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Lorde vs Miley – where young feminism meets old class bias

Earlier this week, New Zealand singer Ella Yelich-O'Connor – AKA Lorde – won two Grammys, including best song for the sleeper hit Royals and – almost – topped Triple J’s Hottest 100 (her song Royals came…

“Lorde is indie – original and authentic. Miley and her ilk are not.” Paul Buck/EPA

Earlier this week, New Zealand singer Ella Yelich-O'Connor – AKA Lorde – won two Grammys, including best song for the sleeper hit Royals and – almost – topped Triple J’s Hottest 100 (her song Royals came in at number two, Tennis Court at number 12 and Team at 15).

Amid the breathless celebration of the 17-year-old’s music lies an implicit positioning of Lorde as a positive alternative to the “raunchy” sexuality of other young female pop stars, such as Miley Cyrus.

The press around Lorde regularly highlights her “self-proclaimed feminist” status, whereas the overwhelming media image of Miley remains the twerking “ratchet” girl who drew the ire of many feminist pundits after the 2013 Video Music Awards.

Paul Buck/EPA

Why Lorde’s feminism is taken more seriously, I believe, is due mostly to something which no-one wants to talk about: class. Not in terms of the size of one’s bank account, but class as disposition linked more to education than cashflow. We need only think of “cashed-up bogans” to realise wealth does not automatically dovetail with the “good taste” associated with the middle-class.

Emerging from the discussion around Lorde is the assumption that she, via her music, is tasteful, “classy” and worthy. Implicit – if not sometimes explicit – in this discourse is the implication that pop singers such as Miley are less classy, more brash and tasteless.

Lorde, like Miley, is a pop singer. But Lorde sits in the “indie pop” segment of the music industry. She writes her own songs, appears to have an “unfiltered” social media presence and her fashion sense has been repeatedly framed as original and unique. That’s a far cry from the discussion around Miley, whose music is – apart from being formally different to Lorde’s – written by others and whose style and, in fact, entire image is critiqued as derivative at best and racist cultural appropriation of African-American culture at worst.

http://lordemusic.tumblr.com/

Key to high standing in indie-pop music is an aura of authenticity. Indie musicians are, of course, just as “produced” as starlets such as Miley. Lorde, for her part, was signed to Universal when she was 12 and no doubt the incredible clout of her association with a “major” led to her significant media presence, particularly in the US.

In Lorde’s press we hear of her love of modern American fiction (on Vonnegut: “he’s way sassy, but I love that”) and collecting first-edition books; her lyrics are described as “acerbic” and “literate”.

We know her mother has an MA (Lorde proofread it!) and that she comes from a middle-class suburb of Auckland. She is acceptably, inoffensively tasteful and middle-class.

Praise for Royals in the US focused on Lorde’s apparent critique of the “Cristal, Maybach, diamonds” culture of attributed to mainstream pop. A New York Times article went as far to say that Lorde is “calmly insubordinate” in her critique of “conspicuous consumption”. This, the author claimed, is far better than the “clichés” that characterise Miley’s work.

For all this hyping of Lorde’s apparent critique of capitalist consumer culture, we see the same old class positions rehearsed. Lorde is indie – original and authentic. Miley and her ilk are not. Middle classness remains the status quo.

EPA/ Peter Foley

In GQ we are told Lorde is a “far cry from those … standard Disney-groomed teenage[rs]” - a clear reference to Miley. Further, she is cool – “deep” and wearing a Cramps t-shirt on the cover of Rolling Stone. Compare this with Miley’s caricatured Rolling Stone cover appearance – topless, tattooed, tongue lolling. GQ tell us that Lorde is not a “guilty pleasure” for middle-class adults – presumably unlike the “nostalgia for the mud” one might expect from playing Bangerz.

Lorde herself maintains these distinctions in numerous statements explicitly criticising other female pop stars. On Miley, she expressed a concern – following the now infamous VMA performance – that music events will eventually culminate “in two people fucking on stage at the Grammys”.

