Matt O'Neill

thoughts on the new Washington song, ‘Holy Moses’

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by Matt O’Neill

I’ll be honest: I love Megan Washington. Not as a musician, as a person.

Well, love is probably an exaggeration. It’s more of a crush. Needless to say, I’ve known her for a couple of years and, like most males in Australia of a certain age, I am mildly enamored of her. She’s just one of those people who is difficult not to adore. Intelligent, charismatic, beautiful, idiosyncratic, confident and creative – what’s not to love?

I thought I’d best get that out of the way. I know there’s a general assumption that male music critics use praise as a limpwristed attempt to seduce female musicians (now there’s a sexism debate, Mr True) so I figured I may as well just admit my affection from the outset. I am in no way attempting to use this review to curry favour with Ms Washington but, in the interests of full disclosure, I am consistently captivated by her.

(Bringing some perspective to matters, I am also captivated by Lady Gaga – and George Clooney.)

I was not, however, captivated by her debut album (last year’s wildly successful I Believe You Liar). Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been a fan of Megan’s work since seeing her support Nouvelle Vague back in 2008. I think she’s one of the best live performers in the country and an occasionally scintillating songwriter (even if, somewhat annoyingly, she has yet to record the utterly brilliant and surreally romantic ode to bestiality she used to play live as a solo act). Her debut album, though, left me feeling pretty cold.

I loved ‘Rich Kids’ and ‘Sunday Best’ but the majority of the album just seemed a bit like hollow – beautifully decorated but without much appeal beyond the superficial. I didn’t hate it but I was undeniably disappointed. I remember catching her on the subsequent tour and feeling similarly underwhelmed. The spark that seemed to inspire all of the vibrancy and romance of her music seemed to be flickering. What’s worse, it almost seemed like she knew it. There was an anxiety to her performances that seemed to suggest she knew something was missing.

Perhaps I’m being overly romantic with that observation. Still, I legitimately feared she was going to disappear.

This brings us to ‘Holy Moses’.

The first shred of new material to have appeared since I Believe You Liar, ‘Holy Moses’ is apparently not a single from Washington’s next record but the latest glimpse of some other mysterious project. This is interesting for a number of reasons – but mostly because ‘Holy Moses’ is potentially the single best song Washington’s ever released. It may even top the aforementioned song about the gorilla. It’d probably be the height of pretension to claim writing for a side-project has liberated her as a songwriter (and a complete cliche to boot) but she sounds distinctly reinvigorated with this song.

From a distance, it looks like another Washington single in the vein of ‘Rich Kids’, ‘Sunday Best’ and ‘How To Tame Lions’. John Castle’s faintly psychedelic, highly percussive production work is immediately recognisable while the tune’s general blend of deeper emotional pathos and danceable retro-jubilance has Megan Washington written all over it (the frenetic ‘Rich Kids’ famously started life as a piano ballad before its loneliness was thrown through the ringer).

In short, it seems to sound exactly as one would expect the latest Megan Washington single to sound. Fortunately, there’s more to it.

Firstly, there’s the lyrics. I’ve always enjoyed Washington’s flair for wordplay but her songs have always seemed grounded in an identifiable personal narrative. There’s always a sincere, sentimental hook to the abstraction. ‘Holy Moses’ throws that hook straight out the window. Distinctly cinematic, the lyrics seem to be concerned with some kind of cross between a pathetic stalker and the kind of mysteriously powerful character embodied in tunes like Nick Cave’s ‘Red Right Hand’.

It’s a weird combination. On one level, Washington’s character seems genuinely intimidated by the titular Moses even though, at times, she seems to delight in mocking his pitiful state. “I watch you walking,” she croons in the second verse, “You look like smoke. It should be haunting – but no one’s watching”. It bathes the whole song in a bizarre, hallucinogenic mood – a strange mix of outright paranoia and empathetic amusement. Like I said, it’s weird.

Then, you have the structure. I suspect my fascination with structure and arrangement in pop music is not one shared by your typical listener but, all the same, the arrangement of ‘Holy Moses’ is freaking awesome. Beginning with a jazzy drum roll, the song delights in snaking in and around the standard verse-chorus formula but can’t seem to resist reeling off in sudden detours and spontaneous flights of fancy – both in terms of musical structure and instrumentation.

With a palette drawing on everything from upright bass and synthesiser through to theremins and kazoos, the song swirls, sprints and tumbles over itself with a manic glee that makes previously frantic cuts like ‘Rich Kids’ seem positively ham-fisted and sedate. It’s a heady rush of stimulus and perfectly complements the strange mood evoked by the lyrics.

Now, I’m well aware a lot of this stuff can be found in prior Washington singles but it’s compounded with ‘Holy Moses’. The song feels like an explosion of her style. It’s manic, desperate and insane. I love it. I’ve listened to it literally 30 times today.

(For the record, I’m also aware that most people who read this and hear the song will think I’m daft. I know I would. Still, fuck it.)

82 Responses to thoughts on the new Washington song, ‘Holy Moses’

  1. Everett True August 8, 2011 at 9:54 am

    This song is great.

  2. Ragequit August 8, 2011 at 6:15 pm

    Poor man’s Abby Dobson.

