T.I. featuring Rihanna, "Live Your Life"



"Live Your Life"= Kanye's "Good Life"





Glimpse Into The Future

My new friend Julia modeled in Houston before New York agencies decided her features were "too strong." As evidenced by the shots above, there's no such thing as "too strong." I just hope
I can fit enough shoots in before she pops up in V magazine.

New Billykirk Bag

Introducing the first clothing purchase I've made in three months.

It's from an upstart Americana company founded by two brothers that, ironically, kind of look like Bo and I.

Anyways, this was (kind of) expensive, and I know I'll regret it when the bill comes, but I'm thinking this is the type of quality that lasts.

And nothing's better than starting a trend.



Music: Pussycat Dolls, Jenny Lewis, Justice, MGMT, The Hives, and Natasha Bedingfield

My iPod is running a triathlon of musical genres as the moment. One moment I'm listening to Justice's brilliant DVNO (I'm late to the party, I know), then MGMT's "Kids," and next it's the Pussycat Dolls craptastically listenable "Bottle Pop."

Or is my iPod just a--hold on, this is seriously bringing the lols right now. There's an effeminate jock sitting near me on the couch listening to Avril Lavigne's "Fall To Pieces." He's eating Quiznos and his iPod is waaaay to loud. But I mean...does he really want the world to know his iPod playlist??

The Pussycat Dolls. Off their new uber-engineered pop manifesto, Doll Domination, two songs stand out as fantastic radio singles. "Bottle Pop," featuring a rap by Snoop Dog that is undoubtedly the highlight of the track, is a fun, accesible club song with dirty dancing the obviou provocation. The chorus is fine ("Bottle Pop" is sexual enough without explanation), but the writers have tried to add meaning to the lyrics--something about skinny models and the Dolls, who have "asses in the back." Because models have asses in the front. The other track, "Who's Gonna Love You," is so sugary I'm sure I'm gaining weight just by listening to it. Irreverently bouncy--almost rapturous--the chorus explodes in candy fireworks, complete with dancing babies in makeup and cats with glittering whiskers. It's messy, though, as if the producers took every saccharine Garageband sample and slapped them together in hopes of redeeming, well, every other dirrrty track.

Okay, the jock just played "Fall To Pieces" again. Srsly?

Jenny Lewis. Lewis has an almost God-like following, and it's strange considering how little she caters to the whims of fans. (I suppose that's a strength. I know emos that would sacrifice themselves for Fiona Apple) "Black Sand" is an interesting mix of melancholy and cheerful, similar to Rilo Kiley's latest effort, with "Carpetbaggers" a country track that's probably too country for country radio. Acid Tongue's title track is predictably beautiful, and much better than anything Lewis wrote for Rabbit Fur Coat. Lewis' gentle falsetto peaks as she croons, "I'm a liar!" over soft guitar strumming and an odd-sounding chorus of anonymous male voices. If this sounds familiar, it's because the title track of More Adventurous is nearly identical.

MGMT...is phenomenal. So many bands try to capture the simple emotions that come so easily to MGMT: fragility ("Kids"), sensuality ("Electric Feel"), authenticity and that only-in-music paradox of complex simplicity. The message behind "Time to Pretend" takes twenty-six seconds to communicate. Independence is a feeling, not a tangible state of being. MGMT understands this, and no where is that more artistically delivered than on the excellent latter track.

Jem. What happened to you? The reggae-electronica-sex soundtrack songstress of 2004 has clearly left the building, leaving a derivitave diva with a serious lack of direction in her place. The genius of Finally Woken's sexual-without-slutty "Save Me," sexual and slutty "Come On Closer," and apocolyptic "24" is certainly not to be found on the ironically titled Down To Earth. The only track coming close to gre--decency is "Crazy," which is still a bit too Sheryl Crow circa 2003 to really stand out. If you're going to create a pop record, at least do it right; when an artist like Jem changes her iTunes genre listing from "electronica" to "pop," she better be sure she'll get a radio single. Unless "Amazing," which is actually kind of okay, starts getting some spins from the men upstairs (a.k.a. New York and Chicago DJs), I'm afraid this album is a lost cause. She shore is purty, though.