Selena Gomez. EPA/George Hochmuth

She also weighed in on Selena Gomez suggesting that the song Come And Get It was detrimental to women’s rights. Of course, in both statements, Lorde declares her position as “a feminist”. She similarly self-positions in an interview with the writer and performer Tavi Gevison (herself the subject of hyperbolic commentary such as being labelled “the most prominent feminist of [our] generation”) where Lorde is articulate on the nuances of post-feminist discourse.

Miley, on the other hand, is more blunt in her articulation of feminism: “I’m a feminist for sure”.

The issue here is not whether one pop singer is a “better” feminist than the other – but how the discussion around Lorde and Miley’s positions as young female pop-stars rehearses a particularly insidious class-based discrimination.

Along with the new, it seems, we have a continuation of the same old tune.

Join the conversation

61 Comments sorted by

  1. Michael Shand

    Software Tester

    Great Article and thanks for highlighting how Lorde is not as under-ground / grassroots and many like to believe, she has been on a professional development contract with a major label for years

    The idea that she is less produced than others is great marketing

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  2. Andy Cameron

    Care giver

    Come on, give the kids a break. When Miley Cyrus was 17 she was known as Hannah Montana, a kid who Just Said No.

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  3. John Crest

    logged in via email @live.com.au

    The new shining light on the hill for feminists: a 17yo school girl from NZ.

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  4. Mark Smith

    logged in via Facebook

    Oops.... did you not notice the bloke who also received an award with Lorde at the Grammy's, Joel Little, who co-wrote the songs on her EP? Similarly, Cyrus is also listed as a co-writer on most of her songs...

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  5. Richard Fox

    Policy development

    Well, being middle aged I have never heard anything by either Lorde or Miley. However, I gather that one conducts herself publicly in a fairly crass manner and the other does not. I really don't mind if I am guilty of dreadfully insidious class-based discrimination, but I have never liked crass public displays, so I will draw my own conclusions, thank you very much.

    Perhaps the author could do a similar job on reactions to Eleanor Catton now, or any other New Zealander who dares to be successful.

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  6. William John Betts

    logged in via email @gmail.com

    Perhaps to open a class dialectic ;) I would critic your argument on the subject of Lorde v Miley based on description of the class positions.

    Empirically the difference between the wealth of the two artists is clear. Miley is clearly the wealthiest of the pair, benefiting from the brief musical and long business success of her farther. Miley comes from the ruling class.

    To critisie Lorde for being “middle class”, a 20th century word that has become almost meaningless in the 21st, seems to…

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    1. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to William John Betts

      I found the "class" angle of this article totally baffling. Perhaps it needs reheating marinaded in Bourdieu?

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    2. Rich d'Rich

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      I'm fairly sure a similar discussion was conducted at Universal Music, stripped of academic tone and with "demographic" replacing "class".

      And what is of relevance is not the actual pre-success social class of the artists, but the assumed class of their packaged persona and of course the class of the audience.

      One would assume that Universal's decision to put its full marketing effort behind Lorde was couched internally in terms of the 18-25 female AB market sector being underserved by their current product portfolio. It's the same thinking that drove the McCafe.

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    3. Jeff Payne

      PhD in Political Science and Masters in Public Policy

      In reply to William John Betts

      I agree totally with you William. This article appears to view the world through a camera obscura. I am shocked that everyone has so passively accepted this middle class rubbish of an article. As somebody who was raised in the western suburbs of Sydney and having worked half my life in a blue collar role I must say that I identified with the 'suburban' references in Lorde's songs and identified her, along with Lily Allen, with 'working class' values. For the claim that she is 'middle class' while…

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    4. Jeff Payne

      PhD in Political Science and Masters in Public Policy

      In reply to William John Betts

      One more quick point William, terms like 'working class' and 'middle class' may have their limits and may be even more challenged in the 21st century (although as social relations in production they still seem pretty good to me) but they are at least as concrete as 'profit' and more concrete than 'freedom'. Look at the distribution of wealth in Australia for confirmation. We're all working to make 1% of us fucking rich