  3. hannah golightly August 8, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    I was really interested because of the way you wrote about her, but am I the only one who feels conned by the video? Why is she doing a Lady Gaga impression with the same dance moves and even a lightening bolt outfit? The song title Holy Moses is just a crap rip off of Judas by Lady Gaga right? I think if it weren’t for the song name and the outfits and the dancing and the video I could have liked her. As it stands, when presented in this video, the song feels lacklustre and doesn’t pack the same punch as the visuals. It’s all wrong. I don’t know who’s responsible, the artist or the marketing department for the label, but what ever happened here was a disaster. The song is ok. It may have been elevated by a video that didn’t point out it’s flaws by contrast. But I loved the way you wrote about it.

  4. Everett True August 8, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    Why is she doing a Lady Gaga impression with the same dance moves and even a lightening bolt outfit?

    Damn it. I have something going up about this on CB in a couple of days’ time … and now no one’s going to believe I didn’t steal it off you. I agree with Hannah. I first watched the video with the sound off, and it was pure Gaga. I then listened to the song with the video off, and really liked it. I think it’s a total mismatch as well.

    What folk tell me about Washington, she was probably responsible for the decision to shoot the video that way.

  5. Matt O'Neill August 8, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Well, I’m flattered you liked the way I wrote about it. I personally felt quite embarrassed by the general sentiment of this piece but I decided to bite the bullet and be honest – so I appreciate your kind words.

    That said, I have genuine difficulty wrapping my head around aesthetic impacting on music. That isn’t a judgement, I just don’t grasp it. Aesthetics are such phenomenally transient and recyclable things.

    Lady Gaga’s current fascination with religious imagery, for example, can easily be linked to Madonna’s work – but can be traced further back. Hell, the aesthetic of this video can be found in Washington live shows from 2009 (when Gaga had only just begun formulating her ‘weirdo pop star’ persona). It’s all so fleeting.

    Like I said, not a judgement call by any means. It’s just a different take on things I have difficulty understanding.

  6. hannah golightly August 9, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    “Lady Gaga’s current fascination with religious imagery, for example, can easily be linked to Madonna’s work”

    Er… come on! Gaga doesn’t steal Madonna’s song titles AND outfits at the same time, she’s clearly influenced, but you wouldn’t confuse one for the other, Gaga has her own identity and this musician you are in love with is acting like a tribute artist.

    It’s curious that you have difficulty getting your head around how aesthetics impact on music when bands start fashions in hair and clothing and always have done, when music TV makes a living off that very fact, when we go and watch a band live and watch the performance rather than closing our eyes to block out the sense of sight, when music magazines include photos, when albums commission works of art as covers. I find it hard to get my head around you implying that you switch off your sense of sight when the musician in question has done everything in their power to draw your eyes. That’s just strange in my opinion. I prefer it when a writer writes from the heart as you did instead of trying to impress.

    Everett, I’ll take that as a compliment. Then again are you making the same point as I am? That Lady Gaga’s futuristic clothes and dance moves don’t suit an artist who sounds like she’s just stepped onto a stage in a Speakeasy… it’s just unimpressive, obvious and bandwagon jumping.

  7. Everett True August 9, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Here’s the link.

  8. Matt O'Neill August 9, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    I don’t think it’s that implausible. I’m a pretty passive consumer. I don’t read music magazines, I don’t watch music television, I don’t buy CDs and I don’t pay attention to fashion. It’s just not a world I engage with very often.

    See, I don’t think Washington’s style is any more overtly or derivatively related to Lady Gaga’s than Lady Gaga’s is to Madonna’s or Grace Jones’. There’s certainly no more credible connection between Lady Gaga writing a song called Judas and Madonna writing a song called Like a Virgin than there is in Lady Gaga writing a song called Bloody Mary and Washington writing a song called Holy Moses.

    Even if there was, though – why would it matter? Honestly, why does one’s enjoyment of an artist relate to aesthetic? I mean, ultimately, you’re discussing appearance’s relationship to music. I can understand appearance impacting upon one’s estimation of an artist but upon one’s evaluation of their music? Can I dislike Sinead O’Connor because of a haircut?

  9. Darragh August 9, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    “Honestly, why does one’s enjoyment of an artist relate to aesthetic?”

    Sorry, Matt, to clarify here – do you mean ‘relate to appearance’, because, at least in my view, looking at an artist’s aesthetic intrinsically includes their music.

  10. Matt O'Neill August 9, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Well, I meant aesthetic – but I’ll meet you halfway and say visual aesthetic…

  11. Darragh August 9, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    It’s a deal.

  12. hannah golightly August 10, 2011 at 5:13 am

    Like a Virgin???? What’s that got to do with Judas? No comparison. You must be thinking of the song Like A Prayer and more specifically you must be thinking of the music video for that song with the depiction of Jesus in a church… not that the lyrics mention Jesus or churches or anything remotely Judas related. Kinda blows your ignorance of visual aesthetics out of the water doesn’t it?

