Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Julie Ruined in Paris Fire

Casey Dorrell

We've all experienced this. You have a friend, probably a close one, maybe even your best one. But as time wears on you find that where you once had everything in common, you now differ on all things. Still, the shift is gradual - it's not so hard. Then there's the other type of split, one where someone makes such a bewildering and willful change that you can do little but scratch your head in puzzlement. Such was the case with my friend Marc Creed in highschool as he pursued his dream of being a drunk prep - such is the case with Le Tigre in their quest to break into the mainstream.

Le Who? Le Tigre is Kathleen Hannah's post-riot grrl electro-dance group. Hannah is better known as a member of Bikini Kill, the early feminist punk band that kick started the riot-grrl movement. Beyond that, she's known for her for her public fights with Courtney Love (Hole being a "suspect" member of the riot grrl movement, and Hannah being an early friend of Kurt Cobain). In retrospect, it seems that Hannah saw Love as a media-whore before everyone else. This would be more impressive if it weren't for the latest Le Tigre news.

Le Tigre with New Member
One of These Things is Not Like the Others . . .

After the end of Bikini Kill in late 1997, Hannah released a self titled album under the pseudonym Julie Ruin which left behind the punk in favour of more upbeat electronic music. From Julie Ruin came a three-person band, Le Tigre. In all, Le Tigre released three albums of danceable politics. It was the third, This Island, where the bewildering shift began.

First, the album was their first on a major label, Universal, having left behind their own label, Mr. Lady Records known for the personal notes that came with any direct label orders. A lot of the faux indie and punk types confuse success with "selling out" and therefore got upset over the label change. But really, they'd never spoken out against being on a major label. Next, when the new album came out, it was less political, the post-punk aesthetic had faded and they sounded a lot more like "Chicks on Speed". More cries of sell out.

At the same time, people started hearing "Deceptacon" off Le Tigre's self-titled debut on tv. Le Tigre had sold the rights to the song to Telus (a Canadian Telecommunication Corporation). Even more cries of sell out. In their defense, there's nothing particularly offensive about Telus. Hannah explains, "Signing to a major didn't make us rich by any means. Having bills to pay is a fact of our lives and sometimes we have to do weird shit to keep the band financially afloat."

Hilton and her Tigre
Who's a Little Le Tigre! You Are! Yes, You Are!

Then comes last week's news. At first I thought it was some sick joke. I fact-checked like crazy, latching on to one contradictory report hoping that it might be the true one. I'm still clinging to that, for now, but it's probably futile. Le Tigre, guardians of the post-riot grrl feminism, are collaborating with Paris Hilton. First reported by, the story has also been picked up by Much Music, Philadelphia Weekly, and SoulShine. The only ray of hope is provided by an story from last week which cites Le Tigre's rep as acknowledging Hilton approached the band but cautioning, "that's as far as it's gotten".

Hilton's new album is rumored to have the tentative title of "Paris is Burning" in a nod to her earlier amateur porn success in "A Night in Paris" and a slap to late Joe Strummer of the Clash ("London's Burning"). Le Tigre's song production and co-writing credit will find interesting company with other confirmed collaborator, JC Chavez (Black Eyed Peas declined involvement). Cries of Sell out.

Sidenote: While looking for pictures for this post, I came across this one. Be warned, you'll regret clicking that link.

Bikini Kill - Reject All American (may be slow)
Le Tigre - Eau d'Bedroom Dancing
Paris Hilton - Night in Paris video screenshot

Comments on "Julie Ruined in Paris Fire"


Anonymous Travis said ... (5/5/05 12:16 am) : 


there's the old saying about "it's better to change the system from within than from outside." i believe that is what kathleen hanna's motto is these days.

i think she realized that she was preaching to the converted. i mean you can throw out radical politics all you want... but if the only people who are listening already agree with you then what is the point?

so she figured why not reach a larger audience. get her message to peoria, ill.

plus le tigre has always wanted a pop sound but could never afford it before.

so they signed with universal. and delivered a catchy little album that isn't as bad as every hipster wants it to be.

so i'm not sure le tigre is really selling out.

i think paris hilton would be smart to get le tigre to do a song for her. i don't know if le tigre will agree... i don't see why not. push their name a little further. nobody is going to remember paris' album a month after it is released anyway.. if it is released.

paris' record will probably never see the light of day. it was supposed to be released a year ago. yet she hasn't even really started recording it. it doesn't exist. she bought a record deal. she's been fishing around for producers forever. nobody wants to do it. there's no cred. she'll probably release something that will be forgotten as quick as lindsey lohan's album.

i thought the "paris is burning" reference was to her ghonorrea infection that just won't go away. thanks for clearing up that reference.


Blogger Alisa said ... (5/5/05 12:43 am) : 

Paris Hilton joining the music industry is the ultimate slap to every good artist. Not that they should worry, but because they tried so hard and all she had to do was....well...what did she do? [optional replacement: "What has she done with her life?"]


Blogger Casey Dorrell said ... (5/5/05 1:44 am) : 

he he, well, travis, you should not that I did make fun of people who called le tigre a sell-out for signing to a major label.

My only problem is with the Paris Hilton development ...

And Hilton has done plenty - why she's. . . um . . . hmmm


Blogger mOe said ... (6/5/05 3:23 am) : 

i had heard rumour of the paris collaboration... and have been hoping it turned out to be false...

i often wonder what this world is coming to.
but then i get sidetracked. (thankfully)

ooh... look at that shiny thing over there! *glee*


Blogger mfd said ... (6/5/05 10:22 am) : 

Singer/songwriter Jewel is America's best selling female poet. Why shouldn't poet Paris Hilton be given a chance to display her singer/songwriter chops? For shame, Casey!


Anonymous mark said ... (7/5/05 8:26 pm) : 

HMM, your introduction is all to true but incredibly accurate too. I wonder what prompts certain peoples to swing in a certain direction when it seems odd to do so. Sad, ever so sad


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (20/10/05 5:23 pm) : 

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Anonymous mfd said ... (28/12/05 9:32 pm) : 

Um, interesting comment by Otai. I bet that bit of comment spam has really driven a lot of traffic to his or her site--there's just so many Mocking Music readers who are also big telecommunications news fans.

Anyway, this is just to say that the current Telus ad campaign also features a Le Tigre song, or at least a bit of the chorus of Hot Topic.


Blogger Casey Dorrell said ... (29/12/05 4:19 am) : 

Yeah, I'd seen the Telus ad lately, but I'd never actually seen the original Telus ad (or was it radio?) so I wasn't sure if it was the same or new.

And clever robots like the one above are why we have that annoying verification for comments. We started getting tons of them a few months before we came back. Some posts had 5-10. I found most of them and deleted them.


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