Monthly Archives: December 2013

Let It Go

MINOR SPOILERS FOR FROZEN AHEAD

I’m going to make what may be a wild proposition about the hit song “Let It Go” as sung by Idina Menzel in Disney’s latest animated film Frozen. One that I haven’t seen anyone else make so far and has kind of surprised me, so maybe that’s what makes me think my proposition may be wild.

I propose that “Let It Go” is an LGBTQ coming out anthem.

No, really. Furthermore, I think it might be an answer to Lea Solanga’s “Relfection” in Mulan.

Really really. Where “Reflection” was a song about hiding one’s true identity out of fear of what others may think, “Let It Go” is about, well, letting go of all those fears and anxieties and just not giving a damn what other people think about you. Let’s break it down.

Frozen is about two royal sisters, Anna and Elsa. Elsa, the older sister, has the power to summon and manipulate snow and ice. Anna loves her sister’s powers, and Elsa loves using them to make her younger sister happy, until she accidentally (and almost fatally) injures her. The girls’ parents decide that Elsa’s powers are too dangerous and tell her she must keep them a secret, while taking Anna to a clan of trolls who erase the memories of her older sister’s powers.

Fast forward several years. The sisters’ parents have died (as you do in a Disney movie…) and it’s the day of Elsa’s coronation. The sisters get into an argument and Elsa accidentally reveals her powers to pretty much the entire kingdom. Accused of being a witch and a monster, Elsa flees the kingdom and decides to live a life of solitude in the mountains. But rather than seeing this as an exile, she sees this as freedom – freedom to express herself as she truly is without judgment or shame.

DO YOU SEE WHERE THIS IS GOING?? Anyone who has struggled with their sexual orientation or gender identity (and the views of others – especially family and even more especially when they are less than accepting) should see a rainbow flag waving in the background. I know I do. The first time I saw the movie (and scene) it was right there when Elsa literally lets her hair down.

Let’s follow along with the lyrics:

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know

I haven’t heard Disney lyrics so clearly about being in the closet since Lea Solanga sang “Somehow I cannot hide/Who I am, though I’ve tried.”

But then this happens:

Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
I don’t care what they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on
The cold never bothered me anyway

It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all
It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me
I’m free

That’s when she decides that people are going to say what they’re going to say, so close the door on them, leave them far behind, and let it go, because when you do you’ll be free to live life to the fullest.

And, as my fiancée pointed out, “Here I stand and here I’ll stay” is totally the Disney version of “I’m here, I’m queer, get used to it.”

Maybe I just haven’t been looking in the right places or talking to enough people about it, but I cannot believe there isn’t more talk about this song’s meaning. Frozen turned out to be a pretty unorthodox Disney movie, if not for Elsa’s character, the “big reveal” ending/resolution, and of course “Let It Go.” If you want to feel empowered and validated for who you are, give this song a listen and wave your flag.

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Winter Wonderland

From silly to sultry!

This is absolutely one of my favorite versions of any Christmas song ever sung by anyone ever. It makes me wish Goldfrapp would do an entire Christmas album. Their sound is perfect for it. Sadly, this is the only one I know of that they recorded, and it was only released on a Starbucks Christmas album in 2008.

This song in particular has echoes of the styles exhibited in Felt Mountain and even some of the quieter songs on Black Cherry and Supernature. (The whistling at the end is VERY Felt Mountain.) It’s layered with delicate, airy, and crystalline sounds. Very evocative of a snow-white powdery “Winter Wonderland.”

Alison’s voice reminds me a lot of Marilyn Monroe’s, with its seductive breathiness, especially when she sighs “He’ll say ‘Are you married?’ We’ll say ‘No man.'” It makes her offer to conspire by the fire sound absolutely irresistible.

I live in sunny Los Angeles, California, but this song makes me imagine that it’s a freezing, snowy night outside and that I’m curled up by a warm fire with a cup of hot cocoa and someone with whom I want to conspire. Maybe I’m dreaming of that Goldfrapp Christmas album.

Enjoy the song, and Merry Christmas!

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Santa Left a Booger in My Stocking

I’ve been listening to a lot of Neko Case lately (like, a LOT), and I was going to do an album review of Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, but then I realized: It’s December! Why am I not reviewing Christmas songs?? And then I remembered seeing somewhere that Neko Case recorded a Christmas song called “Santa Left a Booger in My Stocking” with Meat Loaf. And I thought to myself “Well that’s an interesting combination! Why have I not looked that up yet?”

Well, it turns out she recorded the song with Meatwad, a character from the long-running Adult Swim cartoon Aqua Teen Hunger Force, NOT Meat Loaf, of Bat Out of Hell and “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” fame.

It kind of weird and delightful at the same time, like Sesame Street After Dark, if that were a thing. It’s a lot milder than that sounds though, especially when you consider that this is Aqua Teen Hunger Force, which is usually a lot raunchier. But then again Meatwad is the innocent character of the cast, so it could still technically make it on Sesame Street. It’s got that children’s variety show feel to it. Speaking of which, I wonder if Neko’s been on Sesame Street? Is she more the Yo Gabba Gabba! type?