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    5. Michelle Singh

      Tutor in Gender Studies & Sociology at Griffith University

      In reply to Jeff Payne

      Jeff, as I read the article, one of the questions it raises is precisely: why are 'tasteful' and 'sophisticated' associated only with the middle class, while anything seen as working class (or, shudder, bogan!!) is automatically denigrated?
      The author (again, as I've read the article) isn't aligning Cyrus or Lorde with a particular class position or aesthetic. She's pointing to how certain assumptions about these inform judgements about both singers. Exactly the kind of assumptions that you challenge in your post - and rightly so, I think :)

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    6. Jeff Payne

      PhD in Political Science and Masters in Public Policy

      In reply to Michelle Singh

      Thanks Michelle, I've now re-read the article (which I should have done before I commented) and I stand by what I've already said. To be honest, her article is obscure but this is the result of word constraints.

      Her basic point to me is to argue that class prejudices are being used as a marketing ploy which the artists themselves are propagating. As she writes, "The issue here is not whether one pop singer is a “better” feminist than the other – but how the discussion around Lorde and Miley’s…

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    7. Michelle Singh

      Tutor in Gender Studies & Sociology at Griffith University

      In reply to Jeff Payne

      Jeff, thanks for your very courteous reply (a bit less terrifying than your original post!). No, I don't think you're wrong - I think we're coming at the article from different positions and from within different frameworks - a statement that would no doubt have me strung up as a useless post-structuralist in certain quarters :).
      I saw the author as focusing on the way that a certain mass-media discussion of the two singers explicitly frames Lorde as more authentic and also a 'better' feminist…

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    8. Jeff Payne

      PhD in Political Science and Masters in Public Policy

      In reply to Michelle Singh

      As a leftist Michelle I agree with that brilliant thinker Habermas that disputes can be settled by achieving agreement through communication. I'd like to think that this makes me different to those right wing nut cases who create arguments just for the sake of denigrating their opponents. I am also more of a student of Heidegger than Marx, therefore, post structuralism is written on a banner in my front yard. I'm more than sympathetic with hermeneutic approaches to text although I am cautious with…

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    9. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Jeff Payne

      "Lily Allen, with 'working class' values"
      Are you having a larf, Jeff? Lily Allen comes from a multimillionaire family of famous luvvies and film producers, who from kindergarten attended the most expensive private schools in Britain (we're talking $50,000 a year. She's a Sloane Ranger's idea of a bit of ruff. But working class values? Pigs arse.

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    10. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Jeff Payne

      "To understand how offensive this article is just replace the word 'working class' with 'black' and see how crude an account is given here."
      Don't worry, the author gave that can a good whack right up front.
      "That’s a far cry from the discussion around Miley, whose music is – apart from being formally different to Lorde’s – written by others and whose style and, in fact, entire image is critiqued as derivative at best and racist cultural appropriation of African-American culture at worst."
      Fancy culturally appropriating!

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    11. Jeff Payne

      PhD in Political Science and Masters in Public Policy

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      Funny post Andy and fair enough, I don't know anything about Lily's background except that I like a few of her tunes and I thought she had a cockney accent. Looks like I've been taken in by marketing. I could try a 'death of author' argument but considering my previous post on this article not even I could handle the contradictions.

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    12. Jeff Payne

      PhD in Political Science and Masters in Public Policy

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      This hits the nail on the head Andy. Again, well done.

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    13. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Jeff Payne

      Jeff I've been following the same sorts of blogs that feed on this mindset. My impression? They're sick.My diagnosis? "Intersectional Ressentiment Disorder.

