Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Ingrid Michaelson Returns, Queers Up Robert Palmer With "Girls Chase Boys"

Some purists may feel differently, but I've liked Ingrid Michaelson's toe-dips into mainstream pop during the last few years. Her just-for-fun pop cover of Cheryl Cole's "Parachute," which Michaelson co-wrote, presaged her polished, studio-refined 2012 album, Human Again, on which she tinkered with just enough elements of electronic pop to make things interesting, and some of her early followers mad. Her new single, "Girls Chase Boys," ahead of the upcoming album Lights Out, finds her comfortably in her pop-with-indie-pout zone, and it's about exactly as charming as we've come to expect.

Tribute to Robert Palmer

"Girls Chase Boys" is an energetic pop tune, with lightweight lyrics about breakups over claps, heavy drums and, I don't know, is that a harpsichord, maybe? Michaelson doesn't challenge things, she just tosses in something a little weird. She's still playing the glasses-wearing, bookish little sister to Sara Bareilles, and the drums in particular recall the aggressive percussion of "Brave," but "Girls Chase Boys" doesn't aim for the same emotional or musical heights; Michaelson is very comfortable staying at about 7.

The simultaneously released music video pays homage to Robert Palmer's "Simply Irresistible," because, well, it's been a few years, right? What can you do with it that hasn't been done? Put it in a Pepsi commercial? No, Britney did it. Play both the singer and one of the models? Wait, Beyoncé did that. How about flip it so it's a girl singing and boy models in the back? Oh, right, Shania... *Thinks* Okay: what if the boys were gay, dressed and made up like the original female models and we do a REALLY faithful remake and just queer it all up? GENIUS, DO IT.

All right, so it's not the most original of concepts, but it's cute, and the production values are quite impressive. Michaelson doesn't look like she's super in charge, and there are a few women in the back still, (the chorus goes "It's all the same thing, girls chase boys chase girls") so it does remove the age-old issues of gender power dynamics that people (women, in particular), seem to have been wrestling with since the original video came out in 1988. So after this, can we put the damn thing to rest already? I'm sure there are other pieces of the '80s we haven't mined yet.

I mean, there's gotta be something left...

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