Natasha Bedingfield. Thank freaking goodness. I'm not a particular fan of Bedingfield's work, but I adored Unwritten's best track "Single" for its scrumptious bass line and empowering chorus. "Angel," off Pocketful of Sunshine, while definitely not falling into the category of "empowering," is the single "Single" never was. The addictive post chorus chant, a Fergie-inspired spelling of "A-N-G-E-L," will never leave your mind once it's hip-hop tentacles have popped and locked their way inside. The single answers two questions left open by Unwritten: Bedingfield can most certainly do hip-hop, and no, she's not the feminist everyone thought she was. Your life is, sadly, all about pleasing men. Deal with it.

...and the jock has fallen asleep.



Britney Spears.

No way.

("Magnet," the single she dances to in the pre-VMA leak earlier this month, is far better than this crap. But this crap is SO GOOD!)


Mad Style: Michael Kenna

This photographer is my new favorite. This is a series entitled "Silent World." What's so great about Kenna--besides his otherworldly ability to form comprehensible geometry from the shapes of nature--is his seamless transitions into commercial photography. I sincerely admire any photographer who can accomplish that feat.

The Killers have a new single...

...and my life is complete.

Thanks to the man I hate, Perez Hilton, I got to hear their brand new single, "Human," and it's exactly what I wanted out of the next Killers album. Extremely danceable with a lyricism similar to Sam's Town--I love it. It's produced by Stuart Price, the mastermind behind Madonna's disco fantasy Confessions on a Dance Floor. It's not "The River Is Wild" good, its not "Change Your Mind" good--it's "Jenny Was A Friend of Mine" good. (For the record, "Change Your Mind" is a far superior record than "Friend of Mine").

Looking forward to Day & Age.

(Sounds like the title of a Hercules & Love Affair album; let's pray it's not)


Visionary: Gwen Stefani

I'm not very guarded when it comes to my adoration of Gwen Stefani. As a consumer of both style and music, there's no more complete package; Juliette Lewis has style, but I hate her music; Yelle has music, but I hate her style. Gwen Stefani is the modern equivalent of Marlene Dietrich, an artist so cunning, current and timeless her brilliance becomes an afterthought. I own all of No Doubt's albums (Return of Saturn being my favorite), both of Stefani's solo releases, and I look forward to No Doubt's upcoming fifth studio album with high expectations. (Random fact: Stefani was not the original lead singer of No Doubt. The leader singer committed suicide, and--surprise!--Gwennie can sing)

Stefani is powerful. She dominated an all-male rock band for twelve years, broke off and set records with Love. Angel. Music. Baby., sells a kick-ass clothing line with actual relevance, and has completely reinvented herself as a cocaine-snorting femme fatale-slash-mother-slash-wife since 2006. Sans cocaine, of course.

One of her most important songs, "Cool" off L.A.M.B., had an even more important video. The music video for "Cool" is a snapshot of pop culture in our era, completely free of year indicators or tongue-in-cheek references to society. Keep in mind, this video was produced in 2004. Almost five years ago, Stefani was wearing what iconic designer Michael Kors designed for next spring. Impossible. The song is nice, too, but the visual design of this video captures exactly who Stefani is, and is how I hope my generation's pop culture is remembered.

Above: Notice the cinematography in this shot.
Above: Stefani may actually look better as a brunette, which is her natural color.

This is it. This is the image I want people to remember. As a lover of aesthetic beauty of any kind, this is the Mona Lisa of music videos.


Brandi on the green

I met Brandi briefly this afternoon before French. I had barely introduced myself and she was ready to go. Perhaps this isn't the first time she's been noted for her sartorial selections??

Notice the green glasses. They're my favorite part of this ensemble.

B's one of those women that has a natural femininity--the kind where, no matter your age, you possess a powerful female chemistry. Perfect foot arch for that shoe. (I don't think she knew I took this one!)


NY Fashion Week is Over...

