Sep 20

Ty Taylor performs with Vintage Trouble at The El Rey Theater in Los Angeles

This will come off as more than slightly biased, and undeniably self-serving, but as a lover of music everywhere, and a lover of women and supporter of women’s rights, I must speak freely.  While I do that, or shortly after, you must vote for Vintage Trouble to win Ryan Seacrest’s “Indie Song of the Summer” and you must do it immediately: the contest is almost over!  Now, I am not encouraging you to vote for Vintage Trouble’s track “Pelvis Pusher” to be the Indie Song of the Summer because I directed the music video–or because it’s better than “You and I” by Paper Route (it is!). I insist you vote for Vintage Trouble’s “Pelvis Pusher” because it’s a conscious alternative to the culturally indoctrinated song of the summer, Robin Thicke’s mysoginistic rape anthem “Blurred Lines.”  Thicke himself calls those allegations “ridiculous” while also saying, “what a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve never gotten to do that before.”  He states his intention was to produce a party track which “blurred the lines between men and women and how much we’re the same.”  Like all songs of the summer, Thicke’s groove is infectious and offers the promise of permissive interaction, but the groove is where the seduction ends.  With lyrics like, “I know you want it” (sung 18 times over the course of the song), which reinforces victim-blaming rape myths (saying “no” when you really mean “yes”) and T.I.’s cat call to “give you something big enough to tear your ass in two,” Thicke and company have written lyrics that reinforce beliefs of objectification and the dismissal of female assertion.  If you need any further proof, exhibit A is the video for Blurred Lines, featuring clothed men enjoying the prancing bodies of naked women, and which only gives voice and language to the men, while one woman purrs, or maybe she meows.

As an alternative, I give you “Pelvis Pusher,” a good old-fashioned barn-stomping rock-and-soul groove in the spirit of Ike & Tina Turner, which, in a more effective and subtle way, speaks to a true blurring of the lines between men and women. Pelvis Pusher encourages you to dance without inhibition; to move your hips, yes in a dirty and sexy way, but in a way where women can strut and shake their stuff and men can join in with equal abandon. With lyrics like “rock the bottom of your back, like a baby’s cradle. get ready and willing, I know that you’re able,” Vintage Trouble captures a provocative but harmonious experience between man and woman.  In it’s simplicity, it is reminiscent of a time already past, while still being more forward thinking than its contemporary agitators.

“Pelvis Pusher,” ironically, has the more crude title with the more elegant message, where “Blurred Lines” is a relative innocuous title with a salacious execution.  And since we’re comparing, neither song is necessarily musically its own.  ”Blurred Lines” is pound-for-pound the same groove as Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up.”  Thicke has pre-emptively sued the Marvin Gaye estate so as not to incur penalties (not sure how this works, but I may remake The Godfather and preemptively sue Francis Ford Coppola), and Pharrell Williams denies the connection outright, stating that “one’s minor and one’s major, they’re not even in the same key.”  Also, by the way, they’re both major and I think they’re both in G.  But whatever–it’s got 177 million views on youtube, so shut up. Meanwhile, Pelvis Pusher’s underlying rhythm is reminiscent of Wilson Pickett’s “Land of 1000 Dances,” but Vintage Trouble makes it an original composition that perfectly captures the soul of the music which inspires them, while creating a whole new groove.  Like I said, I’m biased. But I’m also right. “Blurred Lines” is a catchy track and Emily Ratajkowski has remarkable eyes, but the lyrics and the message are regrettable. “Pelvis Pusher” is a viable, sexy, rockin’ alternative which can still get you mutually and consensually laid.

p.s. I don’t throw around the term “rape anthem” lightly and I don’t blame Robin Thicke all together (though I find him unconscious at best).  Mohadesa Najumi offers a clarification in The Feminist Wire.  She says, “Rape Culture is the condoning and normalizing of physical, emotional and sexual terrorism against women and girls.  It is the production and maintenance of an environment where sexual assault is so normative that people ultimately believe that rape is inevitable.”  Now, most rapes are illegal in US jurisdictions, which doesn’t sound like an advocation of rape, but fewer than 1/5 of reported rapes (less than 54% are reported) are prosecuted, and only 3 of every 100 rapes leads to jail time.  This is not outright, but tacit complicity at least. And this is the world into which Robin Thicke brought “Blurred Lines,” which isn’t any more lyrically egregious than a lot of music in the hip-hop genre, but it’s cultural appropriation by a rich white man makes Thicke more visible and therefore more responsible.  Perhaps the topic for another entry… meanwhile, Vote!

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