Sunday, January 27, 2008

What Exactly Is the Sweetest Taboo (and More 80s Questions)?

A few musical notes, so to speak:

•A friend asks what exactly “The Sweetest Taboo” that Sade Adu (one of the three most attractive women in the world, as I’ve noted before) sings about is, and I have to admit I don’t know. It sounds like it’s just love (or, vaguely, sex), but that’s not exactly taboo, is it?

So the real question may be: what’s taboo yet beloved in Sade’s native Nigeria, which is heavily Islamic? Might the answer be anal sex? Yet the steady build-up of the “quiet storm” sounds more like oral sex (unless they discover early-draft notes for the song in which she considered using the phrase “ill wind” or something).

Siouxsie Sioux from Siouxsie and the Banshees (seen here improving upon an Iggy Pop song), by the way, has her own interesting origins, judging by an early sentence from her Wikipedia entry:

Her mother was a bilingual secretary, her father a laboratory technician who milked serum from poisonous snakes.

That is so goth. And what goth wouldn’t want to see Siouxsie herself milk serum from snakes?

On a related note, my apologies to that bartender and customer I misinformed at Vasmay Lounge about a year ago: I thought Siouxsie had notoriously led Iggy into clubs on a leash during his Berlin period, but in fact she had led her friend named Berlin around the same time, inspired by Iggy’s “I Wanna Be Your Dog.”

By the way, if the military ever decides to start recruiting heavily from the ranks of goths and club kids, they might want to consider buying this amazing video by Basement Jaxx with guest vocals by Siouxsie (and heavy influences by Busby Berkeley).

•Since I’m praising women who were big in the 80s, I should note that I have only just learned that the lead singer of Face to Face (seen here singing the memorable “10-9-8” — in a video so well-shot you might not know it was over twenty years old…until the big red coat) went on to front the band the Twinemen, created from the remnants of Morphine and named after a comic strip by that band’s deceased lead singer, Mark Sandman, who I wrote about in a recent Retro-Journal entry.

•I notice there was also an unrelated band called Face to Face.

–How they could not know about the earlier band?

–But then, how could the wonderful Primitives of the 1980s not know that the band that transformed into Velvet Underground had also been called the Primitives?

–Almost as sacrilegious, how could a hiphop band call themselves the Firm as if this had never happened (also back in the mid-80s)?

(For the record, though: my favorite song — and video — ever by an ex-Led Zeppelin guy is “Little by Little” by Robert Plant. It was part of a large wave of comeback songs by “classic rock” acts in the mid-80s who seemed to be moving in a slightly alternative-rock direction, which was pleasing. Everyone seemed to have gotten the correct memo — even Don Henley.)

The answer to these questions may simply be that these name decisions were all made before Google made searches easy. I should count my blessings.

•On a less happy note, (libertarian) Dylan Keeler of the band the Disclaimers recently noted that model, chronic physical assailant, and ex-fiancee-of-a-U2-member Naomi Campbell did a fawning interview with Venezuelan thugocrat Hugo Chavez in which she declared Castro the best-dressed political leader — but my vote, for reasons having nothing to do with my political inclinations, goes to snappy-dresser Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, the second paragraph of whose Wikipedia entry, as it turns out, says in its entirety: “Karzai is known for his trademark Karakul hat, which is made from the skin and fur of aborted lamb fetuses.”

Also stylin’ is the unrelated ruler Karza, of course.


jenny said...

these posts always take me on youtube tours… this one past iggy pop & david bowie on dinah shore, through nico & the velvet underground, and finally to don henley’s boys of summer (same album as all she wants to do is dance), which if you want to talk about video production values, is absolutely stunning and completely out of the music video timestream – Jean-Baptiste Mondino’s first music video, and (imo) his best. the woman on the bed bears a stunning resemblance to milla jovovich (face best seen at 2:36 in the video), but she was only 9 or 10 when the video was shot. (i am also fond of how he handled me’shell ndegeocello’s if that’s your boyfriend – with a whole bunch of women i recognize but am at a total loss to name.)

anyway. good stuff.

jenny said...

oh, and i’m going to follow myself with a comment, because watching boys of summer multiple times for the comment above made me think of similar videos, the primary two being janet jackson’s love will never do (beach video; the anonymous silhouettes of athletic men, and herb ritts, like mondino, started as a photographer) and billy idol’s cradle of love, which shares almost nothing with boys of summer other than staging (video running in the background). i suppose i could throw in madonna’s cherish, but that’s really more like love will never do than boys of summer, which along with chris isaak’s wicked game make up ritts’ 1989 – 1991 beach triptych.

and there you go. i’ll shut up now. and watch some more videos.

Todd Seavey said...

All excellent selections (“Boys of Summer” is so good I was tempted to mention it even though it didn’t fit my alt-rock theme), and Janet Jackson reminds me that she is responsible for what I think might be the coolest-ever dancing in a video — and I say that in spite of its fascist vibe, not because of its fascist vibe, just so that’s clear:

jenny said...

heh. i guessed which one that was before clicking the link. the only thing i’ve ever liked about that video is its fascist vibe.

Todd Seavey said...

Well, all right, I suppose the fascism is inseparable from its lock-step aesthetic — the perfect timing being the amazing part (you’ll rarely see a flock of ballerinas better synchronized) — all reminiscent, not entirely coincidentally, of that early-twentieth-century period in which both Naziism and the Rockettes (who were organized to fit into a highly-mechanized Radio City Music Hall that was never constructed quite as originally envisioned) were born.

Looks a little like a couple discipline-emphasizing troops-deployment-like scenes from Spike Lee’s _Malcolm X_, too, also not entirely coincidentally.

Todd Seavey said...

By the way, while the “sweetest taboo” may not be anal sex (the friend who originally posed the question actually theorizes, apparently, that it might be oral-anal sex, which I refuse to believe any sane person writes gentle ballads about), the careful observer will note that Sade ends up with a “gun in the glove compartment” in the video.

jenny said...

someone on one of those song meanings websites claims sade said in an interview the song – or maybe the whole album – was about heroin.

jenny said...

er… here?