First words

I have sent the first draft of the first bite of writing to my supervisers. Which makes for a very exhilarating and daunting experience. So now I am looking forward to getting feedback later this week.

Next week I will be taking over a class for one of my supervisers for one session. The class is on comedy and I will be talking about crack as a subcultural form of humour, and about vids of course. I am still planning the class, so I am not yet entirely sure what exactly the contents will be or what texts to set. Which I guess also makes this the first teaching post.

And, excitingly, I have signed up to go to VidUKon again! I went 2 years ago, purely as a personal indulgence, and met such lovely and supportive people. (I still owe a couple of them to try my hand at vidding myself. For the record, I still plan to.) I look forward to going again and this time be able to tell I have an actual project in the works and explain what it is about. It is too early for me to do any kind of formal interviews or the like, but everyone’s perspectives are valuable, and I hope to get more contacts among vidders.

Advertisements

Vidding PhD – it is a whole new world

I have decided to try and use this blog as a bit of a research log or something. Not exactly a diary, but at least to give some idea of where I am with my thinking and work right now. I guess it will be fun to read in a few years! It will also give people who want to follow what i do a chance to do so – especially people who are also interested in vids and vidding as fans, scholars or both.

In the couple of years since I last updated, I have focused more and more on vids – and even more on critical vids. (Check out the updated ‘manifesto’ in the links for a closer definition and update on that.)

This September (2016) I moved to Birmingham, England to really focus on those vids. I am getting my PhD at the Birmingham School of Media, part of Birmingham City University’s Faculty for Arts, Design and Media. I am really glad to be here, loving the university and my new city, and finding the people around me inspiring and challenging. Since I am just getting started, everything is in flux again. My research idea went from “pretty solid” to “have no clue now something with vids and music” to “getting more set again and in a better shape”. I have a tentative title! But will hold off on telling anyone, even this blog, for a bit. (And then I will post it so I can laugh at it when I turn in my thesis several years from now and it is something completely different.)

The focus of my vidding research still has to do with music and narrative and, crucially, critical fans. Still, it has morphed, and since beginning formal studies it has changed yet again. I had not foreseen that affect would be as important as it is looking like right now, but affect seems to be what will tie my other theoretical areas – film music/”sound” and fan studies – together into a big, glorious whole. Very simply put, it is something about how music provokes feeling, fandom is often motivated by emotional engagement (or feels), there is a feminist affect in critical fandom, and basically Sara Ahmed is very useful to make sense of all of this. I made a diagram that is not fit for sharing, but everything is connected through some form of affect. (My own too, I am not afraid to add. There is likely a certain auto-ethnographic element to my research. But I also claim that as academics we are likely fans of our fields, so how can there not be affective relationships there, too?)

Currently, most of my time and energy goes into two assignments for the coursework I am doing this first semester, as well as the course I am taking in teaching in higher education, which will qualify me to teach at university level. Meaning I will be able to earn a bit of money, too, which will be very good.

On top of that I am preparing to go to Australia in December to present a paper on superhero vids. I am very excited about that, and not just because I have never been to Australia before 🙂

Swingin’ Robbie & Rufus

Tags

, , , ,

I’ve written about both Robbie Williams (and his Brokeback moment) before, and quite a bit about Rufus Wainwright (unsurprisingly). So it’s with great enthusiasm and anticipation that I’ve seen the below – Williams’ next album, which is apparently all swing, all the time, features a title song that’s a duet with Wainwright. The title is the lovely “Swings Both Ways”, and it sounds as if the song is as cheeky as the title. There’s definitely a campness present that truly endears it to me – on top of my appreciation of the artists involved.

The album will feature several duets in the style of some of the great swing albums, and several songs are covers of well-known classics. I’m looking forward to hearing Minnie The Moocher in its entirety.

I believe that Williams is a natural heir to the great crooners, such as Sinatra, complete with an updated bad boy-image. His voice is well suited to the genre as well, so I’m very pleased to see he hasn’t given up his good times with swing.

The Nolan-Zimmer effect

Tags

, , , , , ,

I just had a great moment for a film music scholar – and just for me and my taste in scores – as I was idly channel hopping. I jumped from the end of “The Dark Knight” (2008) to the end of “Inception” (2010).

