Happy Birthday, David Bowie
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways . . . With thanks to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, I’d like to wish honorary SB, David Bowie, a very happy 67th birthday.
I wonder what’s on deck for the Thin White Duke tonight? Champagne and caviar with Iman? Barolo and spaghetti with Iman? Beer and shepherd’s pie with Iman? Hmmm. Maybe a nice warm Cioppino? Breakfast for dinner? Why am I experiencing such a violent desire to feed David Bowie?
Now back to those ways: Space Odyssey, cheekbones, jumpsuits, Iman since 1992, Ashes to Ashes, heterochromia, fearlessness, great suits, a sordid past, long legs, collaboration, man makeup, Blue Jean, blurred boundaries, acting like a grown-up, innovation, China Girl . . .
Let’s put on our red shoes and dance, shall we?
Previously on SB: SB Tunes – Bowie
Bey Drops Super Secret Surprise Album
The fact that she was able to keep this massive album complete with videos for every song a secret is simply proof positive that Beyonce is Queen of the Universe. Not one of the hundreds of people who were involved in the production of this Christmas present to her fans uttered so much as a peep.
When I woke up on Friday morning and saw that Twitter had exploded into a ball of flames in the night, I thought Well played, Bey. Well played.
To see and hear, you need to go to iTunes but here’s a little something to whet your whistle. Damn, she’s good.
Have a Spectacular Thanksgiving
May your day be filled with abundant wine, savory gravy and multiple pies, baby. Maybe a nap, maybe a movie, maybe some dancing. Definitely NO fighting.
This year I’m grateful for the fact that I get to feature a pants-less Marilyn Monroe holding a shotgun and my beloved Beastie Boys in a post that more than a handful of people will look at. Thank you for indulging me, you Spectacular Bitches, you.
Enjoy a little “Gratitude.” That’s what it’s all about, no?
So Many Selfies
This week the word “selfie” was chosen as word of the year by the erudite folks over at the Oxford English Dictionary. It has been included in the on-line version of the dictionary and is being considered for inclusion in the traditional OED.
Personally, I can’t take a decent selfie to save my life, which is fine because let’s face it, selfies are kind of annoying and mostly best left to the tweens.
However, I’m tickled by what Franz Ferdinand bassist, Bob Hardy, has going on. Basically, he’s been taking hotel room selfies since 2005 to document tour life, but he cleverly obscures his face with whatever book he happens to be reading. Check out a smattering over at T Magazine.
I’m going to start doing this with cheeseburgers, hoagies, burritos, gyros, tacos, bahn mi. I may have to get a smaller face and bigger sandwiches, but I think Bob is really onto something here.
Enjoy a little Franz Ferdinand for Movember. And top hats off to Bob Hardy for being humble and bookish and clever. It’s enough to make an SB a little frothy. This song certainly is.
Franz Ferdinand – Take Me Out from BavarianBlue on Vimeo.
SB Tunes: Father John Misty
When I feature men on this site, whether it be in honor of Movember or otherwise, chances are they have a little Spectacular Bitch in them. Father John Misty, né Joshua Tillman, is no exception. It’s something about the way they move.
To call him a character is an understatement. He’s peculiar and eccentric – surly, ravenous and frankly, scarily talented.
Oh. And sexy – because of how he looks, sure, but also because of how he thinks and creates and performs.
Of the pseudonym, Father John Misty, he cites Phillip Roth (yet another staggeringly sexy mind) and says it’s all of him and none of him. Whatever. I dig.
Previously on SB: SB Tunes – Kanye
Previously on SB: Can Women and Men be Just Friends?
SB Tunes: AlunaGeorge
You’re welcome, in advance, for bringing you some pretty sweet make-out music. AlunaGeorge, an electronic music duo from the UK, sound like the love-child of CHVRCHES and Destiny’s Child – as cool, sexy and mysterious as a dark autumn night. Aluna Francis and George Reid just put out their first album, Body Music, and it’s causing a quite a hubbub across the pond. I think these kids are going somewhere. Watch them.
