Tag Archives: Boy

Have You Heard… “Boris” by Lo-Fang?

 

Songs of 2014

by Gabriel Valdez

Have You Heard? is a stream of song recommendations, many of which will be new to you. We’ll focus on the music of 2014 to start, and we’ll be highlighting a lot of smaller, more independent artists.

Let’s inaugurate this with the most terrifying song of the year, and one of the few for which I’ll ever give a trigger warning: “Boris” by Lo-Fang.

The excellent original song by female duet Boy was an Anais Mitchell-like descent into an inescapable moment. It became louder and more chaotic as it progressed, blurring the lines between consent and coercion. Where the plot and their relationship ends is up for debate.

In covering it, Lo-Fang switches the song’s perspective to that of the man, ditching nuance and lending a more directed sociopathy:

“Baby, aren’t you hungry?
I could give you codeine,
I could get my car keys.
Oh, what a cute dress,
right now it’s useless,
I heard your boyfriend’s out of town.”

The titular Boris’s intent becomes clearer, and the chorus “You should get out of town, too,” is no longer a mutual suggestion, but a threatening ultimatum. Where Boy’s original female perspective became a chaos of pressures and confused motives, Lo-Fang’s male perspective keeps control of the moment, using harmonies and a staccato violin-and-acoustic guitar duo as if weapons all aimed at the woman he’s coercing, manipulating, and finally kicking away as if a used piece of trash.

Released in 2013, but not widely available until this year, Lo-Fang’s “Boris” is a terrifying snapshot into a mentality that, between the Isla Vista shootings, the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, and GamerGate, has contributed toward pushing women toward a second-class citizenship.

If it’s depressing that this is – to me – the song that most exemplifies the battles of 2014, it’s also reassuring that Lo-Fang (Maryland-based Matthew Hemerlein) can both capture and criticize a moment like this through such powerful music. It reminds me that art is still the best way to change people’s minds and open them to new perspectives.

Credit where credit’s due – Have You Heard? is Vanessa Tottle’s brainchild, influenced by Rock Paper Shotgun’s Have You Played? feature.

Go Watch This: “Every Other Freckle” by Alt-J

Every Other Freckle boy

by Amanda Smith & Gabe Valdez

[NSFW warning for the videos.]

At the end of every week, we messily exchange a bunch of stuff we’ve watched, hoping our own passions will spark with another writer and we can gain some traction on article ideas. The most contentious topic is music videos, I’m guessing since we’re running a Best Of list of them every month.

There’s one we haven’t been able to stop talking about since it ran, and that’s Alt-J’s “Every Other Freckle.” It’s actually two music videos, a “Boy” and a “Girl” version, and the way they interplay is one of the boldest music video statements of the year.

Two videos, one centered on a man, one on a woman. Both attractive. Not very safe for work. The images in between their close-ups are the same – buffalo stampeding, seagulls soaring, a cat pouncing on things. Each video on its own is cute, well-filmed, and seems like a celebration of sex and the human body, no matter the gender. When paired together, though, the message becomes wholly different.

The storming caveman in the “Boy” video seems like something subconscious in the male ego, a drive toward violence. When viewed in the “Girl” video, that violence suddenly has a target. The seagull, seemingly a musical accompaniment in the “Boy” video, becomes a yearning to escape in the “Girl” version.

Watch the videos synched together, side-by-side, and each reacts to the images of the other, and to slight syncopations in the delivery of certain metaphors.

Violence that seems aimless in the “Boy” video becomes a direct confrontation, a male assertion of dominance. Images of gathering fruit in the “Boy” video that seem out of place suddenly become a disturbing metaphor in the “Girl” video – he looks determined, she looks fearful as the armful of apples falls from each of their grasps. The genius of the paired videos is that they shift the lyrics themselves from clever and funny in “Boy” to scary and harmful in “Girl.”

The metaphors in one video don’t hold complete meaning until you view its partner, and suddenly it all turns from contemplations of beauty to a portrayal of obsession, violence, and possession. It’s a brilliant statement. This isn’t a full analysis – if it were, we’d be talking about its Garden of Eden metaphors and how slick the editing is. This is a “We Can’t Wait Till the End of the Month to Tell You About This So Go Watch Now Because We’re Obsessed With It!”

Watch one and then the other, or synch them up to run side-by-side. But do watch them.