Icona Pop and the power of proper placement | Bleader

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Icona Pop and the power of proper placement

Posted By on 03.19.13 at 02:47 PM

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In my experience, the most inescapable songs at this year's SXSW were, in descending order of inescapability, Trinidad James's "All Gold Everything," UGK's "Int'l Players Anthem (I Choose You)," and "I Love It" by Swedish electro duo Icona Pop, with assistance from edgy British pop star Charli XCX. The first I had expected and the second was a pleasant surprise (turns out it's a traditional Texas spring break anthem). "I Love It" differed from the other two in that it's not a rap song and that I heard it less often in DJ sets than I did coming from the packs of girls singing it in the streets.

That so many young women have simultaneously adopted this particular song as the banner under which they party is no coincidence. "I Love It" has been out for almost a year, and it's played on MTV regularly for almost as long as the theme song to the fascinatingly banal Jersey Shore spin-off Snooki & JWoww, but it's only been on the Hot 100 for six weeks now. As it happens, it entered the charts the week after it was prominently featured in an episode of Girls.

According to the show's music supervisors, its creator, Lena Dunham, has an active part in choosing its soundtracks, and "I Love It" works so perfectly in the role it was chosen for—the music to which Dunham's character, Hannah, goes wild on a nightclub dance floor after doing cocaine—that I suspect she was the one who selected it.

The Girl Party Anthem is a subspecies of pop song that's received little serious study, probably because its defining traits—perky tempos, major-key melodies, female singers (often of color), and lyrics about overcoming adversity that frequently steer straight into self-help cliches—are almost the exact opposite of the qualities that "serious" listeners look for. There's a lengthy history of pop critics turning a blind eye to music that appeals to women, and the GPA in particular has long been an object of considerable scorn.

If you're going to be reductionist about it (and aren't afraid of using heteronormative binary gender roles in your argument), most guys simply don't understand the appeal of the Girl Party Anthem. And as any working DJ can tell you, it's usually the clubgoing women who make a song a GPA, not the (typically) male DJs who tend to break other types of dance hits. Talented DJs can wield considerable influence over their audience's tastes, but when it comes to this type of song it's usually a matter of accommodating the mobs of women swarming the booth and requesting one particular song.

At the moment that song is "I Love It," and knowing how these things work it'll probably keep that spot through the summer. It's a perfect candidate for a GPA, and I have a feeling that the only reason it took so long to find its niche is that it wasn't properly promoted as such. For the past year it's just been waiting around for someone like Lena Dunham to find it.

Miles Raymer writes about what's on the charts on Tuesday.

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