music video

Sexual Bravado and Permanent Eye Rolling: “Fight Night” by Migos

“Fight Night” by Migos
Produced by: Quality Control Music, Atlanta, GA

Jonathan May

As is typical of Southern rap music, “Fight Night” by Migos addresses its core audience of young men with all the traditional trappings of unearned bravado, sexual boast, and desperation to prove its own authority. The song is tight, but I’m not here to wax eloquent on the brilliant beat structure or seamless flow between verses and chorus. This song, like so many others, fails to provide even the barest newness beyond the trapping of the video itself: two female pugilists facing off against one another. Curious then that the lyrical content of the song focuses on “beating that pussy up like fight night” (obviously here meant to be sexual and not violent from the artists’ perspective). The problem with this verbiage is that tacitly the violence is inherent in how they would sex these ladies up, should they be present and willing. The camera work doesn’t help with this reading of the video; in it, the camera is often positioned beneath each of the three dudes as they rap, so as to heighten the “victor” effect on their end. Eerily enough, this camera position also functions as if looking up at any one of them in bed as they are “beating that pussy up.” Were I girlfriend to one of the three Migos rappers, I would live in a state of permanent eye rolling. Such bravado is obviously a mere construction, given that the song is not addressed to the women at all, assuring them of sexual prowess, but instead to the awkward, loping group of homies in the background. It certainly does not appear as if the two women boxers need any help from the men, at least not sexually within the confines of the video. If anything, they look like they could beat the crap out of the skinny, chain-laden trio in a second. I only poke fun because the bravado of their lyrics tempts such trying. There have always been songs of sexual boasting and conquest, but none showing such little effort. It is truly unfortunate that the beat is so catchy, as any number of better artists could have used it for a more thematically gestalt, summertime, trap-music hit.

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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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