ZOLA tells a wild road trip story that, I feel, doesn’t amount to much, but it’s worth it for the ride, and for the telling. The big hook is that it’s based on the 2015 “now iconic series of viral, uproarious tweets” (source: A24films.com), something that’s not only emphasized in the marketing, but noted on screen at the beginning. The official onscreen title is @zola (which is actually the Twitter handle of some wedding company, not author/protagonist A’Ziah “Zola” King), the main characters are often looking at their phones and monotonously speaking aloud their texts to each other, and there’s a notification sound heard frequently throughout the movie – I was never really sure if it was meant to be diegetic or not. Admittedly all that sounds stupid, but when it comes down to it this is really just “based on a true story.” Not even entirely based on a true story told in an unusual medium, because a Rolling Stone article about the whole affair…

Zola Tells All: The Real Story Behind the Greatest Stripper Saga Ever Tweeted

…is also credited as source material.

The story is about Zola (Taylour Paige, MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM, soon to be in the TOXIC AVENGER remake), a Hooters waitress and sometimes stripper, agreeing to take a road trip to Florida to get some money dancing with a crazy white girl she just met named, in the movie version, Stefani (Riley Keough, MAGIC MIKE, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD). Turns out this bitch (get used to it, that’s what they call each other, both lovingly and not so much) is also planning for them both to turn tricks when they get there, and things get out of hand. It’s a true crime story, but not of a crime normally considered significant enough to get a movie, even including the two most harrowing parts, which were fictional. But that kind of makes it cooler.

The 148-tweet thread caught people’s attention because it was a peek into a world many of us have no experience of: the specifics of working as a stripper, getting gigs, how the money works, and then being around this other world of Backpage, johns, rival pimps, all played sort of as an awkward social situation. In her and the movie’s telling, Zola doesn’t want to be a part of the prostitution, but she’s clearly familiar with it, and tries not to judge too much. Initially just wanting to go home, she’s disgusted how little money X (Colman Domingo, IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK), her “roommate” who “takes care of me,” is charging for her, so she makes her a better Backpage profile and accidentally becomes co-pimp, with great success.

And here was this young woman who experienced it, telling us about it like she’s our friend who has just got to tell us about her crazy weekend, writing about these things so bluntly, knowing when she’ll get a reaction out of us, acting like she doesn’t. (Kind of like how in the movie the camera hovers over bathroom stalls as the two squat over toilets and piss, real casual like we’re used to that being part of the story.)

The other thing about the real Zola is that she’s a good storyteller, and a good writer. She has skills specific to her original medium: the timing of when to end a tweet, the economy of fitting each piece into a tweet, the dramatic breaks in posting that clearly left people in suspense when she initially posted it. But also she just knows how to tell it, how to make it lurid, how to make us laugh, how to make it relatable to more universal experiences, and all of that translates well to movie format. She paints such vivid pictures of these people that when you see them in the movie you can judge whether or not they really captured the essence of the characters.

I think they especially did in the case of “Derrek” (Nicholas Braun, RED STATE), Stefani’s dim-witted boyfriend, who spends much of the trip alone in a shitty hotel room leaving loving voicemails wondering where his girlfriend is. He’s the dumbest, most pathetic and also most innocent character in the movie (though he gets mad and outs her as a prostitute on her Facebook page). In the Rolling Stone article, author David Kushner describes how “Zola could feel her eyes welling up with tears. She was afraid what might happen next, but for some reason also couldn’t help but laugh,” when Rudy (the real life X) told the real boyfriend he would “kill your manhood” by making him “watch your girl go on all these calls.” That kinda describes the vibe of the character in the movie, who you feel horrible for but also you laugh as he tries to distract himself by watching Youtube videos of dudes doing sub-JACKASS stunts and says he’s going to “make movies like this” some day.

Zola herself does play a little different to me, in a good way. Paige is good, at times talking straight to us like in the tweets, using the original text, bringing life to the attitude, the initial bonding and quick regret. We see the discomfort on her face, not hidden, but unnoticed by her traveling companions. In the article Kushner uses the phrase “eyed her dubiously” twice.

But Paige also has to add an extra layer to Zola, not having a distance from the story like when she tells it later, or the bravado of recounting it to show off. Sometimes we see cracks in her armor, sitting in the backseat of the car, looking out the window, trying to hide that she feels the weight of the danger they’ve faced.