Francis rocks the ‘sexy tomboy’ look with short swingy dresses, high tops and gnarly necklaces or the ‘effortless homegirl’ look in cropped tanks, giant gold hoops and Hammer pants. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that she’s drop dead gorgeous. But in true SB form, she picks cool over hot.
Did you catch that? Cool over hot. That’s a nugget, girls and boys. Put it in your pockets.
Photo credit: Fiona Garden
SB Tunes: Police
In honor of back-to-school, sharpened not-yet-chewed No. 2 pencils, new kicks and fresh starts, an iconic video I bet you haven’t seen in a while.
A good reminder to read your Nabokov.
p.s. a properly wielded carpet beater can be a compelling, uh, teaching tool.
p.s.s. minute 3.09 in the vid.
p.s.s.s. sometimes it’s not so easy to be the teacher’s pet.
Photo credit: Getty Images
SB Tunes: Daft Punk
At the risk of jumping on the biggest bandwagon in the history of bandwagons, I just have to say it: I love the new Daft Punk album. I love it. It’s floating my boat, lighting my fire, teeting my totter, rocking my socks, razzing my berries. Like, a lot.
It makes me want to put on a white 70′s lady suit and throw a wine soaked dinner party just so I can whip off the table cloth, glasses and all, and climb on up and dance to the entire album – start to finish. And there’s a good reason Random Access Memories seeps down into and lights up your chakras of funk – it features’ Chic’s guitarist, Nile Rodgers.
Someone had the right idea in queuing up Get Lucky to some old Soul Train footage. Perfect.
SB Tunes: Savages
The coldest darkest spring in the history of springs is making us all a little ornery to say the least, so let’s work it out with some ornery girl on girl on girl on girl action, shall we?
This foursome of winsome tomboys basically shred like nobody’s business, but they do it with soul, emotion and brains. It’s noisy, but it’s not noise – this hard driving, hair raising post punk band out of London has something to say. Listen closely and you may end up feeling a titch on edge, a smidge paranoid and wee bit pissed off. Or a lot. Who of us can’t do to channel a snatch of ire? Who of us wouldn’t benefit from the righteous vindication of our indignation?
That’s right, bitches. Enjoy SHUT UP – a scathing commentary on our ever connected, distracted, social media obsessed culture. We really should be doing this differently.
SB Tunes: Janelle Monae
I literally cannot believe it has taken me this long to feature Janelle Monae on these pages, as she is the quintessential Spectacular Bitch. She has a consistent, unique and powerful sartorial point of view. A lot of women look like her, but she doesn’t look like anybody. She is sexy, but on her own terms. She’s insanely talented but she’s not a diva. And she can sing. And dance. Like a mother fucker.
Monae has nailed the androgynous black and white look, but over the years manages to tweak it and shift it around so that she always looks like a million bucks. Whether she’s in a tuxedo or Spanish toreador bolero, her clothes are tailored to hug her lovely shape and she just might be the reigning queen of the crisp white shirt. She has so honed her aesthetic (chic, dapper, tomboy) and her palate (black, white and red) that she never misses. Ever ever ever. And I read somewhere that she always does her own hair and make-up.
It takes a lot of restraint and, frankly, cojones to stick with a uniform when you could have ANYTHING.
She just released this fabulous single off her upcoming album, Electric Lady, and it features yet ANOTHER SB – they mysterious, mercurial and all around tremendously bad ass Erykah Badu. Let me tell you, there is nothing not to love and adore about this song and video. It’s not often in life you get a two for one like this.
Enjoy Q.U.E.E.N. Because you know, the booty don’t lie.
Previously on SB: SB Tunes – Betty Davis
SB Tunes: RIP Chrissy Amphlett
Divinyls front woman, Chrissy Amphlett, died yesterday at age 53. She had breast cancer and MS – terribly sad. Less sad – in fact, completely awesome, was her rocker, sexpot, gamine music persona. She packed it in and busted it out – a total SB.
Plaid skirts and fishnets in her honor today, y’all.
SB Tunes: Tegan and Sara
For this week’s SB Tunes, I offer you Tegan and Sara – Canadians, indie-darlings, twins, tomboys, pixies and all around cool chicks. I heard them interviewed on the radio recently and they are super down to earth and sweet, but also really thoughtful, eloquent and real about their process for making music. Always intrigued by the how of it all, I sat in my car until they were through describing their long-distance over the internet music collaboration. Fascinating.
