Monthly Archives: February 2011

Taylor Swift in Hong Kong – OMG!

Ukulele's rock! photo courtesy

This is the blog where I blog about not being allowed to blog about the Taylor Swift concert. I like to call it:

Operation Seriously, Mommy!

You see, as I’m learning, in the tween-girl lexicon, the word “Seriously” carries a multitude of meanings, including but not limited to:

1. Are you serious?
2. You’re not serious!
3. I totally meant what I just said.
4. I am not kidding.
5. You’re a dweeb and a doofus.
6. Don’t you know anything you immature ten-year-old-boy who I can squash like a bug?!?

And this one:
7. Stop what you’re doing immediately, Mommy, you’re embarrassing me.

Which I hear often – when I’m singing aloud, dancing to Justin Timberlake in the comfort and anonymity of my own home and/or excessively hugging Eldest One (EO) in public.

So I was expecting to hear “Seriously!” a lot on our exciting night at the Taylor Swift concert. EO’s first concert! Get me a tissue, I’m all verklempt! I certainly wasn’t anticipating a huge bonding experience – we were with lots of other mums and daughters, so I knew EO would rather hang with her friends (you talk about me being embarrassing in public?) rather than sing along with me to “Speak Now”. What I was looking forward to – in a sociological sort of way – was watching EO’s reaction to the power and beauty of the live show. What I like to call, when I take my music way too seriously: the rapture of the collective experience.

But today when I asked EO what she thought of Taylor Swift, I got a smile and a “Pretty cool”. Pretty cool? Is that all? Oh, my EO plays it close to the vest.

I reckon the opening act – calling himself Johnny from Japan – got it right when he said, “In Japan, I met Taylor Swift. She is perfect.”

Let’s see: beautiful? Check. Talented? Double-check. Charismatic? Triple Check. And most importantly: Believable? Check that to the nth degree. So when she smiled her aw-shucks smile and told the audience, “I love you Hong Kong,” I expect a good ninety percent of the concertgoers – an only-in-Hong Kong mix of tween girls and twentysomething Chinese boys – actually believed her.

And when she sashayed to the edge of the stage and threw a beguiling look left, I thought, heck I haven’t seen this many sideways glances since Susanna Hoffs in the “Walk Like An Egyptian” video. Miss Swift may play the ingénue/outcast in her music videos but on stage and on the 30-foot video screens, she knows how to work it.

Ten thousand tweens can't be wrong. From a photo contest on the official Taylor Swift website.

Okay, so her voice is a bit thin and her lyrics are, well, the lyrics of a young woman dealing with love, love, love and, oh, lost love. I can accept that. I can even accept her singing – way too often if I may say – about finding a guy who’ll transform her, who’ll come along and discover the real Taylor. (Normally you might add ‘warts and all’ to the end of that sentence, but in Miss Swift’s case I don’t think a blemish has ever come within ten yards of her.)

I’ll take the lovelorn longing that Miss Swift sells to my daughter, because well, she is talented and seemingly sincere. But most of all I’m hopeful that her massive success will lead to:

1. The rise of a new modesty in pop culture.
2. A renewed appreciation for the clarinet and the ukulele
3. The return of the perm.



This is What Childhood Sounds Like

1. Follow link to YouTube. 2. Press play. 3. Enjoy.

We’ve got fireworks, confetti and making music by pounding on things! No cynicism, no scorn, no disbelief – only joy, only fun, only love.

What more could you want?

I’ve watched this Jonsi video (“Animal Arithmetric” from XLRecordings) a gazillion times and just marvel at the creative simplicity – such shallow depth of field – as well as the sheer exuberance of the words, music and images brought together. Some call Jonsi’s voice spiritual or mystical. On YouTube, the comments that follow the video really hit the nail on the head. One says, “I want this song to play during the last 3:22 minutes of my life.”

Right on.

Electronica Hawkeye tracks the transcendent.

Now a little more about Jonsi aka “a messenger of ecstatic hope” (from the NY Times). As you probably know they grow ‘em weird in Iceland. From the volcanic landscape to its geothermal springs to… well, Bjork, this little island nation lies a few degrees north of bizarro land. But that eccentricity is the perfect incubator for playful, unrestrained and earnest music. Iceland’s latest natural wonder is a guy who goes by the name Jonsi, even though he apparently doesn’t like to be called Jonsi, preferring his real name – Jon Thor Birgisson. Jonsi’s actually been around a while and is also in the more somber, experimental band, Sigur Ros. You might recognize his voice from a couple of 2010 Oscar-nominated movies: 127 Hours, where the Sigur Ros track, “Festival” plays at the end of the film as well as the kids’ move How To Train Your Dragon in which he contributes the track, “Sticks and Stones”.

With his solo record, Go, Jonsi jettisons the melancholy Sigur Ros sound for songs that bounce and rebound like pop rocks on your tongue. Drums rule in Jonsi’s world. And even the ballads have a wide-eyed buoyancy that makes you feel… well, happy.

(I’m also digging his feathers-and-paint-please-lead-us-children-oh-Mad-Max look. So Alexander McQueen meets the Lost Boys.)

There’s no room for negativity on Go, so check your cynicism at the door, play this baby loud and jump around the room with your kids.

I like to play dress-up too.

Go! Do!

We should all be

(oh, oh, oh)