Not for nothing, Paige also had to dance. She started as a dancer (as in “went to a ballet academy, was a student of Debbie Allen, was a Laker Girl and a featured dancer in HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3 and an Usher video” type dancer) so it makes sense that she’s good at this, but it still must’ve required some specialized training for all the butt shaking and upside down pole spinning she does. I swear on the entire series of Parker novels that I have zero experience with strip clubs, but this seems to be of a more normal style and not the fanciful productions that were also impressive in HUSTLERS.

Of course Keough also has to dance, and she has the showiest role in the movie – the energy, the manipulative crying, the love declarations of questionable sincerity. She uses what I guess we now call a “blaccent” (please inform me if there’s a better term), and though the racial dynamics here are never explicitly addressed there are uncomfortable moments. At one point the camera stares out the car window at a Confederate flag flapping in the wind as they approach it and then pass it.

Domingo also has a tricky role. I’m not sure the occasional switching of accents (representing Zola’s uncertainty about his nationality?) quite works for me, but he does a good job of alternating between funny and genuinely menacing. Sometimes he kind of comes off like the dad on a family vacation – driving, setting the agenda, wearing colorful shirts and shades, smiling at everyone’s ridiculousness. So you feel kind of happy when he feigns reasonableness, like acknowledging Zola’s contributions and giving her cash. But you never forget that he’s doing no work, taking the money, and one or both of these women to do things against their will. He’s a bastard.

I would like to note that Domingo is a playwright, a Tony-winning Broadway performer, has directed three episodes of Fear the Walking Dead (which he’s a star of), and played four different characters on Nash Bridges, two on Law & Order, two on Law & Order: Criminal Intent and one on Law & Order: Trial by Jury. That’s a real working actor right there so I’ll be happy for him if roles like this one and the recent CANDYMAN finally break him through to another level. I do think he’s reached “can only play one character per show” level for sure.

Wikipedia tipped me off to a piece by Ludwig Hurtado of The Face arguing that ZOLA is the latest in a genre called “Tampa-core” – movies that have “all the violence and drama of a classic western movie” but are “shot and written like a coming-of-age indie film.” Hurtado elaborates that they are “explicitly not Miami” but instead “will feature the exterior of a motel, strip club or the occasional Publix. There’s almost always at least one white character with a blaccent. But what’s central to a Tampa-core film is the way it operates as a hyper-stylised vision of Florida. It’s as if the narrator’s time in Florida is being recalled in a haze of nostalgia.” His examples are all A24 releases: THE FLORIDA PROJECT, MOONLIGHT, WAVES, and of course “the canonical example of the genre,” SPRING BREAKERS.

“The vibe is Girls Gone Wild if Girls Gone Wild had premiered at Sundance,” he says.

I’m sold, and I like it. I wonder if WILD THINGS has enough of the attitude to be considered Tampa-core adjacent, despite being in a different part of Florida and a much more ‘90s visual style. If not, that’s fine, I can take no for an answer on that one, but I would also like to propose that Jonathan Hensleigh’s THE PUNISHER (2004) starring Thomas Jane be officially considered a precursor to the genre. It has the violence, it has the narration (but not nostalgic), it has the coming-of-age in the sense that he becomes a vigilante after his entire bloodline is massacred by the mob at a family reunion, and it’s filmed and set in Tampa.

Okay, it probly has nothing else in common with the films in question, but it’s important to me because even 17 years later whenever people complain about this quite solid version of THE PUNISHER they bring up that it takes place in Tampa, as if not being the 44 trillionth movie to take place in New York or L.A. is inherently a flaw. If the movie becomes associated with a genre named after Tampa they’ll be forced to find a new talking point and I can finally live in peace. In regards to this one extremely niche issue.

ZOLA is directed by Janicza Bravo (LEMON, two episodes of Atlanta), co-writing with Jeremy O. Harris (whose play Slave Play is currently nominated for 12 Tony Awards). Bravo and cinematographer Ari Wegner (IN FABRIC) give it a beautifully sun-drenched cinema-verite (Tampa-core) kind of look, made playful with occasional storytelling gimmicks and interludes (lip-syncing Megos in the car, an obscenity-laced dressing room prayer by trans performer Ts Madison, a revisionist retelling of the events supposedly based on a Reddit thread by Stefani). Composer Mica Levi (UNDER THE SKIN) provides fairy tale harp and music box tunes between trap and dance hall beats and love songs by the ‘60s girl group the Clickettes (a.k.a. the Jaynetts, the Poppies or the Patty Cakes). It’s a compelling stylistic exercise, and I’m sure we’ll see interesting things from Bravo in the future, hopefully starring Thomas Jane.

