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December 12, 2008

Music for the Day: "My Boyfriend's Back"

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Gratifying to see a new generation applying their talents to the classics, isn't it? Stacie Orrico performs "My Boyfriend's Back," backed by Brittany Snow and Vanessa Lengies:

A big part of the fun for me in watching the video came from the way the girls do such a good job of showing off their pastel-colored Capri pants. Are there many things cuter than teen girls in Capri pants? I'm hoping that that's one style that'll never go out of fashion.

Here's the original (and much crisper, or perhaps pushier) 1963 version of "My Boyfriend's Back." God I love that one rhyme: "My boyfriend's back, he's gonna save my reputation / If I were you, I'd take a permanent vacation."

From Wikipedia I learned that ...

* One of the song's composers, Richard Gottehrer, later turned to record production, and produced the first albums by Blondie and the Go-Gos.
* Capri pants were originally created by a European fashion designer, Sonja de Lennart, in 1948.



posted by Michael at December 12, 2008


That clip is a big reason why I don't really like most retro shows like American Dreams, where that clip was from. It's sexy as hell, but just not convincing as a TV 60s clip. Those are obviously girls that grew up in the modern era of uber-sexualized teens. No white teen suburban girls from that era would be on TV doing slow, sultry, borderline stripperish hip rolls, gyrations and come hither stares like that. Teens are so sexualized now we take it for granted, but that is incredibly sexually charged, and the sultry movement has a lot of soul that betrays a lot of MTV and BET music video watching and modern hip-hop and R&B sexy dancing.

For example look at the second clip that is genuinely old school and compare it to the American Dreams clip. I don't think it's just restraint and morality, I don't the girls in the second clip could pull off those gyrations even if they wanted to.

Posted by: T. AKA Ricky Raw on December 12, 2008 12:59 PM

Oh yeah, and not to mention the super-tightness of the capris and the shirts around the chest area. There;s almost cameltoe action there.

Raises a good question: what are movies that do a good job of recreating past eras and which ones come off way too informed by modern styles and values when trying to ape the past? American Dreams struck me as being in the latter category, as did the Studio 54 movie. Spike Lee's Summer of Sam really came off as being from the proper era though.

Posted by: T. AKA Ricky Raw on December 12, 2008 1:07 PM

I thought George Washington and Napoleon wore capris.

Posted by: lindenen on December 12, 2008 8:44 PM

I preferred the 1963 version. The singing is better, and the girls came off as cute and refreshing.

The modern version is just "knowing" and the sexiness is a bit forced. I didn't like it.

What T./Ricky said.

Posted by: blue on December 13, 2008 3:32 PM

Sonja de Lennart, one of the great benefactors of mankind. Who knew?

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on December 13, 2008 9:40 PM

Well, well, well! Interesting; I remember Stacie Orrico, a few years back, as a teenager doing "Contemporary Christian Music" (CCM). She seems to have come a long way from her roots.

Posted by: Will S. on December 14, 2008 12:26 AM

I get T.'s point, and blue's. The sexy kills the cute, and you need the cute.

I ended up linking to a short, raw clip of Lesley Gore singing You Don't Own Me. A revival of this would be like a Women's Studies thesis, perhaps conceived as a nagging, teachy, rhythmless chant by that Eddie Fisher of our era, Madonna. With Lesley, you get drama, defiance and musicianship. She's also got that intimicacy thing you find in the great cabaretieres - though the sound is pure pop.

It will have to survive many more assassination attempts...but Rock 'n Roll will never die.

Posted by: Robert Townshend on December 14, 2008 3:35 AM

T's got it. The girls in the new video are almost inviting the bad boy to come take them now right quick before "boyfriend" gets back. No sense at all of the genuine "ha-ha-ha you're in trouble now, loser!" vibe of the original. It's as if these girls simply don't know any other way to act. A death in the family? Put on a sexy pout. Feeling lost and lonely? Gyrate those hips. Realize that Einstein was right about quantum mechanics after all? Do a pole dance!

To say nothing of how unsexy, flat, dull, dead and exhausted all these stripperish cliches have become. The girls all look as enthusiastic, open, lively and energetic as porn stars.