Marc by Marc Jacobs. Not near as brilliant as his spring or even fall 2008 collection, but at least he's moved away from his American Apparel Motif. I guess this is...American Eagle?

Michael Kors. He is such an underrated designer, even being as high-profile as he is. His collection for Bryant Park is stunning. Cutting-edge, relevant, but--more importantly--authentic. With this debut, I hope Kors is once against established as the best American designer of the era. (I mean, after Ralph Lauren, below.)

This is why Ralph Lauren is Ralph Lauren. He defines classic American elegance, and more than D&G or Versace--arguably the greatest fashion house in the world--he creates wearable designs that seem less as pretentious art pieces and more as timeless and versatile.

This is actually from Leanne (something?), one of the finalists from this year's horrendous Project Runway. Where's Christian Siriano when you need him? No matter, though, as these designs are beautifully draped and flawlessly constructed--so much so, however, that "constructed" seems innapropriate here. The color is nothing cutting edge (maybe a bright lipstick red, a la Michael Kors, would be preferable), and the silhouettes are a bit overused, but still, I predict Leanne (something?) will win this year.


Inspirations, 9.16.08

The last twenty-four hours have been some of the most inspiring of my entire life. I'm so completely satisfied with everything in life all of a sudden. Messed. Up.

Last night I met The Hives, waved at Ellen Page and Drew Barrymore, and saw Ratatat with a pair of fresh friends. I woke up at my friend's apartment this morning and, for some reason, waking up away from the comfort of your home is comforting in itself.

[Before I move onto the inspirations, a music update: Colby O'Donis is an embarrassment to the music industry and needs to drop himself. Like, now. Andre 3000's rap in "Green Light" by John Legend is worth the purchase alone. Lastly, "I Told You So" by Solange only gets better with time.]

Daria Werebowy, photographed by David Sims in the current issue of Vogue.

Raquel Zimmerman, arguably the most important model of 2008 on the face of this earth. Again, David Sims, a photographer with such a grace the models appear as still-life.

Hedi Slimane, a photographer truly lucky with the camera, took this stunning shot of Sasha Pivova--oops, I mean Heidi Mount--in last month's V (with Gisele on the cover). This shot is just...beyond the brink.


Personal Update: WHATT DE FREIICKK

A haiku:

So much stress, ragged
overwhelming my seasons
when will I see spring

I'm so busy, and I honestly don't know when I will be able to come up for air. I need time alone, and time without obligation. Every day there's another test to study for, another internship to apply for, another friend I have to cancel plans with. Although, I had a realllly fun time last night, but I can't tell you why unless you ask me in person. Let's say it was a new experience.

Even music has become blah for me. Everything's gray right now. It's such an odd juxtaposition, though, my happiness and stress squished up against each other. I love being stressed, but I hate not having time to myself. Doing homework alone in my room for eight hours does not count.

I just pray all my hard work is worth it. Clothing, obviously, has been put on the backburner, considering I'm not making enough money to spend like I used to--and, even worse, there's no way I can devote more time to working for money when all my time is spent on school.

And this was fashion week!

No matter. I just injected a slew of new French electronica into my iTunes library, of which I'll be writing about soon. When I get a breath.


The VMAs, Christina Aguilera, Rihanna and T.I....at light speed!

The 2008 MTV Video Music Awards was, predictably, an ass-kissing festival for Britney Spears and a chorus of other pop stars who sang and danced their way onstage to thank God for their little moon-men statues and their managers, for crafting them into good girls gone bad or celibate virgins, in the case of the Jonas Brothers. There was no edge--even Russel Brand, hilarious in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, was offensive and awkward, speaking so loudly his mic sounded like he was performing stand-up eight feet under the Thames.

There were three stand-out performances, however (of those I watched--I don't need to explain my lack of interest in the entire VMAs): Rihanna and T.I. with "Living My Life," officially the new "Good Life" and most certainly destined to become a number one hit. Like, there is no question. It will be number one within three weeks.

