Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Scissor Sisters: the new Josephine Bakers?

The eccentric pop group from NYC the Scissor Sisters recently scored their first number 1 single in the UK "I Don't Feel Like Dancing," which is their latest success across Europe. But they are not as successful in America their home country. They don't get the same massive airplay on American pop radio and video music channels like they do elsewhere. And to add insult to injury it seems that Transworld Entertainment, which owns various record store chains across the country like Sam Goody's and FYE, is refusing to stock their new album, titled Ta-Dah!, in their stores. Recently the band was performing at a NARM (National Association of Recording Merchandisers) awards dinner and lead singer Jake Shears made a remark about FYE's high CD prices. He stated that he had a "F.Y.I. for FYE" and that nobody should have to pay 19.99 for a CD, which got a huge cheering response from the audience. The Transworld execs that were sitting in the front were not amused and have decided to do a "Dixie Chick" and retaliate against them by boycotting the album.

Sometimes I think that the Scissor Sisters are the latest reincarnation of Josephine Baker, the American dancer/singer who shot to fame in France during the 1920s. She wasn't appreciated in her native country like she was in France for a long time. If she had remained in America she would had very likely suffered from racial attitudes towards blacks of the time and would have been stuck with "mammy" stereotyped roles. She wasn't afraid to speak out against injustices, racism in partcular. In 1951 she went to America to make one of several (unsuccessful) attempts to capture the public's attention, only to wind up in a huge scandal over her being refused service at New York's Stork Club because of her color, and then was slammed in a mean-spirited smear campaign by the newspaper columist Walter Winchell. She also was accused of being "anti-American." America may have made its piece with Josephine since then, but still they cannot seem to appreciate other newer artists from their own country who gain success elsewhere in the world like the Scissor Sisters and Anastacia. Musical acts like those don't perform in ready-made boxes (musically or sexuality-wise) that can be easily digested by the American media.

When the Scissors were asked their opinion on the American music scene, they dissed it for being too superficial and celebrity-oriented at the expense of the music. Jake Shears said that they were appricative of their big British fan base, adding that: "All I have to do is watch the MTV Awards [in the US] and thank Christ we don't have to be within a 50-mile radius of it."

The Scissor Sisters's second album Ta-Dah! will be hitting the shelves of US record stores (appearently except those of Sam Goody's and FYE) on September 26. The new album is currently streaming at the group's MySpace webpage, as well at

UPDATE: MTV News reports on the Scissor Sisters/Transworld situation. TransWorld president and CEO Jim Litwak comes off looking vindictive and childish here--he won't stock their records just because of "hurt feelings?" Real professional...with people like him no wonder the record industry has been taking a nose-dive.


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