  13. hannah golightly August 10, 2011 at 5:21 am

    And as I said before, the visuals did harm any potential enjoyment of the artist in this case since I spend the time listening to the underwhelming music that accompanied a Lady Gaga visual extravaganza of sorts and the ‘false advertising’ that result distracted me from the music because it didn’t pack a punch and I was left wishing I was listening to Lady Gaga instead and watching the originator of this latest trend instead of some half arsed copy cat’s tribute to the likes. The music just didn’t cut it for me. The video made that all the more clear and was unforgiving as it made the mind wander off dreaming about something better.

  14. hannah golightly August 10, 2011 at 5:23 am

    watching a video in ET’s piece about her when she’s on a tv show singing a self help guide was a zillion times more exciting and better revealed her talent for singing and also made her look like she had an image of her own and therefore an identity.

  15. danger August 10, 2011 at 6:39 am

    I have to admit, I didn’t see Lady Gaga at all until it was pointed out.. I’m sort of pop illiterate. But I love the cabaret feel of the song and I dig the video, so I’m not going to spend too much time worrying about whom she’s ripping off. I’ll leave that to the experts. Either way, Matt – thanks for sharing.

  16. Matt August 10, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Well, actually – the strained link between the two songs was my precise point. Aside from the fact that both Judas and Moses are featured in the bible and both Judas and Holy Moses centre on a male character of significance to the narrator, there’s no link at all between the lyrical content of the two songs. It’s an over-simplification on both counts – hence the comparison. I’d contend the whole Lady Gaga comparison is a similar over-simplification.

    As to the other stuff, I suppose that’s just the difference between how we engage in music. For the record, though – I explicitly told you I didn’t invest in aesthetic. It was actually kind of a central point in my argument. Pointing out my ignorance isn’t exactly a coup.

  17. Mairi August 11, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    I made this video and find the Gaga references quite flattering actually. . but not for reasons that you might suspect. I’d love to hear exactly what the similarities are between the clips for Judas and Holy Moses, other than big production values (lighting, costuming, high concept makeup, choreography etc – ours done for a fraction of the cost of a Gaga clip of course), because I really don’t see them.

    Firstly the whole concept is different. Judas is bikers meets Catholicism while Holy Moses is Bob Fosse (Meg’s idea – check out Rich Man’s Frug aka The Aloof from Sweet Charity) meets pagan mysticism. Secondly the video is a creative response to a song – the instrumentation, the lyrics, the rhythm, the vocals, the mood – from a team of creative people, not greedy record label execs or cynical marketers. Even though we may be fans of some of Gaga’s work, we didn’t need to steal ideas from her. Meg and her music are inspiration enough.

    That said, if you don’t think the aesthetic of the video matches that of the song, well that’s another thing..

  18. hannah golightly August 13, 2011 at 10:59 am

    I think the video failed miserably at it’s job and you should take your talent and work for Lady Gaga.

    I think Matt is hopelessly in love with his current muse and should be left to enjoy his rose tinted glasses and the emperor’s new clothes (even if they were stolen from Lady Gaga’s dressing room). Matt, when you come out of denial you will see that aesthetics clearly impact on you regardless of whether you are interested in them.

    I think this Washington character should get/express a personality of her own.

    Apart from that it’s a load of nonsense you’re talking.

  19. Matt O'Neill August 13, 2011 at 11:39 am

    With some days to think about it, I did get too invested and adversarial in this debate. I apologise for that.

    I do still disagree that it’s a Lady Gaga rip off, though, and I do think any comparisons are over-simplification. You’ve yet to provide any compelling evidence of the similarities between the two. All you’ve done is restate that they are similar. Even if you think what Mairi said was nonsense, they at least supported their argument with specific evidence and examples.

    This isn’t a case of me having rose-tinted glasses. I think if I did, I wouldn’t have been so negative about Washington’s debut album in this piece. Besides which, I outright stated I feel similarly about Lady Gaga. You can’t really accuse me of bias towards one or the other in this instance.

    This is a case of two separate issues – 1. The similarity between Washington and Gaga’s respective visual aesthetics and 2. The impact of visual aesthetic on musical experience – and the fact that you’ve yet to provide any genuine evidence to support your case in either point.

    You’ve provided evidence that visual aesthetic is important within the music industry but you’ve yet to provide any support to the idea that it actually impacts upon one’s listening experience. All you’ve done – both in regards to Gaga/Washington and aesthetic in general – is speak in broad generalities and restate your two arguments over and over again.

  20. Darragh August 15, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    I think the whole Washington v Lady Gaga debate here is redundant. As Matt correctly points out (or at least infers) above, even if one could prove Washington is copying Gaga’s aesthetic, the fact that Gaga isn’t really doing anything that hasn’t been done a billion times before, means that such claims seem worthless to comprehend.

    I’m sure someone with some talent with maths could easily come up with some kind of relational algebraic expression to trace the evolution of Washington’s aesthetic.

  21. Everett True August 15, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    even if one could prove Washington is copying Gaga’s aesthetic, the fact that Gaga isn’t really doing anything that hasn’t been done a billion times before, means that such claims seem worthless to comprehend.

    There’s a massive flaw in that argument Darragh, and I could cite examples but it’s the kids’ bedtime. Anyone else want to have a stab?

  22. Stephen Lance August 15, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Please cite the examples…

  23. Darragh August 15, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    Likely there is Everett. And I’ll raise an initial defence by claiming that my statement is based wholly off my disdain for the whole Gaga phenomenon. And also my relative lack of knowledge of Gaga outside her hit singles. Caught out.

