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MUSIC REVIEW: “Honey” by Robyn

Robyn released her new album, Honey, last Friday. Wade in the Sonic Joy is here to give you their review of the the LGBTQ icon’s new music.

Robyn is back to annihilate the music industry with yet another timeless masterpiece. ‘Honey’ came out last night and it’s quite the treat. It’s been 8 years since Robyn’s legendary audio bible, ‘Body Talk’, was released and although ‘Honey’ is a slight departure from the loud, club ready anthems people have come to expect from Robyn, it is quite a gorgeous work of sonic art.

Released on October 26th, under the full moon in Scorpio, Robyn unleashed ‘Honey’ to her fans to consume. At its core, ‘Honey’ is a pop record; however, it is beautifully subdued and ushers in elements of deep house, disco, r&b, and lo-fi. While these genres aren’t completely out of Robyn’s realm, she definitely used the components to introduce a softer sound, with even more sure-of-herself lyrics to uplift the masses. With the stripped back production style, the vocals and lyrics are at the forefront to grab you, and take you into Robyn’s journey since her almost-decade long absence. You’re no longer lost in the electro beats, dancing and crying; you can sit back and soak up the rich yet sweet songs.

robyn2 MUSIC REVIEW: "Honey" by RobynThe first single, and opening track, ‘Missing U’ is a melancholy segue that acts as a gateway between ‘Body Talk’ and ‘Honey’. It is a brutally honest, yearning heartthrob of a track that has splashes of nostalgia from Robyn’s earlier works, with gentle healing lyrics. ‘Missing U’ is not representative of the production themes on the rest of the album, yet it feels seamlessly cohesive. Robyn has stated that this song has multiple meanings, one meaning being she has missed her devoted fans for years. Another meaning involves the loss of her friend and collaborator Christian Falk, as well as her recent personal breakup. This track contains the essential Robyn-esque synth patterns we have all come to know and love, but it keeps its pace. The song never takes off; it keeps the listener in the blurry haze of missing someone and needing that absent space filled. “All the love you gave, it still defines me” fills that empty space with self love as the album unfolds and the story develops.

‘Human Being’ is here to remind listeners that we are all human. We are all guilty of fucking up at times. We have natural desires that need quenching and we can all benefit from being more understanding of human behaviour during our short stay on Earth. Another aspect of this album that really stands out is that Robyn’s music and persona have always been robotic yet humanlike, and with ‘Honey’ she is at her most organic, pure, and raw form. Robyn is expressing her vulnerability, with more reflection on her interactions and how it affects her and those around her.  

With the title track, it’s almost the antithesis of her incomparable hit ‘Dancing On My Own’. The Robyn in ‘Dancing On My Own’ is a heartbroken, lonely woman longing for someone who can’t care enough to see her standing alone at the club. The Robyn in ‘Honey (song)’ is in total control of her destiny. She is confident, no holds barred, and ready for whatever the future has in store for her. “Come get this honey,” she says authoritatively. She’s no longer that sad little bird in the corner, she’s ready to take what’s hers and give what she’s got. “No you’re not gonna get what you need, but baby I have what you want.”

robyn3 MUSIC REVIEW: "Honey" by RobynOther standout tracks such as ‘Ever Again’ and ‘Because It’s In The Music’ offer up deeper glam disco beats, tinged with a gorgeous array of string instruments. Collectively, you can feel the pain and heartache Robyn has experienced in the 8 years since ‘Body Talk’ was released, but there’s endless strength and confidence throughout these subdued tracks. “Never gonna be broken hearted ever again (that shit’s out the door)” swirls in and out of the speakers from left to right sinking deep into your mind that pain is what you make it. Recovery is in our own hands and the choice is either to wallow or to move onward. There is enough strength inside us all to discover our own sticky, sweet honey and exude the same unstoppable assuredness that Robyn is showcasing on this triumphant record.

From beginning to end, this album is one complete thought with a clear message. Through pain, sadness, and heartbreak we have the capability to use these negativities to our advantages. Pain makes us stronger, and Robyn is the vessel voicing that to the listener. She found her honey, and she is here to offer her voice to help everyone find their own. Robyn offers up hope during these scary and uncertain times that we can steer our lives towards the light, towards the honey we all deserve.

Bewitching Minds: How Witches in Pop Culture Inspire Us

Witchcraft Witches Magic Women History
Witches Going To Their Sabbath (1878) Luis Ricardo.

