Thursday, June 07, 2007

Bjork, Amy Winehouse & Genre as Drag



Drag, conscious and unconscious, is used to unleash some inner self (the real or the desired). It’s used to funnel inner truths, to shape perspective. That’s how Björk uses her unclassifiable genre hopping. Amy Winehouse seized that power on her debut CD, Frank (where she absorbed and re-created jazz divas to tell her tales), and then refocused her shtick on her wonderful sophomore album, Back to Black, where she took Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop” (concept and vocal steez) to album length and pulled art from girl-group artifice. But she was also wading in turbulent waters of appropriation and mimicry, stepping into a complex history of Jewish performers “doing black” in order to reveal something of themselves. Winehouse was liberated. Ironically, “doing black music” hamstrings a lot of black musicians.

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Blood Beats Vol 1

2 comments:

redbone said...

"i go through this... before you wake up..." very cool. last time i saw Björk, she was wearing a swan, so this was a nice change--and one of my favorites of hers, in orchestra mode, no less.

as for "Genre as Drag"... that will be in Vol. 2, yes? i think you've just started a new branch of American Studies. :-)

ReggieH said...

Fascinating concept! Thank you