Photo by Alis Pelleschi.
When Brooke Candy jumped on the scene in 2012 she seemed shockingly transgressive. From her otherworldly appearance in the video for Grimes’ song “Genesis” to her (problematic) freaky princess brand, there was an electricity around each of her appearances. I say appearances because there was never just a Brooke Candy song. There was always a video, a full-scale audiovisual event. If you were a fan you thought they were feasts. Her detractors found them more like assaults. When news broke that she was partnering with Sia and making a bid for pop stardom, I held my breath in anticipation for a Lady Gaga style coup of Top 40. What followed was aggressively average pop cuts.
Her new video for “My Sex” isn’t average. It’s a rap posse cut with plenty of industrial bass and nu-metal guitar noise for Candy to scream declarations over (“my sex has no gender”) but never come-ons . Mykki Blanco drops by to deliver a killer verse that rhymes feces and name drops Anna Nicole Smith, and one of the members of Pussy Riot raps a verse entirely in Russian. The computer-generated video is full of naked elves covered in tattoos, squirming worms, and dicks in variety of flesh tones. The bonkers result wouldn’t be out of place projected on the wall of a queer warehouse rave at 3am.
“My Sex,” along with the song “War,” finds Brooke Candy pushing herself to new places, coupling her penchant for aggressive visuals with harsher sounds. MNDR is responsible for production on both tracks, and she says in the press release for the song that the current political climate is what drove Brooke Candy to make such confrontational bangers: “After running into her at an anti-hate rally (post Charlottesville tragedy) she told me how angry she was and asked if I’d produce some music to help her express how she felt.”
I had personally written off Brooke Candy—the conversations around her appropriation of black culture were too loud to ignore, and the music just wasn’t good either. But at the end of last year her verse on Charli XCX’s “I Got It” gave me pause, and these new songs/videos she’s putting our are sick enough to make me consider putting her back on my list of problematic faves.