Christina Aguilera (dressed like Lady Gag--er, Marvel Comic's Black Cat, right) did a great job, as well, aside from her horrible lipsynching. Her new song is called "Keeps Gettin' Better," apparently, though that doesn't quite make sense considering the only bit of lyric I understood: "BITCH!" The performance was a burst of fresh air in a night of lackluster performances and ugly vocals. Even Rihanna seemed to struggle on her live performance of "Disturbia"--I've seen Rihanna live, and she never struggled to hit mid-range notes...

P!nk was amazing, but what did we expect? She's a phenomenal vocalist with a brilliant single. She's got attitude, a jagged sex appeal, and an air of authenticity when she hits the stage. Nothing unexpected or surprising--just P!nk.

(Speaking of P!nk, she's officially number one on the list of performers I want to see in the upcoming year.)

(And speaking of seeing performers, I'm seeing Yelle in October and I could almost explode I'm so excited)

Beyond the VMAs, I officially have my iTunes account back and went overboard by purchasing 10 songs that have caught my attention in my recent wanderings. One of these is Brandy's "Right Here (Departed)," a beautiful track with deep emotional appeal. Brandy is an iconic R&B artist--if you are not a fan, listen to "Talk About Our Love," an era-defining slice of piano-driven hip-hop--and her new single comes with quite a bit of baggage attached. For anyone with an actual life (i.e. anyone who doesn't read celebrity gossip), Brandy got into a car wreck a few years ago and killed a man. She wasn't sent to jail, but in the eyes of many is a murderer. That's quite a reputation going into her fifth album.

Regardless, "Right Here" is a powerful track, almost too powerful; I'm certainly not experiencing any heartbreak, but Brandy's emotive vocals almost convince me I am.

I want to keep writing about Michelle William's "Hello Heartbreak," a SICKKK club track, but I'm a bit buzzed on wine and losing my creativity...


Where did the disco go?

Last night I finally completed a photo story with my friend Leslie Davidson. I've posted pictures of her in the past, but I'm confident the following shots are some of the best I've ever taken.


MIMS Perry Remix: My Girl Kissed A Girl

I'm so overwhelmed right now. Life is so great in so many ways. School is a blast, new friends are popping up everywhere I turn, and there's a remix of Katy Perry's "I Kissed A Girl" that just may be better than the original.

"I Kissed A Girl (J-Kits Remix [Feat. MIMS])" is a feat of hip-hop enlightenment, of buttoned-up crunkonicity, of relentless sex appeal and out-of-control restraint. MIMS, a rapper that is just unimpressive to me in every way, has taken what may be the most controversial pop song of the past decade--not because of the material, but because so many people just plain hate the track itself--and reshaped the throbbing beats and layered vocals into a blazing hip hop track with production so glittery it is the musical equivalent of the Eta Carinae.

There are so many ways this track could have gone wrong. While MIMS throws down some pretty dirty verses ("My girl kissed a girl/won't fill me no details/'cause she don't kiss and tell"), his final line is delivered with such swagger, so unironically, it renders the cornier lines obsolete: "I find it/something sort of exciting/my girl kissed a girl/and guess what?/she liked it."

In a touch of hip hop brilliance, every time the chrorus kicks in the bass line dimishes, synths flaring out of pitch like shooting stars. Perry's importance in the song is decidedly reduced--something about the distractingly good production--but the message is still clear and still sexy. In all honesty, this is a more mature version of the original. I cannot image a preteen girl jamming out to this and actually enjoying it: this remix is simply too dirrrty.

But for me and my friends, speeding down 5th in a Lexus with the volume on max, there's nothing closer to ecstasy.

MIMS would want you to download the track for free here.


New York Fashion Week, Britney, and The Cool Kids

...starts today.

This has been one of the most academically stressful and fulfilling weeks of my life. Ironically, it's also my first week at UT. Coincidence, I think not.

Musically, nothing's changed. I lost my debit card two weeks ago--new one on the way, thank God--and thus lost my ability to iTune. However, I have great friends with great music taste. For this brief period of time, I have adopted their music libraries, and I'm thrilled with some of my discoveries.

