Music

L.A.M.B. Album Appreciation Post

Is it just me, or does one of these “guilty pleasure music Appreciation Posts” pop up on my blog every year? First it was for Teenage Dream, then Spiceworld, and now…2004’s Love Angel Music Baby, the solo debut for Gwen Stefani. Can I start by saying that this album has one of the weirdest covers ever…and that it’s totally awesome?

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I would probably like this artwork more, though, if the shapes/colors weren’t morphed and gel-like. But what can you do.

Anyway, my first exposure to the record was actually from hearing my mom’s favorite track on the radio. Since then, that song- “What You Waiting For?”- has become one of my favorites as well. With Gwen’s signature vocals and a pounding electro-beat, it has an energizing effect on the listener. Mom wound up purchasing the CD for herself, but I basically stole it, and I don’t believe she’s noticed. It’s been over a decade.

I guess you could describe the underlying theme of the music as…megalomaniacal? Almost all of them are about love, fashion, money, or any combination of the three. So hey, it may not be great art, but sometimes you need that level of fun.

What makes L.A.M.B. unique is the fact that it spawned an entire franchise here in the United States. Gwen Stefani has a notorious fascination with Japanese street culture, so she used this album to share her love with us. Clothing, perfumes, and (really cute) fashion dolls were just some of the paraphernalia.

Unfortunately, that created quite a bit of controversy related to cultural appropriation…particularly when she went on tour. You see, Gwen had four backup performers at the L.A.M.B. concerts: young Japanese women she called her “Harajuku Girls.” This dynamic generated many ill feelings, as the girls were referred to as “modern day Geisha” by critics. I’m not looking to generate a discourse here; I will only say that their concerns are pretty valid.

Nevertheless, Love Angel Music Baby‘s controversial elements don’t prevent me from enjoying the record itself. If you feel like indulging in some “Bubble Pop” sound or acting like a “Rich Girl,” this is how you do it. So “what you waiting for?” Go B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

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Personals

Memories of Alice

So, for starters, I haven’t seen the new Disney Alice movie yet. But I did find this quote from it, and it basically punched me in the heart. “I used to think Time was a thief. But time is a gift. Every minute, every second.” This tore my soul out through my nostrils, not only because it’s relevant and poignant, but because I remembered that Alice Through the Looking Glass is the final film of Alan Rickman. This, my friends, is why I love art so much. In the way it relates to our world, it stirs up such powerful emotions. Those emotions can then cause us to change how we view said world…or even motivate us to do incredible things. No other forum/medium has this sort of power. But…I ramble! This wasn’t meant to be a post about my “feels,” or an analysis of why art matters.

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Back to Alice. The most lauded work of Lewis Carroll has been special to me since I was a little girl. I’ll admit that my first exposure to the story was the 1950s animated Disney movie, but it captivated me so much that when I got a little older, I wanted to read the book as well.

As a child unknowingly growing up under Asperger’s shadow, I related to Alice. Like her, I felt stuck in a world operating very differently from what my brain knew. I would “cast” people in my life as the denizens of Wonderland. My favorite actress was the Rose in the singing garden, Mom was the Gryphon, my mean principal was the Duchess, and my loud math teacher was the Queen of Hearts. (Of course, my pet cat was Dinah.) I have this one vivid memory of being around eleven years old, sitting alone during recess and reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland while the other children played as though I didn’t exist. Going to school was like falling down the rabbit hole.

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“The chief difficulty Alice found at first was in managing her flamingo.” This is one of my favorite lines from the book. Although I have changed over the years, and no longer feel quite as akin to Alice, many things have stayed the same for her and me. Like that line. And blue dresses/black hair bows. Or my fascination with the wonderful oddities of life. When I picture myself as a child, I see someone with braids and eyeglasses, wearing a school uniform and reading the story of Alice. If I could speak to her, much like the Cheshire Cat, I’d say that things will get better. That she will build true friendships and find her way.

So, Mr. Carroll and Mr. Disney- I thank you for your unrivaled creativity, and my eleven-year-old self thanks you!