New Releases

Hayley Williams Enlists boygenius for New Song “Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris”

Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and Julien Baker join the Paramore vocalist.

Hayley Williams' full-length debut, Petals for Armor, isn't out until May, but the Paramore vocalist has already shared quite a bit of the highly-anticipated project.

She shared five songs earlier this year, and has blessed our social distancing playlists with another tune today. "Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris" features backup vocals from boygenius, the fabulous indie-folk trio composed of Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and Julien Baker. Written by Williams and Paramore bandmate Taylor York, "Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris" further deviates from their pop-punk origins. A jazzy drum beat and rhythmic bassline drive the track, as sweeping strings add a cinematic touch.

"Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris" turns the idea of beauty standards on its head. "I have seen your body / And I have seen your beauty / They are separate things / Pretty pretty things," Williams sings in its opening lines, likening herself to her own blooming garden. The chorus offers a useful metaphor—"Roses show no concern for colors of a Violet"—to assure us that one woman's beauty doesn't detract from that of another, and both can have their place to blossom. "Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris" is a subtle declaration of confidence, of appreciating one's own beauty as it coexists with others.

Listen below.

Hayley Williams - Roses/Lotus/Violet/Iris [Official Audio] www.youtube.com

CULTURE

Nazi-Chic: The Aesthetics of Fascism

Let's take a look at Nazi-inspired fashion.

Villains always have the best outfits.

From Darth Vader's polished black space armor to The Joker's snazzy purple suit, bad guys always seem to show up their protagonists in the fashion department.

Way more handsome than Batman. static.giantbomb.com

But could there possibly be a real world equivalent to the type of over-the-top villain fashion often found in fiction? It would have to be sleek and imposing, austere and dangerous. Probably black.

Maybe it's him. Maybe it's fascist ideology.

Oh, right.

Let's call a spade a spade. From an aesthetic standpoint, the Nazi SS outfit is very well-designed. The long coat tied around the waist with a buckle portrays a slim, sturdy visage. The leather boots and matching cap look harsh and powerful. The emblem placements on the lapel naturally suggest rank and authority. And the red armband lends a splash of color to what would otherwise be a dark monotone. If the Nazi uniform wasn't so closely tied with the atrocities they committed during WWII, it wouldn't seem out of place at Fashion Week. Perhaps not too surprising, considering many of the uniforms were made by Hugo Boss.

Pictured: A real thing Hugo Boss did. i.imgur.com

Of course, today, Nazi uniform aesthetics are inseparable from the human suffering doled out by their wearers. In most circles of civilized society, that's more than enough reason to avoid the garb in any and all fashion choices. But for some, that taboo isn't a hindrance at all–if anything, it's an added benefit.

As a result, we have Nazi chic, a fashion trend centered around the SS uniform and related Nazi imagery.

History of Nazi Chic

For the most part, Nazi chic is not characterized by Nazi sympathy. Rather, Nazi chic tends to be associated with counterculture movements that view the use of its taboo imagery as a form of shock value, and ironically, anti-authoritarianism.

The movement came to prominence in the British punk scene during the mid-1970s, with bands like the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees displaying swastikas on their attire alongside other provocative imagery.

Very rotten, Johnny. i.redd.it

Around this time, a film genre known as Nazisploitation also came to prominence amongst underground movie buffs. A subgenre of exploitation and sexploitation films, Naziploitation movies skewed towards D-grade fare, characterized by graphic sex scenes, violence, and gore. Plots typically surrounded female prisoners in concentration camps, subject to the sexual whims of evil SS officers, who eventually escaped and got their revenge. However, the most famous Nazisploitation film, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, flipped the genders.

The dorm room poster that will ensure you never get laid. images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com

Ilsa was a female SS officer and the victims were men. She spent much of the movie wearing her Nazi uniform in various states, sexually abusing men all the while. As such, Ilsa played into dominatrix fantasies. The movie was a hit on the grindhouse circuit, inspiring multiple sequels and knock-offs and solidifying Nazi aesthetics as a part of the BDSM scene.

Since then, Nazi chic fashion has been employed by various artists, from Madonna to Marilyn Manson to Lady Gaga, and has shown up in all sorts of places from leather clubs to character designs in video games and anime.

