One of the benefits of writing for NewNowNext is that I get to have random conversations about music all the time. And I love that, because despite my encyclopedic knowledge of Rihanna hairdos and Madonna singles, I can’t actually hear everything. So when I get introduced to a hot new hit, it’s like a birthday gift coming early. (By the way… my birthday is in less than two weeks. You can send peanut-butter-filled chocolates to the Viacom building.)
ANYWAY… my point is that without my co-workers, I would never have heard the sassy, rude, and awesome “Thing-A-Ling” by The Lady Tigra. (And if you know your hip-hop history, then you know I mean that Lady Tigra. The one who used to be in L’Trimm and likes cars that go boom.)
Have a listen to the song, and just as importantly, enjoy the tasty video.
“Thing-a-Ling” is from Spork, a highly stylized movie about an outcast middle schooler who unites with her trailer trash friends to out-dance her bitchy enemies. (Yes. She out-dances them.) The movie is a dizzy exercise in style, with bright-bright colors, intense dialogue about pointless things, and scenes where, like, the principal’s desk is 400 feet big and the students sit 400 feet away from it when they’re being yelled at. The movie isn’t realistic, but its grotesque images and emotions still feel honest. Sometimes, the principal’s office does seem like a horrifying cave, swallowing you whole with its immense authority.
“Thing-A-Ling” taps into this sensibility. Both the song and the video are fiercely perfect.
Song first: The beats are polished and regular. Lady Tigra’s flow is airy and calm, like she’s not even worried about your ass. Even the video game sounds and horn blasts come in tiny, controlled blasts, not messy avalanches like you might hear in an experimental Kanye West song.
The video matches the song’s playfulness by making tons of 80s references. For instance, we see a booty-popping dude dressed up like Skeletor, and near the end, there are direct call-backs to the early-days-of-technology editing in Neneh Cherry’s “Buffalo Stance” video. And that’s totally campy, because in 2012 that shit is old. How can you possibly be cool if all your references are from 1989?
By being intentionally out of date, that’s how. By being such a flawless throwback that it’s obvious you built your thrift shop persona. And don’t get it twisted: This video is perfect, without a hair or a pixel out of place. The colors are bright, and the images are crisp. The guy dancing in a unitard might be overweight, but his moves are on point, and his fake nails are fierce. Lady Tigra’s shoulder pads might look like Dynasty called, but that jacket is so white it could blind you.
In other words: Take your backwardness, make it excellent, and as Latrice Royale would say, make them eat it. That could be the motto of “Thing-a-Ling” and the movie Spork. And I can support that. Pardon me while I go find my Jem and the Holograms tapes and party like its Reagan’s second term. You can buy the soundtrack on iTunes here.
Previously: If Jem and the Holograms were on Smash
Back in the 80s, Mark Blankenship dressed like Skeletor for Halloween. He had an awesome mask that glowed in the dark. He tweets as @IAmBlankenship