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Black Sky Thinking

Givin' It To The Homegirl: The Trouble With Kelis
Neil Kulkarni , June 10th, 2010 08:45

With Neil Kulkarni finding something rotten in the state of girl-pop, he turns up his nose at Kelis' curdled Milkshake and explains why Brit Envy has it right

Summer 2010. Why aren't you happy? We're being catered for.

Taste of headache.

We're being catered for.

Aluminium mouth-rape.

We're being catered for.

Nausea, dry heaving. We're being catered for.

I don't go looking for problems. They find me. In this numb age music must electrify every synapse, fill the space in my atoms with fire. A tight alternative to the sloppy seconds every other less-potentially-abstract/suggestive artform is offering. But all I'm getting is a migraine of mehness, a gobfull of slurry, grossed out, gagging on the hangover before it hits, the endlessly rotating self-pity of modern pop. For the first time since 85/86 I can wholly equate 'chart' music with 'shit' music.

Crucially

I'm waiting for the chorus.

But all I'm getting is verses, bridges, build and no release state-of-the-art demo-settings and all that fucking whining whining whining.

We must be in the club.

We're always in the club these days.

We're club-friendly.

Y'know the place. Where the skinny people writhe. Where everyone aims to look like they're in an advert. Where the good-looking find each other: aka Hell on earth. The place where pop is now locked because to step out of the club is to lose the safehold, the sure purposelessness, the backdrop of insubstantiality that makes all this lack-of-substance seem right/apposite/enough. Because like love as subject, the club as locus shuts out the world, shuts down those dangerous parts of our day'n'nite that threaten to not get with the programme, join the step, the hotbeat-soundtracked on-the-spot march forward, the excess consumption, the forgetting, the proud self-love and inevitable self-pity and endless self-advertisement.

We're being catered for because for a decade we told the industry that we only want what it gives us i.e. more of this brain-dead fuckery, we tell them that we're incapable of imagination, thoughts dependent on a thumbs-up/peer-approval to exist, capable of only that tweaked delirium-on-ourselves, incapable of language beyond 2am wittering, drunk lols & posturing, musically and lyrically lashed to the triptych tethers of dancefloor and bar & the homes where we wallow, the rooms where we get ready for the endless party that calls us outside. We're in the club, and we can never leave, and though there's stairs to cry on and 50p pints to binge on and bouncers to argue with and toilets to take dirty photos in and cubicles to get those eyes widened we are always leaving but never making it out. All we do is drink, drug, give, give, splay, lose everything, snarfle scraps starting scraps, leaving behind an imprint of nothing.

This is where pop puts us now if we're single, if we can't mewl about him, or her - in the club where the music, no matter how thin, can marshal movement, make you forget your stasis, blank-out your slow depletion into time. Handy of course that your typical club-friendly backing track doesn't impose the need to find a hook on the singer/writers: Madonna's 'Ray Of Light' has a hell of a lot to answer for in bequeathing us a whole gen of pop writers who think vaguely 60s-style barbershop raga vocals around a technoid-thump will suffice, will in fact equal some sort of trippy 'exploration' of the self. Personally, were I a girl looking to be spoken for by the eternally-strobelit flash of modern girl-pop, I'd be scowling on the balcony, mentally flamethrowing you fucks, ducking out, hiding under the hill. But I'm too old for clubs, look like a narc, or simply an ageing pervert. And girl-pop itself, infuriatingly makes me feel like lecturing it, teach it something unmannered, get that strap back on its shoulder, learn it hard that its mistaking 'attitude' for style and assemblage for creativity. If I had a fanny I'd feel unspoken for. As unspoken for as I feel being a man.

Look at what pop's women are wearing. Even in Gaga's orbit of influence, it's so fucking dull out there. It's as if Girl pop looks a