Some rare memoir: When I was in, I guess middle school, my favorite band was the Clash and my other favorite band was Radiohead. This might sound cooler than it was: I found out about the Clash because my Dad was a big fan and I forget how I found out about Radiohead, but I’m sure it was something equally unceremonious. Either way, neither of my parents liked the Beatles (particularly Paul), and the only song of theirs that I knew was “Yellow Submarine,” which was a particularly unbearable rest-of-the-bus sing along on the way home from certain jazz band competitions. And the Clash—in my favorite Clash song, no less—had confirmed my suspicions, calling Beatlemania phony and over.
As far as I can remember, there were two people who convinced me to give the Beatles a chance. The first was a user on Green Plastic Radiohead, on a thread dissing the Beatles, who explained that the structure of “Paranoid Android” was influenced by the structure of “Happiness is a Warm Gun”; the second (and more important) was a commenter on some lyrics site (I think one that pre-dated SongMeanings) who explained that no, the “phony Beatlemania” line was about the hype surrounding the Beatles, not the actual band, who made great records like the White Album and influenced the Clash. And so for the next however many months, I spent my Friday nights on Limewire, downloading the Beatles catalogue, starting with the White Album and moving out, one kilobyte at a time. Mostly because of a commenter on a lyric site.
Ten years later it’s another Friday night and I’m on a new computer in a new state downloading bluegrass covers of Paul songs at literally 100 times the old speed. Tomorrow I’m going to take a bus to another state and listen to them on the way.
I didn’t go to parties in high school, but I had friends who threw them and sometimes those friends would tell me how some of their guests—really one of their guests, who was somewhat notorious for this sort of thing—would come over and steal their stuff. The characters in the bling ring are at least two thefts removed my friends—as in, they would be the rich kids to theoretically rob for the rich kids who we would have theoretically robbed—but they’re still not happy. And why should they be? One thing you learn, living in New York, that no matter how much money a person comes from, they will always keep around someone who comes from a little bit more money only to shake their head at that person’s displays of class.
Bling Ring isn’t (really) about class so much as it’s about, for one, shopping. We learn this in the first line of the movie, when Emma Watson looks at the camera and says, “Let’s go shopping” and proceeds to grab all the shoes, dresses, and prescription drugs she can get her hands on, but as these four-plus high schoolers continue through the homes of Orlando Bloom, Lindsey Lohan, Rachel Bilson, and of course Paris Hilton, it becomes clear that the idea is less that the victims don’t deserve their possessions (surely no one has more respect for these people than the celebrity obsessed main characters) than that these possessions don’t deserve to spend the rest of their existence stuffing closets the size of apartments. They deserve to be worn, they deserve to be seen, they deserve to be bought, and they deserve to be stolen.
And so if there’s a turning point in the movie, it isn’t when Marc—the friendless boy whose willingness to say yes to anything Rebecca suggests is one of the truest parts of the movie—is arrested, it’s a few minutes before when we see him arranging his grift in his mom’s garage. It may only be a few boxes, but he has crossed over to the other side nonetheless— He might as well be Kane in his mansion, Odile’s aunt in Band of Outsiders, or Paris Hilton only an hour earlier. The fall is coming.
Jessie J — Price Tag (feat. B.o.B.) 90 plays
Song: “Price Tag”
Review: Oh Jessie J, you partially wrote “Party in the U.S.A.” and for that you get a partial pass forever. But here are some things you might want to know about how we actually party in the U.S.A.: First of all, we don’t take soft and anaerobic rapper B.o.B. very seriously, unless you are marketing to 7-year olds. Second, we prefer the expression “ch-chang ch-chang” to remain in the soundtrack to “Grease.”Third, according to Swedish songstress Meja, it is in fact “all about the money.” She was right. Fourth and last, weak deracinated reggae may “make the world dance,” but it does not make America do anything but reflect back on how we used to smoke pot for fun rather than to blot out knowledge of our national decline, and we have not tarried with said reggae-lite in a significant way since “Break My Stride,” and Jessie J, you are no Matthew Wilder. And yet there is no doubt that this song will move lots of units, that you will indeed be able to “forget about the price tags” and buy whatever you want, and isn’t it ironic? No, just predictable, which is all we ever wanted from pop music. —Jane Dark