The Opposite of Music
So, I do still occasionally venture over to Gawker just in case Richard Lawson has recapped something, and I noticed that the band Sugarland played on last night’s American Idol. They’ve got a local connection, singer Jennifer Nettles used to be in Athens band Soul Miner’s Daughter and was quite a Big Deal Around Here for a few years. I was never much of a fan. It was all pitched to a certain early-20′s, undergraduate, Indigo Girls level of earnestness that I outgrew somewhere around the time I started having to shave my chin more than once a week.
Nonetheless, I decided to check out their performance. Someone had embedded it in the comments. The full, soul-chewing horror of what I beheld is after the jump.
Now kids, let me warn you, this is some bad shit. Like, Don’t Eat the Brown Acid bad. If you proceed beyond this point, I cannot be held responsible for any negative side effects you might experience. These may include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, restlessness, irritability, and the loss of the will to live.
I’ve devoted a good part of my day to watching this video over and over. I can’t stop. There is literally too much to hate about it. It’s like sometimes when a song I can’t stand comes on the radio, I’ll turn it up so that I can hate it in detail. This is like that. I find myself, in Jane Austen’s words, “reveling in angry pleasure.”
And there’s no better place to start on that than with Ms. Nettles’s goddamn outfit here. What. The. Fuck. No, seriously, what is that? She looks like Dynasty’s Alexis Carrington after eleven too many Midori sours, staggering out of an American Apparel wearing half the store. The first few times I watched this video, I couldn’t even tell if the song was any good or not. It was getting completely drowned out by the shoulder pads in that . . . blazer, is it?
Is she Aquaman‘s sister the hooker? Is she an escaped Christmas Elf from the department store scene of “A Christmas Story”? That “I’m a Christmas present!” belt would indicate the latter, but the . . . uh, black codpiece (unitard? bathing suit?) would seem to point to the former. It’s baffling enough to me, but I’m thinking that it’s a pretty clear indication that the lite-country hacks in her band hate her. Look at what they’re letting her wear on stage. Seriously. She came out of the dressing room and every one of those guys was like, “Yeah, Jen, that, uh, looks . . . great. Not at all like Robin the Boy Wonder meets Sandy Duncan as Peter Pan! Not at all!”
Oh, yeah, they hate her. But, you know, at points I kind of do feel like I should at least give her credit for not wearing those shoes with the turned-up elf toes.
Of course, any good will that decision may have caused to bloom in my breast gets beaten over the head and left bloodied and dying in a ditch by the song itself. Christ, this is bad. Once it began to sink in that it actually has a “REGGAE” “RAP” in the middle eight, I started to yearn for the good old days when I was still stunned into deafness by the hideousness of the outfit.
This is the opposite of music. The anodyne lyrics, the twee, plinky-plinky instrumentation, who is this for? I keep asking myself who the target audience is here and all I can come up with is 30-something t-ball moms who work in dentists’ offices and wear scrubs with kid-designs on them. Women in Charlotte and Knoxville who never could figure out what everybody thought was so bad about Kate Gosselin’s rooster-in-a-box-fan hairdo.
By about the time the minute-and-a-half mark arrives, as H. L. Mencken might have said, a kind of grandeur creeps into it. The moronic repetitiveness of the “WUH-OHHH, WUH-OHHH” chorus and Nettles’s weird, twitchy, Axl-Rosercise upper body movements and all the rest of it have combined into something monumentally bad, historically bad. It begins to occur to you that the South may have finally vomited up an act as blisteringly offensive to the entire panoply of senses as Canada’s Barenaked Ladies.
And that, my friends, is a fucking feat.