Black Chandelier

Currently obsessed with this track. J introduced me to it this past weekend and it’s been on a high-rotation this week. Seeing as I’m completely incapable of writing anything profound on this blog at the moment, here’s the official video (love the look and feel) and the acoustic version. You’re welcome. Lyrics below.

Can’t wait for the album – Opposites, which releases 25/28 January.

Drip, drip, drip, drip

I shouldn’t laugh but I know I’m a failure in your eyes
I know it’s daft but I guess that I know it deep inside
It feels like we’re ready to crack these days, you and I
When it’s just the two of us, only the two of us, I could die

You left my heart like an abandoned car
Old and worn, ain’t no use at all
But I used to be free

We’re gonna separate ourselves tonight
We’re always running scared but holding knives
But there’s a black chandelier
It’s casting shadows and lies

Drip, drip, drip, drip

I’ll sit in silence for the rest of my life if you’d like
Dressing our wings with industrial gloves made of wire
Feel it penetrating the skin, we begin to relax
When it’s just the two of us, and a cute little cup of cyanide

You left my heart like an abandoned car
Old and worn, ain’t no use at all
But I used to be free

We’re gonna separate ourselves tonight
We’re always running scared but holding knives
But there’s a black chandelier
It’s casting shadows and lies

[Continues]

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My favourite thing for today

I’m pretty in love with Pink, at the moment. I’ve had her album The Truth About Love on repeat in my car for about three weeks solid now (What, it’s a great relationships-and-all-their-dramas album). Anyway, one of my favourite tracks on the album is Try, which also happens to be her new single – and the music video is amazing. Seriously.

It’s helmed by Floria Sigismondi, who directed the incredible The Runaways (with Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart).

I’m in love. The choreography, the colours, the movement, the cinematography. Love, love, love.

I am not okay with Rihanna and Chris Brown’s collaboration

* A relatively rough rant. I may come back and edit it tomorrow. Or I may just leave it entirely. 

I have been ranting to friends/relatives/colleagues about this pretty solidly since yesterday morning, although I haven’t had the time to actually blog about it*.

*Which reminds me, I have a backlog of material – blog, work and personal – to get cracking on. I should probably invest in a day-planner. Do those things actually help?

I am not okay with Rihanna and Chris Brown’s new collaborations.

I am not okay with the fact that in an attempt to “shock the world” (according to one of the producers, Kosine, on the remix of Birthday Cake), Rihanna has made a pretty public statement: It’s okay to go back to the man who abused you.

Court documents in Chris Brown’s 2009 trial made it clear that he beat Rihanna repeatedly. Photographs from that night – the night before the 2009 Grammy Awards – show a Rihanna that is almost unrecognisable.

Rihanna

Rihanna after Chris Brown's assault of her in 2009. <i>TMZ</i>

The recently released documents made for absolutely terrfying reading. You can read the full report on Perez Hilton’s site but I’ll give you highlights.

He punched her repeatedly, smashed her head against the window, bit her left ear and two of her fingers, threatened to kill her, had her in a headlock and tried to strangle her.

(And yes, all you Chris Brown “fans”, he was also injured. Those are called “defensive wounds”. You find them on rapists, murderers, robbers and abusers. They’re caused as the victim tries to defend him or herself.)

It’s been just three years since that night – and, in fact, Chris is still serving a five-year probation for the felony assault. He made an extremely controversial return to the Grammy Awards last week – he performed twice – and his appearance raised the ire of a number of celebrities, music fans and critics.

They questioned the appropriateness of his inclusion into the ceremony, and his reaction does not seem typical of a man who is remorseful of actions. He tweeted, “HATE ALL U WANT BECUZ I GOT A GRAMMY Now! That’s the ultimate FUCK OFF!”

And you know, in the interests of not stirring the pot without due cause, I kind of left it after the Grammys. It made my stomach churn to watch him parade around the stage, but I could have been being over-sensitive. It happens.

But then Rihanna tweeted her two collaborations with the man that beat her within an inch of her life. And I was unbelievably disappointed.

In 2009, Rihanna said: “I don’t want to be the big domestic-violence spokesperson, because that doesn’t define who I am. But if I can help young women in any way, and that being one of the things they need help with, then I’ll do that.”

Rihanna had a perfect chance – whether she wanted it or not – to make a statement, be a role model. She had the chance, through her actions, to say: What happened to me is not okay. What he did was not okay. I do not need to stand for it. I do not need to go back.

But these two songs have sent a very, very public message: I have forgiven my abuser, and want him back in my life. Even better, I can cash in on the controversy and the abuse.

These were my thoughts before I had listened to the remix of Birthday Cake. And yes, while Chris’ contribution to the song is keeping with the hardcore, S&M style of the original’s lyrics… Well, Jesus H Christ in a handbag, it is not okay for the man that abused you to be singing those lyrics. 

“Girl, I wanna f*** you right now. Been a long time. I been missin your body … give it to her in the worst way. Can’t wait to her blow her candles off.”

I was surfing for various opinions on the tracks, and an article on the Boston Herald site really stuck out. The author had interviewed one Wendy Murphy, who apparently teaches a seminar on sexual violence at New England Law School.

