly producing their actual material life.

Sex/Gender Distinction! No, no, no…

So, the new Girls Aloud single is pretty awesome. I can’t think of any other pop group who have sung so many songs about not having sex.

Coincidentally, I’ve been reading Andrea Dworkin’s Intercourse, in which she takes Joan of Arc as a hero for exemplifying “militant virginity.” This is part of a series of intriguing but, as far as I can see, untheorized, valorizations of bodily integrity, privacy, and autonomy. The continuing slippage between the bodily and the political is interesting; even more interesting, however, is the way this valorization of autonomy proceeds. Dworkin writes of the connection between Joan of Arc’s virginity and her virtue Read more↴

Bumping in the back room

There are few things more attractive than Girls Aloud looking bored on a bus. I loved the new Girls Aloud track when I first heard a terrible quality radio rip. I was actually a little disappointed when I heard a proper quality version; it turns out my imagination had inserted a storming gay bassline (not that the real version doesn’t have a moderately storming bassline, though). Luckily, the promo comes with a full complement of generic dance remixes; of which I particularly like the sort-of-almost dubstep Co-stars mix. There’s a fine trance version, too, which plays the old trick of transposing the bass chord progression into the minor, making the vocals seem to float in some kind of noumenal heaven above the melancholy of the day-to-day world.

Which reminds me of a number of interesting posts from &catherine, about a particular affective coldness in pop music. What interest me are those songs where apparent melancholy is somehow undercut precisely by the process of transforming emotion into music. The key example for me here is happy hardcore, which manages to preserve a sense of yearning like a specimen caught in amber, against a musical context that seems to expunge any possibility of emotion. I’m reminded of Spinoza’s claim that melancholy is always evil, but anguish can be good to the extent that it checks enthusiasm. Or, Nietzsche’s idea of a pessimism of strength: a cold pop music seems to begin from the essential painful nature of the world, but recognizes the worthlessness of raising this pain as a simple complaint. Instead (and I think happy hardcore is a particularly sharp example again here), there’s an odd combination of desperation and parody, an identification (over-identification?) with horror which works to create some kind of distance from it.