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    14. Jeff Payne

      PhD in Political Science and Masters in Public Policy

      In reply to Andy Cameron

      I've heard of this condition myself. It really is sad and potentially extremely dangerous. I've heard of it infecting whole communities and resulting in great harm! I must admit Andy, and I'm embarrassed to admit this in public, but I fear I've caught this disease myself. Oh, the social stigma. Unlike many cases I've heard of, such as those diagnosed by the famous Dr Nietzsche, my condition arose rather late in life. I seem to have contracted this dreadful disease when I started mixing with highly…

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  7. Phil Grove

    Information Manager

    I too found the class angle on these two as quite baffling. For my money, one is interesting the other not. One feels that performing in underpants is empowering, the other seems more concerned with making music. I don't know if I need an egghead feminist analysis to determine who I'd rather listen to.

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  8. Mike Swinbourne

    logged in via Facebook

    "....She also weighed in on Selena Gomez suggesting that the song Come And Get It was detrimental to women’s rights..."

    Sounds like a pretentious little girl who needs to grow up and stop taking herself so seriously.

    "....The issue here is not whether one pop singer is a “better” feminist than the other..."

    You're correct. The only issue is what their fans like. And I will give you odds - none of Miley Cyrus's fans even know who Lorde is, and they care even less.

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    1. Olivia Hibbitt

      Medical Writer

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      "Sounds like a pretentious little girl who needs to grow up and stop taking herself so seriously."

      Quite right, all these females thinking they can have opinions, and express them publically no less, it's unseemly!

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    1. Paul Miller

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Dale Bloom

      But her 'Bangerz' album did go to Number One in the Aria charts.

      Which I'm not sure supports your rather dubious conclusion.

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  9. Phil S

    Physics PhD Student

    I think Lorde's comments on Selena Gomez's song "Come and get it" were unfair. The song was written post breakup with Justin Bieber, and my interpretation was that the song was a veiled hint at the fact that while she still loved him, he was a childish prat. When he "was ready" he would be free to "come and get it".

    So, I don't really see how a song about a lost love is really "detrimental to women's rights". Especially since it was reportedly her who ended the relationship she was singing about.

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  10. James Burke

    Clerk

    Poor Miley Cyrus, victim of a class war waged by the petty bourgeoisie against the Hollywood elite children of millionaire country and western singers!
    Get a grip, Miley has more in common with Paris Hilton than she does with anyone remotely 'working class'.

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  11. Jesse Brockis
    Jesse Brockis is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Champion

    Really? It's all just marketing. You speak about these people like they're making decisions and acting based off of their own plans.

    I'd love to read an interview with the person who came up with Miley's album launch campaign, absolute genius! Granted Madonna at the behest of her marketing company did the same sort of thing in the 80's (and numerous others since then) I'm sure that monetizing sexuality is a great way to sell records.

    Pop music is by definition manufactured, we need to stop talking about the puppets of pop like they have any integrity at all and focus on the social insight that has lead the marketing companies to sell music in the way they are.

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  12. Martin Connelly

    logged in via Facebook

    One of the sad things about New Zealand is that someone cannot have success for even a day before the tall-poppy cutters come out try and cut the successful one down to size. But this was a rather sad attempt, dressed up as it was in the rhetoric of "class"

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    1. Rich d'Rich

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Martin Connelly

      Actually I think it's completely the reverse.

      Most thinking people kick back when asked to idolise some hugely hyped figure - ask Germans what they think of Justin Bieber or the English of Victoria Beckham.

      In NZ, corporate hype gets wrapped in the flag so it's regarded as unpatriotic and nasty to criticise any NZ celebrity. See also The Hobbit.

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  13. Jasmine Chalmers

    logged in via Facebook

    I can't believe how moronic most of these comments are. Half take an academic analysis as a personal attack on their beliefs and tastes, the other half think Rosemary is personally criticizing Lorde rather than critiquing the classist discourses which create a false distinction between manufactured pop stars.

