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[personal profile] labingi
Wherein I gripe about one song and praise another, with X-Men: First Class as a common thread (with a brief digression into Mirage of Blaze).

This Charles/Erik vid, by KaseytheJudge, was one of the early XM:FC vid recs I came across, and it remains one of the better Charles/Erik vids I've seen. The song, "Losing Your Memory" (Ryan Star) has a elegiac feel perfect for the arc of the Charles/Erik relationship in XM:FC. When I first saw the vid, however, I was jarred by its abrupt stop, in the middle of Star beginning the wail the next verse. Having acquainted myself with the song, I have a much more sympathy for the vidder's difficulty here.


Oh, this song. The first two-thirds or so, the part KaseytheJudge vids, is excellent, that rare balance of moving words and lovely music, slowly building in power, with a good voice behind them. And then it derails (and it derails without a pause for breath, hence poor KaseytheJudge cutting off the vid in the middle of a line). The last third or so has some nice bits, not least Star showing off his vocal range, but this can't save it from two big problems.

1) He starts to screech. True, I have less tolerance for this than most. As a kid, I couldn't take it at all. But there is a place for hollering in pop music. Carl Anderson, for example, does it to exceptional effect in Jesus Christ Superstar. I think he pulls it off by balancing outbursts of hollering against his powerful singing voice to add an edge of raw emotion to basically fantastic, melodious singing.

Star, in contrast, largely surrenders his quite good singing voice in the last third or so of "Losing Your Memory" to do very little but holler hoarsely (like Bonnie Tyler), and it just gives me the impression of someone who can't sing, though clearly he can.

I could, however, deal with this, as the song is otherwise excellent, were it not compounded by an additional problem:

2) "Little girl." Two words that do a surprising amount of damage. Avoiding the "little girl," as the recipient of the song, may well be why KaseytheJudge cut it where s/he did. Obviously, it would be a little odd mapped to Charles and Erik. But this is not to say that songs should never be gendered. There's nothing wrong with men singing songs explicitly to women, or women to men or men men, women women, etc.

And, indeed, it is entirely possible--even exhilarating--to play with those genderings to interesting fannish effect. Let's take another "little girl" song, for example: Sarah McLachlan's "Good Enough". This is one of my Naoe-to-Kagetora songs, i.e. a man addressing a man. But Kagetora makes sense as the "little girl" in this song. The lyrics read:

Hey, little girl, would you like some candy
Your momma said that it’s ok
The door is open come on outside
No I can’t come out today.


This is very Kagetora: self-flagellating and afraid to open himself to comfort and company because he has internalized a sense of restriction and duty. He is (quite literally) the abused child who learns not to trust kindness.

This reading is possible because the song's lyrics give us enough to understand who this "little girl" is. "Little girl" here stands for someone who feels strongly controlled by others, a (psychological) child who is afraid of punishment and has learned to feel she deserves it if she steps outside the bounds.

Star's "little girl," in contrast, has no weight as an identity. The lyrics read:

Wake up; it's time; little girl, wake up.
All the best of what we've done is yet to come...


How, exactly, is this person--presumably the love interest the singer is losing--a "little girl"? Let's give the benefit of the doubt and assume the words aren't literal. So we're talking about someone who is grown up but psychologically, somehow, a "little girl." What are we meant to make of this?

* That adult men being in love with psychological girl children is sexy?

* That the love interest's flaws--amply referenced in the song--are a sign of infantile behavior? This seems more likely. But, then, why is the "little girl" associated with the waking? Wouldn't the waking be the overcoming of the flawed behavior and the one who awakes, therefore, be the adult? As it stands, the song takes a positive turn, toward preserving the relationship, at precisely the point the singer frames his love interest as a "little girl," suggesting, unfortunately, that he really does want to be involved with a mental child, that this is the person he loves. Maybe this is supposed to connote innocence? A return to Eden?

* Or maybe we're hampered by a mixed metaphor: child vs. adult and sleeping vs. waking, which is just sloppy writing.

In any event, there is not enough characterization of the "little girl" to support the use of the words. The effect is simply condescending.

I find this all tremendously frustrating because the rest of the song is so good! I want to listen to it. I even bought it, but I can only get two-thirds of the way through it, and as KaseytheJudge discovered, there is no place to cut it. The best I can figure out is to do a rapid fade out. I wonder if this might have been an option for the vid?

On a happier note, I have found the quintessential Charles/Erik song, and it is Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." Now, this is a very famous song precisely because it speaks broadly to many people's experience of love. There's no shortage of stories it could apply to. But I truly have never encountered a story it fits so perfectly as it fits the trajectory of Charles and Erik.

Finding a really good version of this song with more than the original four verses is frustrating in the manner of looking for a Hamlet fan vid that is not a re-enactment filmed for someone's Shakespeare class. But after much listening, I have settled on Jeff Buckley's cover as the best version I've come across. It cuts two verses, including (happily) the one fits Charles/Erik least ("You say I took the name in vain..."). It also cuts the verse that is usually last ("I did my best; it wasn't much..."). This is a bit of shame but no great impediment.

I'm not going to bother to gloss this one for Charles and Erik because it's obvious, isn't it? Here are the lyrics.. I will love forever someone who would vid this... but I suspect there's not currently enough material. Maybe if they get another movie or two out of the XM:FC franchise?

Date: 2011-09-15 06:02 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] louderandlouder
Oh, "Hallelujah" is a perfect Charles/Erik song. I got shivers.

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