Lady Gaga looking SS-uper. nyppagesix.files.wordpress.com

Nazi Chic in Asia

Nazi chic has taken on a life of its own in Asia. And unlike Western Nazi chic, which recognizes Nazism as taboo, Asian Nazi chic seems entirely detached from any underlying ideology.

A large part of this likely has to do with the way that Holocaust education differs across cultures. In the West, we learn about the Holocaust in the context of the Nazis committing horrific crimes against humanity that affected many of our own families. The Holocaust is presented as personal and closer to our current era than we might like to think. It is something we should "never forget." Whereas in Asia, where effects of the Holocaust weren't as prominent, it's simply another aspect of WWII which, in and of itself, was just another large war. In other words, Nazi regalia in Asia might be viewed as simply another historical military outfit, albeit a particularly stylish one.

In Japan, which was much more involved with WWII than any other Asian country, Nazi chic is usually (but not always) reserved for villainous representations.

OF COURSE. i.imgur.com

That being said, J-Pop groups like Keyakizaka46 have publicly worn Nazi chic too, and the phenomena isn't limited to Japan.

In South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand, Nazi imagery has shown up in various elements of youth culture, completely void of any moral context. For instance, in Indonesia, a Hitler-themed fried chicken restaurant opened in 2013. And in Korea, K-Pop groups like BTS and Pritz have been called out for propagating Nazi chic fashion. Usually such incidents are followed by public apologies, but the lack of historical understanding makes everything ring hollow.

Implications

So the question then: is Nazi chic a bad thing?

The answer is not so black and white.

On one hand, seeing Nazi chic on the fashion scene may dredge up painful memories for Holocaust survivors and those whose family histories were tainted. In this light, wearing Nazi-inspired garb, regardless of intent, seems disrespectful and antagonistic. Worse than that, it doesn't even seem like a slight against authority so much as a dig at actual victims of genocide.

But on the other hand, considering the fact that even the youngest people who were alive during WWII are edging 80, "forgetting the Holocaust" is a distinct possibility for younger generations. In that regard, perhaps anything that draws attention to what happened, even if it's simply through the lens of "this outfit should be seen as offensive," might not be entirely bad. This, compounded by the fact that Nazi chic is not commonly associated with actual Nazi or nationalistic sentiments, might be enough to sway some people–not necessarily to wear, like, or even appreciate its aesthetics, but rather to understand its place within counterculture.

Ultimately, one's views on Nazi chic likely come down to their own personal taste and sensibilities. For some, Nazi chic is just a style, an aesthetic preference for something that happens to be mired in historical horror. For others, the shadow of atrocity simply hangs too strong.

New Releases

"Garden Song" Is One of Phoebe Bridgers' Most Stunning Songs Yet

It's the singer-songwriter's first new solo music since her 2017 debut album.

Olof Grind

It's been two and a half years since Phoebe Bridgers' debut album, Stranger in the Alps, but the singer-songwriter has kept herself unimaginably busy.

From her instant-classic boygenius EP with Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus to her duo with Conor Oberst, Better Oblivion Community Center, fans of Bridgers have had plenty to feast on. But it appears a second solo album could be imminent, as she's shared a stunning new single called "Garden Song."

In line with the gentle indie folk that's become synonymous with Bridgers' solo work, "Garden Song" begins with a driving, ascendant acoustic guitar riff, made only dreamier by its heavy reverb. Inspired by her Los Angeles hometown and the nightmares she experiences on tour, the lyrics are among Bridgers' most idyllic: "When I grow up I'm gonna look up from my phone and see my life / And it's gonna be just like my recurring dream," she sings in one of the song's most jarring lines.

Bridgers also enlisted her tour manager, a "6-foot-7 Dutch man named Jeroen," to provide backing vocals on "Garden Song," and his weighty baritone is subtly heard in the choruses to give the track an added depth. "I don't how but I'm taller / It must be something in the water," they sing. "No, I'm not afraid of hard work / I get everything I want, I have everything I wanted." One of Bridgers' most simply beautiful songs to date, nearly every aspect of "Garden Song" tries to stop you in your tracks.

www.youtube.com

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