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March 17, 2009 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-03-17

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 - 5

What does'pop' even
mean anymore?

et's be honest: Does any-
one really know what the
hell "pop music" means
anymore? The phrase has been
stretched out, continuously mis-
construed and
applied to such
a scatter plot of
splinter genres
(see: bastard pop,
pop-punk) that,
frankly, its diag-
nostic abilities JOSH
have gone the
way of the dodo. B EI
. When you hear
the word "pop," who or what
springs immediately to mind?
Maybe it's a pin-up of Britney
Spears striking a commercially
viable pose in a skimpy tube top.
Maybe it's Michael Jackson, the
alleged "King of Pop." Maybe it's
Auto-Tune, that remarkable soft-
ware that makes every pop singer's
mediocre voice sound on-pitch.
Regardless, it's likely that the
immediate connotations of "pop"
huddle around the central hub of
popular music (before the term
"pop music" gained genre status,
it was simply used to classify
music with mainstream appeal).
Pop music, in its most basic form,
is often confined to airbrushed
radio darlings including boy bands,
American Idol divas and the Jonas
Still, pop subgenres like indie
pop and avant-pop fly directly in
the face of pop music's historical
roots. The raison d'Ptre driving
both indie music and avant-garde
music is the freedom to deviate
from the sonic norm - the joy in
shucking off the burden of wide-
spread commercial appeal.
But somehow, these countercul-
ture genres have ended up as pre-
fixes in the sub-pop catalogue. Call
me a cynical douche, but it certainly
seems like our country's capitalist
machine finds a way of taking art
that is "against the system" and
integrating it back into the very
system it opposes via oxymoronic
labels. It's like "pop" is the Time
Warner of music, buying up all the
niche genres and throwing them
into the conglomerate meat grinder.
Case in point: Sirius Blog Radio.

Ariel P
of publ
ed on a
basis, t
to dram
verse t
and An
into th
to as "a
them i
ly not,l
for ban
My Blo
their h
ing dro
game f
to ever
if you a
like the
so thin
any typ
vocal m
like a ra
see wh:
prog ou
these h
sport v
right m
band w
less, vir
sional r
under s

an artist as underground as pop taxonomy.
ink makes it onto any form Maybe it's easier to work back-
ic broadcast, you know the wards - to define "pop" by first
ypse is on its way. defining what clearly isn't pop. Let's
I digress. If the modern defi- see ... what about instrumental
of pop music can't be decid- music? Given the latest, outland-
n "airplay vs. non-airplay" ishly broad definition (essentially,
hen what about attempting music with vocals), it certainly
w the line based on formal seems like vocal-less music would
es? Is it the verse-chorus- be exempt from the "pop" stamp
emplate (with the obligatory by default. But no - some asshole
that constitutes pop music? named Kenny G had to make instru-
because bands like Deerhoof mental music so lame it could only
imal Collective, who have be classified as "instrumental pop"
conventional song structure (although, intriguingly, arguments
e blender, are still referred have been made that G's commer-
vant-pop" outfits. Is ita cially-defecate-all-over-legendary-
aced sense of acoustic clean- compositions style of "smooth jazz"
and accessibility that puts doesn't even qualify as music).
nto this category? Apparent- But what about real jazz? Jazz
because an entire subgenre seems to stand for everything
pop), has been sanctioned anti-pop: improvisation, complete
ds like Sonic Youth and structural freedom and a "no-
ody Valentine that mangle rules-allowed" mentality. It seems
ooks and choruses with like one could safely assume jazz
is one genre that hasn't been lin-
guistically deflowered by the "pop
monster." Right? Wrong (I'm sure
ZZ-pop existS, you saw that one coming). Google
.nd that fact jazz-pop. It exists. Cry about it.
Iffit seems likes I'm trying to
one is wvorth sketch out an inductive proof for
how almost every incarnation
'rnf over, of music can be drafted by some
J y distant faction of the pop regime,
then rest assured that that's not my
mission statement here. I'm not a
guitar feedback and grat- hardcore radical, but I don't think
nes. People could play this that classical music and pop music
orever and find exceptions intersect anywhere on the musical
y seemingly fitting criterion. Venn diagram (although "baroque
n push comes to shove (and, pop" is defined as pop music with
sk me, it has), it almost seems classical elements). And post-rock,
"pop" label has been spread orthodox electronica, rap (no, that
that it applies to essentially doesn't include Nelly) and jazz are
e of music with discernible all on the short list of relatively
nelodies - a far cry from its pop-safe genres (disregarding the
1 meaning. This may seem odious jazz-pop genus).
ash statement, but scan your I guess my point is that, some-
library and you'll start to where between Internet blog cul-
at I mean. Sure, there's the ture and our country's consumerist
nal anomaly - avant-kraut- labeling fetish, the word "pop" has
itfit Can (to truly bastardized been conflated so grotesquely it
yphenated mash-ups) may has essentially lost all its oomph.
ocal hooks, but no one in his It's just a little something to pon-
ind would ever associate the der while you're listening to your
ith the word "pop." Regard- favorite sophisti-pop album.