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    1. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Jasmine Chalmers

      Yep Jasmine, I'll cop to that. Just read Rosemary's article again, this time more closely, to try and getter a better handle on her 'class' angle; except I had thought she was deifying Lorde and trashing Trashy Miley. I now see the point is not that Rosemary makes these distinctions, feeling a need to take sides, but that this sort of antagonistic framing of celebrities (here specifically music) as competitors, almost gladiators for one side, and one side only, in any game you want to imagine. And…

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    2. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Jasmine Chalmers

      Jasmine, I think the existence of these "classist" [not sure what that means] discourses needs a bit more identification.

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    3. Michelle Singh

      Tutor in Gender Studies & Sociology at Griffith University

      In reply to Jasmine Chalmers

      Aside from the "moronic" adjective, I agree Jasmine - it is surprising to see some of the assumptions made about this article. And it's very difficult to see how the author is "taking sides", or recommending one pop singer over the other - this is very far from the point of her argument. I think that these questions around class, taste, female sexuality, and also marketing, are extremely interesting and worthwhile. Whether one is partial to Miley Cyrus, or Lorde, or indifferent to both, isn't really the issue :).

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    4. Jeff Payne

      PhD in Political Science and Masters in Public Policy

      In reply to Jasmine Chalmers

      I know I've already made this point but to call others 'moronic' for a correct interpretation of an article is pretentious and embarrassing. Again, the prejudices of the educated elite who aren't keen on listening to those who they deem inadequate is revealed for all to see. I've now read this article three times and at one level Jasmine, you are right, this was the authors intention but, actually, the whole article operates with an insulting class prejudice that many won't detect as they operate…

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    5. Michelle Singh

      Tutor in Gender Studies & Sociology at Griffith University

      In reply to Jeff Payne

      Jeff, I objected to the "moronic" label too, but didn't make any assumptions about the poster's background, elite or otherwise. Also, I've been partly persuaded by your arguments in our earlier exchange, but I'd hesitate to call anyone's reading the "correct interpretation" (it's sort of a similar move to calling people morons because they disagree with you....).
      You're very sweeping and dismissive about "educated" and "academic" people - I've found them to be quite a mix in terms of backgrounds and in terms of their attitudes. Not sure where you work/study, but you seem to have been surrounded by truly horrible people?
      Thanks so much taking the time to reply yesterday in such detail - I'm still chewing my way through it (mentally speaking) :)

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    6. Jeff Payne

      PhD in Political Science and Masters in Public Policy

      In reply to Michelle Singh

      Michelle, I've found in my time mixing with the elite that they are a tough and ruthless bunch of very privileged people so don't feel sorry for them. My barbs will inflict no wounds. I responded respectfully to your post because you responded respectfully to mine. This article is offensive. Would we let an article like this go if it was targeting Jews or 'blacks'? No, we rightfully would not. That this kind of thing is acceptable reflects the late stage class warfare we are in (if you doubt me look…

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    7. Jeff Payne

      PhD in Political Science and Masters in Public Policy

      In reply to Michelle Singh

      One more thing Michelle, I don't think as hermeneutsat we need step away from the idea of 'correct interpretation'. Post structuralism is not nihilistic. An interpretation is correct until shown not to be. Heidegger spent his whole life searching for truth and the condition under which things appear as what they are. Gadamer accepted this conclusions completely. The important point is that we maintain a stance of openness. I mean this as a request, please, show me where my reading is wrong.

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    8. Michelle Singh

      Tutor in Gender Studies & Sociology at Griffith University

      In reply to Jeff Payne

      "The number of academics from blue collar backgrounds who have worked in blue collar roles, well I know two".
      Well, now you know three (virtually speaking). And you're assuming too much about my naivety; I don't need to be told about privilege or toughness, and I'm quite capable of identifying meritocratic arguments when I see them. I have met many examples of the elitist type you describe during my 25 years in and out of academia, and also many decent ethical people who try to work and live well…

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    9. Michelle Singh

      Tutor in Gender Studies & Sociology at Griffith University

      In reply to Jeff Payne

      I know that post-structuralism isn't nihilistic, Jeff. It's my main theoretical orientation, yet I'm still a leftie feminist animal lib type person who tries to cultivate an ethical disposition :).
      I never said that your reading was wrong. I don't fully agree with it, and I'm not convinced that the author is imposing a specific class bias onto her topic. I certainly don't think it's on the same level as being racist or anti-semitic, but that's my view - and I'm painfully aware that "my view" isn't a synonym for "truth". I'll happily debate different interpretations, and as I said above, your arguments about the article have made me think. Who is actually correct, for me, pales in significance next to this.

