Baby! ‘Home Sweet Home’
Olivia here. I recently read an interview in the Guardian with brothers Jim and William Reid of alternative rock band The Jesus And Mary Chain, who shot to fame in the 80’s with their first album ‘Pyschocandy‘, and were propelled further into the spotlight by public punch ups and audience-baiting antics. In this article Jim proclaims that ‘pop is dreadful…switch on the radio, I guarantee it will be garbage‘, speaking about experiences listening to Heart FM in the car with his kids. Whilst he is correct in asserting that a lot of what Heart FM plays is pretty tame, sugary pop songs, there is a lot wrong with this statement. I head over the website to look at the last few songs played on our local show – chart favourites like Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, The Weeknd, etc. and then a few less obvious choices – Coldplay’s ‘Viva La Vida‘ for example, which came out nearly 10 years ago (I know), Cher’s ‘Believe‘, and ‘Can’t Fight The Moonlight‘ from Leann Rimes. These tracks are categorically old – so how representative of contemporary popular music can Heart FM really be? ‘Pop music’ is such a vague term, which means that it is important for us to define it – and in this context I would suggest that what Reid was talking about is pop as a commodity; i.e. ‘instant singles based music aimed at teenagers, as opposed to album based music aimed at adults’ (which is problematic in itself considering the demise of the album in the age of streaming, but that’s another issue for another day). But who is to say what has artistic value? Does the consumer demographic affect a work’s creative integrity? This also raises questions about the gendering of music – are teen girls really less discerning music consumers than older males? A number of scholars have attempted to delve further into the reasons why rock music is considered a male art form in society, including Melissa Avdeeff, who suggests that Western society and culture is steeped in the concept of‘ the dichotomy’. She examines the mind/body dichotomy as an example, and suggests that women are ‘represented through the feminized body, [which is] a construct evident throughout society’. She observes the ways in which women are represented as ‘young sexual beings’ in the popular music industry, and how the ‘mind/body split is mirrored in the pop/rock dichotomy’, and suggests that, ‘rock music has been legitimised and authenticated with the mind/intellect and the masculine, whereas pop music is a fabrication, of the body, and feminine’. So if you hate pop music, you are sexist. Just kidding – but it’s worth noting the gender politics at play here. There are some really great pop artists out there, whether they embrace sparkly bubblegum brashness as an art form, or seek to combine less commercial forms of creativity with pop commodification. One of these artists is indie pop newcomer Kaley Honeycutt, AKA Baby!, whose latest release ‘Home Sweet Home‘ is a summery lo-fi jaunt, with surf style guitar and charmingly earnest vocals that make you want to sing along. Singing about her dream home, Honeycutt has crafted a joyous and youthful sound world that will make you want to go outside and jump around. Enjoy. And don’t be a pop snob.