Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What the Fuck Is a Jedward and Why Would It Cover "Ice Ice Baby"?

Posted By on 03.17.10 at 05:37 PM

The biggest thing in British rap?
  • The biggest thing in British rap?
One of my job requirements is to follow as many different music scenes as possible, and the necessity to keep track of the goings-on in such disparate subcultures as dubstep, metal, pop, and the latest iteration of Pitchforkwave means I'm often so busy with these little corners of the music world that I miss enormous pop-cultural happenings.

Like for instance, until my buddy Michaelangelo Matos IM'd me a minute ago to point me at his writeup of Jedward's remake of "Ice Ice Baby" for the Stranger, I had no idea there was such a thing as a Jedward or that it had a cover of "Ice Ice Baby" that's massive in England. As in massive enough that politicians have I guess had to apologize to the public for having made slightly critical comments about Jedward? Because England's priorities are weird?

"Ice Ice Baby" video (featuring the actual Vanilla Ice), along with some thoughts on same, after the jump:

Parsing this song's (and video's) relationship with irony is difficult. Matos believes that, because Jedward are Simon Cowell-produced pop "stars" (scare quotes his), irony as a motivating factor is "out the window." And it's possible that this is actually the case. Jedward are (is?) 18, so not only are they too young to have heard the song when it was originally popular, they also probably didn't notice when it became ironically repopular in he aughts—in which case it could be a straightforward cover of what they see as simply an oldie. But Cowell is over 18, of course, as is almost everyone else behind the scenes, and they had to have known that the song's been appreciated primarily ironically for about a decade.

I maintain that Jedward's "Ice Ice Baby" represents a quantum superposition of the ironic and the sincere. It's the Schrodinger's Cat of ironic cover songs, its status determined primarily by the listener. Older people can enjoy it as a goofy remake of a song that has long been seen, at least in hindsight, as extremely goofy. Tweens who don't have a history with the song might be able to legitimately enjoy it, just as my friends and I legitimately thought "Ice Ice Baby" was good when we were that young.

I floated this theory to Matos and he replied simply, "England is a strange place," which on second thought is about as much explanation as the whole thing really deserves.

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