Their latest album, Heartthrob, is intentionally more pop sounding than their old stuff. I’m sure there is many a dour and humorless hipster out there shaking his or her fauxhawk at the demise of Tegan and Sara, but I love it. I love the fact that they are taking a chance and expanding their sound and trying to capture a new audience while being deep, smart and musical enough to hold on to their old fans – yours truly firmly included.
After all, a little artfully used auto-tune never hurt anyone and I would argue it can be as effective a dancing lube as tequila. Screw all those sardonic hipsters. The pixies win. See for yourselves, SB friends.
Previously on SB Tunes: Gwen Stefani
SB Tunes: Bowie
This week was a good one for androgyny and music.
David Bowie (honorary SB who happens to have a penis) released the video for his new song, The Stars (Are Out Tonight), starring his doppelganger, the ethereal and bizarrely beautiful, Tilda Swinton.
Not only was this love at first sight for me, it was love at first listen. Which I cannot say about the new song of a certain other honorary SB who happens to have a penis (hint: Prince). Screw Screwdriver. It’s terrible. Brother, where ever did your sexy funk go?
This, however, sounds like vintage Bowie. Dancey and synthy with a menacing, guttural undercurrent. And the video is quite excellent – sexy and creepy, beautiful to look at and yet, slightly disturbing. So good.
My friends, the Thin White Duke has still got it. Enjoy.
SB Tunes: Nina Simone
February 21st is the late, great Nina Simone’s birthday, so in honor of the High Priestess of Soul, some Nina on SB Tunes. Aside from having a hypnotically husky voice that slowly wraps you up like a sinuous boa constrictor and squeezes you breathless, she was an accomplished pianist, song writer, arranger and civil rights activist.
She also fired a gun at two different people in her lifetime, according to Wikipedia. A complicated woman, indeed. Diva-ness and medicated conditions aside, I love watching live footage of her because she really doesn’t try to dissimulate her feelings – for anyone. The disapproving arch of her eyebrows, the ornery set of her shoulders, it’s all right out there. But her music and her story and her talent are so staggering that they push through and shine. She is amazing, in spite of herself.
I love that about her. Check out Four Women. Powerful.
SB Tunes: Natalie Bergman of Wild Belle
Since the weather in these parts seems to vacillate between deep freeze and medium freeze these days, I figured I’d feature music with a little warmth, a little sun for this week’s SB Tunes. Wild Belle is a brother sister duo who grew up in the Windy City but sound like they were weaned with sand between their toes.
Heavily influenced by reggae, jazz and soul, their collaboration comes together in a delicious warm, honey, sexy way that makes you want to hike up your sarong and do a little sashay right on over to that tiki bar for another beer and maybe, just maybe, say yes to a slow groove on the dance floor in the arms of the dashing Rasta with the easy smile and the very good shoulders. Ahem.
Natalie nails the 70′s hippy boho island chic vibe and her brother, Elliot, looks like a country gentleman. In other words, good genes. And good jeans.
SB Tunes: GIRLS by Santigold
Y’all know I’ve got a lot of love for both Santigold and Lena Dunham’s cringe-y, brilliant Girls. So, of course I’m a fan of this song and video off of the Girls’ soundtrack for this season.
It’s refreshing to see females portrayed as fun, diverse and real – dancing, goofing and playing as opposed to posing, preening and pouting. Silly and joyous versus sexy and sad. We need to see more of this in our media culture, so girls can be girls – no matter what age.
And Santigold’s red fur hat? Want it.
SB Tunes: Kylie Minogue
It’s with your holiday party playlists in mind that I bring you Ms. Minogue for this week’s SB Tuneage. Adorable Australian singer, songwriter, pop star, actress and breast cancer survivor, I love the fact that Minogue has always been absolutely 100 percent sartorially fearless.
High waisted cut off jean shorts? Bring ‘em. Spiral perm? Yawn. Vinyl dress? Honey, please. Hot pink space suit? Of course. Furry vest over bikini? And your issue is???? Homegirl cargos and blue eyeshadow? Yes to the YES. If you care to see what I mean, check out this slideshow.
But like any SB worth her salt, she manages to pull off the most preposterous flourishes because she wears what’s on the outside lightly. She’s fun and none of it seems too terribly serious to her, so even a frontless, legless, hooded jumpsuit seems to work.
And now, at the ripe age of 44, she looks better than ever and, dare I say, refreshingly devoid of dermatological facial monkeying. She’s gorgeous.
Can’t Get You Out of My Head. Enjoy. And pay attention to the robot dance moves. That’s how it’s done.
Previously on SB Tunes: Blondie
Previously on SB Tunes: Dolly
SB Tunes: David Byrne
Oh, swoon. Sexy, nerdy freak boy and frontman for Talking Heads, David Byrne was (and continues to be) a fascinating and intrepid musical explorer. Most recently, he’s collaborated with rockin’ SB, Annie Clark of St. Vincent. He’s like little Jack Horner with his thumbs in more pies than you can count: music, theater, opera, photography, radio, film, architecture, cycling – you name it, he’s figured out a way to come at it in his own left of center, inimitably curious way.
Now THAT, is sexy.
Secret fantasy job: being one of those black mamas singing back up. Oh, would I WORK. THAT. OUT.
The last of my Movember Spectacular Dudes, it’s virtually impossible to pick just one song or video from Byrne’s career. This song, however, lurks like a little bomb in your playlist – sure to blow up any dance floor.
SB Tunes: Kanye
Continuing on with my spectacular dudes in honor of Movember, up this week: Kanye West.
I want to hate him, I really do. I want to boycott him forever after the Taylor Swift debacle. I want to mock him for his fly by night love affair with Kardashian.
I want to kick him to the curb for those full length fur coats. Scratch that – I love him in a fur.
He makes me feel like a wiry tortured brokeback gay cowboy. Kanye: I wish I knew how to quit you.
But I can’t. He’s just that good. This is one of my favorite songs of all time. If you play this, I will dance. Simple as that. I could be at the dentist, in a museum, in a court of law, at the nunnery . . . when that beat goes, so do I.
And this one goes out to my Chicago readers. My peeps here, tell me I’ve got some peeps there. Holla ladies! Keep an eye out for Chris Martin, who, conversely from Kanye, I have no reason not to like, but still don’t.
Oh, the vagaries of the heart.
SB Tunes: The Boss
As you know, we la la love men here at SB headquarters. Anything that reminds our sweet brothers to get themselves checked out and helps our guys stay healthy and strong, is a cause dear to our hearts.
So, in honor of Movember, I’ve decided to throw a little love at the boys for this month’s SB tunes.
To start us out, a manly man. A real man. A man more than a little likely to convince me to hop in and cruise down Thunder Road.
SB Tunes: Adele Sings the New Bond Theme
The theme song for the new Bond movie, Skyfall, is brilliant and Adele is a brilliant choice. It sounds like sex and a fast car and a low cut scuba suit and false eyelashes and a bearskin rug in front of a fire and a dagger in a wall and splintering glass and a smoking gun and a strong martini. Shaken not stirred.
In other words, pure Bond. Pure swoon. Enjoy.
SB Tunes: Pat Benetar
Pat Benetar was quintessential 80′s glam meets tomboy tough girl. She strutted that line like a spandex clad queen.
This is possibly one of the finest videos ever made, with the finest choreographed dance/fight scene ever made. Way to stand up to that pimp, sister!
We should all have a rumble dance routine in our back pockets – you never know when it could come in handy because Love is a Battlefield, don’t ya know.
And I adore her shreddy green dress – I would totally wear that.
SB Tunes: Sade
Sade, the empress of Yacht Rock, is one smooth operator herself. I can’t believe it has taken me this long to get to her – she’s that smooth. And SPECTACULAR.
Half Nigerian, half English, Sade epitomizes the sexy side of the 80′s. Ever restrained, Sade was a minimalist when no one was a minimalist. She was all about the pulled back hair, the all white outfits, the red lip and the gorgeous voice – nothing to distract from her face and her vocals.
And see how a sexy saxophone stands the test of time by throwing anything off of her greatest hits onto your next sexy party mix.
