Obviously, I don’t expect reality stars to make resounding contributions to art… society, politics, business, anything at all, really… but my even my fairly low standards have been forced lower and lower by this onslaught of cochlea-harassing club tracks, courtesy of Hollywood starlets and their awful-yet-ascent-inspiring career decisions (e.g. Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and other members of the Seacrest mafia).
It’s futile to criticize the time-honored practices of publicity stunting and unwarranted business opps. This is just a grating reminder that we cannot always trust iTunes to spoonfeed us the crème of contemporary music. My go-to: the soundtracks from many a runway show, season after season. Like the collections themselves, the tunes are generally a far-reach from the mainstream. After all, the beat has to be strong enough to propel a fierce heel-clad strut, and if that isn’t enough for you, I don’t know what is.
This is the playlist for the au courant consumer. May it pull you from the depths of your top-twenty doldrums…
- Karen Elson – “Pretty Babies” from Tom Ford SS ’11
- Elson’s music is adorably morbid, perhaps the influence of rocker husband Jack White. In spite of its melancholic undertones, this tune breezes across like a forties folksong spiced with Latin acoustics. It was a perfect complement to Tom Ford’s notoriously surreptitious NYFW show, both pulling influence from a breadth of eras and cultures.
- Silvia’s Magic Hands- “A Soldier’s Lament” from D&G SS ‘11
- A musical gem of the indie rock persuasion. This bluesy melody gives an edge to the collection’s feminine florals and picnic prints… as though the farmer’s daughter is to be seduced by some Dean-esque rebel in a Ford. Slow, sultry harmonica rips drift across the runway like cigarette smoke, and we see the true beauty of a culture-clash.
- October – “Three Drops” from Miu Miu SS ‘11
- It’s as if October’s man-behind-the-curtain Julian Smith had a drug-induced romp with his Kaoss pad. It integrates heavy bass, staccato percussion and vocal fragments that are so conducive to the Miu Miu ambiance. The untrained ear might call it dubstep, and it is certainly evocative of this kind of nightclub vibe; but it’s actually a closer to a techno beat, without the predictability. BoomKat calls it “the stylistic fusion between bass awareness and dancefloor savvy.” Couldn’t have said it better myself… so I won’t.
- The Creatures- “Manchild” from Jeremy Laing SS ‘11
- This band was formed circa 1981, when lead singer Siouxsie Sioux ushered in this whole new subculture of experimental rock. Percussion is the backbone of this song and conveys the obvious influence of collaborations with Japanese taiko drummer Leonard Eto. Laing’s line is similarly experimental, with slight nods to the East, and we could argue their underlying tone is equally exotic, erotic, feral.
- Sutro- “Affected” from Etro Menswear SS ‘11
- When I first heard this tune, I was reminded of the American duo Sleigh Bells– the same electronica bassline and poppy vocals—but Sutro is deservingly its own beast. Frontwoman Tyler Stone’s vocals just drip sensuality, not unlike an easy cream suit or Milan in summer. But sensuality is best paired with playfulness, and the track serves it up like an aural delicacy.