I tend to roll my eyes when people label the music industry as “dead” or “artistically bankrupt.” Granted, pop media has been in a tumultuous flux for the past decade, struggling with the slow death of finite mediums and succumbing to the veiny stranglehold that the internet has on essentially everything. But, like the people that whine about the lack of all ages events, one suspects that these individuals who impose these cast iron labels on this writhing hydra of an industry just don’t know where to look for their own fun.Fact: Women in the spotlight have always been more interesting to observe than men. Be it that they must STILL break the chains of patriarchal projection and expectation, or that they simply have severely more compelling fashion at their disposal, women within the arena of music videos continue to challenge and inspire. The recent movement of Couture Music that has simmered in Los Angeles is finally spilling over on a global scale.Music and fashion have always been nearly interchangeable. One anticipates the other and we tend to forget who actually said it first. And, despite the surface sheen that this implies, this is the way it should be. For the city of angels has always been the perfect microcosm of popular media; the glaring and opulent superficiality is what first confronts the eye, but tear through and ride the tidal wave of the underground before it collides with the pure shores of the mainstream. Canadian siren Grimes’ remarkable (and self-directed) clip for her track Genesis succinctly encapsulates this turn in the tide: feminism being properly represented for what it is…freedom, rather than the loathsome anti-male harpy that many troglodytes still perceive as reality.
Grimes’ beguiling desert fantasia (equal parts Enya and Marilyn Manson) also pushed the singular Brooke Candy into the international eye. Cutting a imposing silhouette with lashing tendrils of pink cornrows and a steel bikini, the L.A. native has redefined what it really means to be fierce. Serving as a main muse for both Grimes and afflicted photographer Terry Richardson, Candy has cited transhumanism and superhero fetishism as her sources of fashion inspiration. In a lame bid to compartmentalize her, journalists have compared Candy’s severe looks to Gwen Stefani, Nicki Minaj and – most obviously – Lady Gaga. Candy has spoken out against this, saying that these parties are guilty of heavily borrowing from alternative and marginalized culture while never actually participating in it. Specifically taking aim at Gaga who hired agents to photograph the elaborate patrons of east L.A. club Rhonda to emulate their more creative style. Working as a protege for Hustler’s notorious Larry Flynt, Candy has also been vocal about her bisexuality and feminist stances. “Well, being a woman that likes women, I guess you could say I’ve derived inspiration and wanted to promote strong women my whole life. I’m all about women helping women. There aren’t enough collaborations like there were back in the day. Remember that track “Ladies Night” with Missy, Angie Martinez, Da Brat, and Left Eye?”Her overt sexuality (“I Wanna Fuck Right Now“) subverts gender roles in hip hop and and subtlely pushes her apathetic and dystopian outlook. Candy was long rumoured to be a featured artist on Kylie Minogue’s 12th studio record which was recorded in Santa Monica. Though, the collaboration never saw the light of day, Minogue’s Sia-penned solo version of the track Sexercise inspired a hyper-ambitious multi-media site designed by renowned design firm, Chandelier Creative. Like Minogue, Candy has a highly astute grasp of deep cinema culture. Candy’s major label debut Opulence borrows its introduction from Samuel Fuller’s bizzaro noir The Naked Kiss. The Steven Klein collaboration eschews his overlong, Madonna-biting Gaga projects and delivers more disturbing and arresting imagery than any contemporary horror film could dream of.
Utilizing the publicity generated by the tongue-wagging reaction to her aggressively erotic yet ironic video clip for Sexercise, Kylie Minogue beguiles the audience into a immersive media experience which draws from the disparate yet clever wells of the legendary Kenneth Anger and Ren and Stimpy. Contributers included Dolce and Gabbana, Jean Paul Gaultier, Roman Coppola and even National Geographic. Truly one of the most impressive design projects of recent memory.
Hedi Slimane muse and controversy courting model-turned-singer Sky Ferreira has been making waves now that her long-delayed debut LP Night Time, My Time has finally been released. Born in Venice Beach, the doe-eyed singer’s sharp, crisp dance pop has the production of straight up grunge distilling the pop ephemera into murkier territories. Ferreira’s hypnotic visage and ghostly pallor are front and centre in her austere visuals. The clip for her lead single You’re Not the One is almost a shot by shot remake of Tony Scott’s classic slice of vampire lore The Hunger.
We can only wait and see what havoc these artists will reek upon their sophomore records. Until then, jump on and ride the wave of the most exciting thing to happen to pop in a decade.