A brief overview of how historical Witchcraft from countless cultures have inspired media icon witches with their magic and strength.

Throughout time, witches have been a prevalent part of history and pop culture. Women depicted with supernatural powers and knowledge have been integral to inspiring generations to be strong, mystical, and dynamic.

stevie Bewitching Minds: How Witches in Pop Culture Inspire Us
What kind of gay would I be if I didn’t include Stevie Nicks? Stevie has never confirmed whether she is a witch, but her lyricism, imagery, and portrayal of the White Witch on American Horror Story: Coven and Apocalypse are very telling.

Here’s the cold, hard truth, sweetie: witches in one form or another have existed in every culture on every continent for thousands of years. Any culture you could possibly name has a deep rooted history of Shamanism, Paganism, Druidism, and, if you didn’t hear me the first time, I’ll say it again: Witchcraft. But before witchcraft was collectively banned by most major religions, it was an earth-based practice that involved relying on energy, intention, and the resources available on the planet to create magic for medicinal, healing, and personal affairs. What was once considered evil has now become more of a positive and inspiring message in many different facets of pop culture. ‘Witchcraft’ is such a broad, umbrella term that many different practices fall beneath; but for the sake of keeping your attention, I’ll skip a lot of the historical details.

hypatia Bewitching Minds: How Witches in Pop Culture Inspire Us
Hypatia depicted viewing the night sky. Renowned astronomer, philosopher, mathematician, scholar, teacher, pagan and neoplatonist.

One famous witch who is considered to be a feminist hero is Hypatia. Hypatia was an Ancient Greek philosopher, teacher, mathematician, astronomer, and one of the last librarians at the Library of Alexandria (what a QUEEN! Slay me). Hypatia was also a Pagan and a huge opponent of Christianity. Well, pull up a chair and just guess what the Christians did when they found out there was a powerful female witch who was not only a genius, but also woke? You guessed it! Some monks flipped her chariot, dragged her to the Cathedral in Alexandria where they flayed her alive with broken pottery, then burned her at the stake. She is now revered as a martyr and a patron saint.

Charmed_4_sisters_season_1 Bewitching Minds: How Witches in Pop Culture Inspire Us
Piper, Paige, Prue, and Phoebe from the original 1998 television show, Charmed, portrayed by Holly Marie Combs, Rose McGowan, Shannen Doherty, and Alyssa Milano. Charmed focused on the importance of sisterhood and vanquishing your inner demons, as well as vanquishing actual demons.

For centuries, men leading many different religious faiths have been terrified of smart, powerful, ambitious women and will do anything to silence them. Luckily, our modern era has almost reached a point of putting women on the pedestals that they deserve to be seated upon (emphasis on almost). We exist in a time where we celebrate and embrace witches in pop culture. From television, to music, to film, there are several prominent figures that people look up to as beacons of empowerment. The very concept of a witch has become synonymous with “a badass who has no time for your bullshit.”

Angela-Bassett-as-Marie-Laveaux-in-American-Horror-Story-Coven-and-portrait-of-Marie-Laveau Bewitching Minds: How Witches in Pop Culture Inspire Us
Marie Laveau depicted by Angela Bassett on American Horror Story: Coven. The Voodoo Queen was a 19th Century Louisiana Priestess who may or may not have been evil. Her role in AHS displayed her ruthlessness and commitment to her tribe. Her character developed from being vengeful and heartless into a forgiving and sympathetic woman.

People look up to famous witches because the very image and idea of a witch represents strength, individualism, anarchy, and intelligence. Witches are a personification of inspiration, they give people hope that they can be seen as powerful as the witches they admire.

The-girls-stalk-the-halls-in-The-Craft Bewitching Minds: How Witches in Pop Culture Inspire Us
Bonnie, Sarah, Nancy, and Rochelle in The Craft played by Neve Campbell, Robin Tunney, Fairuza Balk, and Rachel True. Unified, albeit selfish and spiteful, the four witches learn the repercussions of using their powers for personal gain. A timeless, iconic film that you need to watch ASAP (ignore Rotten Tomatoes homophobic score).

Many Pagans, Shamans, Wiccans, etc. still exist today, however not all people who are inspired by the strength of witches are looking to join these faiths. Witches are no longer seen as propaganda to peel people from their current sect of religion, but they help people become the best versions of themselves by instilling the lessons of intention, healing, honesty, and power into their lives.

