Ode to Reginka

June 21, 2010 § 2 Comments

Image: Regina Spektor, smiling broadly.

Friends: Regina Spektor! She is just so delightful! And her music is like when you wake up slicked in sweat on a hot summer morning in your stuffy, un-air-conditioned, fourth floor walk-up apartment and open the window and a cold rush of breeze floods in and you feel alive again. Also, she played a benefit concert for Planned Parenthood. Hearts.

Regina’s music is weird. Seriously, it is strange. She is well-known for her odd and original sound play; she often exaggerates her glottal stop, slurs her words, and switches rapidly between a near-whisper and loudly belted notes. This matters because, as has been said about Lady Gaga, I think a woman’s willingness to be strange — and shamelessly so — is a profoundly feminist act in a culture that prefers its ladies to act like robots.

I also have a feminist (and aesthetic) appreciation for Regina’s musical whimsy. Her work has a strong trend of poking fun at sex, love, and gendered interactions. Below, a selection and explanation of my favorite Spektor lyrics.

From Poor Little Rich Boy (video / lyrics):

poor little rich boy, all the world is okay
the water runs off your skin and down into the drain
you’re reading Fitzgerald, you’re reading Hemingway
they’re both super smart and drinking in the cafes

and you don’t love your girlfriend
you don’t love your girlfriend
and you think that you should but she thinks that she’s fat
but she isn’t but you don’t love her anyway
and you don’t love your mother
and you know that you should
and you wish that you would
but you don’t anyway

you’re so young, you’re so goddamn young
you’re so young, you’re so goddamn young
you’re so young, you’re so goddamn young

I adore this song. In her blase portrayal of anxious, pretentious masculinity, Regina reveals the silliness of our patriarchal definition of success. And in her rapid-fire execution of the girlfriend lyrics (0:55 through 1:03 in the video: “you don’t love your girlfriend / and you think that you should / but she thinks that she’s fat / but she isn’t / but you don’t love her anyway”) she shows us just how arbitrary and ridiculous our standards of beauty are. I also love the manfiction shout-out.

From Folding Chair (video / lyrics):

I’ve got a perfect body, though sometimes I forget
I’ve got a perfect body cause my eyelashes catch my sweat

Every time I hear this lyric I notice myself smiling. It’s such a charming reminder of what our bodies can do, how useful and amazing and unappreciated they are, and it flies in the face of society’s definition of physical “perfection.”

From Dance Anthem of the 80’s (video / lyrics):

you are so sweet, so sweet
dancing and moving to that beat, that beat

there’s a meat market down the street
the boys and girls watch each other eat
the boys and the girls watch each other eat
when they really just wanna watch each other sleep
they want to watch, to watch each other sleep, sleep, sleep

Young women are the unfortunate targets of relentless “articles” that mandate how we should groom ourselves, how we should carry our bodies, how we should talk, how we should dress, how we should fuck. And all these messages about what we’re supposed to want — sexually, emotionally, physically, spiritually — divorce us from our authentic, instinctive desires. We’re always being pushed to do what other people want for us, and I understand this song as a strong push back: an honest, shameless demand for relationships that are driven by sweetness, by want, by desire, and by pleasure — rather than driven by social standards and expectations.

From Summer In The City (video / lyrics):

summer in the city means cleavage, cleavage, cleavage
and I start to miss you, baby, sometimes
I’ve been staying up late and drinking in late night establishments
and telling strangers personal things

Cleavage! Hilarious, when you think about it.


§ 2 Responses to Ode to Reginka

  • BenYitzhak says:

    I positively enjoy Regina Spektor because there are times when it seems that she stops caring about the meaning of the words and just thrills with unadulterated joy at the feel of the words in the mouth. It sounds like she’s have fun.

  • Victoria says:

    I love Regina, and all these songs. Especially that line about cleavage. 🙂

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