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    10. Jeff Payne

      PhD in Political Science and Masters in Public Policy

      In reply to Michelle Singh

      I'm not into point scoring Michelle, despite appearances, and I fear the quality of the discussion is deteriorating. My faith in that imbecilic eternal optimist Habermas is challenged every day of my life. You seem to be getting very defensive against the guy who is trying to defend the working class. I could ask how a hermeneut in gender studies steps away from a commitment to 'generalizations' and I'm more than a little concerned with the 'we're all individuals' ethos you express ( perhaps you…

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    11. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Michelle Singh

      Michelle, the author IS imposing a class analysis, just not a very successful one. For an author to base an argument around class differences, let alone the dynamics of capitalist-organized industries (such as the music), and yet be silent on just how class dynamics operate as material relationships, whose outcomes ARE first and foremost MATERIAL, then that argument can only ever be stillborn,

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  14. Andrew Stevenson

    logged in via email @gilrose.co.nz

    1. I find it a little ironic that Lorde is claimed to "critique of the “Cristal, Maybach, diamonds” culture of attributed to mainstream pop", but then she turns up at the Grammys wearing Prada.

    2. Agree with Andy Cameron. Miley has only become Winehouse-esque since she turned 20-21. Let's wait and see how Lorde copes with the next 4 years before we make her out to be 'better' than Cyrus/Bieber.

    3. Agree with Mark Smith. Most of Lorde's songs are co-written and she clearly has a very savvy team of managers and advisors that are controlling her very well, as evidence by her shying away from the media, not doing many live shows (prior to 1-2 months ago), etc. They are portraying her as 'enigmatic and mysterious' deliberately.

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  15. Paul Miller

    logged in via LinkedIn

    So the thrust of this article is the suggestion that Lorde is taken more seriously than Miley Cyrus because Lorde is seen as 'middle class' and Miley is seen as 'some other unspecified class'?

    The article's concluding line suggests the author believes that this is a long-standing trend in popular music.

    If being middle class now affords credibility in popular music then I must admit to be somewhat taken aback - it certainly wasn't the case during my formative years. The prevailing view used…

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  16. Des Stackpole

    Post hole Digger

    I enjoyed the piece.

    That both entertainers can make a living is presumably due to sophisticated targeting of the products to identified niches, and canny coaching of the talent.

    I'm just a dabbler, but the phrase 'guilty pleasures' took me way back to a term about soap operas...I'd be interested in (or at least amused by) a marxist analysis of the subject.

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  17. Phil Grove

    Information Manager

    Hello people - It's pop music.

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    1. Paul Miller

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Phil Grove

      Are you suggesting that pop music doesn't have any cultural relevance or that the public's perception of pop music performers isn't an area fit for reflection?

      Pop music is a multi-billion dollar industry and millions are made and lost on the strength of the public's perception of its performers. While I don't agree with the author's contention, this is nevertheless a subject that merits discussion.

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    2. Phil Grove

      Information Manager

      In reply to Paul Miller

      I'm not suggesting that pop music has no cultural significance however it's not intended as social discourse. I feel that over analysis of performers perceived politics places them in a position more suited to qualified people.
      At some point, I assume, MC & Lorde started out making music for the love of it. Then they are expected to make consistent and weighty (sometimes implicit) statements on any number of matters irrelevant to their real job of "entertainment". Just because they are prominent in entertainment gives them no more authority than anyone else.
      Can't we just enjoy (or not) their work and leave it at that?