PracticalMagic-thumb-700x471-187543 Bewitching Minds: How Witches in Pop Culture Inspire Us
Sally and Gillian Owens played by Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman in Practical Magic, adapted from the novel of the same name by Alice Hoffman. The film tells the story of two sisters who learn how to turn their trauma and pain into strength and positivity through unity, honesty, acceptance, and love.

The power of magic on the screen and in music heals people and brings us together. Famous witches are staples for women, for the queer community, and for anyone who is disenfranchised looking to take back their power and lift themselves up. Seeing both the strengths and weaknesses of witches in pop culture humanizes them and we are able to see parts of ourselves in them. Even if you don’t practice the Craft in real life, you can still embrace the inner witch within you (I might call you a poser though [I’m totally JK. I swear]). What I mean to say is, you can see the powerful being within you, bring that being to the forefront of your person, and show the world that you are a badass who has no time for anyone’s bullshit.

Hear the Queer: “Chris” by Christine and the Queens

Christine and the Queens Music Chris Album Queer

Review of the new album Chris from gender-bending, queer musician Christine and the Queens which features new music, new vibes, and a new persona: 4 out of 5 Stars

Gender and sexual fluidity are more widely discussed today  than ever before. That being said, this discussion of social construct could be greatly improved, although we’ll take the little victories where we can. We look for representation in the media to dictate what is “the new normal” or for what “hot buzzword” those “millennials” will be using next. It is here that we send out the signal for our hopeful heroes: who will answer the call to break down heteronormative stereotypes and tear apart the constructs of gender and sexuality?

Enter French-born singer, songwriter, and producer Heloise Letissier, performing under the stage name Christine and the Queens, is no stranger to the front lines of queer-dom. The “Queens” portion of her name is in reference to her early days of performing in Europe with a backing band made entirely of drag queens. With origins like that, you can imagine what kind of subject her music might address.

If you guessed visual and musical explorations of the depth and intricacies of living and loving authentically, you’d be correct. With her full-length debut album dropping in 2014 Chaleur humaine(re-released in the US in 2015 as a self-titled album) we saw affirmations and unapologetic anthems of the difficulties and triumphs of love and life as a queer person(?) such as “Titled”, “Saint Claude”, and “Narcissus Is Back”. Each of these songs was  accompanied by stunning music videos complete with beautiful dance numbers, as well as poignant and thoughtful artistic direction informed by Christine’s university background studying theatre and movement at ENS Lyon in Paris.

CHRISTINE_QUEENS_1000-920x584 Hear the Queer: "Chris" by Christine and the Queens

Thankfully, none of this is lost in her latest release, Chris. However, the music has gotten a sensual, funky, makeover. While still performing and recording under the moniker Christine and the Queens, this new album introduces a new “character” and “expression” of Christine that is  simply just Chris. She was quoted as saying “Chris is a survival technique; a character created out of exasperation…” Surely she is referencing the exasperation of how women are still viewed in our society. Men still take issue with strong women or women who may embrace their “masculine” side in personality traits or outward expression. Whether that be a shorter hairstyle or more masculine dress, this is somehow still deemed alien and unattractive to men who are not secure in themselves or who have other issues that we could spend pages addressing.

However, in this album, the concern is not pleasing men; quite the contrary, in fact. Christine is more concerned with using “Chris” to grab the attention of women, or really whoever she sees fit in the moment. It’s much less about the binary, and more about embracing all the facets of gender expression and identity. In the making of this album, Christine said that she “became obsessed with being a macho man, but still being a women” and “making this album like the cinema” With this in mind, the first single, “Girlfriend”, seems to be the perfect fit. A sensual, cool, crooning tune set to a synth-funk soundscape produced by the Cali G-Funk master Dam Funk, “Girlfriend” sets the tone for the album’s overall vibe. The track is a call to action with Chris seeking the affection and attention of both the boys and girls and struggling as to why what pleases one does not please the other. A fair question indeed. A fresh and funky music video accompanies this single, as well. Set in a construction site with Fosse-style dance moves and cinematic nods to Newsies and West Side Story, it plays like a queer spin on iconic movie musicals.