She’s divine. And she just keeps getting better.
Breaking News: Prince Sports a Baby Fro
The internet was aflame today with news of Prince’s new do. Apparently, this SB (who happens to have a penoose) appeared on The View today sporting a baby fro.
Me? I like it, but then again I never met an afro I didn’t like.
What I can’t understand is why on earth he’d go on The View when we haven’t been able to get him to perform in his native Minnesota in eons. I’d say the Purple Yoda needs to reassess his priorities.
SB Tunes: Phantogram
One half of the psychedelic synth-pop duo out of Upstate New York, Sarah Barthel is mesmerizing on vocals and keyboards. Not that her compadre, Josh Carter, isn’t – but we’re here to talk about Spectacular Bitches.
Barthel’s fabulously shiny hair landed her in SB’s collage of bluntly bobbed brunettes a while back and honestly, if I had this hair I’d have to join a band just to swing it around. It’s perfection.
To say nothing of the music. This is sexy sultry shake the confetti out of your stilettos, flop on a couch with one more glass of champagne and a cute boy after-party party music.
You dig? I dig.
Photo credit: Aaron Richter
SB Tunes: Michael Jackson
In honor of MJ’s birthday this week, I offer you the one and only for this week’s SB Tunes.
I must confess that I drank a bit of vino blanco in his memory while I shimmied and shmooved around my living room to the entire Off the Wall album. OK, maybe I didn’t exactly do that (I exactly did), but I DO love me some Michael. It’s like dancing catnip.
I love this picture because it captures Michael at the hight of his Thriller-era Spectacular Bitchdom, before he went off the rails, poor dear.
And I love this video because it captures Michael before he even got near the rails. I don’t think a tuxedo has had that much fun in the history of tuxedos. That boy had some moves.
Don’t stop till you get enough.
SB Tunes: Lianne La Havas
I’m going to keep the London love going for just a wee bit longer in an effort to curtail Olympics withdrawal and offer up the beautiful British singer/songwriter/guitar player Lianne La Havas for your viewing and listening pleasure. She’s half Greek, half Jamaican, all cool. Cool as a cucumber, in fact.
As much as I adore an SB rocker in spiky boots and lean jeans with kicks high enough to knock a shot glass right away from the lips of a tall tall man, I also enjoy a lady – someone who sits with her knees together and doesn’t smash things or have mascara running down her face. La Havas is a lady. An adorable lady with a penchant for pretty dresses edged up with gigantic colorful platform booties and the neatest little side pony-pouf.
She has a new album out called Is Your Love Big Enough? and if you like your tunes a little folksy bluesy soulful and easy on the ears, then you must check her out. Her voice is divine. Actually, everything about her is divine. And we share a birthday. Which is coming up.
Hint: le vingt-trois Août.
Photo credit Ben Statham – Redferns via Getty Images
SB Tunes: Bananarama
It’s hot, it’s August, so I’m going to keep it simple and serve up a little Cruel Summer by the cute 80′s New Wave girl group, Bananarama.
While I do not endorse baggy overalls, I do endorse running around town with your betties, a pigmented red lip and ratty crimped hair, stealing a Mack truck, throwing banana peels at the sheriff and then inviting him and his dancin’ deputy to your rooftop dance party. All of that sounds awesome.
Put a cold beer on your forehead and enjoy Cruel Summer:
SB Tunes: Betty Davis
Not that Bette Davis. This is Betty Davis, one of the early female pioneers of funk and r&b. She was married to Miles Davis and was a funky, freaky and fierce SB who knew errybody. She introduced Davis to Jimi Hendrix thereby leading him down the electrified, psychedelic rock path that resulted in Bitches Brew. Apparently Miles Davis was going to name the album Witches Brew and she convinced him that Bitches Brew was better. It so is.
Rumor has it that her marriage ended because she had an affair with Hendrix, but all parties involved deny it and in his autobiography, Miles Davis describes her as “too young and too wild” for him. I’m going with that story.
Davis was no mere social butterfly of the funk world, no mere woman-behind-the-man, no mere Greenwich Village alley kitten. She wrote all her songs and produced all her albums after the first one. She even wrote the songs that got The Commodores signed with Motown Records. She was fiercely committed to doing things herself and her way.
She has a feral purr of a voice and was one of the first of the soul sisters to bring an overt sexuality to her music and performances. She used her thigh high silver boots to kick those bouffant hairdos and prim dresses back into the 60′s and sashayed into the 70′s with a mile high afro and sexy futuristic Ziggy Stardust-esque body suits. Young and wild, indeed!
I love that what she strutted was all her doing, all her idea. She had no handlers – she couldn’t be handled.
Enjoy Game is My Middle Name. Best song title ever. And my new motto.
SB Tunes: Annie Lenox
Androgynous, theatrical and utterly transfixing – I L.O.V.E. Annie Lenox.
As one half the cooler-than-cool synth pop duo, Eurythmics, Lenox has always brought her own personal style to her music and performances. She has pretty much consistently rocked the pixie since the early 80′s, in various shades of red, orange and platinum blond.
She messes with our perception by cloaking that womanly bod in men’s garb, by offsetting the short crop with glammy make-up, by opening that wide, beautiful and borderline obscene mouth and wrapping us up in a powerful contralto voice that lingers and haunts.
Scottish soul. Spectacular.
Photo credit: Jean Baptiste Mondino
SB Tunes: Caravan Girl by Goldfrapp
I’m skipping town for some lakeside shenanigans, my friends. I leave you with this video by moody English electronica band, Goldfrapp. This song and this video are pure summer.
I enjoy a skateboarding girl, don’t you?
SB Tunes: Emily Haines of METRIC
Canadian New Wave indie glam rock chick, Emily Haines, is SUCH an SB. She’s a little Blondie, a little Kim Gordon, a lot cool. She’s the vocals and keyboards for the band, Metric, and also a member of Broken Social Scene.
Of Metric’s recently released album, Haines says: “Synthetica is about being able to identify the original in a long line of reproductions. It’s about what is real vs what is artificial.” I’ll say. She pulls off the tough, blingy, soignée rocker look to perfection. A sparkly gold minidress and lavender ankle booties, a shredded tank and leather pants, a feather bolero – she always looks amazing.
But like all SB’s, there’s something more there – she’s a cogitator and a musician and very self-aware of what she does and why she does it. In an interview with Rolling Stone, she muses: “It’s a weird time to be pushing something forward: it’s doomy out here, but music and art will save us. It’s not time to scale back.”
Enjoy Gold Gun Girls. Makes me want to run around town with my best guys – you know who you are. And to hear a cool collaboration with Lou Reed, listen here.
Photo credit: Brantley Gutierrez
SB Tunes: Joan Jett
It’s hot and I’m feeling a hot rocker chick for this edition of SB Tunes. I love Joan Jett. So much so that I dressed up as her once for a costume party. Let me tell you, it is highly satisfying to wear a shag wig and a studded belt.
Named by Rolling Stone as one of the 100 Greatest Guitarists, she is one of only two women on that list – the other being Joni Mitchell. Rolling Stone writes: In the earlier Runaways and the later Blackhearts, she played it straight ahead: No frills, all heart, no fucking around.
Bad ass, unapologetic and fuck-you sexy (yes, that’s a kind of sexy) – Jett rocks.
Put another dime in the jukebox, baby.
SB Tunes: Lykke Li
Growing up, I had a Belgian friend named Effi. Her dad had a stack of Playboy magazines that were an endless source of entertainment for us on rainy days and her mother was an impossibly chic natural beauty – a Euro-hippy with a closetful of high heeled wedges and mules for us to clonk around in.
Swedish chanteuse and songwriter, Lykke Li, reminds me of Effi’s mom. There’s something defiant about her. She’s beautiful, but it isn’t about her beauty. Today she may choose to wear a chain mail leotard with crotch spikes, but tomorrow she will sing in a plaza in a bowler hat, high waisted flares and a kazoo.
Either way, this quirky song bird is divine and original and I could watch her make music with her voice and her coterie of ragtag people and instruments all the livelong day.
Me likee Lykke.
