Old Gems: “Gloria”, by U2

27 04 2011

I dug up this ancient promo video for the song “Gloria”, released by U2 all the way back in 1981, when I was three years old and listening to pop music on the radio for the first time. (I remember when MTV first came out in 1982. Yes. That’s how old I am.) Forget the hair. Forget the scrubby-looking working-class Irishmen. (Or are they British? I tried to look up the site on Google Earth but couldn’t find it.) The best things about this video are the crazy, frenetic¬†way the people are dancing (are those two guys dancing on a mast?), Bono (delish), and the gritty harbour panorama at the end. The best things about the song are the¬†exciting, suspenseful post-punk dance feel, the unusual song structure, the Latin chorus, and the grand, sweeping, melodic finale. So I am dumbfounded that this single only reached #55 on the UK charts. (Apparently they’re playing at Qwest Field in Seattle–a giant soccer stadium–in June. I hope, hope, hope, pray to God they play this song.)





Swedish Electro-pop Pixie Robyn

8 04 2011

I’m constantly searching for the ultimate pop diva–one who combines vocals, songwriting skills, dance moves, fashion, and a delicious sonic soundscape into a single succulent package. I don’t want the typical American top 40 R&B crooner with whiney, annoyingly overwrought vocals–I want an edgy, in-your-face dance-pop diva who knows how to sing to an actual melody. Soul-singing is not supposed to sound incoherent–it is supposed to pluck at the heartstrings. And I like Kylie Minogue, but, to be honest, is she a good songwriter? With this in mind, I think I may have found the diva I am looking for. She is singer and songwriter Robyn, the peroxide-blond pixie from Stockholm, Sweden. I like some of the other larger-than-life icons, but Robyn really kicks you in the face with her plucky synthpop fierceness. She can sing, dance, and express herself with abandon. And, with the occasional exception, her style is a staunch disavowal of watered-down U.S. R&B; it remains stalwartly devoted to the European electronic dance tradition–the most savvy, metamorphic, and creative genre in pop music.

For a taste of Robyn’s bold, bedazzling pop-gems, consider the following video for her song Dancing on My Own:

Wow. I love everything about this video. I love the hot, steamy, glowing-red nightclub shots, the off-shoulder top, the funky, cropped blond hair, the chain earring that’s attached to her top, and the fuck-you, martial arts dance moves. I wouldn’t want to cross her path in a dark alley. I think there’s something about strong, independent women that gay men appreciate; I think it might be the tenacity in the face of social obstacles. They can identify with it. And, even though visibly she’s Swedish to the bone, she sounds almost like a black woman from Detroit. And there is something about her that uncannily reminds me of Cyndi Lauper, who is probably the queen of punch-you-in-the-nutsack synthpop.

Now, play close attention. Perhaps my favourite dance move in the video is at 1:07. I could do that all day long, in the shower, on the street, in the office. Don’t care. I could sway my hips from side to side like that all day long.

The next video I want to share with you is for her song Hang with Me:

I love the melody combined with the four-to-the-floor beat and sweet, icy synthesizers. And I love the tour-bus footage. It makes me feel as though I am witnessing the star’s day-to-day adventures first-hand, as though I am playing a personal part in the life of a burgeoning pop princess, one that is remarkably fun and down-to-earth. And I love the footage of the bus driving down the motorway in Britain (you can see the traffic sign to London in the video). It reminds me of my vacation in Britain in 2003, when I drove out of the sad, decrepit stone-and-concrete maze of London and into the smooth, green, rolling countryside toward some ancient monument, a low, giant sun glowing through the polluted sky.

The next-to-last video is for her song Indestructible. It is very sexy and artistic, full of longing, fleshly desire and fluid-tube body-suits:

This is a poignant video. Watching it, one is encouraged to love—to love urgently—as though one has never loved before, despite past heartbreaks. That is hard to do. And yet, it tells us that we should keep trying, and never grow bitter. In essence, it tells one to maintain a sense of hope, because nobody likes a frowning middle-aged matron with self-obsessed wrinkles on her brow. Think about it. Who wants to turn into some bitter, crusty old crab-woman? (Although, I must admit, I would simply love to portray Miss Havisham in a stage production of Great Expectations.)

Finally, I would like to share with you the video for the same song, but this time the artist is performing at the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Concert, hosted by bug-eyed beauty Anne Hathaway:

Wow! Inimitable dance moves. Let me bring your attention to the moment at 1:39, where she perfectly synchronises with the beat. Bam! This girl loves it. And there are rock concerts for the Norwegian Nobel Committee! A committee which awards prizes to those who have contributed to the advancement of peace! They have electronic pop artists performing for them, for goodness’ sake! Isn’t that a most beautifully harmonious collaboration of agendas? I want to move to Oslo or Stockholm now.

If you like high-end, high-purpose electro-pop, visit the official Robyn Web site. I am going to do that now.