Saturday, May 30, 2009

theory of lollipop part one aka the text of my first performance

okay so usually right now i would start listening to that song again but since this is in a public setting and i don’t want to bore you because i know that so many of you are disinclined to be bored under any circumstances much less ones you paid to be involved in i am going to break from my usual modus operandi and talk to you about this song that we just listened to and i am going to do it while we listen to the songs which are on right now courtesy of the duo uninterpretative no versus dj infektial blowjob in order to provide some context to the the things im saying without like i said before boring you so i want to start off by talking about autotune now as you all probably know autotune is a pitch correcting software the idea behind which is to alter the pitch of the singers voice in order to make it more in tune so to speak and all of you also probably know that the song that i just played which is the song lollipop off the album the carter iii is in fact not sung so much as rapped although the rapping is done in a less than conventional fashion so starting off with autotune the question is why employ it because we all know that rapping is not about hitting the right notes as singing is but about keeping rhythm in words and this is why i think that the usage of autotune on vocals which it cannot have any beneficial effect on is ingenious see autotune on a rappers voice is a purely ornamental or luxurious addition to the music and as we all well know this is precisely where the difference between artistic and conventional or everyday usage of language lies that is to say that art is the disconnect between necessity and actual usage which is drawing from the Russian formalist ideas of poetic language but i think theres some obvious truth there and that the usage of autotune is a really subtle and powerful way to reinforce this notion of art because this disconnect which it simultaneously acknowledges and in acknowledging exacerbates is one from the days in which it was assumed that the meaning that art carried still had the capacity to fundamentally alter people that is to say that in using the autotune to reach back to this tradition the song escapes the so called postmodern vacuity of meaning which is the culturally dominant mode because of how tight of a stranglehold it has on the construction of pop cultural items today which you can see in the rampant reductive meaning of all cultural items as being nothing but what they say they are explicitly or at best instantiations of certain prescribed general experiential truth this can be seen from everything from the most quote unquote experimental avant garde brilliant subversive art to the most conventional brilliant quote unquote mass market pop country radio but anyway like i was saying the songs use of autotune resituates it within an alternate history in which art still has meaning so before the song even starts to do its work the form that is chosen by which to convey the vehicle of the lyrics indicates an overarching respect and belief in what it is about to do now the sort of logical thing to do would be to say that im going to start from the beginning but i think starting from the beginning would be a bit of a banal move for a song i have listened to as many times as this and well if you havent then it isnt my fault i have been telling people to listen to this song for a long time man so the next thing im going to talk about is the use of nonstandard expressions and i dont mean that in the sense that the song uses particular dialectal phrases or idioms or what have you but as you may have noticed that there is quite a bit of what might be described as purposeful stuttering and even unsanctioned onomatopoeia and so on i think this is a very ripe topic in any linguistically based art especially metrical ones like poetry and rap lyrics because while they can be used simply to fill places where the syllable count is lacking even then they are a purposeful and extranecessary piece of the whole because leaving these prosodic nodes semantically void is the most ostentatious way of calling attention to their existence which word itself brings up the fact that there is a sort of poetic existential crisis looming over this whole point which i am taking a tangent from at the moment to call to mind the fact that there is an ongoing debate within the hip hop community and especially its apologists slash fans about whether or not rap lyrics constitute poetry and then on a higher level what this means for poetry if it is the case but this is all background to use a film metaphor as is the existential crisis which this song presents so i will get back to what i was saying before about the ostentatious way of calling attention to the prosodic elements existence which is something that is usually at all points effaced in favor of smoothness but the constant restating of certain syllables in the song lollipop off the album the carter iii is an incredibly effective and unobtrusive way of indicating that there is a disparity between the form and the content in that the form is predigested and technical whereas the content alleges itself and is usually read as being banal and crude at best and the first thing this disparity does is call into question the point of this form if it is only to be used as a vehicle for an apparently tawdry display of desire there is really no reason to be expressing it as though it were in the poetic tradition and what im not trying to say is that all cultural productions need to be inherently lofty