"It’s just internet hype, it’s never gonna translate into IRL success, people aren’t actually eating it at parties, yeah? Frankly I think healthy food is an industry plant. It’s not had an organic growth in buzz, you know, it just suddenly popped up? I don’t buy it"
FKA Twigs - “Two Weeks” (2014)
The “FKA” in FKA Twigs’ name stands for “Formerly Known As,” a legal term of art often found in entertainment industry contracts; she took it on when she was still known as “Twigs” to fend off a legal challenge from another artist also known as Twigs. She became the term that would be used in the legal settlement, recognizing that her identity is constituted through a system of laws rather than her pure intentionality. The name of her forthcoming debut album is LP1, and this, too, is a legal term of art: in music industry contracts, “LP1” is used to refer to the first album made under the contract (and LP2 the second, etc.) since the titles of these future albums are not known yet.
As a former entertainment law paralegal, I find this charming, but it also resonates with her music. “Two Weeks” is an intensely physical song, not dancing around the point but coming right to it: “Feel your body closing, I can rip it open,” she sings. That sort of very specific language about sex is in sharp contrast to the dry abstractions of “FKA” and “LP1.” Legalese takes the horrors of human experience (death, violence, divorce) and expresses them in terms as entirely removed from emotion as possible: plaintiffs, executors, guardianship. The court deliberates on whether a man will be poisoned by the state for stabbing three people to death: is he guilty of first-degree murder.
Pop does this too. Pop songs are about (or are taken to be about) these intensely personal aspects of human experience, both physical and emotional—desire, attraction, sex, love, loss—things we experience only in the specific. But these songs, and our relationships with them, are embedded in a system that’s necessarily impersonal, that cannot afford to do anything but generalize the individual experience of listening to this work of art to as many people as possible. The song that means the world to you was deliberately engineered to be as appealing as possible, even if that meant subsuming the artist’s vision, was mass-produced and distributed and marketed without any regard for your feelings. The song my father-in-law chose for his dance with my wife at our wedding was used as Edward and Bella’s first dance at their wedding in Twilight. That doesn’t make our use of it any less emotional, but it’s a distinction that’s less jarring when it’s recognized and granted. Placing your identity as a singer within a legal term while singing “pull out the insides and give me two weeks” drives this home.
How To Be a Music Journalist
- Acquire music.
- Acquire opinion.
- Acquire site that wants to publish said opinions.
- Acquire more music, free of charge and almost three months before any of your mere mortal friends get to hear it.
- Feel smug.
- Panic as soon as you get a deadline.
- Try to make the sentence “this is good/bad and you should/should not listen to it” into a 5 paragraph persuasion essay.
- Cry because you have writer’s block
- wonder if rock writing is really “dead”.
- procrastinate. read Lester Bangs reviews and think about being as famous as him.
- wonder if you’re being too nice to bands and/or if you should start chugging cough syrup.
- attempt scathing review of actually good band/ eyeball bottle of NyQuil.
- feel awful and wonder if the cough syrup helped writer’s block
- sit down fifteen minutes before your deadline and write the review, free of cough syrup.