Fire pokers make everything scarier.

An inessential
slasher remake

tually any band that sports
elodic vocals or the occa-
efrain can be categorized
ome obscure strain of the

Bayer secretly loves Kenny G. To
give him other recommendations,
e-mail him at jrbayer(&umich.edu.

Despite objections, nudity will
always have a place in dance

Daily Arts Writer
I've seen my share of eccentric
modern dance works. My experi-
ence as an audience member has
included everything from watching
asoloistdiscussingher fictional love
affair with Ann Coulter while danc-
ing in combat boots to a group of
students running underneath a tarp
screaming at the top of their lungs.
A few weeks ago, I went to
see a performance at Dance New
Amsterdam in New York City, a
venue that's known for presenting
edgy and controversial works. And
until that night, I didn't think many
things could make me blush with
In the performance, two women
dressed in multiple layers of cloth-
ing began by facing each other on
stage and repeating the other's
words. one of these women was
my former teacher. As the dialogue
progressed, the women's speech
took on a rhythmic pattern and
they began to remove a layer of
clothing after each pause as if they
were losing rounds of strip poker.
Off went their T-shirts, shorts and
bras until they were left only in
their underwear.
My teacher's breasts were out
for the world - including me, her
student - to see. Both women
stared at each other's naked bodies
sheepishly as they realized what
had just transpired. They giggled,
turned to the audience and then
proceeded to re-clothe themselves
in the garments that were strewn
across the floor. As I watched, I
wanted to scream, "But you just
showed your breasts to everyone
and now you're going to act like it
never happened!"
After the performance, I began
to think about nudity in modern
dance and I came to the conclu-
sion that I was making a bigger deal
about the performance than neces-
sary. After all, nudity is in film all
the time. I barely bat an eyelash

when I see an actress in the buff. Kylian's "Bella Figura,0 where bal-
What's the difference if it's live on lerinas waltzed around the stage
stage or pre-recorded? topless, my mother announced, "I
Nudity in dance can be startling. saw no point for the dancers to be
Last month, Batsheva Dance Com- naked. What purpose did it serve?"
pany performed at the Power Cen- I could only answer that it gives
ter and someofthedancers exposed audience members the space to
themselves - a few of the female imagine what the work means to
dancers mooned the audience while them. It's up to the audience mem-
three male dancers went full fron- ber to identify what nudity's pur-
tal in a piece titled "Three." pose is, really.
The woman next to me clucked Ifa film contains nudity, the dia-
her tongue in disgust so loudly I logue or story gives the action con-
though she was choking on a cough text. But in modern dance, texts and
drop. She wasn't the only one who clear storylines aren't freqjuently
was appalled. And in the next day's used and audience members have
matinee performance, the dancers to rely on their own intuition to
refrained from showing any flesh. interpret what they see. Classical
Perhaps the University Musical ballets, on the other hand - "Swan
Society felt nudity was inappropri- Lake," for instance - have clear
ate for a matinee show, which usu- storylines that allow audiences to
ally draws a large family-oriented passively engage in the dance they
audience. If this was the case, why are witnessing.
Instead, modern dance per-
formances allow their audience
members to be active participants
M odern dance - to ask questions and form their
own opinions. Rven if a person
uses nudity to doesn't agree with a choreogra-
force audiences pher's choice to use nudity, at least
the work is eliciting some sort of
to think. response.Inspiringaudience mem-
*bers to think for themselves and
sometimes to disagree with a work
are major goals of modern dance.
was nudity considered inappropri- Works of art like Marcel Duch-
ate when the company was able to amp's Fountain, which displays
use a recording of a poem that con- an urinal as art, and John Cage's
tained the word "fuck" in the same "4'33"," a musical piece consist-
performance? Is nudity more objec- ing only of silence, wouldn't be
tionable than spoken profanity? nearly as acclaimed if the artists
Maybe what makes people so avoided controversial ideas and
squeamish about nudity in dance is took no risks. Sometimes artists
that dance is an art form typically need to attract people's attention
performed live in a formal theater to things often overlooked in order
setting. It's hard to avert your eyes to produce something interesting
from a naked person if that person and evocative, even if the topic is
is only five rows in front of you. uncomfortable or unpopular.
And parents can't fast-forward Nudity in dance should no longer
through the performance's racy be taboo. As long as choreographers
content or immediately blindfold use it to enhance or further support
their children. their vision - instead of using it as
The argument that nudity is a gimmick - it can be an effective
irrelevant in a dance work is not and tasteful way to display the body
something new. After seeing Jiri in its most natural form.

