I have a number of categories through which I judge whether a piece of music is worth me adding it to my master play list. The categories are not simply about being ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and they are certainly not received categories of technical or cultural competence. These categories are slightly more esoteric than that. One morbid example are songs that could be played as a eulogy. Songs that fit into this category have to make listeners grieving over my cooling corpse both happy and sad at the same time by capturing the affects of both celebration and commiseration. Normally this is facilitated by some kind of reference to who I am, but in tribute form, one that gets heads nodding, feet tapping and maybe a few lips curling up at the corners of mouths. It certainly isn’t about ‘death’ songs, or any other such thing. Over-the-top-power rock or 1960s surfer rock normally fit the bill here quite well. It was a popular category when I was about 15 or 16 where I would choose fucked up nasty songs just to get back at the world. Now I have a softer edge and want to make people laugh.
Anyway, I have recently figured out another category. It came to me when I was listening to Rise Against’s cover of “Anyway You Want It”. Rise Against are a bit of a hard core band with a social conscience and write tribute songs about protests and fire bombs. I should do a review of their oeuvre soonish. Now for me this song is about being sexy, it is not about representing (allegedly) sexy things, but reaching a certain state of sexiness with the song. The original Journey version was a bit like this too I think, but that is for a different generation so I am not sure how it works. The ‘ACDC version’ of Nelly and Timberlake’s “Work It” is in this category. OK Go’s “There’s a Fire” is also here. These songs not only make me feel sexy but they make me want to make other people feel sexy. Hence the title for the category for isn’t this problematic at the heart of stripping?
There is the obvious stupid spectacle of stripping and the bodily form that goes through various processes of revealing, but there is also the event of stripping involving the excitation of libidinal energies through a composite of rhythmic ‘teasing’ gestures. Good stripping is surely the positing of a problem distributed not only across the body of a stripper but across the collective body of the audience. This stripping-problematic coincides with the apprehension of the sensual mystery of the stripper’s form. The stripper does not reveal his or her body to music, but uses music, dance and props to produce a mystery that may or may not be resolved. Actual stripping for money is the art of producing the fantasy that this problematic can be resolved, however the sometimes more intimate and fun practice of romantic stripping for a private audience is even more powerful. Here there is no fantasy, only an extremely savage eager-eyed anticipation. The mystery of the stripping-problematic is a tool for manipulating the affective disposition of yearning. These songs make me want to produce mysteries with others for which we can hopefully work towards finding solutions as our bodies are eventually implicated in each other.
I need to start working on my emo-jock stripper outfit…