Le Tigre – Deceptacon

By , August 16, 2003

The mid-to-late ’90s was a vibrant period for popular music. More amazing music was produced between 1993 and 1998 than in any other time, at least by my reckoning. So many subcultures, scenes, and genres that had been percolating for a decade or more erupted onto an unprepared mainstream, and for a solid six years, pop music bore the brunt, and didn’t suck. It all came crashing down with the advent of Britney Spears, harbinger of the manufactured teenybopper band craze that derailed all that was finally right with pop music, but until she arrived, there was an all-too-brief window of time when the popular and the good intersected.

Among the musical movements that came into the spotlight was the riot grrrl sound, and few bands, if any, exemplified that sound as well as Kathleen Hanna’s band Bikini Kill. Sadly, all good things come to an end, and Bikini Kill is no more. Sometimes, however, the end of one project is really just a chance to move in a new direction, and Hanna’s current band, Le Tigre, fast became a favorite of mine.

Currently Playing: Le Tigre – Deceptacon

Le Tigre’s sound is cute on the surface, but subversive underneath. Elements of punk, new wave, and even hip hop, merge into an almost unclassifiable sound. The lyrics are bouncy, catchy, at times oxymoronic, and deceptively deep.

Every day and night
Every day and night
I can see your disco disco dick is sucking my heart out of my mind
I’m outta’ time
I’m outta’ fucking time
I’m a gasoline gut with a vaseline mind, but
Wanna’ disco?
Wanna’ see me disco?
Let me hear you depoliticize my rhyme!
One! Two! Three! Four!
You got what you been asking for
You’re so policy free and you’re fantasy wheels
And everything you think
And everything you feel is
Alright, alright, alright, alright, alright!

Female empowerment, sex, and politics, are jumbled up over a beat that is half modern electro/rock hybrid and half ’80s-era new wave.

Le Tigre - Le Tigre

“Deceptacon” scores additional points for having such a catchy, upbeat tempo. It sends nearly any dance floor into a frenzy, even if the lyrics sail over the heads of the dancers.

Who took the bomp from the bompalompalomp?
Who took the ram from the ramalamadingdong?
Who took the bomp from the bompalompalomp?
Who took the ram from the ramalamadingdong?

As far as the unsuspecting partygoers know, it’s just fluffy nonsense, but maybe a teensy, tiny bit of the message sneaks through? One can hope.

See you later
See you later
See you later
See you later

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6 Responses to “Le Tigre – Deceptacon”

  1. i never heard of almost any of the songs you write about but this one is a good catchy tune!

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  2. Auriale says:

    I also do not know this song but find it would be good to dance to.

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  3. Tiger Milk says:

    A) For the record, I love Le Tigre. They remind me so much of Mills.

    B) So, pop music. I want to defend Britney here. I concede that her music is highly manufactured and she is an unfortunate case of control and marketability. But isn’t all pop music manufactured in a way? For something to become popular, there is an element of craft and control to create something that is accessible. Nirvana choosing Butch Vig to produce “Nevermind” was a calculated move; it’s a way more polished record than “Bleach” and it made them popular.

    I’m interested in this idea that you sort of allude to that pop music today isn’t good. Granted this was written in 2003, but I’m going to go ahead and argue that pop music is pretty amazing right now. I want to disrupt this idea that if it’s manufactured or written by someone other than the singer, that it’s in a way “inauthentic.” (This whole “authenticity” thing is another conversation entirely.) I feel like pop can be just as subversive, valid and interesting as any other genre.

    I’m also realizing that I’m writing more than I had anticipated and maybe I’m even talking about things that don’t even pertain to this entry. So I’m going to leave this where it’s at.

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    Peasprout Reply:

    @Tiger Milk, I don’t think it is reasonable to compare Nirvana’s choice of a producer to Britney Spears’ production team. My sense of things is that, with traditional bands, the producer can sometimes be as important as any member of the band, but only in that they fine tune the music. Martin Hannett with Joy Division and Nigel Godrich with Radiohead are probably the two examples I can think of demonstrating the most extreme influence by a producer, but even in those cases, the bands still brought the majority of the sound to the recordings..

    The big difference is that with someone like Britney Spears, or Beyonce, or Justin Timberlake, to name just a few, there is no one at work BUT the producers. Butch Vig added his touch to a sound created and refined by a band– Nirvana were a cohesive unit, a band, that wrote and performed their own original music. Someone like Britney Spears is basically being paid to dance on stage and in videos to songs written and performed by others. Her sole contribution to the recording process is to sing lyrics she didn’t write, which are then pitch-adjusted and processed beyond recognition to attain the production team’s desired sound.

    At least Elvis Presley or Michael Jackson, two famous examples from yesteryear of pop stars who didn’t write their own songs, imbued some of their style and personality into the songs they sang; their voices weren’t digitized and auto-tuned into submission. But Britney Spears? I mean, wow, she warbles out the lyrics in an out of tune voice that gets computer-corrected, and she’s suddenly a musician?

    I don’t know if a concept of “authentic” enters into this discussion, but I will update the point I think I was making seven years ago: when a bunch of record execs hold auditions and interviews for pop stars and hire them based solely on their looks and dance moves, then assign teams of anonymous producers to mimic the currently popular sounds in order to create their backing tracks, you end up with generic, redundant music, sucked dry of all personality or soul, “performed” by talentless hacks like Beyonce, Britney, Justin, and so forth, who bring nothing to the table other than a pretty face. Pop music in 2010 is more akin to a Las Vegas show than rock & roll.

    [Reply]

    Tiger Milk Reply:

    @Peasprout, Ok: I think you might be underestimating the presence of pop stars in the recording process. Beyonce and Justin Timberlake co-write most, if not all of their songs. Timberlake’s collaborations with The Neptunes and Timbaland aren’t just a matter of a producer’s svengali-like power over someone. Same with the producers that Beyonce works with.

    Britney Spears isn’t the best example (as much as I do want to defend her), but I want to say this: the realm of pop has as much to do with a cult of personality as it does with musicianship. This is why we have stars like Timberlake, Beyonce, Rihanna, and Lady Gaga – their personas are strong, magnetic even. It’s spectacle and I don’t find anything inherently wrong with that because at its very heart, pop is different from rock & roll. Different things are privileged.

    I also want to say that I don’t think all of pop music is redundant or lacking in personality or soul. Yes, there are songs that are inane but that’s the same with any genre. I’m going to point to Beyonce again, because I strongly disagree with your claim of her being a talentless hack (I disagree on Justin too). Beyonce is a soulful performer. She delivers performances that are full-bodied, vulnerable, carnal and even ridiculous. Ok, she doesn’t play her own instruments, she works with a team of producers, but that doesn’t diminish her ability as a performer. At the end of the day, I believe that’s what pop music is about – the performance.

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    Peasprout Reply:

    @Tiger Milk, I think you vastly overestimate the presence the pop stars have. I’d hazard that Beyonce’s co-writing credit amounts to her suggesting she sustain a note an extra second, and she has no understanding of the song-writing process; likewise for Timberlake and the majority of modern-day pop stars.

    When bands and singers are no longer discovered after having built a following, but rather are created by image/ fashion consultants and for-hire producers, music stops being about art and becomes a commodity. The same thing has happened to film and sports, among other art forms– we no longer have art created by an original or talented individual; we instead have a product created in a boardroom, designed to have mass appeal and make money.

    Whether this is good or bad is up to each individual to decide. You hear a soulful, full-bodied performance when you hear Beyonce, I see a deer in the headlights croaking out tunes so laughably bad I want to cry.

    [Reply]

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