Stealing Is the New Stealing
Nuh-uh, Gwen Stefani, that is not your shit. At least, according to Madonna, it isn't the never-hard-up-for-material girl recently told USA Today that Gwen has ripped her off. "We work with a lot of the same people. She married a Brit, she's got blond hair, and she likes fashion," Madge remarked.
Since Madonna's always about two steps behind on the path to self-awareness, here's an addendum to her observation: Gwen is stealing from a thief. Madonna has built her career out of cultural mining, expressing herself via the sights and sounds of others.
Madonna and Gwen occasionally dine out on other cultures at the same table. What follows are a few examples of such intersections, as well as an evaluation of who wore it best.
Source material: High-school angst
Madonna's take: In her four-and-a-half-minute After School Special, 1986's "Papa Don't Preach," Madonna played the role of a knocked-up teen with a conscience.
Gwen's take: "Hollaback Girl" found Gwen at her most appropriately annoying, playing a punk-ass teen ready to take down a shit-talker behind the bleachers.
It's a good look for: Gwen. Nurse-office drama is exciting for the nurses, while nothing tops a good catfight. In this case, half-Italians do it better.
Source material: Old Hollywood
Madonna's take: In 1990's gayer-than-gay "Vogue" (it was inspired by the drag balls of Paris Is Burning, for God's sake), Madonna pulled out a 16-bar rundown of those who helped the Hollywood's Golden Age sparkle.
Gwen's take: A two-line cameo in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator found Gwen in the role of Harlow, Jean.
It's a good look for: Madonna. Her dramatic and precise phrasing bespoke an understanding of ways gone by. Meanwhile, Gwen gave good face. But that's it.
Source material: Disco
Madonna's take: Madonna's most recent stroll to the '70s finds her hustling like John Travolta on her ABBA-does-Italo, Stuart Price-produced current single, "Hung Up."
Gwen's take: The remix of her debut solo single, "What You Waiting For," is a throwback to the early '80s hi-NRG that kept the spirit of disco alive when so many were convinced that it sucked. Price produced that one too.
It's a good look for: Gwen. Without even having to reduce herself to a camel-toe-prone leotard, Gwen fit right into the role of disco's bitch. Rich Juzwiak
Gwen Stefani performs with Ciara at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 21, at BankAtlantic Center, 1 Panther Pkwy., Sunrise. Tickets cost $35.50 to $65.50. Call 954-835-8000, or visit ticketmaster.com.
On February 22, founding Korn guitarist Brian "Head" Welch announced his departure from the band, claiming the band's music and lifestyle were crosswise with his recent rededication to Christianity. However, Outtakes recently uncovered a prayer journal that suggests moral objections weren't the only motive for his exodus.
February 22, 2005: God, thank You for showing me that Korn was becoming even worse than when we started. The producers and co-writers for the next album are harboring the devil's spirit. I will continue to walk your path in the hope that it leads me to a decent Christian rock band to join.
February 24: I just spoke about my recent conversion at the Valley Bible Fellowship with about 10,000 in the congregation. Some hot little Korn groupies in the front row too. I could get to liking this Christianity business.
April 1: Still can't find a band. Even the nonmainstream Christian bands 16 Horsepower, Pedro the Lion, Sufjan Stevens, the Danielson Famile aren't returning my phone calls. I would say "screw them," but as a reformed Christian, I prefer to say "blight them."
June 23: Thank You for helping me get the orphanage in India started. God, please help me withstand the smell of those dirty leper kids. Or if that's too much, maybe help Kanye West understand how great a collaboration album we could make.
July 1: Another rejection letter. Even those has-beens in Petra say they don't need another guitarist. For crying out loud, God, can't You at least make Stryper give me a shot? I'm getting desperate here, sleeping in a Third World hut with a bunch of diseased orphans who've never even heard of Slayer.
December 7: I confess I downloaded the new Korn album. I know stealing is a sin, but praise be to You, God, that I wasn't the last rat off that sinking ship. Bringing in the Matrix to co-write was even more unnecessary than the seventh string on my guitars. I mean, our old shit was pretty brainless, but at least it was sincere. Marilyn Manson could crap a better album than See You on the Other Side. And what idiot told Jonathan he could sing?
December 9: The guys in P.O.D. said they'd think about it. Thank You, Jesus! Jesse Hughey
Korn, along with Bloodsimple, 10 Years, Drowning Pool, Bobaflex, and One Red Wall, play 93 Rock's Christmas Khaos at 3:30 p.m. Friday, December 16, at Bayfront Park Amphitheatre, 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Tickets cost $26.25. Visit www.ticketmaster.com.
Video killed the radio star in 1981. By the end of the '90s, though, 120 Minutes was dead; The Real World had shown MTV that reality doesn't bite viewers so much as it addicts them, and the music video had become irrelevant to everybody but the Total Request Live crowd. Thanks to Apple, though, it may be making a comeback. The new iPod supports videos, which means that you can now watch everything from TV shows to porn on its tiny, 2.5-inch screen. In the coming months, iTunes will expand its music-video store, and surprisingly, the major-label acts aren't the only ones with something to sell. Your favorite indie bands have also blown their T-shirt money on promotional films, which you can find at their websites or at services like iFilm, Rhapsody, and AOL Music. Some are hilarious, some are hilariously cheap, and some are just genius. Outtakes offers up a few of the more noteworthy selections:
Arcade Fire, "Neighborhood #2 (Laika)," "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)," "Rebellion-lies": Arcade Fire doesn't screw around when it comes to videos. The "Neighborhood #2" and "#3" entries feature intricately animated worlds, one like a water-stained children's book and the other a digitally animated caper, which stars little dudes who look like Jawas in Santa outfits and ends in a climactic battle at a power plant. But don't bother watching "Rebellion-lies" on a computer or an iPod: The footage of the band shooting bolts of lightning at kids undoubtedly looks cool on TV, but the effect is lost on a Post-It-sized window.
Spoon, "Sister Jack": Love the song, like the '60s-rock knockoff, but can't stand the video, which all too literally follows the track's title by showing a dude walking around in a nun's habit. Britt Daniels, you're lucky the chicks dig your narrow little face, 'cause there's nothing else to look at here.
Bright Eyes, "Lua" and "Lover I Don't Have to Love": Bright Eyes is king of the cheap music video. In "Lua," Conor Oberst sits in a thrift-store parka at a bus stop and just plays the song on his acoustic, with two cameras filming him (one of them gets in the other's shot). If you're a member of the "It's Conor, OMG!" club, you can just gaze at his face as he plays. We're not, so this just made us realize how damned long "Lua" is. By contrast, in "Lover I Don't Have to Love," you never even see the boy wonder: This one's produced like a karaoke video, with the song's lyrics running across the screen. That sounds lame, but it's actually a great gag. Have you ever downed a few Pink Slippers and given a crowd your best impression of Oberst's cracked vocals? Believe us, it's liberating.
Deerhoof, "Dog on the Sidewalk": At less than a minute long, this one's just a series of photos of dogs on sidewalks. Thanks, but we already have that screen-saver.
The New Pornographers, "All for Swinging You Around": We saved the best for last. This unbelievably great video shows a bunch of incredibly cute and wholesome Canadian girls decked out in camisoles and PJs, dancing to this song, sometimes in slow motion. It's so hot, they don't even need to tickle each other! But not only do we enjoy the video but it sums up the genius of the New Pornographers: They write pop songs that make teen girls want to dance. Isn't that why we invented music in the first place? Chris Dahlen
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