The links are obvious: both are (co)written and directed by Christopher Nolan and scored by Hans Zimmer. The two soundtracks also happen to be some of my favourites, despite the fact that I’m not always that impressed with Zimmer (who tends to repeat himself a little too much at times – as does several other of the “big” film composers). These two scores, however, are great. Both are incredibly evocative, fitting of the themes in the respective movies – and they possess a beauty that can be appreciated outside the media they were created to serve. Not all scores function well when separated from their visuals.

I’ve always admired the sounds used for The Joker in “The Dark Knight”. I always think of it as the sound of chaos, both music and not conventionally musical, pulling us into the world of Heath Ledger’s Joker, showing us the chaotic force he represents in this story. I can never decide if it’s his leitmotif or it’s the motif of some guiding principle he follows. At any rate, I think it’s excellent and is a big part of both characterisation and of lifting the score out of more traditional heroic motifs for super-hero movies.

I love the tugging, dreamy sounds of “Inception”, especially when they are used to draw us into Cobb’s world of hoping against desperate hope. There’s pain and lack of resolution hidden inside the music, it never lets up, never quite gives us an answer – just as the movie itself never does.  

Maybe there’s a paper of some sort in the Nolan/Zimmer connection some day. Some composer/director pairs just work really well together, and maybe this is one? It’s been too long since I did proper work on film music – the last ones were respectively on Tim Burton/Danny Elfman and the ways in which the Harry Potter movies are scored by different composers.

(Yeah, I should blog more 😉 )

Video

Star-Spangled Man – cover, fiction, fandom

Tags

, , , , ,

Sound only at the Meg Bodoun soundcloud.

This video is a great example of what fandom can do and be. I usually don’t pay much attention to filk, fandom’s own brand of (folk)songs that relate to fans, fandoms, geekdom etc. (I ought to, because there’s a lot of fantastic artists out there.) This, however, was brought to my attention by a friend. I’ve read the fanfiction it is based on, a lovely story by Sam Starbuck (linked by Rionsanura in her postings of the song).

The artist, Rionsanura/Sanura writes:
Fictional covers in fictional universes based on fictional universes can sometimes become real. This is me playing as Meg Bodoun, a singer-songwriter OC in an absolutely fantastic Marvel fic (see below).

My grandfather had this song on a record, and he used to play it for me as a kid. Somebody I respect once told me that if one person does it all, ordinary people feel like they don’t have to do anything. And I think the point of democracy is that everyone has to do their part. [http://sam-storyteller.dreamwidth.org/175733.html]

Original copyright Alan Silvestri.

The song itself originates in the 2011 film “Captain America”, where it is used in a montage that is a wonderful bit of period piece aesthetics. The fledgling Captain is at this point doing shows to sell warbonds. Basically, he appears on a stage with a bunch of showgirls – who are singing this very song in its original form – and pretends to knock out Adolf Hitler. It’s very camp, and I also like how it invokes the period.

In the fanfic, a singer-songwriter named Meg Bodoun reimagines this song as a song about democracy, about there being no easy ways to save anyone, and Rionsanura has imagined herself as Meg and done the song. Now if that isn’t a prime example of fandom’s creativity and the functions of remix and intertextuality going on in fandom, I don’t know what is. The many layers of reimagination and recreation here is amazing. I often stop and marvel at what goes on in fandom, how much fans can do with what we are handed. Remixing is a philosophy or a spirit within fandom. A guiding principle is taking ownership of works and enhancing them, for oneself and for others, and it is impossible for me not to love it.

Of course it doesn’t hurt that Sam Starbuck is a good writer (check out his published work as well) and that Rionsanura is very talented too. Just listen to her. Starbuck writes about the sound of the song, the questions it poses when performed in this manner rather than the one from the 40s. Yet, the actual version of it is more than I’d imagined when reading it, and frankly, it gave me chills. You don’t need to know the song or the story to get the impact of the cover, and when Rionsanura ends it on a musical question mark, an unresolved chord, fading, you do wonder who will finish what we began; especially out here, outside the world of comics and movies, where there are no heroes. The song transcends the world of fandom, and perhaps that is the power of fannish music; that as music it has the potential to speak to anyone, anywhere.