    I’ve moved on to Kimbra.

  24. Stephen Lance August 15, 2011 at 6:58 pm

    And please don’t insult us with ‘lightning bolt’ refs. I would love to know Everett why you think it’s ‘pure gaga.’ You’re apparently a reasonable critic, so lay out some cogent observations and then we can engage in some robust discourse.

  25. hannah golightly August 15, 2011 at 11:44 pm

    It’s not worth stating a list of ‘evidence’ to support the fucking obvious. If you can’t see the fucking obvious it’s a waste of my time, since you must have something invested in not seeing it. As I keep saying (and you keep missing the point) it’s a simple case of the Emperor’s New Clothes. You can’t convince people who cling to their denials. Why is this woman presenting herself as Lady Gaga is anyone’s guess. The fact that I’m discussing her visuals and not her music speaks volumes on the quality of her music or lack therefore of…

  26. hannah golightly August 15, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    And please be my guest and state examples of how she is in fact original in her presentation while you’re at it, since I can’t see an ounce of it. It’s second rate Gaga all the way. Prove to me it’s not please.

  27. Stephen Lance August 16, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Dear Hannah, I’m not sure how old you are, so I will try and be as kind as possible. You may not get the references because you may not know what they are…and this could be an age thing. You seem intent on some reductionist witch hunt to prove some glib little point about it being Gaga. So let me just outline some stuff for you, which you can either dismiss as Emperor’s New Clothes or you can actually pull your fucking head out of your arse and Everett’s arse and consider…

    Firstly, the video is a combination of influences both cinematic, artistic and literary. There is the very basic reference of the Aloof sequence from the Bob Fosse musical ‘Sweet Charity’. Then there is the less obvious, but still significant reference of Fellini…particularly Satyricon. There is also some Cabaret in there, particularly the lighting refs and live stage component. In terms of the choreography, well it’s pretty much Fosse all the way, except with some Beyonce thrown in. But you might not know that Beyonce also takes inspiration from Fosse, like a lot of pop divas. Gaga…maybe. But probably not. That really isn’t the Fosse style. Let me direct you to All The Jazz.

    In terms of costuming, the influences are the Aloof and Leigh Bowery from Taboo era, with a bit of Gaultier and Mugler thrown into a mystic pot. The gown is actually Bob Mackie 1970s original from NY. Now while this might not seem important to you, I would ask you to look closer at some of the details of what I’m saying. The devil is in the details. Gaga doesn’t go Mackie. Dietrich from the 1970s does. Cher from the early 80s does. But not Gaga.

    In terms of a literary reference, it’s ‘fucking obviously’ Dante.

    So while you may think it’s ‘fucking obvious’, and I have no doubt that you do. Someone smarter than you once said to every complex problem there is an obvious answer which is invariably wrong.

    Next time you want to tear apart an artistic work and attack the artists behind it, at least have the respect to have a cogent argument at your side. At the very least, if you want to be a critic in the future, this sort of rigour will help you. Raise the bar. I know you live in Brisbane, but that’s no excuse for weak reasoning.

    Please take your time to watch the references I’ve mentioned above and get back to me at your leisure.

    Stephen Lance

  28. Everett True August 16, 2011 at 8:45 am

    I know you live in Brisbane, but that’s no excuse for weak reasoning.

    Research research research Stephen. Even the most rudimentary of Google searches on Hannah’s name would have suggested “Hannah Golighty Liverpool” which … um … I don’t know. Isn’t that in another country or something?

    If you’re going to write such a pompous, patronising reply to another commentator, at least try to get a few of your basic facts right, otherwise you just look like a complete fucking idiot. I’m surprised you didn’t write “I know you’re female, but … ” because that’s certainly what it felt like you wanted to write.

  29. Stephen Lance August 16, 2011 at 8:57 am

    That’s it? That’s what you’ve got? Really? Oh god Everett. Next you’ll be correcting my grammmmaaaarrr.

    No what I really wanted to say is ‘I know you’re a critic, but…’

    Honestly ladies and gents, if you want a proper blog with considered criticism, then you need to work harder. At least as hard as the people who made the video you’re tearing a part.

  30. ed August 16, 2011 at 9:11 am

    Ooh, I’ve got a question. It’s not about this video, which I haven’t seen yet (and is it me or does she look like Alice Cooper in that screen grab) but about the ‘Sunday Best’ video clip.

    As the video “borrows” from Jean Luc Godard do you have to clear that/pay for it as if you did the same thing in a song you’d get sued and even photographer Guy Bourdin (or at least his estate) has successfully sued a number of times for people infringing on his photos (e.g http://antimadonna.dark-host.com/gallery_unoriginal/unoriginal4.html)

    Also, as the video won a triple j award last year, is it embarrassing to have won something based largely on someone else’s creative vision?

  31. Everett True August 16, 2011 at 9:13 am

    you’re tearing a part.

    Apart is one word.

