Sinead O’Connor

The Evolution of the Mental Hospital in Music Videos, From Björk and ‘N Sync to JJ

Swedish pop duo JJ recently released the video for their single “All White Everything.” The film is set in a mental institution, and director Olivia Kastebring imagines lead singer Elin Kastlander as a patient in a fittingly all-white environment, the footage intercut with a white-sequined contortionist who looks like the ghost of Pickle Surprise. From the powder on the floor to the patients’ white eyeliner to the contortionist’s costume, all surfaces in the video evoke the texture, colorlessness, and the emotional erasure of Xanax. The video wavers, from shot to shot, between being beautiful, unintentionally silly, and utterly disturbing in its aestheticization of the mental hospital setting. But it certainly isn’t the first music video to do so. Much like da club, da mental hospital has pervaded music videos for decades, most notably in the 1990s. … Read More

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The 15 Best Nirvana Covers You May Not Have Heard

If you haven’t gathered as much from the rash of think-pieces and tributes (we suggest you read these instead), tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death. While the many words you may read in the next few weeks about Cobain’s legacy demonstrate his importance to generations of listeners (and music journalists), it’s also pretty clear that Cobain and Nirvana are a heavy influence on the bands that followed in their footsteps — and even some of their contemporaries and predecessors. It’s a ballsy move to cover a classic Nirvana song, and there have been some famous artists who have tackled the obvious ones (particularly Tori Amos and Patti Smith, who have both recorded famous version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”). There are also, however, plenty of musicians who came before and after Kurt Cobain who have successfully put their own spin on his words.  … Read More

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The Problem With Making Miley Cyrus the Lightning Rod for All Our Angst About Female Sexuality

This post is not about Miley Cyrus. Well, at least, it’s no more about Miley Cyrus than anything else that’s been written in relation to her in the last week or so — because really, over the six weeks since her already infamous VMAs performance, the discussion about America’s newest controversial pop star has slowly shifted from discussions of Cyrus herself (or, god forbid, her music) to a sort of generalized discussion about the social trends that she’s perceived as representing or embodying. In this respect, much as I hate to draw a parallel that can’t help sounding like SEO gold, she’s this year’s Lana Del Rey: an artist whose persona has become a battleground over which people fight pitched ideological skirmishes that have very little to do with the artist in question. … Read More

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The Best and Worst of Last Night’s ‘SNL’ with Miley Cyrus

It was an incredibly tense week for host and musical guest Miley Cyrus, but despite rumors that her feud with Sinéad O’Connor would become fodder for an SNL sketch (with a giant foam middle finger), there was no reference to the whole open letter mess. The series did manage to shove Cyrus’ VMA controversy aside immediately, tackling her new public persona in the opener (“Hannah Montana was murdered,” the pop idol tells us during her monologue). The political gags were saved for a remake of the singer’s video for “We Can’t Stop,” starring Cyrus as a tarted up Michele Bachmann twerking all over Taran Killam’s John Boehner. Things went from wild to mild for the rest of the episode, but there were several subtle references to Cyrus’ transformation that stuck with us. See more of last night’s best and worst, below. … Read More

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The “Open Letter to Miley” Mess Is Embarrassing for Everyone

Open letters, by definition, aren’t really about one-to-one communication. They’re about sending a message to the general public under the thin guise of an email, a blog post, or if you’re Sinead O’Connor, a Facebook status posted to a page with over 300,000 followers. Open letters have their uses; if you’re the Senate majority leader turning up the pressure on the Speaker of the House to end a pointless government shutdown, for example, or the editorial director of this website explaining why Bustle may not be a $6.5 million idea after all. But for a respected female musician delivering a pseudo-maternal, slut-shaming lecture to a younger pop star she barely knows? A personal email might have been a better choice. … Read More

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What Was the Worst Thing on the Internet This Week?

The Internet is a wasteland — or, if you’re feeling more glass-half-full, a haven — for trolling, pandering, and self-aggrandizing, whether it be in innovative or particularly reductive ways. Every day there’s at least one or two obnoxious things that is deserving of our hate-click, and our temporary outrage only brings the unnecessary attention to such ridiculata. Yet we can’t help ourselves from promoting it, now can we? Join us in this new feature, where each week we nominate the worst Internet-based events of the previous five days, and determine which of the nominees is, in fact, The Worst.  … Read More

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10 of Music’s Most Controversial Performances

Kanye West is the latest pop musician to entertain an ethically dodgy audience: the rapper recently performed at a wedding for the grandson of Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev for a reported sum of $3 million. Kazakhstan is not one of the most politically sound countries in the world right now, and its government’s violent tactics have been called out by Human Rights Watch. The country’s uncomfortable present is one of the reasons Sting turned down an offer to perform for the Kazakh government in 2011, and you’d think West would’ve followed suit given his occasionally political songwriting. But his appearance is just another in a long, long list of jaw-dropping musical moments. Below, we round up some of the most questionable, violent, attention-grabbing performances of the past century. … Read More

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10 Women We Can’t Believe Aren’t in the Rock Hall of Fame

So, tonight is the grand induction ceremony for this year’s class of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees. You’ll forgive us if we don’t get too excited, though, as the whole Hall of Fame experience these days is as notable for who isn’t included as it is for who is — and, specifically, for the ongoing lack of female inductees. There are plenty of worthy male artists and (predominantly) male bands whose continuing absence is inexplicable — Brian Eno, Nick Drake, Pixies, The Smiths, The Cure, Television — but the picture for women remains truly depressing. About this time two years ago, Salon ran a story pointing out that less than 14% of inductees were women, a picture that hasn’t exactly improved since — Heart and Donna Summer finally god the nod this year, meaning that a whole 25% of this year’s inductees are women! There are still loads of great female artists who remain on the outside looking in, though; here are some of the best. … Read More

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10 Gloriously Anarchic Music Moments from Live TV

We’re not generally given to bouts of nostalgia here, but when Dangerous Minds unearthed a video yesterday of Philly punk icons The Dead Milkmen making an unlikely appearance on Club MTV, it got us thinking about the days when music TV used to be live and thus all sorts of whacked-out things could happen. Those days are largely gone, sadly, outside of various late-night shows — the general decline of live TV, along with a series of high-profile controversies, means that networks like to have a whole lot more control over what goes to air today. Still, we’ll always have the memories, and in celebration of the ongoing experiment in riding by the seat of one’s pants that music TV used to be, here are ten of our favorite moments in gloriously shambolic televisual anarchy. As ever, let us know if you have any to add. … Read More

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Pop For Skeptics #8: The Internet’s Favorite Love Songs of 2012

If winter is the time of year when single people scowl, forsake love, and slink off to that alone-time retreat they’ve created for themselves under the Manhattan Bridge out of watermelon rinds and Chinese food take-out cartons, then summer is when they thaw and renew their search for romance. They might make bold overtures to someone they’ve admired for quite while. They might even fall back in love with the idea of being in love. Recently, I found myself somewhere in the middle, entertaining a Lazy Susan of dates, each more hilariously terrible than the last. One way I’ve been coping with dashed expectations is by wistfully working through love songs released this year.

More than almost any other pop subject, love songs can get away without having to be original or innovative. Every type of love song that ever will be has already been written, making my search for the definitive love song of the year especially tricky. But there was something about “30 Minute Love Affair” by Paloma Faith that resonated with me. Maybe at some point in time, I might email one of those bad dates — the one who keeps texting me after he blew me off — the video below, with the subject line, “Baby, we’re done.” … Read More

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