Ties That Bind: Rihanna's "American Oxygen"

My new column went up today at PopMatters, which has been going through a significant site redesign. The end result is sharp-looking.

"Spectacle of Empty Gestures: Rihanna's 'American Oxygen'" concerns the song and the video, both of which strike me as either confused or simplistic, or both. Unless there's obvious reason or proof, I never doubt the sincerity of artists; it just seems like a cynical strategy to any kind of criticism. And I also imagine there are people out there who might take comfort in the song, possibly even make it into something more powerful than what it is. And I say more power to them.

Extra thoughts:

What the video for "American Oxygen" tries to achieve in images, Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly accomplishes aurally. That's an amazing record that brings to mind so many records before it but sounds utterly fresh.

I'm not sure yet if the new Genius website is worthwhile, since some of the annotations there for "American Oxygen" are just awful.

There's an essay waiting to be written about music videos that use historical montage. Had a lot of fun with that. Here's the G'n'R video for "Welcome to the Jungle"--


R8 so far is hit-miss-miss-sort of hit in terms of singles.


Posted on May 6, 2015 and filed under Music Criticism, News.