P.S. Here’s a fake (?) trailer for an unauthorized version from 2015 starring Saturday Night Live’s Ego Nwodim

and an adaptation made mostly with stock photos?

So this is kind of like how there was the Lifetime version of THE BLING RING before the Sofia Coppola one

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 21st, 2021 at 6:55 am and is filed under Comedy/Laffs, Crime, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

39 Responses to “Zola”

  1. My feeling was that this movie leaned way too hard on the “based on a true story” thing to try to lend interest to a story so thin and pointless that it wouldn’t pass muster as a minor subplot in a crime novel.

    And that VO narration is trying way to hard to push an attitude and style that the movie just doesn’t earn. There’s stuff where she says, like, “It would be 24 hours before I learned his name” which teases this as something important, but then later he just says it and it’s not any sort of reveal or anything that matters, really. Ditto the similar line about “it would be 24 hours before I heard her speak,” and it’s an insignificant character and nothing important happens later when she talks. It’s a bunch of empty posturing that I really didn’t get.

    But I liked the directing. A lot, in places. So I’m looking forward to whatever Bravo does next.

  2. Reading the original thread was one of those times when I had to remind myself that the internet’s standards are really low.

  3. Whatever happened to that guy who tweeted a story about how he accidentally stole a bunch of drugs from either a Mexican cartel or a street gang, then this thread vent viral, which caused him to admit that the story was made up but now the cartel or street gang was after him because they didn’t like him making up such stories and we should all donate to his GoFundMe?

  4. I love that term “Tampa-core” – thanks. I was trying to think of more examples – THE COUNSELOR? Modern Western bonafides, written by Cormac McCarthy, with over-the-top sleaze that people hated but maybe makes more sense in this genre? Or does it have to be in Florida? Then I thought about AMERICAN HONEY, also not in Florida, but definitely a similar whiff of hothouse end-of-history Americana rot about it – and that had Riley Keough too, so now I’m thinking, does anything with Riley Keough automatically become Tampa-core? MAGIC MIKE, LOGAN LUCKY, UNDER THE SILVER LAKE? MAD MAX: FURY ROAD?

  5. Would Spring Breakers be Tampa-Core?

  6. I couldn’t get through the twitter thread…
    It was a holding pen tall-tale in a series of tweets. And like most holding pen tall-tales, you can kind of go along with it for sheer entertainment’s sake even though it’s obviously being made up as it goes along. But eventually, a breaking point is reached, and you just want the teller to shut up so you can get some sleep.


    From that Rolling Stone article: “Zola admits to embellishing some of the more sensational details — Jarrett’s suicide attempt, Z shooting the pimp — for entertainment value…”

    Wow, so you mean the only 2 noteworthy things that happened in the entire movie were admitted fabrications? Why did anyone think this was a story worth telling?

  8. Inspector Hammer Boudreaux

    September 21st, 2021 at 11:23 am

    You say “small stakes” as if that mattered. Are Outlaw Verninites really that wedded to the idea of the big score? Would you be more interested in this criminal enterprise if they were planning a casino heist? I don’t give a rat’s ass about what actually went down, but the movie has the feeling, to me, of truth. People live like this, it’s what happens, isn’t that interesting enough? I like it when the stakes are small- for example, in BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA, Warren Oates gets into all that shit for $10,000 dollars. I guess the small stakes make me compassionate, because it’s all so pathetic.

    Between this, MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM, and CANDYMAN IV, I’ve decided this Colman Domingo is one to watch.

  9. I haven’t seen this flick so I can’t rightfully comment on it, but will do so anyway because that’s what the internet is for. I prefer when they take a real life story and do it true, don’t add too much shit…like having a shooting or whatever it seems like is lame. But, the idea that a small stakes story is no good is weird. A lot of great movies are small stakes, what is Ragin Bull really but a small stake story about a boxer, or Taxi Driver? Or something newer like Molly’s Game or Moneyball or even Once Upon a Time in Hollywood? They were character movies, and if you have good characters that’s all that matters. I would think in a story like this adding violence is dumb, it’s trying to make stakes bigger when it’s more interesting to see how this shit works in real life. Happens all the time, look at that Hollywood sex cult where people were letting themselves get branded, and no one got killed. That would make a great movie.

