There’s a new song on the radio by a band I hadn’t heard of. It’s called “Renegades” and they’re called X-Ambassadors.
In this song, they celebrate “running wild and running free” and “living like we’re renegades.” I like the song a lot more than I would expect to. But hey, I never claimed to have great taste in music.
But what gets me is this verse:
All hail the underdogs. All hail the new kids. All hail the outlaws. Spielbergs and Kubricks
And it’s strange, for two reasons. The first is that it comes in the midst of a lot of very odd film references in pop music (which I’ll get to in a moment.) The second? Well. Would you actually say that Spielberg and Kubrick are a) underdogs b) new kids c) outlaws d) renegades.
Hmm. Maybe? There’s another part of the song in which we are told “long live the pioneers.” And sure, maybe, yeah, that’s what Kubrick was and Spielberg is.
It’s been a very long since either Kubrick or Spielberg was anything resembling an underdog or a new kid. Kubrick made films from the ’50s to the ’90s. Spielberg has been cranking them out for equally as long, into the present but with a different start date.
As for outlaws? I’ll take that one. Maybe. Kubrick was, at least, with Lolita and Clockwork Orange and Eyes Wide Shut. He had decades of being an outlaw, even if he was also an establishment, backed-by-the-man, wealthy outlaw. (And yes, it’s preferable to be the kind of Kubrick outlaw than the Polanski sort).
But Spielberg? Spielberg was barely any kind of outlaw. He might pioneer and push things forward but the guy isn’t a renegade. He is Empire.
It makes you wonder where these lyrics come from.
And that’s not the only strange film reference being thrown around on the radio these days. Fall-Out Boy is invoking Pulp Fiction with a song about a woman who wants to dance like Uma Thurman. Vance Joy and Mark Ronson are both singing about Michelle Pfeiffer.
What does it all mean? Every one of these songs has teenagers as their target audience. Michelle Pfeiffer’s peek and Uma Thurman’s dance with Travolta both predate the memory of any of the teenagers that these musicians are singing for. So why are we getting these allusions on the radio?
The answer is: I don’t know. It’s some kind of cultural appropriation, taking actors or filmmakers and changing their meaning to fit that of the song. Whether or not it actually means something, actually matters, is what I do not know.
The better answer is probably that these are just meaningless lyrics to silly songs. Maybe I should go back to dissecting Jason Derulo songs.