The lust and romance doesn’t stop there. Getting into the album itself we open with “Comme si” or the full French title “Comme si on s’aimait” which roughly translates to “As if we loved each other”. Another lustful and sensual track asking her lover to just “focus on her voice and let go” and to “play her loud and fast.” This is just a taste of the departure of this album compared to its predecessor. It’s much less sensitive and a lot of more up-front and confident in its approach. In one of the following tracks, “The Walker”, this confidence appears shaken and examined. A tale of taking a walk to think about the ailments of the body and mind and what to do when you can’t hold your head high. Yet, just as we felt down, we get back to taking control and exploring our sensual desires on playfully flirty tracks like “5 Dollars”, “Damn (What Must a Woman Do)”, and “Goya Soda”. The latter track is of particular interest in it’s familiarity for fans of Christine’s older art-pop and synth-pop sounds on her debut and older releases. Fans of that sound will find a follow-through in this track and should seek it out.

Christine hits the home stretch of album with a look back into her past on “What’s-Her-Face”. This track is another relatable anthem to those that have lived the queer experience and remember being taunted or uncomfortable with themselves in childhood or their adolescence. We then conclude the album with a call back to the funky opening with tracks “Feels So Good”, “Make Some Sense”, and the bouncy closer “The Stranger”. At about 45 minutes, this album luckily does not overstay its welcome. Christine tells the story of this facet of her being in a very concise and powerful way. While Christine always divides her time singing both in French and in English, you can also listen to this album entirely in French, if you’re into that.

The album is cohesive and even on a casual listen it all blends together well and no song seems out of place in this universe. Chris delivers a message of empowerment and sexual liberation. You can express all the parts of yourself on all ends of the spectrum. Some days, you may want to embrace your feminine side; some days, you want to embrace your masculine side. Or, maybe all in one day, you’d like to embrace both. Or maybe a little bit of both every day. That’s the message of Chris: it doesn’t matter! But what does matter is that the never-ending quest for authenticity and owning every part of what makes you you.

Favorite Tracks: “5 Dollar”, “Goya Soda”, “The Walker”.

If you like Christine and the Queens you may like: Perfume Genius, Blood Orange, Dam Funk, Solange, Chromeo.

Were-About-It-1 Hear the Queer: "Chris" by Christine and the Queens

Queer Pop Music Duo Space Kiddettes Releases “Low Impact Aerobics”

Space Kiddettes Music Pop Queer Houston

Houston Popstar Duo Space Kiddettes Sparkle In “Low Impact Aerobics” Music Video

Space Kiddettes premiered their shimmering 80s-inspired music video for their brand new single “Low Impact Aerobics” last week, which was directed by Chris McElroy and co-directed by Michael Cotaya.

Hot off the presses and freshly cut from the upcoming E.P., DOMESTIC ADVENTURES, Houston-based electro-dance-pop duo, Space Kiddettes, unleashed their latest bop, “Low Impact Aerobics.” The song has an uplifting, crystalline-synth sound that reminds the listener of artists such as Devo, Duran Duran, and Erasure. An updated spin on Jane Fonda, at-home workout VHS tapes, the music video captures the campy, inspirational smiles, “blood, sweat, and tears” that can be seen in Netflix’s Original Series GLOW, as well as  in The Knife’s iconic video for their classic 2003 hit “You Take My Breath Away.”

Space Kiddettes hope to give viewers high-results with “Low Impact Aerobics”.

Speaking on the message of the video, co-singer and instrumentalist Trent Lira “wanted [the music video] to be fun and dancey with an 80s, new wave, and dance-pop vibe. Lyrically and thematically, in the video, we wanted to draw parallels between how people treat mental and physical health and how they can work in tandem. Knowing that if you are struggling you can make it through and trying to keep grounded in difficult times [sic]. We wanted [the video] to be campy and fun, juxtaposed with an edge of dissatisfaction on our faces”

Singer and front-femme Devin Will “wanted to create something that really embodies Space Kiddettes: surreal, tongue-in-cheek, and vaguely nostalgic. “I think we draw on a lot of nostalgia while at the same time mocking how ridiculous some of the trends of the past (and present) are. My biggest hope is that some geek out there sees our work and says, ‘Thank God there’s someone as weird as me.’”

This is the debut music video by Space Kiddettes with more accompanying videos coming soon to continue the story in this album cycle. DOMESTIC ADVENTURES will be arriving on November 2nd. Check out the glam-tastic video below: