A Thursday Interruption: Janelle Monae’s “Tightrope,” Matt and Kim’s “Lesson Learned,” and some kick ass reflections on Ke$ha and Beyonce

Janelle Monae’s newest music video is set at an insane asylum where dancing has been forbidden due to its connection to illegal magics.

This music video inspired Erykah Badu’s “Window Seat.” Here’s an interview with more info.

OMG This blogger rocks. Quotes from the post:

Then there’s the way the meaning of the refrain—all the single ladies, put your hands up—blurs and broadens as the song proceeds.  The line is of course lifted from standard-issue Friday-night club-DJ patter: an ostensibly playful exhortation for eligible women to identify themselves as such.  This moment in a DJ set always comes off as icky, anything but playful, a moment of peak social coercion; it suggests that single women are to be regarded as public property, or that they have (or are) a problem that needs to be solved, or even that they’re simply present (Ladies’ Night!) as prospective quarry for the hapless prowling menfolk who by this point in the evening can’t be trusted to take aim at appropriate targets without a little help.  “Single Ladies” sets out to divert and defuse the line’s coercive function, not so much by recontextualizing it through wit or double-entendre—a trick which can only work within the fictional world of the song—but instead by repurposing it along with the gesture it prescribes: we’re asked to see the single ladies’ hand-raising not as an act of acquiescence to or participation in a social ritual that objectifies them, but instead as a celebratory assertion of individual and collective agency.

Who says pop can’t be radical?

Got a song, artist, pic, or music video that delightfully interrupts your work day? Send it along to LOGI [at] THEHATHORLEGACY [dot] COM!

Comments

    • Maria says

      I think it can be empowering, particularly since black women have recently been coming under blast for not getting married at the same rate as white women. I like that line a lot, actually, because SHE’S not sad about not getting married. I hear it as sarcastic/snarky.

      She’s happy she’s single, and I think that black women aren’t encouraged to glorify in their singleness.

  1. Maria says

    Also: what’d you think of the post’s analysis of Tik Tok? I thought the part where she compared it to the fictive world of prowrestling was kinda stellar. :D

  2. SarahSyna says

    I always thought of ‘if you liked it then you should of put a ring on it’ as a snarky ‘If you’re apparently so in love with me why’d you just break up, you twit’.

    I do loathe that Tik Tok song though. It just depresses me, because it sounds like the worst life in the world. A life in which getting arrested then waving your handcuffs at people is ‘totally cool’, drinking Jack Daniels instead of brushing your teeth is perfectly fine behaviour and your life can be nothing but waking up in a strange house, getting dressed, going to a party, waking up in a strange place, getting dressed, going to a party…[ad nauseum]. To me it’s just a lifestyle completely absent of all self-awareness and the song glorifies that. If anyone really had that life they would be the most miserable people on the planet.

  3. says

    So, I admit first that I have neither much experience in US-American culture nor in African-American culture specifically; being German, I’ll simply accept your description of how black women are looked at. But I also never really looked at the lyrics of “Single Ladies” aside from the chorus – until now, at least, and I think the author may have a point there, too. So I must rethink my opinion of Single Ladies.

    I hadn’t heard Kesha’s song before (yeah, German and not a clubgoer), and at first I thought the wrestling analogy was pretty far-fetched. Then I saw the official video: the author is totally on to something.

    Even though I’d more likely compare it to Michael Bay, a truly pornographic kind of product, and deliberately designed to appeal to the lowest common denominator – indeed, designed to lower the lowest common denominator, a product for those hailing ignorance and scoffing at “elitism”, in other words, a much more successful and higher budgeted version of the Insane Clown Posse’s recent viral video hit. Don’t hate it because it’s stupid and simple, but hate it because it’s proud of being stupid and simple and wouldn’t have it any other way.

  4. jennygadget says

    Thank you so much for this post and the link to that other one.

    I have to admit I hadn’t given “Single Ladies” much thought or even heard it all the way through, but I now love the song and especially the video. Also, I sorta kinda thought Beyonce was maybe cool before, but even so much more now.

    I think what I love best about the video is that it’s clearly trying to reinforce the interpretation you are talking about.

    Sure Beyonce and her dancers are dolled up and showing a lot of skin. But the skin we see is mostly their incredibly strong legs – as they are doing all kinds of moves that require strength and skill and btw make their thighs jiggle in the way women’s thighs aren’t “supposed ” to jiggle. (I know that music videos encourage a certain amount if jiggling, so correct me if I’m wrong, but my impression has been that it’s ok – a requirement even – for butts and boobs to jiggle, but not muscle and fat on thighs and arms.)

    It’s also very stark – black and white, simple outfits, few accessories, no real background – putting the focus back on what they are doing and away from the glamor of music videos and even the confusion typically found in clubs and relationships/gender expectations. Even when she holds her hand up to show that it’s ringless, she’s twisting her wrist around not only in time to the rhythm, but in a way that clearly means “talk to the hand.”

    (I’m also having all kinds of love for Janelle Monae, but that’s been going on for at least a week now.)

  5. says

    Sorry I didn’t click on the first video and missed it. I read the description and thought, “dancing = magic”? Sounds strange. And when I saw the video elsewhere, I noticed how awesome it was. So as a penance, I will now go and give you at least three other videos to link. :)

  6. says

    Okay, here’s a batch, though not all music videos.

    simply great guitar playing from Botswana:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tx4cRw6TIIg

    Picasso’s Guernica 3d:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_65LYLzvvI

    “Werner Herzog” reads Madeleine and puts a different spin on the story:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57EDxvldLD4

    Philipina’s got talent has someone doing a male-female duet all by themselves:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTa_UHf2Yoo

  7. AMR says

    You better tip on it! I’m loving that Tightrope video by Janelle Monae!!!!! She is awesome! Do you see those moves?! WOW!!!! I already had the song stuck in my head but noe I def have the video on repeat!

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