Friday, October 3, 2008

Matt & Ian Give Me An Excuse to Post About Stereolab!

Via Ian, here's Matt Yglesias pretending to find something odd about Meghan McCain:

[I]t was a bit odd of Meghan McCain to choose Stereolab’s “Ping Pong” as her September 29, 2008 “song of the day.” The video:

I think Matt is funning us a little here because I don't think anyone can actually wonder why anyone else would ever choose to highlight a Stereolab song, since Stereolab's music is such that members of our species find it impossible to dislike.

Granted, "Ping Pong" does have left-leaning lyrics, but to dislike it on this basis trades in a theory of musical appreciation under which politics trump aesthetics, and I both reject and denounce that theory. Besides which, do we know that Meghan McCain is not left-leaning in her innermost heart of heart of hearts? Does any member of our species actually care about the answer to that question? I know I don't.

I do care that Laetitia Sadier, Stereolab's angelic lyricist-singer, has recently given an interview to Village Voice, doubtless among the countless newspapers that Sarah Palin reads to inform herself thoroughly enough to be able to repeat "corruption on Wall Street" and "reform" and "maverick" several times during any given 90-minute interval. Quoth Sadier, who looks something like Sarah Palin would look if Sarah Palin were as attractive as is often claimed:
I think the thing about Stereolab is that there’s a kind of tension going on. Like "Ping Pong" [from 1994’s Mars Audiac Quintet], for instance, is a very good example of a song that is extremely poppy and with very dark, ironic lyrics. And I think artistically we always validated that. We don’t see why it should be a happy song with happy lyrics or a sad song with sad lyrics. Who says it has to be that way? Certainly not us. It fact, Tim comes from a background of the after-punk and situationalism and movements like this which are much more determined to—sorry, I haven’t had any breakfast today so I’m finding it a bit difficult to speak philosophically—but basically what I want to say is in art, and I think also like in politics, it’s you who chooses. You decide. You have the freedom. You create your own freedom and it’s a kind of sacred domain where no one should tell you what to do. That you are responsible for it. And if you decide to have a happy song with sad lyrics, then so be it.
And there it is -- the artist herself citing the work under discussion, questioning any simplistic connection between lyrical tone and musical mood, politics and poetry, truth spoken and beauty achieved.

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