January 14th, 2009 9:46am
It Will Be Shameless
Vapid, cynical, hyper-consumerist neo-celebs of the Paris Hilton/Heidi Montag variety are utterly loathsome, but when we tear into them in comedy and art, it can often seem too easy and overly mean-spirited in way that eclipses any righteousness we could hope to claim in calling out their grotesque antics. Yes, they are clearly villains in the context of our culture, but on scale, they’re more like the Goombas in the Super Marios Bros. games — cannon fodder along the path to the Big Bosses.
So, keeping that in mind, this song probably shouldn’t work as well as it does. It starts off feeling like Allen is shooting fish in a barrel, but even just in the span of that first verse, there’s some hint that we’re dealing with a character with self-awareness, and that Allen has some degree of empathy for her. Essentially, this is a song about a very shallow person who is troubled by her own self-awareness, which leads her toward an existential crisis that threatens to undermine and poison every pleasure that she knows. In contrast with the painful doubt and nagging terror of the song’s chorus, the bratty statements in the verses begin to feel less certain, and more like a person trying to reaffirm and justify her reality: I know all this is true! This is just how it is! I’m a winner, and you’re a loser! Still, the lies being lived seem increasingly flimsy and transparent, but she doesn’t know how to get out, or want to leave any of it behind.
Allen does a good job of selling both parts of her song — fragile yet clear-eyed on the chorus; petulant but extremely vulnerable everywhere else. It probably helps that she seems to know a thing or two about being young, rich, beautiful, and famous, either out of proximity, or through actual lived experience.
Buy it from Amazon.