A Terpsichorean diversion

So You Think You Can Dance ended up its 8th season last week. I’ve loved the show for years, and really feel that it shows how television can do good in the world and broaden our horizons. There were a lot of great numbers this season–there always are–but my favorite this year came from Sasha dancing with previous contender Twitch.

I know this is my 80s showing, but Sasha Mallory is hot. SO hot. Thick black mohawk, chocolate skin, and sometimes even clad in a vest and hat combo straight from a Bananarama video.

Sasha Mallory

Right? Right? She dances aggressively, often quirky, but like any successful contestant she’s fantastic at adapting her movement to the style of the choreography. The clip below is hip-hop with a strong tinge of 70s soul. I’ve often wished that hip-hop choreographers should look at the juke joints and R&B clubs of decades past for inspiration, and this piece shows what can happen when those cultural connections get made.

 

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Sons and Daughters: electrifying new album

I listen to a lot of music, and quite a bit of that is new music. I was a program director long ago in my college radio days and part of my brain still thinks I’m on the job. So every week I’m hearing new stuff, and most of it isn’t that memorable. Lo-fi DIY pop, rap songs about honeys in da club, noise rock that sounds like Jim Thirwell fucking Animal Collective–it all blends together after a while. But every so often I hear something that makes stop in my tracks and take notice. An album that sets me scrambling to find more about the artist. Music that makes me awake. This is one of those albums: Mirror Mirror from Glasgow indie rockers Sons and Daughters. Their previous albums were good, but perhaps more radio-friendly than this one. Mirror Mirror draws on dark, growling rock and roll from the likes of X and Nick Cave; it’s hard to imagine even the first single playing on The Buzz as I’m tooling around Burlington. Give it a listen for some intense, gothy post-punk.

 

Day 30: Your favorite song at this time last year

Janelle Monae’s “Tightrope,” no contest. Monae is confident, ambitious, and in control, especially for such a young performer. She draws on classic R&B and funk without ever being a slavish imitator. She also shows a love for big concept albums that’s largely been missing from soul music since the 1970s. And it doesn’t hurt that she’s one hell of a dancer.