BlackboxRed – The Runner, The Ghost and Miley Cyrus

October 18, 2013
by Tjeerd van Erve

Last week 3voor12 gave attention to Miley Cyrus in a long in-depth article. The coming-of-age of the former child star, her nudity as a sales product, American prudence, rape culture and the apparent shocking appearance of the young country-blooming-into-a-middle-of-the-road-r&b-pop singer. A fine long read of well-balanced pop sociology, I must add. But if they were to write an article about shocking videos, they had better pay attention to ‘Stripper’ by BlackboxRed instead of jumping on the commercial PR bandwagon following the chapter How To Get The Media Working For Us, paragraph 1.1; Female Nudity of a reasonable-but-surely-not-brilliant singer’s propaganda machine.

I heard you on the wireless back in Fifty Two.
Lying awake intent and tuning in on you.
If I was young it didn’t stop you coming through.

Because that video ís is deep, dark, erotically shocking. Nudity or close to nudity in pop-performance: been there, done that, boring. Sex movements on stage by an artist (well over her prime): has been done, was nothing arousing about it back then. Surely isn’t now, no matter how often you breathlessly emote Like a virgin. A stripping female serial killer erotically dancing on a tempting noise rock anthem, whilst ripping a heart out: new territory in pop/rock music and strangely arousing (guess we have all become a bit sick thanks to Dexter). And no, we are not talking about a black/death/gore/grind/anything vulgar metal band, Blackboxred creates catchy and bluesy noise rock with a poppy hint. Nothing quite vulgar about that.

Oh-A Oh

Not that The Gunner And The Ghost, the LP of which ‘Stripper’ is the first single, is an easy-peasy bubblegum pop record for light headed nitwits. Actually it is far from anything easily consumable. It is dirty, sleazy and burning at the best moments, ‘Stripper’ definitely being one of them, comparable to my favourite Israeli band (warning sign: bragging music journalist names a band that most of you probably don’t know, hoping it makes him look cool so he can get all the pretty girls and free coke. Not that it helps you any shyte bit further in knowing what the band that he should be writing about actually sounds like, but hey why should the bragging bastard care!?!) Carusella.

They took the credit for your second symphony.
Rewritten by machine and new technology,
and now I understand the problems you can see.

Energetic drums and catchy, noisey guitar riffs combined in one furry ball of noise rock, over which strong female vocals spit strong female lyrics in the tradition of Patti Smith, PJ Harvey and Liz Phair. Boys keep your snakes to yourselves, because this girl here has set out to misbehave, but she’ll rip your balls off and your heart out when you come on too hard or too close. Actually the duo BlackboxRed is everything I hoped that Blood Red Shoes would become after their first records. It’s a bit of Dry, a bit of Mo’ Width and a bit of riot grrrl spirit straight from the Fontanelle, so it is actually all you could wish for in a confrontational noise rock band. A band that – even without the aforementioned video – makes Miley Cyrus sound and appear like some whining late adolescent in her early twenties begging for attention whilst playing some sweet sweet sugary sweet songs.

Oh-A Oh
I met the children
Oh-a Oh
What did you tell them?

Which brings us back to The Buggles. Does BlackboxRed need a shocking video to sell the goods. Does it need a long legged serial killer in nothing but a wide shirt, erotically dancing around her victim? Would anyone be talking Miley Cyrus if she hadn’t been twerking her ass on stage during some MTV event? Or would she have reached number one in record sales solely based on het music? Surely I can’t tell, considering I haven’t heard the full Miley Cyrus album. I did though listen to The Runner and The ghost. Several times actually, and I can conclude that the music stands out on its own. The video is entertaining, great – to be honest – in all its simplicity, but the music doesn’t need controversy or shocking imagery to sell. BlackboxRed would work as a radio star alone, no need for nudity whatsoever.

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