SB Tunes: Lauryn Hill
To me, Lauryn Hill is as good as it gets. Rapper, singer and songwriter, she’s a lady with a point of view, a plan and an inimitable voice: steel and silk and a bit of rasp, oh. I loved her in the Fugees and her solo album, The Miseducaton of Lauryn Hill, is one of my all time favorites.
When she opted out of the music industry and public life after her first couple albums, she was immediately enswirled in rumors of having gone off the deep end. It couldn’t have had anything to do with marrying Rohan Marley and those FIVE CHILDREN, could it? That would be enough to send anyone off the deep end, or at the very least, into a protracted coccoon-phase.
A few years ago, I watched a documentary called My Mic Sounds Nice and it became clear that Ms. Hill (as she likes to be called) is the ne plus ultra for women in hip hop and also, just hip hop. Watch this clip to see what everyone from Questlove to Missy Elliot has to say about her.
At time when hip hop was a man’s game and women MC’s were seeking to stake their claim by either being hyper sexual à la Lil’ Kim and Foxy Brown or by hiding in baggy track suits à la Missy Elliot, Lauryn Hill sailed out and did her thing exactly how she wanted to. There was no look, no schtick, it was all her. Drop dead gorgeous, true to herself and fiercely talented.
SB Tunes: Santigold
Singer, songwriter, producer, rapper and all around cool chick, I LOVE Santigold and her new album, Master of My Make Believe, is in heavy rotation in my world.
Her music and her look defy categorization. I imagine her walking through life with a huge grin and sticky fingers, plucking whatever catches her eye or strikes her fancy, putting it in an enormous basket and figuring out a way to use it later.
Santigold sounds like electronica, new wave, punk, hip hop, reggae, and riot grrl all rolled into one contagious, irrepressible and dance-inducing fever. And the way she puts herself together reflects the same sensibility: colorful, over-the-top, ever sure-footed but wild. She’ll wear a bedazzled white leather jumpsuit with the same ease as a pair of jeans and Chucks.
She is one of those women whose outside is a true manifestation of the creativity, playfulness and smarts happening on the inside.
And can we talk about those gold monkey glasses? I want.
Photo credit: Márton Perlaki for Spin Magazine
SB Tunes: Dolly Parton
The woman who famously said It takes a lot of money to look this cheap, obviously has a sense of humor about herself. She also said if she has one more facelift, she’ll have a beard. Sorry, I think that’s hilarious.
Large than life, enormously talented, funny as all get out and profoundly feminine while being tough as nails, Dolly is one and only. No one else even comes close.
Enjoy Jolene from a young and pretty Dolly who is rocking some serious purple jumpsuit action. Like I said, no one else even comes close to this country girl.
SB Tunes: Annie Clark of St. Vincent
This girl is to die for. She sings like an angel and plays guitar like a mother fucker. She looks like a model, but I personally saw her stage dive and writhe around like a crazy person, as if tempting people to drop her. Every time those ridiculously long legs of hers would go upside-down and perpendicular to the floor I would shriek in horror and delight.
She has a way of seeming slightly unhinged and yet like she’s the sanest person in the room. And she’s smart. You can’t make the kind of music she makes and not be smart. And best of all, she is one of a dozen women in the world who can totally pull off leather shorts.
Not a lot of people know this, but Spectacular Bitches have this song playing in their heads every time they walk in a room.
RIP Robin Gibb.
SB Tunes: Donna Summer
It has been a sad couple weeks here at SB headquarters. First MCA dies, and now Donna Summer?
Too much, my friends. Too much.
Donna had SO MANY hits – songs you don’t even know live under your skin, that get your shoulders quaking and your booty shaking within the first couple notes.
She was innovative and talented, elevating disco and setting the stage for electronic dance music. And she always looked as glamorous as the day is long. She was the swan of the dance floor.
Disco Queen and Spectacular Bitch: hope they’ve got a big ol’ sparkly disco ball where you are now. Rest in peace.
Photo credit: Michael Putland – Getty Images
SB Tunes: Kimbra
Since we’re having a bit of Australian week here, what with the glitter britches and Sidney Fashion Week, I’m feeling Kimbra for today’s SB Tunes. Ok, I know she’s from New Zealand, but close enough, no?
