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Is Avril Lavigne’s ‘Hello Kitty’ video racist?

- April 22nd, 2014

Avril Lavigne seems to have taken a page out of Gwen Stefani’s book.

In her brand spankin’ new video for –what we can only assume will be her new single- Hello Kitty, Lavigne has teamed up with four Japanese girls, staged to be quiet background stand-ins while Lavigne prances around yelling about Hello Kitty and “kawaii” things.

Avril Lavigne – Hello Kitty (Official Video) from VEVO on Vimeo.

The video starts off with Lavigne raising her arm in the air and singing, “Mina saiko, arigato, kawaii!” It’s a popular phrase used quite often in Japanese anime and with JPop (Japanese pop) artists to address a crowd. Translated, it basically means, “you guys are the greatest, thank you, you’re so cute.”

There wouldn’t necessarily be anything wrong with the sentence if it wasn’t for the way it was presented.

The proclamation is followed up with Lavigne wearing a colourful skirt, littered with fake cupcakes, standing inside a stereotypical Japanese candy shop, alternating between pouting and giggling.

All the while, the four Japanese girls Lavigne has hired as background dancers move around like robots in the background. Their expressionless faces staring straight into the camera, as if they were non-existent mannequins.

The chorus, which Lavigne finally reaches after dancing around the streets of an imagined Tokyo, is just repeated “kawaii” phrases and hyper-sexual “Hello Kitty” references.

It should be noted the chorus is also accompanied with one of the worst dubstep arrangements attached to a pop song that I’ve ever heard. Just to add the cherry.

Lavigne then ventures off to grab some sushi, obviously famished from her tour of the candy shop. Instead of just sitting down, pouring some Saki, and eating the meal like a normal person, Lavigne decides to make terrible impressions of how she assumes Japanese people must eat.

Not only is it factually wrong, but it’s kind of racist. Once again, the girls are standing behind the counter, waiting to cater to Lavigne’s every whim.

She then parades around a suburb of Japan as countless Japanese girls run up to her in admiration. I don’t know how big Lavigne is in Japan, but I doubt she’s one of their top superstars. To assume she is, just shows off Lavigne’s own arrogance.

It would take an essay to break down each and every scene in the video and try to understand Lavigne’s thinking behind it, but what must be acknowledged is that it was wrong when Gwen Stefani did it back in 2004, surrounding herself with practically mute Harajuku girls, and it’s wrong now.

 

 

 

Considering the song is, at its core, an advertisement for Hello Kitty, and knowing Lavigne isn’t adverse to having product placements show up in her videos, it would have made much more sense to film the video inside a Hello Kitty store. Even then, though, it’s still a poor choice of substance for a song.

It’s a shame because the song is quite catchy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it became a go-to club banger and rose through the Top 40 ranks, but the video is disastrous, redundant, and tasteless.

Let’s hope this is the last time we see a culture being used to make a “cute” pop video. It’s an old trope, and, as media consumers, we’re ready for something entirely new.

Nine Inch Nails, OutKast tops Pemberton Music Festival lineup

- April 9th, 2014

The Pemberton Music Festival, dormant since 2008, is back with a huge bang.

Nine Inch Nails, OutKast, DeadMau5 and Soundgarden will lead the pack of headliners for the 2014 edition, which takes place in the small farming town of Pemberton, B.C. on Jul. 18-20.

Tickets will go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. local time.

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Coldplay, Tom Petty, and Jay-Z toplined the fest six years ago, and attracted 40,000 people. Live Nation put the boots to the event after financial and logistical issues.

Other acts include Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, Metric, Modest Mouse, Snoop Dogg, Blondie, Violent Femmes, Matthew Good, Girl Talk, Gord Downie & the Sadies, Grimes, the Flaming Lips and Cage the Elephant.

The festival will also feature a comedy lineup, led by the Trailer Park Boys, Bob Saget, Nick Swardson, Norm McDonald, Doug Benson, Hannibal Buress, Tom Green, Brian Posehn, and Jim Breur.

New Jack White album ‘Lazaretto’ due in June

- April 1st, 2014

This is no practical joke, Jack White fans. The busiest man in rock is set to drop his second solo record this summer.

Lazaretto, the follow-up to his critically-acclaimed 2012 effort Blunderbuss, will be released on June 10, his label Third Man Records announced today.

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The tracklist has not been revealed as yet, but we do know that the title track will be the first single off the album, and will be available later this month. And if you know a little bit about White, you’ll know he goes all out with several different deluxe editions of his records. For the full details, head over to Third Man.

White gave fans a first taste of the album by posting the instrumental song High Ball Stepper on YouTube. Listen below:

And if you, like me, have no clue what a “lazaretto” is, here’s the definition, according to Wikipedia:

A lazaretto or lazaret is a quarantine station for maritime travellers. Lazarets can be ships permanently at anchor, isolated islands, or mainland buildings.

Well, there you go. Anchors away, Jack.

White has already been announced as a headliner at the Osheaga festival in Montreal, which runs from Aug. 1-3.

The Black Keys unveil new song ‘Fever’

- March 24th, 2014

The Black Keys have a fever, but it’s not for more cowbell.

It’s actually for more synths, judging by the sound of their just-released first song from the Akron, Ohio duo’s upcoming eighth album, Turn Blue.

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The single leans less on their usual guitar-drum hooks and more on an ’80s synthesizer-heavy sound. Before you run for the hills, don’t fret – fans will not be diappointed – it’s pretty darn catchy.

Listen below:

The 11-track album Turn Blue is due out on May 13. It’s their first release since 2011′s El Camino.

Here’s the full tracklist:

1. Weight of Love
2. In Time
3. Turn Blue
4. Fever
5. Year in Review
6. Bullet in the Brain
7. It’s Up to You Now
8. Waiting on Words
9. 10 Lovers
10. In Our Prime
11. Gotta Get Away

Eminem, Skrillex, Kings of Leon to headline Lollapalooza: report

- March 20th, 2014

For those anxiously awaiting the official announcement of the Lollapalooza lineup in Chicago next week, it seems the cat is out of the bag — at least for the big acts.

The headliners will include Eminem, Skrillex, Kings of Leon and Arctic Monkeys, according to the Chicago Tribune, citing industry sources.

The marquee artists are familiar with the festival — they’ve all played it before. Eminem headlined in 2011, Kings of Leon did the same in 2009, while Skrillex and Arctic Monkeys have been in the middle of the pack in previous years, and this time around marks the first time they’ve had the big spotlight.

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Lollapalooza, which marks its 10th edition this year, takes place at Grant Park on Aug. 1- 3. Tickets go on sale next Tuesday.

Last year’s lineup, which included Nine Inch Nails, the Cure, the Killers and Mumford & Sons, attracted a capacity crowd of 300,000 fans.