    P.S. Incidentally, just because you can see all those ‘influences’ in the Washington video still doesn’t exclude the possibility that Megan didn’t wake up one morning and go, “You know what would be really fun? We could make a video just like Lady Gaga…”

  32. Stephen Lance August 16, 2011 at 9:18 am

    No Ed, that video was a blatant homage. And no not embarrassing. I feel like we started with a very distinct homage and then the video went somewhere else entirely. The point was to take Goddard and then twist it. We couldn’t have twisted it without starting at a very literal place. The Madonna thing with Bourdin is interesting.

  33. Stephen Lance August 16, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Everett, this needs to be put to bed soon. The intent was not to make a video just like Lady Gaga, and I would appreciate a little more sophistication in the analysis. How is it just like Lady Gaga? No one has ventured into this territory except to make grand statements about how fucking obvious it is. This doesn’t seem like good reasoning, even for a woman.

  34. Stephen Lance August 16, 2011 at 9:24 am

    or a critic.

  35. Everett True August 16, 2011 at 9:39 am

    Stephen, I will accept the intention was not to make a video like Lady Gaga. I’m sure that no one means to copy anyone else – or if they do, they call it ‘homage’, and thus excuse themselves.

    It is unfortunate then that the new Washington video draws on many of the same signifiers and influences and styles as Lady Gaga clearly draws upon herself. She is the zeitgeist, so it’s not unnatural to compare anything new to the zeitgeist – you may feel this is unjust, as the intention was anything but, but as I say if it’s simply coincidence then you need to accept what it looks like from a non-insider point-of-view. The first time, I watched the Washington video it was with the sound turned off, and it took me a few minutes before I realised it wasn’t Lady Gaga. Sure, I wasn’t paying too close attention. You think anyone really pays that close attention to promotional videos?

    I love Gaga. I really like the new Washington song. I like most of the names you mention above. It’s unfortunate that the new Washington promotional video has been released at a time when Lady Gaga’s star is absolutely in the ascendant, and anyone with any knowledge at all of pop music (which won’t, in the main, include Washington) will immediately think “Lady Gaga” when they see the video. I can accept that the video was made without intent to copy or parody Lady Gaga, that in fact its roots go far deeper than that. The fact remains it reminds the casual observer of Lady Gaga.

    Someone even smarter than both of us once said to every complex problem there is an obvious answer which is invariably right.

    P.S. Apologies for calling you out for not researching Hannah’s city of origin. I should of course have done a little rudimentary research myself, and realised you directed the Washington video under discussion. Sorry.

  36. Everett True August 16, 2011 at 9:48 am

    You’ve actually touched upon one of the dilemmas central to being a critic.

    The usual way to review music/art/film etc is through the finished result, not the original intention. And also in the way it interacts with its audience, and the mood you’re in when you’re writing the review, and a thousand other factors.

    I will concur, however, that if the observer is made aware of the intent – as often happens in the artwork of exhibitions in galleries, for example – it will (or rather, should) change that critique.

  37. Rob August 16, 2011 at 10:08 am

    I liked the part where Stephen absolutely owned both Hannah and Everett, sensationally cutting.

  38. Stephen Lance August 16, 2011 at 10:12 am

    I guess my main problem has been with casual observer notion. My expectations from critics are that they should be anything but casual in observations. If we are going to look at work from that distance then sure it’s possible to say it’s Lady Gagaesque because there’s theatricality and darkness to it, but surely a blog that is full of critics requires more analytical faculty than that. More specificity. Otherwise call it a blog for layman’s views and not a critical forum. You are critics because you care, but you don’t seem to care about the detail.

    I totally understand the transaction between critic and form, but when the form has been so underread and then whipped, I feel like it’s an injustice to the art and the artist. Dismissive, grand standing criticism is annoying and pointless.


  39. Lloyd Barrett August 16, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Gaga rips of Madonna and Marilyn Manson
    Manson rips off David Bowie and Alice Cooper
    Bowie rips of Alex Harvey and Arthur Brown
    Arthur Brown rips off Antonin Artaud etc…

    Y’all should maybe read Simon Reynolds “Retromania” and ask yourselves, “uh… So fucking what?”

  40. Everett True August 16, 2011 at 10:21 am

    The problem is, Stephen, that – as a critic – it’s not possible to review from myriad viewpoints all at once. Nor do I believe (or encourage my contributors to believe) that there is one set way to review music/film/art, etc.

    Sometimes, you go way more into detail: sometimes you’re more casual: sometimes, you provide historical context: sometimes, it’s from the heart: sometimes, you don’t bother using words at all (see my recent experiments with pictorial reviews on this very site).

    I appreciate how frustrating it can be for you, as a creator, to have your work summarily dismissed in a few flippant words … but I am of the persuasion that criticism should be as fluid as the art-form it engages with, and hence the disparity of approaches.

    And it’s interesting to note that here – as is very often the case in web 2.0 environments – the dialogue that the original review creates, that goes on in the comments section underneath, is far more revealing that the original review itself. No insult to Matt O’Neill intended, whose article we have hijacked. This dialogue is certainly not less valid than the critic’s opinion – who is, after all, just one person, however well or ill-informed – and is often far more valid.

  41. Everett True August 16, 2011 at 10:24 am

    What is a layman? What is a critic? It is not – and never has been – clear-cut.