Okay, sorry, got way off track there. The song itself is kind of catchy and the back and forth between Neko (who always sounds great) and Meatwad is actually kinda charming, in a perverse way. And it’s nice to have a silly Christmas song every once in awhile!

I guess I don’t have much to say about this song (yet again), but then it’s not what I was expecting at all. It was a complete surprise. But a good one! And fun. I might just have to add this one to my Christmas playlist, if only to see people’s reactions to it.

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Bird Song

I feel like there isn’t a whole lot I can say about this song, maybe because I don’t know that much about it (maybe because it’s only part of the deluxe version of the album from which it comes). But it’s one of my favorite songs off Florence and the Machine’s debut album Lungs. It reminds me of Edgar Allen Poe, specifically “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Black Cat,” and I love me some Poe. It even reminds me a little of the 2010 film The Black Swan.

Really it just speaks for itself, both in Florence Welch’s powerful voice and vivid lyrics. Unlike Poe’s short stories, we never know what she’d done or who she’d become, but the guilt of it plagues the singer, eventually consuming her whole. Like Poe’s and Portman’s characters, it ultimately leads to her demise.

It’s beautiful, it’s fascinating, it’s amazing, and I think it’s one of the best songs from the album, and that’s including “Kiss With a Fist” and “Dog Days Are Over.”

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Girl Talk

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When Kate Nash released “Underestimate the Girl,” the single that would precede and define the sound of her third studio album Girl Talk (and coincidentally, preemptively serve as a response to responses to the song itself), the disapproval from some Kate Nash fans – but mostly, I think, casual listeners – came swiftly and without mercy. People were asking questions like “Is this a joke?” and “What happened to the old Kate Nash? :(” Frowny face included.

These people must not have been listening very carefully to her previous album My Best Friend Is You, because if they had been, they would have foreseen Girl Talk as one of the possible outcomes following tracks like “I’ve Got a Secret,” “I Just Love You More,” and, most importantly, “Mansion Song.” (Kate did end up responding fantastically to the criticisms.)

It’s okay to not like Girl Talk. I get it: Some people liked the sweet, relatable indie pop sounds of Made of Bricks and most of My Best Friend Is You. Those albums’ sounds feel like cuddling with your favorite blanket fresh from the dryer. Girl Talk on the other hand is like the old leather jacket from the thrift store with spikes on the shoulders and patches on the body – and maybe it even has that weird thrift store smell too. But what an artist is trying to do with a new sound (even if they’ve clearly explored it before) should not be dismissed because you don’t like it. They still have something to say with their music, and I think it’s always worth it to listen and figure out what that might be.

In the case of Girl Talk, I think it’s Kate Nash casting off the sweet, girl-next-door image and saying a thing or two about her feminist identity. It seems to me like she was tired of standing on the sidelines and wanted to jump into the fray, charting singles be damned. She wanted to make her music something active rather than passive, something to make the listener want to get involved rather than just sit back and enjoy.

I had the pleasure of seeing Kate Nash perform back in May, and I have to say I don’t think I’ve ever seen any artist connect with their fans on such an intimate level. I’d definitely never seen anyone get so chatty with their audience. To me, she’s even more relatable now than she ever was before. Sure, you can always relate to songs like “Foundations,” “Mouthwash,” and “I Hate Seagulls,” but did you ever really feel like it was reciprocal?

Girl Talk grounds itself in the indie-garage-punk sound of the riot grrrl movement of the early 90’s. Definitely a departure from her previous albums, but no one can accuse Kate Nash of losing any passion in the process. Kate’s got just as much personality and moxie as she did before, maybe even more.

The lyrics are just as catchy (and again – relatable) too. I guarantee you’ll be singing and toe-tapping along to “OMYGOD!” It’s one of my favorites, next to “Rap for Rejection,” a far better qualifier for the category of Feminist Anthem than *ahem* some songs perhaps. It’ll make you angry, but it’ll make you want to do something about it too. “Sister” is incredibly heartfelt and poignant (and a touch angsty) – you can practically feel the pain and heartbreak. “Death Proof” (yes, it’s a nod to the Tarantino film) is a fun and empowering song that’ll make you feel too cool for school in a rebel without a cause sort of way.

If you prefer Kate Nash playing the piano and singing about mouthwash and her distaste for seagulls to Kate Nash to rocking the bass and snarling about your expectations of her, this album may not be for you. But if you suffer from bouts of 90’s grunge/riot grrrl nostalgia, then Girl Talk is the cure. Personally, I love both! Kate’s got great range and I love extreme opposites. It makes it more difficult to pick a favorite album, but is that really a bad thing?

*Disclaimer: While I applaud Kate Nash promoting feminism through music, I don’t support her wearing the bindi in the above music video for “Underestimate the Girl.” I LOVE the song and video otherwise but c’mon, Kate. Cultural appropriation isn’t very punk rock! (Admittedly, I don’t know if she’s said anything about it since releasing the video.)

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