"88," by The Cool Kids, a Chicago-based hip hop group, offers a refreshingly minimalist interpretation of mid-90s rap and dance. I'm a huge fan of music in the early 90s--and late 90s, for that matter--when bands like No Doubt, Sublime, Sugar Ray and Salt-N-Pepa took the musical concepts of the 80s (synthesizers, music without contextual meaning) and engineered them for a modern, Clinton-era audience. Women were confused about their place in society ("Push It," Alanis Morisette's "Ironic") and in personal relationships; academic success took second place to occupational success (becoming a lawyer, a doctor...); the economy was prospering (Madonna's "Ray of Light," the rise of 14 year-old girls as an actual musical force); and, of course, the Clinton-Lewinsky affair ruptured a major valve in America's value pipeline. ("Isn't the president supposed to be our moral leader?" Sadly, Reagan's trickle-down policies don't quite work here...)

Regardless, "88" is a total blast musically, and I appreciate the clever lyricism and great tone of their lead vocalist. At first listen, The Cool Kids could be Lupe Fiasco with Pharell Williams as producer, but it's a bit too low-key and simple for Williams' ambitious energy.

I was going to talk about Spoon, a band I have inexplicably bought albums of and never listened to, and how I think I've finally reached the right age to appreciate their talents (or, at least their 2007 single "Don't You Evah"), but something else has hit my radar courtesy of Perez Hilton. Britney Spears just may be coming back. I'm no Britney Spears die-hard, but I find her an interesting social experiment indicative of 21st century America. (Amy Winehouse is more the British version, except is actually talented and may actually not survive her next album.) Whatever. "Blackout" was a fine pop album, if you can ignore the image of Britney Spears jiggling and drunk at the VMAs in 2007, with standout tracks like "Get Naked (Got A Plan)," "Radar," and the underrated "Break The Ice."

A video surfaced this afternoon of what appears to be Britney Spears practicing a dance routine to a new song, I guess for a next album--the kind of album they rush out so we forget the last one--but also, possibly for a performance at this Sunday's VMAs. Could it be true? Obviously it's Spears dancing in the video, and dancing very very well (to a very very cool song), but is the Spears' camp really bold enough to present Spears, who was the veritable trainwreck of the century just this June, to the public once again? What's so interesting to me is how Spears was so out on the pop radar that to own her last album was to own the album of some underground band. To know her songs, tracks like "Radar" for instance, was to know undiscovered pop songs of an artist years gone by. It was treated like the latest Hot Chip album, discussed among hipsters in American Apparell--she was so underground she was almost "in," a radio outlaw and newly-minted underdog.

However, with her body back in shape, her children under court protection, and her (least we forget) bipolar disorder under control, (maybe we should forget.) her career is evidently ready for a reboot. I'll be paying attention, because this trainwreck just so happens to be the defining figure of my generation.


"I'm an f***in' red neck!"

The above quote is by Sarah Palin's daughter's babydaddy. Yeah, I'm reallllly feelin' McCain's choice for VP--but not for the same reasons the RNC.

(I'm thinking the babydaddy's quote needs to be put on a tee-shirt right away. Like, now. And then "McCain/Palin 08" on the bottom. I would wear that schniz all day long.)

So, random stuff today.

1. Britney Spears got hot.

2. This is hilarious.

3. We all knew it was coming. Kanye, Jay-Z, and T.I. ripped off M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" and crafted a sick track called "Swagger Like Us." It's not even on iTunes--not to mention radio--so you'll have to figure it out downloading it on your own (wink), but I highly recommend you do. The production is dirrrty and reminiscent of T.I.'s King album, with the M.I.A. sample just odd enough that the track retains some authenticity. The lyricism is, naturally, the track's greatest asset: "I can wake up and be the shi*t and the urine." I don't need to tell you who delivers that one.

Awkward moment: Jay-Z...uhh...sings "Ho-o-va" after his verse, sounding like an animal you'd shoot on a safari.

4. The reemergence of "Ma Ya Hi" by Numa Numa. Rihanna's singing it, rappers are sampling it...it's It.