Friday, August 29, 2014

"Shake It Off": Leave Taylor Swift Alone

I am a huge Taylor Swift fan. Beyond my 20+ years love affair with country music, I admire her honesty, panache, and self-awareness. She turned down a recording contract early in her career because she didn't feel right about it and instead created a brand tailored to her personality. As I have often remarked to Horace, had Taylor Swift existed in my youth, I would have had an entirely different--and emotionally healthier--high school experience.

(I swear she wrote "Teardrops On My Guitar" with my laughable teenage love life in mind.)

So I'm making up for lost time, vibing to "Shake It Off," the high-octane first single from her next album.

But not everyone is.

Last week, headlines flew around the internet about how racist the "Shake It Off" video is. Aside from not believing Taylor Swift would make such a video, I scoffed at one such opinion as it begins "haven't watched the taylor swift video and I don't need to watch it to tell you that it's inherently offensive and ultimately harmful."

Not for nothing, but I'm pretty sure you should watch a video before deriding it as inherently offensive and ultimately harmful.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Throwback Thursday: "Butterfly" by Mariah Carey

Mimi's having a rough week. Her split from Nick Cannon is all over the news, and I imagine it isn't easy to endure personal woes in the public eye. So I'm gonna throw her a bone and dedicate today's TBT post to her music.

Mariah Carey hit the music scene in the spring of 1990, electrifying the airwaves with her debut single, "Vision of Love." From range to resonance, her vocals were amazing and unparalleled, and by the time the song ended, we all knew she was only getting started.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

On Mike Brown

Words fail

Images scorch, spurning the truth

What year is this?

Are you sure?

Is that teargas and justification?

Why, yes--he was black

and male

and breathing

I see why that would scare you

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Throwback Thursday: "Jem and the Holograms"

For the last few weeks, my brain has been mush. Events in my house and around the world have rendered me mute and unwilling to do anything but hug my children, eat ice cream, and watch Vampire Diaries reruns.

But today is Throwback Thursday, and I'd like to spread some innocent cheer.

So let's talk cartoons.

If you grew up in the 80s, then your cartoon options were endless and awesome. From Thursday afternoon to Saturday morning, there was no shortage of animated entertainment. To this day, you need only hear the theme song to your favorite cartoon to bring an immediate smile to your face.

With that in mind, allow me to introduce Jem and the Holograms.

Come on, Kimber. Makeover time!
The theme song reflects the show, and the show has everything: a quartet of gorgeous, stylish pop of whom is a brown-skinned drummer with a purple afro (what?!!)...rival singers, a secret identity, a romantic interest, a souped up car, and two new songs in each episode.

As a young black girl with singing fantasies, this show was a dream come true. And my parents indulged my reality, as this favorite photo proves: two redheaded Kimber dolls, Shana's purple hair all combed out, the pink roof of the Rockin' Roadster, and an assortment of their colorful shoes on the coffee table.

And my fashionable brother David, indulging my whims as usual. His sock game was on-point!

So with all the unrest and unhappiness in the news of late, and rightfully so, I invite you to my happy place via my "Favorite Cartoon Theme Song." It's truly, truly, truly outrageous!

What's your favorite cartoon theme song? Share in the comments!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

I'm an Electric Lady! (Thank you, Janelle Monae)

I realize it's 2014, but this girl is happily stuck in the 90's. I watch Friends and Seinfeld as if I've never seen them before and hold out hope for a My So-Called Life movie to tie up the loose ends from its lone season on ABC. 

But nowhere is this preference more apparent than my music collection. Throwback Thursday is my favorite day of the work week, and I'm still praying Janet Jackson goes on one last tour. 

In my defense, I've had some exciting encounters with this decade. I went rolling in the deep and cheered when Horace put my love on top. I worried about Bruno Mars and them young, wild girls and wanted Christina Aguilera to say something. But the last album--yes, I say "album" and always will--I bought that was produced after 1999 a minute....

Oh! Mary Mary's The Sound. Had to acknowledge the God in Me.

But that time-defying static ceremoniously changed last week when I rushed to my phone and downloaded Janelle Monae's "The Electric Lady." 

For a long time I knew only about her taste in tuxedos, but she was part of the sorority of current singers to whom I'd planned to someday lend a lingering ear: Chrisette Michele, Estelle, Ledisi, Emeli Sande. I finally saw Monae in action via an "Electric Lady" performance on Maya Rudolph's show in May, and between the high-octane track and her incredible artistry, I was an instant fan. Then Horace or my kids did something adorable or aggravating, and the song flew out of my mind. I didn't even remember I'd wanted to remember it.

Until this happened last week: 

I have not been this excited about a music video since Janet dropped "All for You." From the wall of Electro Phi Betas (T-Boz, Monica...WHAT?) to the HBCU house party, this video gave me everything I didn't know I was missing in life. And as I stopped dancing long enough to hear the lyrics, I fell deeper in love:

"...Electric Lady, you're a star / You got a classic kind of crazy / But you know just who you are..."

See, Ms. Monae could not have known this, but not so long ago, I would have owned the crazy, not knowing who I was. I wanted to be a star but didn't think I was and doubted I ever could be.

But God has done a miraculous work in me these past few weeks. And by His grace, I can boldly own it all. I am a star. I've got a classic kind of crazy, but I know and LOVE just who I am.

This album may be a year old, but it's new to me (another 90's TV slogan .SIGH. Is Living Single on yet?). And this anthem could not have come at a better time. So thank you, Janelle Monae, for providing the perfect title track to this chain-breaking season of my life.

"We the kind of girls who ain't afraid to get down / Electric Ladies go on and scream out loud!"

Friday, August 1, 2014