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    3. Paul Miller

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Phil Grove

      The article is not about any expectation that these performers make weighty statements on matters outside of their immediate purview.

      The article is about how the public/media has received the opinions these artists have chosen to express. The author is suggesting that we take the opinions of one more seriously than the other because one is middle class while the other is essentially a 'cashed-up bogan'.

      This is therefore not particularly an article about pop music or its performers but about 'our' supposedly ingrained class prejudices.

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    4. Phil Grove

      Information Manager

      In reply to Paul Miller

      Yes, I understand what you're saying and in regards to the articles' subject I agree. I guess I'm a little wary of over analysis of things that are better left alone.
      I find it far more interesting for example to look at Pete Seeger's legacy of political and social activism than the rather insubstantial consequences of either of these two entertainers.

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    5. Paul Miller

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Phil Grove

      It's the weekend, too hot to go outside and I find myself with the unusual luxury of having the time to reflect on both articles :-)

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    6. Jeff Payne

      PhD in Political Science and Masters in Public Policy

      In reply to Phil Grove

      I think you're total wrong here Phil. Music like Pete Seeger's is more like activism than art. I think Lorde's song 'Royals' for example, is a very interesting and insightful song which carries deep social commentary which is delivered with subtlety. We don't need a sledge hammer to 'get the point'. Further, it is not so much what is explicity said when considering popular culture so much as the assumptions upon which the art form operates. What does, for example, Cyrus say about women in contemporary society? Is she advocating feminism, post feminism, post post feminism or past feminism? No, as Adorno shows only too well, popular culture in all its form is worthy of much consi

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    7. Jeff Payne

      PhD in Political Science and Masters in Public Policy

      In reply to Jeff Payne

      The last sentence should read, 'No, as Adorno shows only too well, popular culture in all its forms is worthy of much consideration'. I'm embarrassed to admit that I accidently prematurely e-publicated : !

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    8. Jeff Payne

      PhD in Political Science and Masters in Public Policy

      In reply to Jeff Payne

      Actually, 'embarrassed to admit that I suffered from premature e-publication' would have been better. I'm going to bed!

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    9. Phil Grove

      Information Manager

      In reply to Jeff Payne

      To me this seems like getting an art critic to discuss house painting. No doubt you could examine context & technique etc but it entirely misses the point. Pop music is meant to be danced to, sung along with, make you feel good when you hear it on the radio.
      Dissecting it to this degree, discussing the relative feminist/class nuances of two performers may be useful for you, but I have no interest in it.
      I guess the reason I'm even discussing this is that I feel it devalues the enjoyment of pop…

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    10. Jeff Payne

      PhD in Political Science and Masters in Public Policy

      In reply to Phil Grove

      Fair enough Phil, I certainly wouldn't want to be the guy responsible for stopping the party. Your first line is very clever. Its cleverness actually gives access to my point. The product of that painter may not be very interesting but the economic conditions under which that house is painted is interesting (at least to me). The power and social conditions which make that house painter and the conditions under which he paints is very interesting and I think this is what is happening in this discussion…

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    11. Phil Grove

      Information Manager

      In reply to Jeff Payne

      Just to have the last word - I get that broad movements in culture are worthy of study. And that more "arty" music can stand scrutiny. I just don't find the sort of microanalysis in the article useful.

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    12. Andy Cameron

      Care giver

      In reply to Phil Grove

      Phil, that is because Cultural Studies university academics (and their cognates) are not interested in the cultural and artistic merits per se, rather than see "artistic/cultural" artefacts as mere moments and expressions of the much important issues - what they call "power". To the extent this piece is about that power, particularly the "music industry", it fails for lack of evidence of how the "industry" itself "positions as young female pop-stars rehearses a particularly insidious class-based discrimination." In fact, having read it again, the author shows no evidence that anybody at all thinks in the class terms. All the article's claims about class are unsourced generalisations.

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