Vid and vidders: Research ‘manifesto’

Tags

, , , , ,


Last updated: 13. March 2017

Introduction

This post is sort of an open statement about what I am currently doing, research wise. It has the purpose of informing people in fandom – especially vidders and vid fans – as well as other interested academics, be they fans or not. I’m writing this post because I don’t want there to be any feeling of me skulking around, looking at fen without their knowledge or consent. The post will be updated from time to time when there’s anything to say (no idea how often that will be, I’m a slow worker) and I’ll post here if I give up this track of research as well. I’ll make sure to mark in this post what has been changed. I plan to include a link to this post to any vidders I contact, so if you’re here because of that, thanks for looking!

1) I am a fan. I have been in online media fandom since around 2005 or so when I began reading Harry Potter fanfic. I have written fic as well, both in that fandom and several others. I have a MA in Musicology from the University of Copenhagen. During those studies, I also wrote on music fans, film music, subcultures and queer musicians – among other things.

2) As per autumn 2016 I am a doctoral student at Birmingham City University in England, where I am in the School of Media under the faculty of Arts, Design and Media. My project is indeed about vids. More to come when the research questions etc. are set.

Past presentations

These are written in as I know of them (and remember to add them) and updated after the fact, but not erased. Or, you know, added in after it happened because I forgot.

1) I will be presenting a paper at a closed seminar in August about how vids can be read as remix/mashup and how vids as such can add to the understanding of modern popcultural production. The presentation will be held at the NSU Summer Session. I’m a member of the “Popmodernism” study circle. The seminar is closed and is a cross-humanities inter-Nordic thing.
Edit: That presentation is of course now over and went well. I got a lot of good feedback from the people present. It was fun and great to see so many people instantly ‘get’ what this was all about and find the research relevant and interesting.

2a) Next up is a paper on the Winter Symposium for the same study circle. It will be held in Turku, Finland in March. My presentation will this time center on a single topic, the body of Tony Stark/Iron Man as a mediated and desirable body presented in vids.
Edit: Also done! And it went very well. I’m still considering turning this into an article somehow.

3) I published an article in 2015 in a Danish academic journal. It is available for free online here: http://www.akademiskkvarter.hum.aau.dk/pdf/vol11/8_SebastianSvegaard_CriticalVidders.pdf

4) In the spring of 2016 I spoke about critical fandom at a conference at Aalborg University in Denmark, mostly to a bunch of business people who were interested in understanding how people engage critically with something they love.

5) I will be presenting at the Superhero Identities Symposium in Melbourne, Australia in December 2016. You can read about the symposium here: https://www.acmi.net.au/live-events/talks-performances/superhero-identities-symposium/ 
Edit: The presentation went well, I presented about vids in general and one specific Marvel vid in specific – still one of my favourite vids, that I hope to return to.

6) I will be a participant at VidUKon in Cardiff this year, as a vid fan and to make contacts. Maybe I will meet someone/s who will bring the research further – and at the very least, I will see loads of new vids and hear vidders talk about their work.

So what?

1) If you are a vidder and want to help me with this, let me work with your vids and/or talk to you etc., please let me know. Conversely, if you want me to stay away from your work, please let me know as well. I will respect this. Any vids I know I want to look at I will contact the creator beforehand! I will not identify a vid or vidder in anything I do publicly without consent from the vidder. If my plans change for this research and we have been in touch, I will contact you so you can update or retract consent. A couple of vidders have very graciously granted me a blanket permission for their vids, so that is an option, too, if you are someone for whom that works better.

2) If I have missed anything here, please let me know. I am going for open, transparent and fair, so if it seems I am not, do tell me.

3) The easiest away to reach me is to comment here or send me an email at sebastian.svegaard (at) mail (dot) bcu (dot) ac (dot) uk That goes for if you have questions or clarifications or comments or whatever. My inbox is open. You can also find me at my profile at the university’s postgraduate network.

What the research is about

Well, it is of course a work in progress, so all of this is very early and simplified. I want to see where this takes me. What I am really interested in here, is the role of music in vids. So far, I have mostly read things about vids that read them as visual media or explored the legal issues of vidding. While this is hugely interesting, it is not really my field. I am a music guy!

