Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” and Clueless

fancy

Jonathan May

Iggy Azalea – “Fancy”
Virgin EMI/Universal

You’ve definitely heard this song somewhere. I’ve heard it in the car, the grocery store, parties, and my head over the past few weeks. “Fancy” hails from Iggy Azalea’s debut album The New Classic, which dropped in April this year. Although she uses herself as the song’s main subject (my least favorite pop trope), the song transcends her individual usage and utterance of what the title implies. The music video further reinforces this; it takes on the 90’s classic Clueless in what, upon first viewing, I thought was blatant parody. However, the slight technological updates (iPad, smartphones) with the post 90’s sensibility really added a lot of fun to the video. In short, Azalea and the director made Clueless “fancier” by merely updating it, a common belief held among the post-Internet makers. Like the (mostly) audacious belief held by Hollywood revisionists, contemporary presentist thought allows for such remakings as harmless “reblogs” in a way, taking what was original and adding your own small spin (a la Tumblr); while this might be more true for movies, it’s true for music as well. The intersection here, using an “old” movie with a new song, resembles what many would call appropriation in the broadest sense of the word (and its most common unfortunate usage). What saves this song in particular from being a mere exercise in this vein of thought is its sense of fun. The infectious cuts between hook and verse as they bleed toward the inevitable chorus have all the energy a young singer (Azalea is 23) should possess. What I couldn’t help but shake, however, was the knowledge in the back of my head of poor, dead Brittany Murphy (dear Tai from Clueless); while her death wasn’t exactly the result of fame (read: excessive “fanciness”), her passing still stood in my mind as a warning to reveling in fanciness as a virtue. While the song respectfully uses Clueless to pay tribute to its “predecessors,” it fails to acknowledge that re-imaginings of the past must conflict with their actualities.

Jonathan May watches too much television, but he’s just playing catch-up from a childhood spent in Zimbabwe. You can read his poetry at owenmay.com, follow him on Twitter at @jonowenmay, or email him at owen.may@gmail.com

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