W es Craven ironic twist of fate, the attackers
later find themselves spending
produced the new the night at the home of one of the
girls' parents. From there, the film
version of the classic transforms into a revenge thriller
in which the parents do away with
he directed in 1972 the murderers one by one.
The fact that Wes Craven (direc-
By SHERI JANKELOVITZ tor of horror classics including
Daily Arts Writer "Nightmare on Elm Street" and
-- " "Scream") produced the film is
Following in a long line of point- probably the only reason it avoided
less horror film complete disaster. Craven certainly
remakes, Wes knows what his audience wants -
Craven decided lots of bloody violence with very
to produce a Last House few complications (including char-
remake of his acter or plot development) getting
own 1972 film ol the Left in the way. At least in this regard,
"Last House on At Quality 16 he delivered.
the Left." and Showcase "Last House on the Left" is cer-
To put it plain- tainlynota"horrorfilm"intheclas-
ly, the remake is Rogae sic sense of the phrase. There is no
absolutelyunnec- suspense involved and even fewer
essary. There was simply no reason of those "Boo! ... Oh, it's only a cat"
to recreate the film except to make moments that horror films rely on
money. Still, unlike other recent, for thrills. It's more about shock-
increasingly awful horror remakes ing its audience by depicting hor-
("The Texas Chainsaw Massacre," rifying acts, the most memorable
"The Fog," "House of Wax") this of which is the brutal rape of one
film is pretty effective at achiev- of the teenage girls. The rape alone
ing what it attempts to do: shock its is considerably more shocking than
audience. the entire second half of the film in
The plot is so sparse that it can which the killers are slaughtered in
barely be called a plot at all. It's various gruesome ways.
a gruesome tale of two teenage The main problem with "Last
girls who are savagely attacked House" is that it seems to want its
by a gang of criminals. And, in an audience to pity these poor girls, and
college thursdai
CAMERA? aRdHardy spnsop 40
bring this ad in and yet no cve for
1 +gues befowmidnight on Thursdays
recto N ghtcub-516 6E. berty - Ann Abor 7
Work for the Daily's
Multimedia staff
E-mail davazad@umich.edu.
5 8 7 2
5 9
Work for our Fine Arts 2 3
staff. E-mail
battlebots@umich.edu. ' ;I.

yet it has the look and feel of a snuff
film. There are several moments in
which the camera lingers over the
girls a little too 'Tong, objectifying
them and merely turning them into
bodies. Even during the rape scene,
the camera practically invites' the
viewer to ogle the girls rather than
feel repulsed. The movie constantly
borders on being offensive, and it
probably would've been incredibly
so if it weren't so boring. The final
effect is that audience members
are left with a bitter taste in their
mouths, unsure of just who to root
for. Certainly they should be siding
with the parents, but it doesn't help
that the parents' revenge is abso-
lutely devoid of emotion.
The movie might not. be deep,
but that doesn't mean it's not enter-
taining at times. The bad guys get
what's coming to them and the
audience gets gore and some cheap
shocks. In the end, it's a pretty fair
trade, especiallybecausethere's no
preachy message to bog down the
film, unless the message is "Don't
buy weed from strange boys in
convenience stores." And that's
probably a pretty good message for
teenage girls to learn.
This film functions as noth-
ing more than a violent two-hour
escape from reality. After that, it
will be forgotten until someone
decides to remake it again.

i v^ {

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