Now that I have entered into the formal doctoral studies phase of my research, I have identified three theoretical areas (roughly defined) that I believe will be the main foundation for my work – I call it the ‘three pillars’ because I like the mental image of that. Those are: Affect, Film Music and Fan Studies. And they intersect wonderfully with each other, which makes me very happy.
Currently I am reading up on a lot of film music and related research, which I am enjoying immensely.

(In an earlier stage, I focused on vids as a form of remix or perhaps mashup, and this still informs my work, so I am keeping this otherwise slightly outdated piece here.

What this means is that I think it might be productive to read vids using that kind of tool. Also that vids can add something valuable to research into remixed art forms as a whole. Fanworks are often overlooked and ignored, considered not-art or even ridiculed. My stance here is that of course it’s art. (I just have to link here to this video from PBS that says a few good words about that in between explaining some history of fan fiction: http://youtu.be/beJdVmiQijM Just because.) Remixes of various kinds have been around for a long time, and vids are yet another art form that use this technology. In fact, installations that fans would read as vids have been displayed in art galleries. (One example is the work of Aleesa Cohene, that uses footage from various films edited into a cohesive whole that is its own narrative.) )

Vids, I believe, may be understood as a mashup of two different medias: music and moving pictures. Vids are also remixes of the visual source and even somtimes of the music source as well. This kind of mashing creates a work that is its own new whole, adding layers of meaning to both the music and images used. In vids, music often provide narrative structure or at least give us narrative clues such as mood or literalisms. That narrative, however, serves the image side, not the music (as we see in traditional – commercial – music videos). We talk about a, say, Doctor Who vid, not a Carbon Leaf vid, even though the music often provides the title for the vid (though tha i’s hardly always the case). Vids differ from music videos in this as well as in their non-profit origin.

Nor does music in vids function like film music, even though some film music theory can probably be useful to reading vids. The big difference being the was music often provides a literal voice in a vid, while film music does not do that as often. The role of music in vids is clearly not one that is easily described, but that is the charm.

Other trains of thought that I might follow up on at a later date is the (musical) language of vids, which I am pretty sure is a thing and is very unique. In order to narrow things down to a more manageable field, I am only working on vids made from Western media sources right now, which means that this language or narrative tool box of techniques cannot be taken for granted in other types of fannish remix video – or in vids made in other traditions. By now I have some grasp of common techniques used in vids and am conceptualising and naming some of them (where I cannot find existing terms in vidding communities) in order to be able to better describe and talk about them.

Pretty much all the vids I work on now are critical. What I mean by a critical vid is a vid that presents a critique, most often of media in some way, and usually from a feminist/critical theory point of view. Vids that critique representation, -isms, speak towards larger social justice issues are amongst these. I find that they are the most fascinating vids to me personally, but also very interesting to work on because of the multi-layered reading they do and we, as their audience, do as well. In order to communicate such complex messages, the vids have to be extremely well created, not least in how they use music to tell us their story. This is basically catnip for my brain.

A new man? Rufus in Copenhagen

Tags

, , ,

Rufus Wainwright visited Copenhagen in late April. It was the first show on his tour promoting “Out of the Game”. Before going in, I had a chat with a guy who’d recently read my dissertation on Wainwright, which centers on performance and masculinity. He asked me if I thought the artist would be different now, if he’d perhaps “grown up”. It’s a really good question, so I figured I’d try to answer that here and draw a few threads on the changing masculinity of Rufus Wainwright.

One thing I noticed while writing the thesis was that Wainwright has certain consistencies in his performances, and there have been some developments in style and strategy. So where is Rufus Wainwright anno 2012, new father, soon-to-be husband, in relation to earlier in his career?

Visually, Wainwright was a lot more subdued than I’ve seen him in years. In fact, I have not personally seen performances (incl. recorded ones) that were this visually simple since the late 90s. The stage was simple, no backdrop, everyone in regular, dark clothes, and Wainwright himself in a dark suit. Even his customary rings and necklaces were gone, or, in the case of the rings, reduced.

Still, there was something there to assure us all that this is still Rufus. The man who does everything just a little camp – if not a lot. Yeah, there was a pretty regular suit and all, but the were shoes. Wonderful, silver ones that looked like basketball boots or something, and were so shiny they actually blinded with reflected light once in a while. They were fabulous and amazing. Also a really good look with a dark suit. There was that clear visual touch of the campy and fun that is one of the trademarks of Rufus Wainwright the performer.