Yuck. Odd how the pornification/stripperization of everything has drained all the sexual energy from music. You'd have to pop a little blue diamond or two to get any woodliness over that enervated porno-pablum.

Hey! No matter what your age!

Posted by: PatrickH on December 14, 2008 9:37 AM

I agree with all the bitching, but sheesh you're a bunch of hard-asses. The girl performers didn't come up with the stripper-ish moments, or the rock-video cutting. Their job is to be charming and sell what they're told to do. Wear those Capri pants cutely. Execute the neo-'60s choreography while wearing sweet expressions. Etc. Be a girl-group, dammit. All the neo-knowing-retro stuff ... Can we blame it on the producers and public? The chick-performers are just out there hoping we'll love them and throw money. Which is sweet, no? And it's a good thing that they've spent a few days polishing up a girl-group number, no? (I mean, you don't really want them spending a lot of time polishing up post-modern performance-art routines instead, do you?)

And they do a good job of showing off the Capri pants, no?

I mean, unless we're in the mood to decry girls today generally. Which is OK by me too ... But I do tend to find that many performer-girls still have a lot of sweetness and fizz. If they didn't they probably wouldn't be performers.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on December 14, 2008 10:44 AM

Hey MB, my problem with the clip is not so much the girl's performance when viewed in a vacuum out of context. If this was just a modern performance I could appreciate it a lot more. They look sexy in the Capri pants, the singing is fine, the moves are nice and well-choreographed.

My problem is two-fold though. Like PatrickH says, it's not appropriate to the song's subject matter. They are not supposed to be seducing the guy they are singing to, but threatening him. Second, as actresses they are supposed to be evoking the early 60s pop, not post-Britney Spears pop.

But you're right, I don't totally blame the girls, they are just doing what they know. I blame the directors and choreographers whose job it is to make the period piece seem authentic. For example I'm sure the people behind Mad Men would have done a better job with the authenticity.

Posted by: T. AKA Ricky Raw on December 14, 2008 12:12 PM

I should get off my high horse, I know. But I often want to defend performers. They don't come up with the choreography, or scripts, or costumes, or even haircuts -- they're there to bring it all alive, to sell the character, the moment, to make the whole package irresistable. They do their best with their spirits and talents -- and then often get blamed for the writers' bad lines, or the producers' bad ideas. (Of course, when the package really works they often get credit for lots more than they deserve credit for ...) So I tend to stand up for performers a lot, and I tend to like to remind civilians what the job of a performer is: You show up with nothing but your body, your voice, your training, and your preparation. You get given a character, a script, costumes, a situation ... And you go out there and you make it seem alive and spontaneous and fun. You make the audience love this material. Performers are really the most exposed of all artists, and performing is really the most immediate kind of creativity. So I love giving them a lot of the credit I think they're due.

Anyway: I agree, the clip itself is 'way too sexed-up, contempo, knowing, etc. That said: Is there any other way to sell this kind of material to a present-day audience? I've only watched one episode of "Mad Men." (Didn't love it.) And it struck me as anything but true to the period -- it struck me as quite a knowing, tweaked-for-a-modern-audience version of the '50s. The design is fun, the sex roles are fun ... But you're never allowed to forget that the women were oppressed, the men drank too much, etc -- which is all a way of tailoring the actual facts of the matter to present-day tastes. No different than this clip, no? But maybe I watched a bum episode of "Mad Men" ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on December 14, 2008 2:13 PM

The early "Mad Men" was MUCH too knowing. Obnoxiously so, in the first few episodes of the first season. But they eventually got much better at that. Not perfect, but by the second season they reined that in much better.

Posted by: T. AKA Ricky Raw on December 14, 2008 9:24 PM

Actually I take it back Mike. The more I reflect on it, Mad Men was actually a HORRIBLE example. I was wrong to use it.

Posted by: T. AKA Ricky Raw on December 14, 2008 10:16 PM

Period pieces are always tied to the era in which they were produced, not the era in which they are portraying.It's one of my wife's a my favorite movie pastimes, talking about the trends and styles of the day on parade in period pieces. Think of the movie Bonnie and Clyde. Pure late 60s/early 70s, despite the 20s setting.

I for one enjoyed this puff piece. Jesus, people, most of you are killjoys! Ha.

Posted by: JV on December 15, 2008 12:25 AM

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