This girl can rock a frock like no other. No amount of ruffles, ruching, color, mesh, pom poms, puffiness, lace, pattern, sequins, paillettes, tulle, draping, asymmetry, fruit or Bo-peepness seems to phase her and she always pulls it off. She is a quintessential dress girl, and it makes me a little bit, no, A LOT jealous.
If you like her here, check her out Live at Sing Sing. She’s got a glammy retro sultry voice thing going and I think she’s just lovely.
Enjoy Cameo Lover. And just know that I would do unspeakable things for that pink dress with the pom poms.
SB Tunes: Diana Ross
Come ON. Does it get more spectacular than Diana Ross? This picture is all that and a bag of chips. Devastating diva. I mean, come ON. Just look at her.
Ross is all eyes, hair, voice and attitude. Enjoy It’s My House, especially her little there’s my chair, I put it there move at 26 seconds. Hooooo mama. Her house might have been built for love, but so the hell was that sparkly white halter jumpsuit.
Photo credit: Rex Features
SB Tunes: Gwen Stefani
I’m feeling the Cali vibe, so for this week’s SB tunes, a Cali girl. I love myself a little Gwen, I really do.
Stefani has always had a super distinctive personal style, drawing from Mexican cholas in the early days with her baggie pants and wife-beater tees and trucking on thru exotic bindi girl, glammy 40′s vixen, and Japanese Harajuku girl.
Stefani is the QUEEN of the red lip and the platinum blond locks. She admits to being a total make-up fiend, and sister piles it on, but still manages to look slouchy cool and edgy tough.
And here’s an interesting tidbit: she comes from a family of seamstresses and has been making her own clothes since she was a kid, so her clothing label, L.A.M.B., which launched in 2003 has roots and reason.
Watch this and see if it doesn’t make you want to grab your besties and go cruising with the windows down in your customized muscle car. Damn.
Incidentally, love the message. Spectacular bitches ain’t no hollaback girls. Ever.
SB Tunes: Regine Chassagne and Cyndi Lauper
A couple years ago, when this site was but a glimmer in my eye, I was getting my mind blown at an Arcade Fire concert when the meaning of “Spectacular Bitch” crystalized for me.
Watching Haitian beauty, Regine Chassagne, tear around the stage from the keyboards, to the drum kits, to the accordion, to the mic like a wild fairy – it hit me like a ton of bricks. SHE was spectacular.
With her sparkly gold dresses and her fingerless gloves, her messy curls and her twirly moves, her high wavery voice and her bone deep musicality, she simply rocks. She is a foil and a muse – a worthy adversary, co-conspirator, co-creator and sidekick to her hubby, lead singer, Win Butler.
And because I love you, a twofer where Regine performs Sprawl II with Cyndi Lauper at Jazz Fest last year. Lauper is looking great, playing a lap dulcimer and still flying the flag for girls who wanna have fun.
What I would have given . . .
SB Tunes: Blondie
It’s hard to talk SBs without talking music. Being spectacular comes from the inside – like music. It’s not so much about what you wear, but how you wear it. Not about who you know, but who you are. It’s not about perfection, it’s about point of view. It’s confidence, attitude and bringing something unique to the table.
I’ve decided that on Fridays I’m going to treat myself to a little SB tuneage highlighting SBs past, present and in the making. I have no preconceived notions of where this is going and who I’m going to feature, but I do know my net will be wide and my heart will be racing. Hope you love it.
First up. Debbie Harry. Of course. The queen of glitter pop. The princess of punk. The sheba of the shag. Sexy on her own terms, Blondie walked the line, no – created the line between glammy girl and tomboy. Enjoy a little Dreaming. And check her out in this commercial for Gloria Vanderbilt by Murjani.
Dreaming is free.
Oh, yes. Mos def. Having a penoose does not disqualify.
But what’s the common denominator, aside from the fact that they are all amazing musicians?
Sartorial flair? Check. Fearlessness? Check. Excellent hair? Check. Attitude? Check. Sensuality? Ferocity? Ability to BRING IT? Check! Check! Check!
Clockwise from top left, for your viewing pleasure: Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Liberace, Prince, Freddie, Mercury.
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