  10. Inspector Hammer Boudreaux

    September 21st, 2021 at 2:29 pm

    I’m sorry for addressing that to you in second person. It wasn’t meant personally, it just came off that way.

  11. I’m fine with stories having low stakes. This story just isn’t a very good one, doesn’t go anywhere, and the characters are not interesting or vibrant or well observed enough to warrant hanging out with for a feature’s length.

    This isn’t a hard rule, but in general I’m not especially enthusiastic about basing movies on a true story, unless that story is especially big or weird and worth telling.

  12. Inspector Hammer – That’s why I pointed out that it’s low stakes – I like that about it.

  13. As proto-Tampa-core, I’d like to propose Volker Schlöndorff’s underappreciated PALMETTO. It’s a sweaty gothic noir along the lines of BODY HEAT or THE HOT SPOT, but with more of a tongue-in-cheek attitude (and granted, less sex). It helps that it’s based on a 1960s novel by an English guy who had no idea what American tough-guy slang sounded like, so you get to hear the baddies call Woody Harrelson stuff like “Sunny Jim.” It also has Chloë Sevigny in one of her earliest roles.

    Is this the second movie to be based on a Twitter thread? There’s also YOU MIGHT BE THE KILLER. Any others?

  14. I’m sorry, but the use of the “core” suffix to describe film sub-genres makes me fucking crazy.

    It made sense with music (slowcore, foxcore, emocore, etc), because it was working off an already existing sub-genre of “hardcore”. But there’s no “hardcore” in film other than pornography. So where exactly is the “core” being derived from?

    All I ask is that these things make a modicum of sense…

  15. Mumblecore has been around for a while.

  16. Thinking it over, the “-wave” suffix jumped in the other direction, from film (the French New Wave, followed by various other national New Waves) to music (new wave, chillwave, darkwave, etc.).

  17. I kinda like Tampa-core as a term, but I hear you jojo. So looking at adapting movie subgenres, Tampa Noir might work, or just plain Tampadrama, but I think we should steer well clear of Tampaxploitation.

  18. Using a previous term as proof of making sense makes no sense. Calling music hardcore at the time is just as arbitrary as calling a film subgenre something. Why not call hardcore music Loud Bangy Guitar Genre?

  19. Any name is arbitrary, no? “Hard core” meant “extreme” or “uncompromising” long before punk. Its applications to music (jazz) and photography (porn) happened at around the same time, in the late 1950s.

  20. jojo – I agree with you and I tried to stop them with “mumblecore” (the original sin) but I guess they got to my brain.

  21. Why not call hardcore music Loud Bangy Guitar Genre?

    Uh, because it was ‘hardcore punk’ that got shortened to ‘hardcore’. The only way your analogy would make sense is if it was previously called ‘Loud Bangy Guitar Genre Punk’.

    It really seemed that most people who were using ‘mumblecore’ had no idea it was based on any musical terminology, and were just using it because they heard someone else use it. I thought if I explained to them why it made no sense, it would inspire them to find a better, more fitting term.

    Obviously, it didn’t work, and they just thought I was an asshole…

  22. What’s wrong with borrowing music terminology for film?

  23. Nothing Daniel, and they didn’t really anyway. Jojo if you think hardcore was some term that just got made up to describe musical terminology you ought to look up the word and see how widely it’s been used over any number of subjects. Yeah it started being used for music in the 70s but it’s been used since the 40s.

  24. It’s just grating if you’re sensitive to it being nonsensical. If the people who coined “mumblecore” had been into trip hop instead of subsets of hardcore music and we were calling all the Duplass movies “mumble hop” it would rightfully annoy the shit out of some people. But after words become common you get used to them so eventually we would just go with it I think.

  25. The word hardcore actually means the most committed members of a movement, so it actually works in that respect. Like, the people who made those movies didn’t just make one talky drama about 20-30 year olds talking about their love life in between long scenes of them acting like cutesy children in bed eating ice cream, and then make a no budget slasher movie. No they CRANKED out those flicks like there was no tomorrow. So they fit the mold of hardcore…a movement, something lasting. Hardcore unemployed in the 30s used to mean people out of work for a year. I think that’s where it first started, had nothing to do with music. But made sense to apply that term to punk, as that was a small dedicated group at the time. Made sense to apply to porn, the same.