Performance-wise, we got pretty much the Rufus we’re used to, but with a few twists. First of all, body language was much as usual, with the added fun of seeing him try (his words) to dance a little to his new, dance-friendly tunes. As often, this became a new way of making jokes at his own expense. Which leads directly into the on-stage banter and telling of little anecdotes, another trademark of a Wainwright performance. There was all the little moments of Wainwright laughing (mostly at himself), over-sharing, camping it up, swaying at the piano while he played.
There were fewer of these moments of chat than I’ve seen earlier, but at the same time it felt like a creative decision because several songs were allowed to flow into each other. Just like there was no intermission, but instead a few songs performed by other band members. It gave a different feel to the concert. Liking it or not is a matter of taste. For me it was a new and good experience. Playing around with the format of the live concert is definitely something that could be done more.

This leads very directly to the next bit of change, and here we might be getting closer to looking at the question I mentioned in the opening paragraph. Last Wainwright toured with an album, it was the sombre “All Days are Night: Songs for Lulu”, which was something as unusual as a performance of camp grief. I’ve . The concert’s first half – and the album – takes on a sense of elegy for Kate McGarrigle. This wasn’t at all the case at this new show, but it’s still very obvious that the loss of her is ever-present.

There was a thematic and visual link to “Lulu” in the opening number, an a capella rendition of “Candles”, a song from “Out of the Game”. A song that carries some of the grief, but in a different way, as it recalls trying to light a candle for the dead and not being able to. It’s beautiful and bitter-sweet, and the a capella version was so fitting I’m sorry that isn’t on the album. The song was performed with a darkened stage, nothing except candles was visible, and was followed directly by the next song with no break. The visual link to the previous tour, where the entire first half was the Lulu-album performed as a song cycle is obvious. So is the part where there was no break between the first two songs – nor between a few others later. However, the differences were as poignant. Like how the light came on after “Candles” and the next song was an up-beat happy affair. There was a time for brief memorial in this concert, but not for delving into the depth of grief.

The not-quite-intermission was dedicated to Kate McGarrigle as well, yet also in a way that was a departure from the deep black of “Lulu”. Instead it was comprised of band-members Krystle Warren (who also did a fantastic opening act!) and Teddy Thompson each doing one of Kate’s songs. They both have absolutely amazing voices, and by doing this, it became an integral part of the show as a whole. (I have to stop here to say that Teddy Thompson’s cover was absolutely stunning.) Again a link to previous shows, but with a whole different take.

Present in other ways was also Wainwright’s father, Loudon, both by way of one of his songs being played and in the way I hear inspiration from him on “Out of the Game”. It’s not often that his side of folk comes through in the son’s compositions, but it’s here. Adding to that songs to the baby daughter (“Montauk”) and the fiancée (“Song of You”), it’s clear that Wainwright has drawn different parts of his family into his musical universe.

Has he “grown up” then? Is this a new man? Yes and no.
Yes, because life and death changes a human being. A person who’s lost his mother and got a daughter within just over a year is bound to be changed by that, and in the case of Wainwright, that means bound to sing about it, talk about it, share with the audience.
No, because the performance strategy is still consistent. We easily recognise Wainwright, visually, musically and performativily. The same elements are there, mixed and weighed differently, but present with a bit more added to the mix. It is an evolving strategy that seems to have done so organically.

In my thesis I noted a tendency for Wainwright to be very aware of his audience and situation and target a performance to it. I saw nothing to indicate this isn’t still the case. Copenhagen is, arguably, somewhat backwater (off-off Broadway, as Erik Steinskog put it when we discussed it), it’s also “safe” for Wainwright. He’s always been well received here, has sold well, and there’s the inevitable back-up of extended family. (This time taking up half a row right in front of where I was sitting.) So here is probably a good place to have a test-run. That said, it didn’t feel much like it was, at least not in terms of giving a performance, putting on a full show and make us all feel we got what we came for.

Mash-ups make a mess in authenticityland

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Recently I’ve begun looking more and more into fan-made videos; mostly actual fanvids (or vids), but it’s hard not to link this to mash-ups for several reasons.

