Pop Cult: Neon Bunny, Taylor Swift, Elite Gymnastics
Knee-jerk reactions (the best kind) to pop culture happenings all over the world.Posted by Allen Huang
Neon Bunny – “Oh My Prince” : B
How are Korean musicians so good at repossession? Singer-songwriter Neon Bunny is heralded as one of the brighter stars in K-Indie, but from the pristine glossiness of her sound you’d be hard pressed to derive her budget-conscious roots from this single. “Oh Prince” sparkles with familiar Euro synth lines and irresistible square-wave stabs, all the while featuring a chorus that’s ear-wormy in any language. Her coos of “ohhh ohh” are pulled straight from the rulebooks of bigger stars, which suits me just fine. It’s Royksopp-meets-IU, and while Neon Bunny doesn’t do anything new with the sound, just knowing that there’s someone around to carry the torch (and from a whole different part of the world nonetheless!) makes me very happy.
Taylor Swift – “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” : B+
I’m stealing this line, but saying Taylor Swift’s success comes from her ability to accurately articulate the young female mind is not quite accurate. More precisely, she excels and articulating Taylor Swift’s mind. And much like the man she’ll be forever bound to in internet infamy, Kanye West, Swift’s mind is kind of an interesting place to be. From the classic we-fight-I-cry tropes to the very specific stanzas about her music career’s lack of “cool,” there’s a lot of Swift-ian charm embedded in this song. I’m not too thrilled with the fly-on-the-wall recording shoved in the middle but I can forgive.
“We Are Never…” continues Swift’s pull away from her country roots. Modern pop and even some hip-hop seeps into the production here (notice the Gucci Mane like “yeahhh’s” in the last chorus). But what separates this song from the typical Max Martin fare is the organic flourishes that help to convince us, no matter what little Taylor is singing about, she’s having a darn good time doing it.
Elite Gymnastics – “Andreja-4-Ever” : B+
James Brooks’ adoration for radical feminist Andrea Dworkin takes center stage for Elite Gymnastics’ newest single, “Andreja-4-Ever”. But the song is more than just a love song for the notable anti-pornography warrior, it represents yet another shift in Brooks’ dynamic oeuvre. With its saccharine harmonica lines and honest, uplifting lyrics, “Andreja” might be the happiest song that Brooks has ever penned.
But at its core, “Andreja” is a melody and a sentiment, captured in time. Good pop music can be general, or it can be very, very specific. But it always transforms into something greater than the sum of the writers’ experiences, transcending spiritual lines, welling up with genuine emotion, and touching the people who both need to be saved and have been saved, through Dworkin, through friends, and through music.