This time next week I’ll be on Reunion Island which, for those of you who don’t know, is in the middle of the Indian Ocean, and is half way between the more famous, Mauritius, and the much (MUCH) larger Madagascar.
As part of my research, I was looking into the language and the music of the island. Reunion is a French department, and therefore has strong French influence, and both the language and music is therefore a blend of indigenous and French flavours.
After punching “Afro-Malagasy Music” into the YouTube search window, and sifting through nearly a page of videos of a Zebra that sounds suspiciously like Chris Rock, I clicked on the following video.
Now, being that it’s from a small island nation in a remote and obscure part of the world, and given that I don’t speak French, I couldn’t find much information about it available online, but a few things struck me about this song and its video. First, is how simply joyful it is. The tune is repetitive, yet sweet and therefore pleasing to the ear, and the video shows young adults in what can only be described as paradise, doing things that are innocent and joyful. There’s no posing, no posturing, no inflated attitude, no flaunting of apparent wealth, no sex, no cutting edge fashion, so fancy editing, no special effects, no aggression, no highly emotional tripe – none of the bullshit we’ve all become so accustomed to from music and music videos churned out by western media – especially those of the US.
So, if it has none of the ingredients of what the mighty Western Pop-culture is built upon – why don’t I hate it?
The locations are beautiful, the girls are pretty, the clothes are snug fitting and skimpy, the people are happy, the life seems simple, they are all doing things that I, or you, or your grandmother, or your 4 year old nephew, would feel equally at home doing or being a part of. And through it all, you simply want to be there, dancing (not cavorting!) with them. There’s a sense that you’re welcome to join the party, instead of peering in on it through the keyhole of the locked door which has a sign on it reading: “Only cool kids allowed!”
I for one, think this is a truly refreshing departure from the “Hollywood” style of music videos and music of today, which are designed to evoke more of a pressing urge to battle someone or something, or make you feel like you’d just walked in on someone who is about to be having sex.
Whatever happened to “nice”. When did “nice” become not good enough? Why can’t people keep making music that you will want to listen to all day, instead of producing works that make you feel completely emotionally and morally exhausted after three and a half minutes?
Yes, this song is “nice”. It’s never going to top the charts, and if it wasn’t for people like me who appreciate such niceties, it would probably see very little of the light of day. Yet, I still like it! I like that it represents “normal” life, and that it seems to be a celebration of it.
Of course, I have no frikkin’ idea what the lyrics mean, but I’m using my gut instinct to assume that he’s not singling about ‘bitches and ho’s, and making mo’ money, riding round town in the caddy that he just jacked’
As someone who is very open-minded about artistic expression, and life in general, the point I’m trying to make is that I feel that western media has painted itself into a corner of existence where everything has to be taken to the extreme, and that too much of what at times, in the right doses, might be impressive, is in the end simply overkill. (And the further west you go, the worse it gets.)
Yes, this video might be regarded by people (such as the “Beliebers“, as a typical example) as “lame”, or “uncool”, or whatever term they might choose to use to express their unfounded, irrational sense of pop-cultured disapproval. But consider that if it was instead someone like Kanye West who was wearing a rainbow coloured guitar strap in a music video, it would erupt in a Twitter war of monumental proportions, about his sexuality!
…and that – no matter how you look at it, or how cool you think you are – is just fucking ridiculous.
Let me know what your thoughts are.