For one, it’s fun, but a lot more so because the links between them are quite reasonable and potentially enlightening.
Both are transformative works that remix their sources and both make use of recutting of recorded visual media (i.e. film, tv shows, music videos). I bet there are (or soon will be) vids set to mash-ups. Both also by their very nature, they create ways for different texts to comment on one another, discuss and invite reinterpretations and new readings.
From a stricter musicological point of view it also showcases quite strikingly how similar different (so-called) genres of music can be and truly messes with the ideas of authenticity we currently have as near-hegemonic (rock music is more authentic than pop, music made on analog instruments better than that on digital).

Thanks to my friend Lars I found the first of these three mash-ups that are all based on Metallica’s Enter Sandman; I found the following ones by looking at related videos on YouTube. I got sucked in via that first one, because it’s really good. On its own it’s simply well-done music that makes me want to play air-drums.
The video is a remix of the original video for the song that’s laid over Metallica’s instruments, thus making it follow the new rhythm of the song. By doing this, three transformations are taking place: the change to either song, creating a new one, and the change to the video, creating one that fits the new mashed song.

Simply put, this song rocks. (Yep, that wording is actually playing into that rock authenticity. Sorry.)

The next example is really interesting because it allows two texts to interact and speak with each other in two ways: the songs themselves, but also the two singers. As opposed to above, James Hetfield gets a say in this one. Sadly there’s no video to this, so the songs have to talk for themselves.

Apart from the fact that the bit where both singers are present at the same time – which frankly sounds messy and creates some dissonance that doesn’t usually belong in popular music – the fact that Hetfield gets to inject sentences makes it seem as if one song is commenting on the other.
Katy Perry’s song with bisexual content – disputed, hated as well as loved, by LGBT people all over for the way it portrays a same-sex kiss – gets a nice little comment when her talk of the irresistible girl lips is followed by Hetfield’s grating words of the monsters In your closet, in your head. It very much comments on Perry’s song and the possible inherent biphobia (or homophobia) in it – or could well be that the comment is bi- or homophobic itself. That depends on how one understands the use of the monsters, the bed and the closet in relation to a same-sex kiss, the boyfriend hopefully doesn’t mind.

This one is a little transitional, but I can’t help but interject the third song I found that plays with Enter Sandman. And of course, I can’t resist a bit of Gaga when I get the chance. This remix also uses more new samples than any of the other two did. I’m not sure I think the fit is as good as the above two, and there are parts of the remixing I subjectively don’t like. There is, however, a video to this one, if a slightly uninspired one.

The video does seem to somehow comment on the grittier sound of this remix as opposed to the more polished Telephone. It is more of a remix of that song than anything to do with Enter Sandman, which is only vaguely present apart from at either end of the mash-up.

It does provide a nice lead-in to another brilliant Gaga mash-up that truly challenges the authenticity of indie rock and this version here also allows the video texts to talk to each other, which leads to something quite fascinating.

It manages to totally queer REM and Michael Stipe in new ways, not to mention what it does to the religious imagery, that seemingly become objects of desire or desired dance partners. Maybe Lady Gaga is asking Stipe to dance, reaching across to him. What about the saints and angels vs. the white-clad monsters? There are a lot to be thought about here, so I’ll stick to asking questions. It’s more of a bad romance with religion than what the title actually is.
And I still can’t help loving just how well they mesh and how this mash-up messes with all that is authentic in rock and also changes the tone of a dance number to something sombre and profound in our culturally conditioned ears. My own preconditioning is strong enough that I kept doing double takes. Good detail: Stipe’s vocals as backing to Gaga’s here and there. I wish he could’ve had a few clear words in there – I think that with the right timing it could potentially have been fab.

The last one here is mostly posted for fun and future reference as I haven’t looked thoroughly yet – but I like the sound of it and it’s by the same people who created the Gaga/Metallica mash-up above.

Briefly on the Tron: Legacy soundtrack

Yeah, I know this might not be the season for electronic music. In fact, I’m typing this while listening to Chanticleer singing O Virgo Virginum – to me Medieval choir music is Christmas music.

But! I saw Tron: Legacy last night with a good friend (after we braved the current snow and ice and nearly missed it due to same) and I enjoyed it very much. Good movie, fun, seemed like a good follow-up to the original. Beautifully done of course! It was great to see the effects make so much sense as they must do in that ‘verse. The only weak point was that the main character is played by someone rather bland. But the supporting cast rocked, so it became less of a problem.