  26. Thank you for translating, Vern. Obviously, I’m really bad at explaining why it makes not a lick of sense.

    (Again, as I said my the initial post, it’s not the word ‘hardcore,’ it’s using the ‘blank-core’ suffix with no previous existing precedent. As Vern said, it’s like saying ‘mumble-hop’)

  27. It’s slang. It’s not like trip hop meant anything to use Vern’s example, and is actually just a melding of the term hip hop with something else, also in the same way.

  28. Yeah but in both cases they are a suffix that does not apply to the word. “Mumble hop” should mean hip hop with mumbling (actually, the popular style these days) and “Mumblecore” should mean “a style of hardcore music that uses mumbling.” The coiners of the word were trying to make up a name for a scene and didn’t know a film term that would apply. Also they were saying it as a joke and didn’t know it would turn into a thing that would then be applied to other things. An accidental mutation of language.

  29. I think the “-core” in “mumblecore” was doing two things: It plays off the basic meaning of core (the mumbling is central to the style) and it associates it with a focused artistic movement, out of the mainstream (which is how “-core” gets used for music). It’s true that mumblecore isn’t linked with any particular musical style. But even for music genres, a “-core” suffix doesn’t signify much about the music itself. It tells you that it’s a niche, underground movement with a committed fanbase. So why not apply it to art forms besides music?

    Muh is right to point out that “hardcore” didn’t start out as a genre descriptor. It’s an adjective that just means “extreme, uncompromising, for the most dedicated people,” that kind of thing. People used it for jazz in the ’50s. They used it for punk in the ’70s. Then it came to mean a particular style of punk, and then you got all these other genres and subgenres like emocore, metalcore, slowcore, whatever. But the older meaning is still around. You maybe wouldn’t call the Buzzcocks “hardcore punk” anymore these days — that would get confusing — but you could talk about “hardcore reggae,” and people would have a general idea of what you meant. I see the phrase “hardcore horror” a fair bit, and that’s not horror movies with unsimulated sex. It’s stuff like MARTYRS.

  30. I think to jojo “Tampa-core” as a film movement sounds as stupid as if it was “Tampa-Jazz” or “Tampa-Fu” or “Tampamobiles.” I think he’s correct about the etymology, but clearly it doesn’t bother anyone else around here, and that’s fine. Enjoy your mumbleball.

  31. Actually, since ‘mumblecore’ movies employ heavy use of improv, ‘mumblejazz’ would really be a more fitting term. I mean, at least it would make SOME sense.

  32. I always thought “mumblecore” was funny for the same reason newer coinages like “normcore” (for fashion) or “goblincore” (for a general esthetic) are – they’re taking something you wouldn’t normally associate with any kind of badassery and saying hey, this IS badass, like “hardcore.” There’s some ironic winking in all of them, sure, which is probably insufferable for anyone who’s understandably allergic to irony, but personally I like that meeker subcultures get to pump up their niche interests this way. Celebrate excellence wherever it’s found, right?

  33. I think my favourite name for a music genre is “Balkan Speed Boogie”, coined by the Norwegian band Russian Am Car Club, I believe.

  34. Matthew B. explained it better than I did!

  35. Despite the fact that it may be the most Frankenstiened language of all, there are still so many limits to what the English language is capable of. From what I understand, folks who speak Mandarin have about ten times the potential for expression that we do. The language with which we communicate here sure has a long way to go.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with creating new words. I am not saying this from a place of a lack of understanding to those who feel resistant to the creation of language. I’ve balked at new terms before, too.

    If I may, I can recall feeling absolutely baffled and confused by the term “Cis”. (Let me also say that I am absolutely not a “Cis” person, I am L.G.B.T.Q.A.L.F. for sure, as much a pro-modernity member of the “alphabet mafia” as Demi Lovato, etc.) I did not feel straight people either needed a new word with which to describe their straightness, to criticize or glorify them. I felt the previous word was requiring any type of refinement. It was harming no one and seemed unnecessary.

    A few years later, though, I now realize that there is nothing wrong with the creation of words. The more words, the better. If someone can communicate a thought instantly, then the word is effective and deserves to have been introduced into the culture. “Cis” does communicate something, and I was wrong to resist it.

    Underutilized words deserve to be implemented in communication. New words deserve to be invented. It is a disservice to language not to do so.

