Thursday, June 05, 2008

The kid with the replaceable head

Who are Pop star Yulia and her husband slash manager Glyn MacLean and what do they want? I only ask because Russell Braun mentioned them. I am blissfully unaware of Yulia's music and intend to remain so, but I cannot help but point and laugh at her absurd husband slash manager, Glyn. He lurks on punk message boards; he makes threats like "we own the only company in New Zealand that licenses music in Hollywood and chances are that your record label may one day approach us to license you;" he then claims to be the injured party. Clearly he is a man to be trifled with.

For trifling purposes, we need go no further than here, an interview in which Glyn and Julia show themselves to be ridiculous and self-obsessed She gets acne; the treatment gives her depression. She suffers from Temporomandibular joint disorder: "Sometimes when I practise at home, I open my mouth and I'm doing this big note and all of a sudden I can't close my jaw." There is a solution to this problem: she could just shut up.

So could he. Obviously Yulia has made a happy man very old and sold many albums to the sort of people who think Haley Westenra is a bit wild, but nobody is fooled by this attempt to claim that nasty punk rockers are out to get her. Nobody, that is, but the Police.

At this point, matters become personal. You see, last week I was threatened by my neighbour, not on a notice board but IRL. He told me he would smash my head through a window. I called the police. The officer dispatched to this case told me that the Police do not like being called out to deal with "trivial" complaints like mine.

Obviously, the Police are very busy dealing with matters arising from acts of self-promotion by Pop star Yulia and her husband slash manager Glyn MacLean. They were also very busy this weekend protecting the stock of Louis Vuitton, who was moving across Queen Street to new premises. He had the help of two police officers, who stood guard while M. Vuitton's assets were transferred to a van. The officers were there on Saturday and again on Sunday. From which I can conclude that, if there is a price on my head, it is less than that of some tacky handbags.

Here is a song about handbags, possibly the only song about handbags in the popular canon. It was written by Mike d'Abo and is here sung by the Stereophonics.

3 comments:

Terence said...

Great post!

harvestbird said...

I have been thinking here that the conflict (if there is one) is specifically about taste, and more generally about class. The message boards take a esoteric, avant garde, insider view of music, while Yulia and her spouse seek to locate themselves somewhere within the vast fields of mass taste. Their attempts to do this are represented as a kind of comedy of errors.

Whereas in the case of Hayley Westenra there is something like an alignment between her social origins (Pakeha, west Christchurch) and the kind of music she makes (easy listening light classical, tasteful but unchallenging), Yulia, whose social positioning is less clear, remains undefined.

The public nature of her courtship and marriage, and her husband's aspirations to upward mobility, open her not only to critique on the grounds of taste (which is utterly common in terms of how the avant garde regards mass culture) but also, as in the SST article, on grounds of class. No longer fitting into the mould of hard-working immigrant or the next Hayley, the obvious ambition she shares with her husband now appears as embarrassing excess, for which she'll get, inevitably, mocked from all sides.

Philip Matthews said...

Great comment, harvestbird. I wonder about two other possible reasons for the easy ridicule of Yulia. One is the genre issue. When Yulia was strictly a lite-classical artiste in the mode of Hayley, there was less of this going on; once she reinvented herself on morning TV as a faux-rock singer, she got mocked relentlessly. Inconsistency is the problem: only a few (Bowie, Dylan, Madonna) have managed to pull it off, and it most cases it looks like cynicism, or badwagon-jumping, or being somehow inauthentic. And inauthenticity is still the greatest of sins: the idea that the self might be separate from the message is still taboo in the world of popular music, rock especially.

The second thing is another hoary rock tradition: no one takes you seriously as an individual when you shack up with the manager or producer. People start thinking of Ronnie Spector. The idea that women singers are created and controlled by managers is still persistent, so when you marry one ...