September 19, 2013
When Your Music Video Is Not-So-Secretly An Advertisement

Icona Pop’s glittery, Paris Is Burning-inspired music video for “All Night” has gotten a lot of praise since it premiered last week. A follow-up to their inescapable “I Love It,” the clip finds the electropop duo providing the soundtrack to a dance-off between two houses of New York City’s drag ball scene. Stereogum said the video takes “the song’s kineticism and really does something with it.” Queerty called it a “a brilliant homage” to ballroom culture. The video’s top YouTube comment reads, “This is how you respectfully appreciate a culture that you’re not a part of. Miley Cyrus better take notes.”
It’s easy to see why fans are calling “All Night” an antidote to Cyrus’s controversial “We Can’t Stop” clip. There, Cyrus adopted twerking and aspects of ratchet culture while relegating the black women in her video to roles as orbiting satellites. By contrast, Icona Pop’s Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo take the back seat in “All Night,” granting most of the face time and mic time to the diverse cast of performers, who are identified by name and interviewed in documentary-style segments about the ball scene. In one segment, house member Father Jose talks about getting “turnt,” introducing viewers to the term and explaining its meaning in his community—the type of context absent from Cyrus’s use of the same vocabulary.
Icona Pop and director Dori Oskowitz do deserve credit for their sensitivity, but “All Night” might be a better model of respectful appropriation if it weren’t such a blatant vodka commercial. Product placement and sponsorship are industry norms, so the gratuitous shots of Absolut’s new vodka-wine fusion aren’t especially surprising. But the video, along with recent projects from Jay Z and Fiona Apple, highlights the increasingly noticeable way that commercial patronage often not only funds art these days—it colors it.
In Icona Pop’s case, it’s hard to focus on the video’s supposed empowerment of its subjects when there’s so much evidence its real mission is selling vodka. The YouTube description sets the tone—”ABSOLUT TUNE and Icona Pop are encouraging party-goers everywhere to enjoy ABSOLUT TUNE”—but the interviews and behind-the-scenes footage that are presented as a documentary don’t feel as candid as they’re made out to be. Absolut has based marketing campaigns around queer communities before, having previously partnered with RuPaul’s Drag Race, and the interview segments about family and celebration aren’t far off from the language of Absolut’s promotional-campaign speak.
Read more.

When Your Music Video Is Not-So-Secretly An Advertisement

Icona Pop’s glittery, Paris Is Burning-inspired music video for “All Night” has gotten a lot of praise since it premiered last week. A follow-up to their inescapable “I Love It,” the clip finds the electropop duo providing the soundtrack to a dance-off between two houses of New York City’s drag ball scene. Stereogum said the video takes “the song’s kineticism and really does something with it.” Queerty called it a “a brilliant homage” to ballroom culture. The video’s top YouTube comment reads, “This is how you respectfully appreciate a culture that you’re not a part of. Miley Cyrus better take notes.”

It’s easy to see why fans are calling “All Night” an antidote to Cyrus’s controversial “We Can’t Stop” clip. There, Cyrus adopted twerking and aspects of ratchet culture while relegating the black women in her video to roles as orbiting satellites. By contrast, Icona Pop’s Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo take the back seat in “All Night,” granting most of the face time and mic time to the diverse cast of performers, who are identified by name and interviewed in documentary-style segments about the ball scene. In one segment, house member Father Jose talks about getting “turnt,” introducing viewers to the term and explaining its meaning in his community—the type of context absent from Cyrus’s use of the same vocabulary.

Icona Pop and director Dori Oskowitz do deserve credit for their sensitivity, but “All Night” might be a better model of respectful appropriation if it weren’t such a blatant vodka commercial. Product placement and sponsorship are industry norms, so the gratuitous shots of Absolut’s new vodka-wine fusion aren’t especially surprising. But the video, along with recent projects from Jay Z and Fiona Apple, highlights the increasingly noticeable way that commercial patronage often not only funds art these days—it colors it.

In Icona Pop’s case, it’s hard to focus on the video’s supposed empowerment of its subjects when there’s so much evidence its real mission is selling vodka. The YouTube description sets the tone—”ABSOLUT TUNE and Icona Pop are encouraging party-goers everywhere to enjoy ABSOLUT TUNE”—but the interviews and behind-the-scenes footage that are presented as a documentary don’t feel as candid as they’re made out to be. Absolut has based marketing campaigns around queer communities before, having previously partnered with RuPaul’s Drag Race, and the interview segments about family and celebration aren’t far off from the language of Absolut’s promotional-campaign speak.

Read more.

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    I watched this video through someone’s Tumblr, so I didn’t immediately realize the sponsorship role in it. And it’s...
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    I wrote this! I really like Icona Pop, but I felt this had to be said after seeing how people were talking about the...
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  17. kellypope said: good job. definitely read anne elizabeth moore’s books, “unmarketable: brandalism, copyfighting, mocketing, and the erosion of integrity” for similar analysis of corporate infiltration of subcultures
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