Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Getting Lost in El Ritmo

Hey, did anyone know the Winter Olympics are three days away? A friend of mine recently pointed out the odd lack of hype surrounding the 2010 Olympiad, particularly one that's relatively close (and, for the first time in my conscious lifetime - I was a mere infant during the 1984 Los Angeles Games but I did apparently get to see the torch pass by - one that's actually happening in the same time zone!). Someone else noted that NBC had broadcasting rights, and so ensued a healthy volley of NBC jokes (and a "blame Canada" thrown in for good measure) before, I presume, all involved went back to not thinking about the upcoming Winter Games for whatever reason. And I LOVED the Winter Olympics growing up: unlike the Summer Olympics, whose traditional schedule typically makes for one week of excitement overload (swimming and gymnastics; what more need there be?) followed by a week of dull track & field events, archery, the marathon, and *shudder* rhythmic gymnastics, and by the Closing Ceremonies everyone's ready to go home...that is, if they haven't left already. But the Winter Olympics have bobsledding! Slalom skiing! Speed skating! The luge (and the delightfully homoerotic two-man luge)! And, of course, sequins on ice: the neverending drama that is figure skating (remember, this is the sport in which one chick actually hired goons...GOONS, PEOPLE...to attack the girl who was better than she was*, only to have said goon-attack victim emerge later with a glorious silver medal comeback, only falling short of the gold because the Fiona Apple-looking recently commie-liberated diva from Ukraine had a more Lifetime-worthy backstory. Surya Bonaly's famous "fuck it" backflip! Skategate! Johnny Weir! Michelle Kwan! The following clip of Robin Williams: Live on Broadway!

Sorry, I got a little excited there (too bad I have no cable hookup on my tv). What I was getting at that has anything to do with pop music is that while I have very few specific Olympic memories prior to Michael Phelps, I still very vividly remember Christina Aguilera's performance at the Closing Ceremonies. I remember the next day at school attempting to discuss the performance with two of my closer male friends - actually, that's not quite right; I attempted to discuss what Christina was wearing during her performance with two of my closer male friends, even making a crude drawing in an attempt to appeal to what I imagined would be the one thing that might appeal to most guys about it (I think my big fashion/pop freakout had to do with the uniquely cut pattern of Aguilera's low-rise pants, which I thought at the time amounted to nearly displaying her female parts on national television...which just goes to show how much I knew about the female anatomy).
My 17 year old gay self: "Isn't her you-know-what hangin' out?" 

A little context here: in early 2002, Christina hadn't been heard from for a good year and a half or so, and looked all grown up, but was still seven months away from releasing "Dirrty" and, two months later, Stripped (God bless her), which was my personal soundtrack during my freshman year at college. I enjoyed the song when I first heard it in the Closing Ceremony telecast, and was pleased to find it on the album...sounding exactly the way it had in Salt Lake City (believe me, I'd found video, and that was pre-YouTube too!). Hey wait a sec... *Raises hand* Teacherrr! She was lip synching!!!

Christina Aguilera
(RCA, 2002)

Trivia: Really? After all that? All right, fine. The track preceding "Infatuation" on Stripped is called "Primer Amor Interlude," one of several such interludes that dot the lengthy album. I'm not sure if I knew at the time that Aguilera didn't actually speak Spanish (despite having released a Spanish language album not long after her debut album, presumably to capitalize on her last name, Ecuadorian heritage and a lot of Central and South American girls' parents' pocketbooks), but I was somewhat pleased with myself for being able to translate the entire brief Spanish spoken bit in the interlude. I'll do the same for you, as could anyone else with a year or two of language, since it reads like something you'd write for a midterm exam for Spanish II:

I'm going to tell you a story [pause] of how [pause, giggle] a Puerto Rican robbed me of my heart. Never more have I loved in this way. Perhaps I never will. [Pause, guitar flutter] It is the story of my first love. He was handsome, with big and deep brown eyes [Pause, then severely:] A dancer. [Guitar again] Together we lost ourselves in the rhythm of love [Self-satisfied pause, since preceding clause sounds better in Spanish, then wistfully:] And this is how it began... [Guitar provides musical ellipsis and "Infatuation" begins]

Now stop pretending you didn't love Stripped too and pick up the mp3 download on Amazon.

*Technically Harding's ex-husband and bodyguard hired a goon to do the dirty...which is kind of like how when the guy who's 21 already is the one who goes to buy the beer.

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