  42. Lloyd Barrett August 16, 2011 at 10:36 am

    I remember when I was young and stupider, getting my apoplectic on when I saw Marilyn Manson tooling around on a stage with mechanical spider limbs. Just like the less famous, Canadian industrial band Skinny Puppy did in the late eighties! After my anger subsided, I congratulated myself for knowing better and bad mouthed MM to several handfulls of hot goth girls. Those were lonely days. Now I am all to aware of the recursive nature of popular culture (hence the Reynolds reference in my previous post) so I’m wondering if it isn’t wholly redundant to criticize a music video for being referential when innovation clearly isn’t the point of pop music. Aren’t most music videos just rehashes of either Kenneth Anger shorts or American Bandstand style “live” performances?

  43. hannah golightly August 16, 2011 at 11:16 am

    “I liked the part where Stephen absolutely owned both Hannah and Everett, sensationally cutting.”

    Really? I missed that part. As far as I’m concerned I make a valid point and it has been disregarded by someone clutching at a whole bag of spanners (to quote Kath and Kim) with a whole bunch of rubbish cited as reasoning. Who also got all racist towards Australians for some unknown reason… or was it slagging off British people who live in Australia as if that move has some impact on intellect. Just because I disagree with you doesn’t make me less intelligent. I personally think it’s a sign to the contrary.

    It’s like he’s gone Gaga.

  44. Lloyd Barrett August 16, 2011 at 11:26 am

    I think Stephen makes a valid point Hannah (amongst a bunch of disappointingly knee jerk ones.). Why is it ripping off Lady Gaga specifically? Why not [insert any slightly glam / slightly dark music video or short film from the last century]. As I said before it’s the nature of pop music tone referential but your critical faculties are swimming in a shallow pool if all you can siphon is Gaga. That lightning bolt? Yeah… Marilyn Manson used it… So did Throbbing Gristle. And Flash Gordon.

  45. hannah golightly August 16, 2011 at 11:26 am

    Holy Moses! It’s Lady Gaga! ha ha ha

  46. hannah golightly August 16, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Thing is, most artists reference other artists after the other artist is no longer currently doing the thing they are copying. There’s a word for those who do it at the same time and after the fact and that’s Bandwagon Jumping. Confused as to why this needs spelling out.

  47. hannah golightly August 16, 2011 at 11:29 am

    …and please Lloyd, call me Miss Golightly

  48. hannah golightly August 16, 2011 at 11:30 am

    “Why is it ripping off Lady Gaga specifically? Why not [insert any slightly glam / slightly dark music video or short film from the last century]”

    I completely agree- there’s a whole century of other people she could have ripped off, so why on earth did she choose Gaga?

  49. Stephen Lance August 16, 2011 at 11:44 am

    RIP Hannah Golightly.

  50. Matt O'Neill August 16, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Hannah, if you can’t provide evidence, you haven’t got an argument. It’s as simple as that. This doesn’t just stand for your views on the video but your views on my perspectives as well. The only evidence you have to support the argument that this is a case of Emperor’s New Clothes is that I don’t subscribe to your point of view and the only evidence you have to support that point of view is ‘It’s obvious’. Do you see where I’m going with this?

    I actually had no intention of being adversarial in my comments. I know it’s difficult to communicate nuance in discussions like these but, in all sincerity, my only intention with this discussion was to try and understand your point of view. The thing is, you either cannot or will not elaborate on it. All you’ve done is restate your initial hypotheses with added condescension and insults – neither of which have been warranted (at least in my case).

    I mean – if we want to discuss Emperor’s New Clothes and Rose-Tinted Glasses, why is Lady Gaga such a paradigm of originality to you? You haven’t even bothered to articulate the aesthetic/bandwagon Megan Washington actually constitutes in this discussion. I suppose I’m just kind of confused as to what you’re trying to accomplish here. You’re not arguing, you’re not listening. All you’re doing, really, is being snide – but to what ends?

  51. Matt O'Neill August 16, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    …As an unrelated sidenote, I find it interesting that whenever I write something genuinely positive, it always leads to some kind of massive argument somewhere…

  52. ed August 16, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    One of the interesting things for me is that here we have someone from the UK commenting negatively on an Australian act and getting the typical Australian response. In the UK you could say the things Miss Golightly said and no one would bat an eyelid. You could say The Beatles were shit and the most extreme response would be someone pointing at you and laughing. The Australian response is to demand a full lit survey and provide a fully annotated list of references to make a watertight case to prove your point.

    It’s like living in Melody Maker circa 1997 on a permanent loop when it was decreed that nothing negative could be written about Australia, except extend that to every act. It’s where the editor of one of the biggest music mags moonlights for a few months each year doing PR for one of the country’s biggest festivals and where reviewers happily admit behind the scenes that at worst they’ll be non-committal about something they don’t like to avoid the confrontation and controversy.

    Miss Golightly doesn’t have the full Megan Washington backstory. On first impressions she thinks she’s a Gaga rip off. Just imagine if 60M people in the UK thought the same…

  53. Wallace Wylie August 16, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Bob Fosse..blah, blah, blah…”The Night Porter”…blah, blah, blah…and we criticise Mojo for being overly precious about their rock nostalgia wankathons.