and beautiful or what have you just that because of the constant slippages which act as allusions back to the form of the song it is safe to assume that there is something analogous to a consciousness within the song which is placing this disparity in view in order to elicit some reaction or to imply something which cannot be pointed at in the lyrics of the song due either to issues with the form itself or even with the commodification of the song that is to say that it is aware that it has a market and it doesnt want to alienate that market now what this reaction or implication might precisely be is up for debate obviously but what i think is at stake in this stuttering way of directing the consumers attention is a critique on the popular intellectual notion that form dictates content in that it circumscribes possibility or rather not a critique on this notion itself but on some of the apparently logical repercussions of this notion such as the idea that and this is the idea taken to an extreme but like all polemical viewpoints it holds more than a small amount of truth if someone chooses a poetic form they cant help but present things in a poetical way no matter what they are talking about and putting this in the terms of artists who think like this it is the same as saying that one focuses on ugly things in ones work in order to make those things beautiful but anyway i think the stuttering and phrases like jerp zherp call to attention the fact that this metrical style of expression is anything but forcing the author into a certain set of parameters of expression of course in order to express this thought the song is still reliant on the technique but taking this viewpoint is incredibly reductive in the worst sense of that word because it not only takes away from the possibilities of the song it actively denies a logically constructed argument on dogmatic grounds which would all be uninteresting except that the song itself mirrors this fact in how its predigested poetic meter is actively undermined by its content by the simple fact of drawing said form to light with the dogmatism by which i mean that it is the very act of dogmatism and self effacement that is being brought to light with these stutterings or marginal nonstandard utterances as i called them before and so to give it the reductive meaning i just mentioned would be to literally read against the text that is to say it would not in any real notion of the word be reading which is important as a transitionary point i suppose in that the next thing i would like to talk about is the quote unquote readable lyrics that is to say those which might contrastively be called standard in that they have a higher degree of transparency as to their meaning and a correspondingly higher degree of opacity as to their place within the form of the song and i mean obviously there is not going to be enough time to get through every lyric within the song or even a sizable amount of them and even if i did have the time that would just give this whole endeavor a false degree of comprehensiveness which is very clearly antithetical to the ethos that this song and the oeuvre as a whole presents and even beyond that the production techniques and so on but that is a topic for another time or more accurately theorist because i have no interest in exploring those topics with respect to the song lollipop off the album the carter iii even if i could ostensibly segue into them with a poor transition using the lyrics about shawty needing a refund but back to the lyrics as such or rather given where we are i think a better consideration would just be to talk about the thematic element of oral sex because i have encountered a lot of resistance to this idea in my discussion of this song with people the first obvious thing to get out there is that while there is definitely a certain culturally impelled symbolic degradation in the act of giving oral sex i think it is beyond obvious even with the littlest amount of thought possible that this whole song is playing with that notion with the combination of the lyric that pussy in my mouth had me lost for words evoking imageries of the artist bound and gagged with a vagina in a reversal of the violent and banal extremes of pornography in which the woman is almost invariably forced to suck cock until she slobbers everywhere and in addition to that lyric is the equation of the penis with the lollipop which is a really childish in multiple senses and comic phallic symbol if there ever was one and although i didnt really want to bring the music video into this it seems that the video seems to symbolically equate the lollipop not with the penis but with money as all the lollipops are being licked by male characters and there are shots of women lying in a sea of lollipops just as they might lie on a bed of cash in another music video all of which goes to place the imagery of oral sex not only on its head but also in a larger context and what i mean by that is that well basically the metaphorical lollipop is oversignified in such a way as to make the preferred reading and i say this both in the way that it is usually read and in the way that the song seems to indicate one to read it is actually an impossible reading because of how certain signifiers ie the lollipop are drawn out in a myriad of completely opposing directions so that they cannot mean what they are quote unquote supposed to mean okay now to tie this all up i am going to play the song lollipop off the album the carter iii one more time and i want you all to sing along with me now

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