Her thoughts?

“I don’t even have words to describe the perversity of (the collaboration),” she said.

“The obvious message she is sending isn’t that violence is bad, it’s that you need to find a way to enjoy it. … Someone should confront her and say, ‘Women are dying from the same violence you are celebrating’.”

“To do a song with the man who beat the hell out of her is exploiting her own victimization for money,” Murphy said.

I am not okay with Rihanna’s collaboration with Chris Brown.

I do not care – and I suppose it is none of my business – whether she has forgiven him for what he did. I don’t think that I would ever forgive abuse dished out to me. I would never record a fucking song with my abuser. But that’s just me.

And if they are all happy-and-back-together? Well, for god’s sake have some tact about announcing it. Release a statement instead of dropping two unnecessarily controversial tracks. They both owe it to their fans – whether they think they owe anything to the people who keep buying their records or not.

Rita Smith, the executive director for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, seems to agree with me.

She told MTV News (and I bold this for the tl;dr among you):

“I don’t know what the message is. I would like the message to be: People can change, and I will never be treated that way again and I will never treat anyone that way again.

“If they had released a song saying this is what this represents for us, that would be such a much more fabulous, powerful story than not saying a word,” she said.

Instead, Rihanna’s stand-alone collaborations with Chris Brown are a public statement – that she endorses the man that abused her.

Smith also said that, given Rihanna’s history with Chris Brown: “I think the message she’s sending is that the feelings of being in love are more important than your personal safety.”

Like so many other victims of domestic abuse, Rihanna returns. Convinced he has changed, perhaps, or convinced that she can change him.

And what if, like so many other victims of domestic abuse, it happens again?

I fink u freek-ing boring…

I know it’s not the popular opinion. Just like I know I’m supposed to be stunned every time Lady Gaga dons another outrageous outfit, I know that I’m meant to be shocked and a little disgusted by every video Die Antwoord releases and every line of their lyrics.

Watch their latest video, then carry on reading my rant:

It’s a great video. Wonderfully styled, directed, conceptualised. It’s strangely beautiful. I’m not criticising the video, not really.

But, I’m afraid, I’m a little bored of Die Antwoord. No, I lie. I’m a lot bored by Die Antwoord. Like Gaga, they try so hard to live their “product” – which sure, takes a lot of dedication – but the problem with their product is that it’s unsustainable. Once they have milked their zef-ness to death – or the world becomes desensitized to their bizarre nature – Die Antwoord will be left with what I would guess is a small fan base. For their sake, I hope I’m wrong.

It is, I don’t hesitate to say, a pity. Ninja (Or, as he’s also known, Watkin “Waddy” Tudor Jones) has been part of some fascinating musical projects here in South Africa and Yo-Landi is bizarrely beautiful and exceptionally talented. Their move from the fascinating, heavy “hip hop-ness” of their earlier material (Enter the Ninja went viral for a reason) and into a slightly more club-inspired genre shows their versatility and their eagerness to reinvent. Their breakaway from Interscope Records displays their commitment to artistic control. I just wish they would be more “real” in more of their material.

This concerted effort to shock/awe/offend is wearing thin. Much like Gaga, their attempts to stand out from the crowd so consistently has become their normal: There is nothing new in the video for I Fink U Freeky. Which is a pity, ’cause it’s a helluva catchy song.

The black and white, we’ve done before with Enter the Ninja. Yo-Landi drapes herself in rats and dons her Pikachu outfit. Ninja cavorts in his tired boxer shorts, imitated by the other stars of the video. It makes them recognisable – but it’s a far cry from the WTF impact of Enter the Ninja and Zef Side.

I watched the video for I Fink U Freeky, I wrote a small article on it, I trawled for pictures, I set up a poll. But what struck me the hardest today were lyrics I saw typed out from So What? in an article in Rolling Stone South Africa – penned by a friend of Ninja and Yo-Landi. Stripped of the show and the pretence, they were all the more impactful – and I’ve thought of those lyrics more than the video I watched:

“Rapped for 20 years, never made a cent/Borrowed money from my mom to pay the rent/Now how’m I gonna get out of this mess/Yo- landi shows me two stripes on the fucking piss-test/Broke-ass Ninja gonna be a daddy/Little baby Ninja gonna need some nappies.”

To me, that “reality” is infinitely more fascinating than the construct that is Die Antwoord.

The Ard of Anthem Singing

As bad as I feel my week has been, I’m pretty sure it’s been worse for Ard Matthews.

In case you’d been abducted by aliens (and I’m currently reading Stephen King’s Dreamcatcher so it seems quite likely at this point) and missed the entire skandaal, Just Jinjer frontman had the most epic of brain farts during a live performance of the South African national anthem, which was part of the Springbok squad announcement for the World Cup.

Now, South Africans are truly, notoriously unforgiving. We set such high standards for ourselves and our heroes that one slip up is enough to see you totally slammed. That’s what’s happened to Ard. And the poor guy, professional that he is, has accepted all the blame, made no excuses and simply apologised and apologised and apologised – and will continue apologising until he runs out of ways in which he can apologise. But it’s not looking good – I ran a poll on my site and almost 88% of the voters said that they wouldn’t accept any of those apologies, saying that there’s no excuse.