  54. Stephen Lance August 16, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    I’m pointing and laughing, but also crying a little with laughter…

  55. Darragh August 16, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Outrageous! I’m told the next Washington’s next single, titled “Born this way”, is acutally a rip-off of Madonna’s “express yourself”!

  56. Wallace Wylie August 16, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Me too, but only because I get the reference.

  57. Stephen Lance August 16, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    It’s actually called Born to Express Yourself This Way…there is a big difference

  58. Wallace Wylie August 16, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Tramps like us, baby we were born this way. *Clarence Clemons saxophone solo*

  59. Matt O'Neill August 16, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Unsurprisingly, I don’t know if I’d agree with that. I don’t really mind one way or the other if someone doesn’t like Washington. I also don’t think I’m expecting anything in the way of a full lit review. All I’m asking for is something other than ‘because I say so’ because I don’t understand her viewpoint. I’d be saying the same thing if she’d said the video made the music ten times better.

    I don’t think that kind of questioning is at all archetypally Australian. I think if anyone was confronted with something they didn’t understand they’d be prompted to make similar inquiries.

  60. Darragh August 16, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I get the impression the process of making music videos isn’t always in the court of the musician.

  61. Stephen Lance August 16, 2011 at 3:09 pm

    It’s a collaboration

  62. Lloyd Barrett August 16, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Honestly the Beatles weren’t that good.

  63. hannah golightly August 16, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Can you remind me please of the insults to you? I remember complimenting both you and the video producer on your work. If you take my disagreement as insult then you’re in the wrong place. CB is about opinion and discussion. I feel like I’m debating with emotional people who would rather insult me than prove me wrong.

    So far in this thread I’ve been insulted for being female, a critic, Australian (??? + !!!! What’s insulting about being Australian? Not that I am), unintelligent and that list is just off the top of my head. I can go back over it and give you a full run-down that suits your lawyer nit picking cross referenced, pulled from the vaults of history version too in your own personal preferred style. But why should I?

    I made a simple point. You choose not to see it. There’s no in depth analysis of my point necessary.

    This video would not look like this if Lady Gaga wasn’t a world famous superstar. End of story.

  64. hannah golightly August 16, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    Plus… a death threat? Was that a death threat? ha ha Grow up.

  65. hannah golightly August 16, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    http://youtu.be/qrO4YZeyl0I Dance Moves, head dresses, bandage dress, ‘Monster’ hand gestures that typifies Gaga videos

    http://youtu.be/QeWBS0JBNzQ Hair and Makeup

    http://youtu.be/wagn8Wrmzuc Biblical Song Title

    http://youtu.be/d2smz_1L2_0 Glittery Shoulder tassles, Lightening bolts, Dance Moves, Bandage dress in black PVC, Neck Ruffs

    http://youtu.be/lgpQzLPWiKY More of her charateristic Bandage style clothes, more glittery shoulder tassels, more dance moves.

    http://youtu.be/mVEG793G3N4 Glittery Shoulder tassled outfit

    http://youtu.be/ZlimzrbAreo The Lightening Bolt

    Now I don’t think anyone really needed a list of Lady Gaga videos to spoon-feed them the obvious, but it’s all there.

  66. hannah golightly August 16, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    I probably missed out the abundant fire and glitter, specified the type of dance moves (watch Holy Moses and it’s THAT type throughout), neglected to split a million hairs, but anyone with an ounce of intelligence will have seen the glaring similarity without such a run down.

  67. Matt O'Neill August 17, 2011 at 12:09 am

    Well, personally, I feel pretty insulted whenever anyone suggests that my views are predicated on the basis of passion as opposed to reason (particularly when I’ve tried to ensure that is not the case). That’s all I was referring to, though.

    It is interesting. I’ve been trying my utmost to make sure my comments haven’t come across as insulting – and yet I assumed that yours were made in such a malicious spirit. I can’t speak for the others but, for my part, I apologise if that led to any confusion or condescension from my end. I have a tendency to mouth off in these sorts of discussions and I’m working hard on trying to be, for lack of a less nauseating term, nicer. Still working on the mechanics of it.

    I have a feeling all of that will sound a tad insincere – but this has genuinely been an educational experience for me and I do appreciate that. For whatever that’s worth 😛

  68. Matt O'Neill August 17, 2011 at 12:10 am

    Goddammit. Didn’t know the smiley would turn into an actual smiley. Now I look like a real git.

  69. Stephen Lance August 17, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Honestly Hannah, your links only prove how spurious the connection is. Some metallic fringed shoulder pads? A lightning bolt? Considering the extremity of your point of view and conviction, I would have thought you’d deliver up some very pointed copying. I guess there’s no point continuing the debate as it’s going no where. One almost thinks you have an unusual perhaps delusional fixation on Lady Gaga…Golightly vs Gaga?


    Peace out Collapse Board. It’s been real.

  70. Wallace Wylie August 17, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Is it really necessary to go to somebody’s myspace page to get some final dig at them? There’s an old proverb about when a finger points at the moon the fool looks at the finger and right now you’re focusing on the finger. I dislike Lady Gaga and think she’s taken much from other artists. Her songs have a cloying familiarity to them. And yet to deny the similarity of the Megan Washington video to Lady Gaga is just ridiculous. Was it meant to be a Lady Gaga rip off? It really doesn’t matter.

