The Rich Girls Are Weeping

14 March 2008

Andi and Duckie are silently judging you.

Believe me, the above image will make sense. In a minute.

This is just a brief post. I hope that everyone @ SXSW is having a good time; we're looking forward to seeing What Made Milwaukee Famous and Louis XIV at Irving Plaza (or Filmore East, or whatever they're calling it these days...) tonight.

It seems like outside of the SXSW action, all anyone was really talking about this week was Vampire Weekend -- be it their Saturday Night Live appearance, or the fact that they seem to be everywhere at SXSW this year.

Now, I know it's become terribly passe to criticize Vampire Weekend or froth at the mouth about them or what have you, but I must relate the following story to you.

One of my co-workers is a bit older than me and is totally adorable because she only keeps up with the new music via what she sees on TV. She loves Ghostland Observatory and Bloc Party because she saw them on Austin City Limits. But she was a hardcore fangirl back in the day -- we had a great conversation about Urge Overkill, of all things, a few weeks ago. Anyway, yesterday afternoon she ambled over to my desk and asked, "So, what do you think of this Vampire Weekend band?"

"Well, I honestly don't like them," I said -- remembering with a shudder when The L Magazine pegged them as a "band to watch" early last year and how I kind of threw up in my mouth a little as my eyes first met the term "Upper West Side Soweto," and how that pretty much made me want to give up writing about music altogether.

"Oh good!" she sighed. "I kept hearing about how great they were, and when I saw them on Saturday Night Live, all I could think was: If Blaine and Steff started a band, it would sound just like this."

By Blaine and Steff, dear readers, she meant Andrew McCarthy and James Spader's characters, respectively, in the 80's teen angst epic Pretty in Pink.

"Yes," I said. "After Andi and Blaine broke up, and Andi got together with Duckie [which is how it should have turned out in the first place], Blaine starts a band with Steff in a fruitless attempt to win her back!" (n.b. Amusingly, when I related this story to Pinkie later that day, she totally followed my co-worker's imaginings to the same logical conclusion.)

"Exactly. And that band is totally Vampire Weekend."

So, there you have it kids. When you wonder why us crabby old bloggers hate Vampire Weekend -- it's not really because of the inappropriate appropriation of South African pop by tacky upper middle class white kids who have no sense of musical history. Rather, it's because they remind us of the Blaines and the Steffs of the world. [A note from Pinkie: Another reason the Soweto reference is completely offensive is that those of us who are cranky and jaded enough to make the Blaine & Steff connection are also old enough to remember Apartheid while it was happening. Somehow Vampire Weekend's namecheck doesn't ring with the same passion as Peter Gabriel's homage to Stephen Biko.]

The archetypes of high school society presented in Pretty in Pink are slightly quaint relics now. It's no longer taboo to make your own clothes, dress differently, hound dark rock clubs on a school night -- it's practically de rigeur. And from the outside, it seems like for many teenagers and early 20-somethings, faceless interactions through the Internet and other new technologes, as well as the economic opulence of the past 10 years or so, have completely wiped hardcore class distinctions that were the foundation of youth culture in the 80's and 90's.

So yeah, cut us some slack. Those Vampire Weekend songs are p(r)eppy and hollow and catchy -- and they're totally the Tapes 'n Tapes of 2007-8 (on the same label, even!) -- good for them. But frankly, we're still hanging out with the music nerds and the weirdos and the burnouts and the drama fags and other assorted high school untouchables. And we'd much rather listen to the music they're making now.

Just for you, some selections from the Pretty in Pink soundtrack.

The Smiths -- Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want
The Psychedelic Furs -- Pretty In Pink
Echo and the Bunnymen -- Bring On The Dancing Horses
Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark -- If You Leave

Bonus vid, New Order -- Shellshock

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Blogger Beth said...

Fantastic, fantastic post. God it's good to have you girls back again!

Friday, March 14, 2008 10:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

awesome post. In britain people are fawning over The Vampire Weekends right now, as you identify they're like a fratboy nirvana without the hardcore education.

Friday, March 14, 2008 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger mhr said...

HOLY CRAP! that is so very true! i couldn't quite put my finger on why i hated VW with such vehemence. thank you. thank you for naming it!


Friday, March 14, 2008 3:44:00 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

I stumbled across this post as I was searching Hype Machine to see if anyone had recently posted Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want. I just posted it on my blog and I like to see how recently a song had been posted by someone else. Anyway, I love this post! You really nailed it about Vampire Weekend. Great stuff. I will be checking you out regularly.

Sunday, March 30, 2008 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Pj Perez said...

Pretty in Pink soundtrack = OMG

Monday, April 14, 2008 5:44:00 PM  

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