Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Hollaback Girl!

Just listened to Gwen Stefani’s latest single, Hollaback Girl.

I am at a loss for words. Sure she still looks sexy, as always, but why does she still feel compelled to act like the white version of Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliot? The beat of the song sounds like it was directly lifted from the remix of Work It and any number of other songs. I’m telling you, Stefani is getting too old for this kind of stuff.

Gwen Stefani performed with No Doubt for nearly twenty years, producing chart-toppers such as Don’t Speak, Just A Girl, Sunday Morning and Hey Baby just to list a few. But Stefani will be 36(!) this October, and seeing her dance and gyrate to urban dance/crunk music calls to mind unfavorable thoughts of her retiring (or switching to performing more mellow, Barry Manilow-type of music). Or even acting. She showed us in The Aviator that she has something to fall back on when and if the music spotlight dims for her. I certainly would be interested in seeing her take on more challenging roles.

Another thing ‘bout Hollaback Girl is the gratuitous product placement. I realize that as music videos get harder and harder to produce (what with the average budget skyrocketing), performers are resorting to a new practice called co-branding, while others are opting for co-productions (sometimes with rival record companies). And as the NPR program says, MTV airs under 40 hours of music videos a week, compared to 1981 when the channel first launched and aired music videos non-stop. As the music became increasingly corporative, commercials and eventually non-music programming sneaked their way onto the channel, eating up time away from the music.

Nearly every band formed after Nirvana suddenly found that all available opportunities to get booked on MTV were extinguished, leaving them only the option of taking advantage of the burgeoning Internet. No Doubt struggled for eight years to gain acceptance from mainstream Teen America, before their smash “Just A Girl” hit the airwaves. Now, even with all of the guest appearances by Maybach Benz, iPods, HP, Nike and Adidas, music videos showcasing just music can still be found and viewed. But admittedly, they are on the extinction list and Hollaback Girl is just one more of the many ominous reminders of that fact.

I just hope that, if it is all possible, Gwen and Justin Timberlake and other music artists going the visual endorsement route remember the music. It’s the music that makes the artist, just like it’s the moves that make the NBA player. Don’t get distracted by the obligation to plug a product. Myself, on the rare occasion that I get to watch music videos, don’t mind a few lines about the generous use of Courvoisier, or repeat images of the iPod, or exaggerated cartoonish shots of Nike Shoes leaping tall buildings in a single bound. But there comes a point where it all gets to be a bit much, and that’s the day that I will stop watching music videos. Completely.

Even if Gwen Stefani is gyrating in one of them.


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