  71. hannah golightly August 19, 2011 at 6:46 am

    Thanks Wallace for summing up the view I’ve been attempting (seemingly unsuccessfully to some here) to put across.

    I got a lot of shit for it. I got a lot of attacks on my character for it. I got mistaken for being malicious. After paying the two involved compliments on their work. It beggars belief really. I even got a death threat! I mean why would anyone think that my comments were personal attacks or malicious? What would motivate me to be malicious in this scenario? Why jump to that conclusion out of the billion possibilities? If I defended myself then that makes sense, but I haven’t been in the least bit emotional here. I had nothing against these two. Now I dislike the video director for the RIP Hannah Golightly comment. That’s illegal in my country. Not a fan of that guy, not that I have much choice in the matter given that treatment.

    Disagreement is not a crime.

  72. hannah golightly August 19, 2011 at 6:51 am

    “Hannah, if you can’t provide evidence, you haven’t got an argument. It’s as simple as that.” er… exhibit A Your Honour: the fucking Holy Moses video clip above. Dur.

  73. Stephen (Loves Hannah Golightly) Lance August 19, 2011 at 9:26 am

    RIP Hannah was a joke about how you’d dug your own grave with your silly and extreme comments. Not a death threat. Peace and love to you Hannah. A love that transcends videos and Lady Gaga. I’ve only criticised your criticism because I care about my art.

  74. hannah golightly August 20, 2011 at 9:05 am

    Actually you attempted and failed to criticise me as a person, which was a FAIL.

    p.s. There’s my boot, now kiss it better Stephen 😉

  75. hannah golightly August 20, 2011 at 9:23 am

    My ex-boyfriend was in a band that got signed for $1.3m to an american label and went on tour. In Birmingham a guy heckled them. When they got off stage the guy approached my ex and asked “Is it supposed to be a joke?” (about their band- probably due to their hair and clothes or something which was extreme). What happened next was my ex told his bandmates as he was feeling hurt by the comment. His bandmates then promptly set about the guy beating him up. He posted photos of the damage to his face on a forum days later. My ex didn’t do the violence, but it was his reaction to not liking someone’s opinion that sparked it all off. Ok, the guy heckled them on purpose and approached them afterwards, so yes, he deserved a bad reaction… but not that violence. The band ended up getting dropped for other reasons a while later.

    Why am I telling you this story? Because when you put something out there, it will be appreciated, judged, criticised, loved, hated, ignored etc. A million different things can happen, many at once. I’m also telling you this story because the guy in the story was acting inappropriately in deliberately sharing his negative opinions with the bandmembers. You see, there is a time and a place for that sort of thing. That time is now and that place is Collapse Board. You have no business being here unless you can at least accept that and make a contribution to the discussion from what should have been an interesting perspective- one we often don’t get to share in. But that does not make it right for you to come here to a music CRITICISM (ie. not necessarily music KISS ASS-ICISM) site and think we should stop our honest discourse because you’ve graced us with your presence.

    I wouldn’t go onto your website (if such a thing exists) and say negative stuff there. THAT would be malicious. And I’m not.

  76. hannah golightly August 20, 2011 at 9:25 am

    And there wasn’t anything extreme about my comments. The extreme was your emotions, not my comments.

  77. Edward Guglielmino August 30, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    I think the clip is awesome.

  78. Corbin October 12, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    Hannah is a troll, why are people even discussing with her?

  79. Everett True October 12, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    Hannah is a troll, why are people even discussing with her?

    Anyone else think this is odd?

    Someone who has not left a comment on Collapse Board before – and quite possibly has never read the site before – comes along and anonymously leaves a deliberately provocative (i.e. trolling) comment about how someone else, who is a regular contributor and commentator on Collapse Board, is a ‘troll’. Man, people really are fucked up on web 2.0.

  80. Sandinista December 16, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Hannah. Obviously you place high importance on lady gaga.
    But to people like the director of this clip , lady gaga is just another person drawing from a long line of inspiration.
    You obviously don’t know of these inspirations so you assume it’s gaga – esqe.
    I say it isn’t. Wasn’t intended to be. Nor accidentally became a gaga influenced piece.

    It is Megan’s idea meets the directors vision.
    Possibly influenced by things that gaga and her team were also influenced by.
    But probably not by gaga.

    You can’t argue with the director.
    He made it.

    And just do you know.
    Not everyone likes , or would want to have anything to do with gaga …
    Except maybe to take the piss out Of her.

  81. Feizal Mansoor January 2, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    Dear Matt:

    I know exactly who this song is about. It is about my sister-in-law.

    Golightly don’t be so heavy, it is a great song, I love it, sing it, watch it, play it all day long. Lady Gaga has never impressed.

    Megan is a STAR!

    Thanks for the review.

    Now does anyone really get the line, the fourth line, I know lyric sites say it is “Fall like stars”, but to me she seems to be saying `aisle’ or `style’?

  82. grapsta January 5, 2012 at 10:48 am

    I hear you about the album being a dissapointment after great earlier Live shows. whats really wierd is her best tune is a Sublime cover…especially the JJJ like a version one which sadly never makes it to youtube

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