The public slamming and humiliation has started to get out of control. Local chicken franchise Nando’s ran an ad within 24 hours of the performance, broadcasters SuperSport and the SA Rugby Union have been hauled into Parliament to (ahem) face the music and even the infamous fellow-anthem destroyer Ras Dumisani has thrown in his five cents’ worth, saying that he thinks Ard “can’t sing at all” and that it “looks like he can’t concentrate on singing and playing the guitar at the same time – he should have got someone to accompany him.” This is rich, of course, coming from the guy whose rendition of the anthem was so bad that it was cited among the reasons the Springboks lost a match to France.

In among all of this, Ard has made no excuses. Okay, he has since posted a YouTube video to prove that he does in fact know the anthem.

But his behaviour is more than the now much-quoted Ras has done – after his debacle he blamed everything from the backing track to the crowd.

But it’s now got out of hand. The hate directed at Ard – who has been nothing but one of South Africa’s golden boys until now – is shocking. At the end of the day, it was simply human error. There was nothing malicious about it. Sure, Supersport could have allowed Ard a teleprompter. Sure, he could have stopped and started the anthem again. Sure, Bok coach P Divvy could have joined in like the redhead from the FNB ad – but none of that happened.

Let’s respect his apology and move on – and most importantly, let’s stop spewing the hate. We can’t go back and change the past, as I so often have to remind myself, so let’s rally forward. Forgive, forget, let it slide.

 

Rest in peace, Amy Winehouse

Just over a month ago, I wrote a piece called “Amy: A public suicide” for iafrica.com. In it, I questioned the wisdom of allowing her to return to the stage and wondered what was being done, if anything, to get her back on her feet.  I closed off my article with, “Sadly, it may be too little too late for a woman who looks half a move away from catastrophe.”

Exactly a month later, Amy Winehouse was dead.

Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London apartment on 23 July 2011. She was 27.

It somehow felt so inevitable, and yet still completely unbelievable. We all knew where she was headed – especially because by all accounts, she refused to get help, but there was always that ray of hope, that wish she would come out of it and do what she did best.

We all have those “where were you when you heard about…” moments in our lives. I got yelled at by my mom for changing the channel on the morning of Princess Diana’s death, because the ticker at the bottom of the screening reading “The Princess of Wales is Dead” did not quite penetrate my 10-year-old brain at 6.30am on a weekend morning.

Amy Winehouse’s death is going to be one of those moments for me.

I’d spent most of the afternoon at Mirriam House in Paarl (more about that here) after their home burnt down on 17 July. One of their toddlers was killed and they lost absolutely everything – and so we pitched in to bring them lunch and play with the little ones. Afterwards we stopped off at Simonsvlei for some chocolate-and-wine tasting (as you do) and by the time I got home I was nice and giggly and settling down to watch a movie. Then I checked Twitter (yes, I’m on Twitter – you can follow me here) and bang. “Unconfirmed reports that Amy Winehouse has died”. I hit refresh and almost immediately, Sky News had confirmed it. I jumped up, out of bed, left laptop and lights on and was at the office in just over 10 minutes.

And so, it being my job and I love doing it, I’ve been swamped with Amy news… And so I haven’t had time to sit down and actually process anything.

The two overwhelming feelings I’ve had though is – firstly, it’s an absolute shame and I grieve for her. Her death was a tragedy. She was an absolute force of nature – hands down one of the biggest talents to emerge in the past decade. She paved the way for other British female vocalists – Adele, most notably, but also Duffy and Eliza Doolittle – and redefined the jazz/soul genre for the modern age. More after the jump…

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The long-weekend wrap-up

Right – so I have neglected this blog for a week or so for a number of different reasons, largely:

  • I was working the 10-day weekend news shift. The weekend news shift turns my brain into mush and it’s largely damage control by the end of it, no time for awesome things like blogging.
  • A lot of Grown Up Stuff happened. Being a grown up sucks. But it was a major wake-up call. Things could always, always be worse.
  • After my 10-day shift I went on a four-day weekend. (Perk!) My weekend included catching Kylie Minogue’s Aphrodite Live at the Grand Arena here in Cape Town (amazing!) and surviving my first-ever trail run. I tried to work as little as possible during my time off.

The great thing about taking a little time off is how much cool stuff awaits your return – especially in the entertainment world! In no particular order…

Blink-182 release their new single, Up All Night. It reminds me of being 13 again.

The first trailer for the new Sherlock Holmes movie drops. Robert Downey Jr rocks my socks off.

Rebecca Black’s new single lands. It’s slightly less terrible than Friday. Slightly.

The first teaser trailer for The Dark Knight Rises has arrived. I squealed.

And, if you missed it, a clip from The Walking Dead Season 2.

Also – the big what.the.fuck moment of the week has come in the form of JLo’s separation from hubby Marc Anthony. But, it isn’t very surprising, if you think about it… And I’ll have more on that tomorrow. For now – research. For something pretty damn awesome.