And back to the soundtrack… It was an interesting choice! What do you do when making a movie that, in essence, takes part inside a network/computer game? Go classical? It’s the safe choice, you can pull the right heartstrings in your audience, but does it fit? Go compiled and find cutting-edge artists to make an up-to-date ST for you? That means your sound will be dated very fast, though, even if it will work perfectly the year (or perhaps month) it opens.

The choice made here is very interesting. Daft Punk, electronic musicians who based their look off the first Tron movie (and thus must be considered big fans), made this one. It’s purely electronic, but it uses the tropes of a classically composed score. I don’t mean that it’s all synth strings etc. (who does that anymore btw? I loved that back in the day *G* ) but that there’s a fully composed and multilayered (simulating multiple instruments) score that is electronic, doesn’t pretend to be anything else, thankfully, and uses the same kind of effects and draws from the classical score in the way it aims to affect its viewer-listeners.

It suits the film very well indeed and I enjoyed it a lot. I didn’t listen too closely, I rarely manage that on a first viewing, but it was a successful score in that it made me react as I assume was intended on an emotional level and I wasn’t at any point jarred by it. (As I constantly am in by Thomas Dolby’s score to Gothic.)

I don’t think I’ll ever do anything in-depth about this soundtrack, but I hope a colleague somewhere in the world does. I’d love to read it.

Here’s a video made from one of the more song-like parts of the ST so you can get a taste.

Btw. the first scene is sound and footage (slightly edited) from the movie. Notice the whole serenade of blips etc. as they enter the arcade? That’s one of the fun scenes on the sound side of things. There’s also a jukebox in that arcade that starts playing 80s anthems. I loved that, of course!

Brokeback Robbie

Tags

, ,

Robbie Williams has a new video out for a single called Shame. It’s a duet with former Take That mate Gary Barlow and it’s up on Robbie’s site now.

In the blurb beneath the video you can read that:

Starring both Robbie and Gary Barlow on screen for the first time in fifteen years, the hilarious music video for Robbie’s new single, Shame, sees two of the newly re-united Take That members share a spot of topless bromance in the rocky mountains surrounding Los Angeles!

Ah. Bromance. The new way of saying “yeah this looks gay, but it’s totally intended, pun-like and straight”. No, really, I highly enjoy lots of media that runs with this genre, but addressing the subtext does really not remove the subtext. It just makes it seem even more legitimate to point out that, you know, they look like they’re doing it.

Anyway, back to the video. I have to give the website that linking this to Brokeback Mountain is quite a good idea – and it’s an accurate description of much of the action going on in the video. It seems to reference the film quite a few times.

In the opening, Gary is leaning against a wall in a pose struck by Jack in the opening of Brokeback. There’s not contact, no talk, and the soft guitar has a sound reminiscent of the melancholy, longing one in the Brokeback theme. Just, you know, a good deal less tear-jerking.

One I noticed right away is that Robbie and Gary go fishing together – the very activity that throughout the decade-long span of Brokeback is used as the cover for Jack and Ennis when they get away together. They never fish, though, which is how Ennis’ wife finds out what’s going on; his fishing gear was never used (that, and she sees him kissing Jack earlier on).

There’s also dancing with women while sending looks at each other. This is not as much a reference to Jack and Ennis, but to the lives they have apart – both of them are seen dancing with women, Jack is the one who most directly aims his look and thus desire at other men whilst doing this, but there’s still a parallel. Last there is, of course, climbing rocks/cliffs outside L.A. I mean, mountains. Come on.

So in conclusion, this video isn’t hiding its references, it’s embracing them, playing with them, highly enhancing the homo-social going on homo-erotic of the video and is backed up by the text of the song. Heck, even the guitar in the opening measures could be linked -vaguely- to the sound of that longing, melancholy tune that is the theme for Brokeback.

So with this unabashed queer text that appears out of coupling that text and song with that video… why pretend it’s still straight?

You can see the video at Robbie Williams’ official site here or from YouTube below.

ETA: The YouTube video is mirror-image for some reason. The one on the site is not and I assume that is the correct one.

Disclaimer: I bet there are several other types of readings and references going on, but this is mine.