Sitting at the desk, wearing an unintentionally appropriate Junya Watanabe Man shirt in a completely serendipitous manner - as befits such a noted Americanophile designer, of course - I just remembered what day it is. And as a man who has long loved America and around 50% of the people that hail from it, this post is dedicated to those who today celebrate their Independence Day
But really, this is a frivolous excuse to post some of my favourite America-themed songs:
I make no claims on being a classy man, so when I state that I unironically watched most episodes of the third series of e4's Skins, a paean to the teenage angst that apparently runs through the souls of Bristolians aged 13 - 19 with the unrelentingness of a six foot long hose through one's lower intestine*, it's because it's the truth. I was curious, I really had little better to do, and if my love for symphonic orchestra performances at the Royal Festival Hall cannot coexist with my appetite for lowbrow televisual delights or chart music, then why live? And that brings me to 'Ass2Ass'
There was pretty much one real highlight of the recently concluded series - two, if you count the performance of angsty-but-coping Kathryn Prescott aka "Gay Twin" Emily, who gets props for possessing better taste in music than her sister Megan. While I'm certain that the trials of tribulations of a teenage lesbian in love have been blessed with better portrayals (based on no research whatsoever), Emily benefited from having a hateful, controlling, shallow and possibly homophobic twin sister in Katie that resulted in her looking better by comparison, but Prescott was consistent in her characterisation and performance, distinguishing herself with strength of character to belie her vulnerabilities and fears and being one of the very few of the show's personalities to lack a core of narcissism. Her ability to give and receive kindness was distinct from most of the rest because Prescott made it believable that she was a girl worth cherishing. She probably had the happiest ending of all the main story threads - until next year
Allow me to drift back to the point. 'Ass2Ass', from the 4th episode, is the centrepiece at a series of satirical shots of reality pop competition shows, with the blatant cod-soft porn antics of girl group Da Sexxbombz only one element. Boasting Popstars: The Rivals and Girls Aloud runner-up, failed solo singer (but for a euphoric collaboration with Richard X) and infamous home-wrecker Javine Hylton in an oh-so-meta appearance, the group was on the hunt for a new member and their schtick, as portrayed onscreen, owes far more to the Prince-directed frolics of Vanity 6 - lingerie, innuendo, sex songs - than the generally implied sexuality of the contemporary scene. Gratefully, rather than solely make obvious cracks about the superficiality and exploitation of such entertainment, supporting character and contestant Karen was relatively complicit, using her tale of a dead mother to further her voter base. Focusing on the media-friendly backstory element all such contestants seem to possess in our world gave the episode more of a unique slant and gave consideration to how all encompassing a desire to be famous can be used to dishonour a memory (even Karen's father had no qualms about this vulgar invocation of his dead wife)
Anyway, 'Ass2Ass' is just another piece of the referential whole (incidentally, other Da Sexxbombz tracks include 'Rim Licking' and 'Juicing Down'). It's musically based on Britney's 'Piece of Me' (a song that's unapologetically about the tabloid antics of its world famous performer, gossip fixture and singer of the good clean fun of 'If You See(k) Amy'), right down to the vocoder, minimal synth bass and sampled ecstatic moans, and in performance, the bodypopping, crop haired "backing singer" is straight out of the video to Fedde Le Grand's 'Let Me Think About It'. And taking its title from a pivotal scene of a movie that got the juices of a million film students flowing does make an extra effort to layer the shout-outs. The song works because it has one thing going for it - it was clearly written with the mind of a schoolboy for the minds of actual schoolboys (and overgrown ones, in my case) - and this one thing leads to other things - catchiness, infectious glee, knowing winks and, in the episode, better dancing than Vanity 6 ever managed. And they even went to the effort of a full-length, ready for pirate radio production
Born in the 21st century, Mode Parade gabs about the populist, the obscure and the ridiculous in lifestyle, aesthetics, fashion, luxury and its creator's kaleidoscopic taste in coats in as prolix a manner as possible. Occasionally, there are tasteful moments too, such as Orientalist pop songs
Mode Parade and its author, Barima, have been featured in the internationally published books Fashion Blogs by Kirstin Hanssen and Felicia Nitzsche with Elina Tozzi, Am I A Chap? by Gustav Temple and I am Dandy by Rose Callahan and Nathaniel Adams. A portrait from I Am Dandy advertises and features in the Dandy Lion exhibition currently on show at Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Photography (April - July 2015)