    I lived in New York and worked at a video store in the mid-2000s. I balked at “mumblecore” in a greater way than you could ever imagine. It does communicate something though. (Something I would like to stay far the fuck away from, but something nonetheless.) I do not wish to enshrine what I feel to be a low form of filmmaking with a word, but sometimes words don’t enshrine – they just seem like they do, because people say them with such self-important, yucky enthusiasm. We’ll all be forgotten dust before too long anyway and that goes for our artwork too, who gives a shit. I hated the zealous way everyone was saying “agency” for a while. Now that the bloom is off the “I’m using a word!” rose, I can also say “agency” and “wheelhouse” all fuckin’ day, and do when those words make sense. The trendsetters had their moment of feeling important. Who gives a shit.

    Also, I agree that the creation of stupidly-named subgenre is something found much more in music culture – it is annoying, but the terms usually have some level of validity. “Grindcore” and “D-Beat” (etc) always sounded stupid to me, but they are actually a thing. I hate both genres and the work and actions of many of their practitioners, but mumblecore and chillwave/vaporwave do actually describe something: awful, gross bullshit.

    I had a coworker (at a parking garage) who once angrily insisted indie-pop was not a genre when he was trying to list all the genres Pete Shelley created, and I tried to make it a conversation (not a monologue) and offered the one distinctly post-Buzzcocks genre closest to my own life and interests. Indie pop is actually a real thing, just because this guy didn’t like (and insisted it just fell under the subgenre “indie”) it didn’t mean it was nonexistent. There is a big fuckin’ difference between The Pooh Sticks and Televsion Personalities and Death Cab For Cutie and Father John Misty.

    To veer completely in the other direction, this talk reminded me of a quote from The Late, Great Norm Macdonald that I think of often. During the week in which Matthew Perry hosted Saturday Night Live, a number of his annoyingly-involved management types took a Prince-level over-interest in the material “Chandler” would be performing on the show. At one point, his “people” told the show’s writers to make sure to find lots of good opportunities for their client’s specialty – what they shillingly referred to as “Mattspeak”.

    With contemptuous astonishment, Norm replied “You mean SARCASM?”

    Also you know what is a Norm joke his fans love way too much but that is actually super fuckin’ funny and hella apropos and that sort of bullshit? “Post-Sasso”.

    P.S. Please let’s not equate mumblecore with jazz though, even corny-ass Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy From Company P Damien Chazelle does not deserve that association, even if he is the Kenny G/Kevin Eubanks of The Movies, and even if he would be that even were it not for his lameass interest in jazz.

    Mike Leigh and even Cassavetes got along fine without affixing “jazz” to their work, and they are the jazziest summamabitches I’ve ever encountered.

    Let’s let Charlie Parker, Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylor, and Dons Cherry and Evans remain pure. Thanks everyone.

    All The Things You Could Be By Now If Sigmund Freud’s Wife Was Your Mother

    P.S. I pledge to you all that my next comment will not be so persnickety.

  36. Oh, and because I am not much of one for being on-topic (and because I stumbled across it while trying to find a number of quotes which support the little-appreciated truth that Jack Nicholson was improvising his roles long before it was considered a “groundbreaking”, “arty” or “independent” action, and was empowered to do so by Roger Corman, mainly because he didn’t give a shit and just wanted to make a swell picture), I thought I’d share this article about Corman and his kids getting through last year’s lockdown, mainly because the posters his daughters drew are so great and I thought this’d make Majestyk and Vern happy.


  37. I mean, I can see how “indie pop” would be confusing. You’d think that if something is indie, and it’s also pop, then it’s indie pop. But no!

    Living in Japan opened my eyes to how arbitrary these boundaries are. There’s a genre here called “neoako,” which is short for “neo-acoustic,” which is not a thing that anybody says in English. It’s centred on bands like Orange Juice or the Pastels. Aha, you’re thinking, this is indie pop — except that neoako also encompasses Aztec Camera, the Smiths, Billy Bragg, Lloyd Cole, and Everything but the Girl. It generally doesn’t include North American acts, though they’ll make an exception for stuff like Black Tambourine. It also doesn’t include Shibuya-kei, though English speakers might consider that a regional variant of indie pop. (Advantage Lucy is neoako, Pizzicato Five is Shibuya-kei, Flipper’s Guitar is both.)

    You’ll notice that most of this “neo-acoustic” music isn’t acoustic. The “acoustic” in the name alludes to jazz pop and orchestral pop from the ’60s, and “neo-” is being used to mean “post-.”

  38. Goddamn I thought I’d closed that tag.

  39. I can’t believe no one has mentioned “spookablast” in this discussion!

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