My Idols Should Really Be Idolizing Me

Filed under music is my boyfriend

I was falsely under the impression that being in a band means you’re cool.

Back in high school and college, I went to a lot of shows. I’ve seen my favourite band well over 50 times all over the country, and that’s just the beginning. I used to be obsessed with meeting members of the bands after the concerts, so I’ve gushed to an embarrassing number of musicians. And they all seemed cool to me. Honestly, I can’t remember anyone who wasn’t cool. Some of them were assholes (I’m looking at YOU, Ed Roland), but being an asshole only adds to your air of untouchability.

A couple of weekends ago, though, Kamran made me watch the documentary Kill Your Idols, which is about the NYC no wave scene of the 70s and 80s and the current noise scene that grew out of it. The film features a couple of Yeah Yeah Yeahs performances, which was really exciting for me, because I’ve always thought Karen O is a super-sexy performer with unrivaled coolness. See for yourself:

But then they made the horrible, horrible mistake of interviewing her. She says “like” and “you know” a million times, which isn’t really an issue for me, because who do I know who doesn’t talk that way? The problem for me is how . . . Midwestern . . . she seems. I can’t look at her the same way anymore. She has a weak chin! And insecure lips! And awkward hand movements!

Someone made the best YouTube video with clips from the interview called “Karen O tells it, like, it is”. So funny:

Seriously, if this person is cool enough to front a band, who isn’t? I can put on a lot of makeup and look mean (haha 2005), and what you’ve seen of me at karaoke is 1/8th of what I’m capable of. Kamran and I even have our band named.

So disillusioned. (But I still love you, Karen.)


  1. “…what you’ve seen of me at karaoke is 1/8th of what I’m capable of.”

    Quote of the Day!

    Also? When you and Kamran finally (FINALLY) form your band?

    I’m kicking this writing bullshit to the curb and goin’ on the ROAD.

    Like, as a ROADIE.

    Hell yeah.

    • You could be our in-house journalist, freelancing articles about us and shipping them to Rolling Stone! And also playing tambourine and singing backup. And doing ballet on a rotating platform beside us?

  2. Serial says:

    So what is this favorite (Note the spelling. I’m American.) band you’ve seen 50 times? Should I know, since I’ve been reading your blog since it was on LiveJournal?

    • I trained myself to do that in high school because the teachers counted points off for it, and I thought it was hilarious. Now I can’t untrain myself.

      It’s Jump, Little Children. One part of me recognizes how overproduced and cheesy their albums are, but the other part of me remembers seeing every one of those songs live for years before they were put on an album. And I still think Jay Clifford has one of the most beautiful voices of all time. Lyrics from “Rains in Asia” are on the back of my iPod, and I sort of want to cry from the college memories every time I look at them.

  3. kylie says:

    i watched that documentary cos i am obsessed with the 70s/80s no wave movement, and when i was listening to the older bands i was struck by how thoughtful they were, and the new bands all looked like total idiots. especially karen o. once upon a time i was a yeah yeah yeahs fan, but things like this pretty much ruined them for me.

    anyway, the whole point of this sort of music is that you’re supposed to believe that you could get up there and do a better job than whoever is on the stage. i mean, did you hear anything by teenage jesus and the jerks in that documentary? i’m pretty sure i could write something that sounds better than this:

    • I thought Black Dice came across as pretty cool, but yeah, I sort of hated everyone else. Although I could be biased because I’m jealous of them.

      So, the only reason to listen to these bands is to get inspired to make your own music? Because it doesn’t really work for me; it just makes me feel sorry for actually-talented bands. Although you know I appreciate anything that challenges the established rules, so I like the idea of these bands if not the music they were making, and I think it’s cool that they spawned bands I do like.

  4. Tracey says:

    I agree that she seems way less cool when she talks than when she sings, but isn’t it always this way with band members? Aren’t they supposed to be sort of shy and nervous when they have to talk about what they do? If a male singer of a band you loved acted that way, wouldn’t you find it a little bit endearing?

    • Yeah, and that’s why women shouldn’t be allowed to be in bands.

      I mean, look at someone like Matt Bivins. He somehow manages to both be super-accessible and super-cool, humble yet obviously better than you. Karen’s nervousness is charming if I don’t see her when she speaks; you have to be better-looking to really make that sort of awkwardness work for you.

      • Tracey says:

        I just think women’s reactions to women are funny. If I saw, say, Nigel from Bush do an interview, it wouldn’t bother me one bit that he’s unattractive and not-very-articulate. But if I see that sort of thing from a noted female performer, my instinct is to think, “Ugh! She doesn’t sound smart enough. And she’s not even pretty!”

        Why does everyone call out Meg White for being a shitty drummer when there are a million shitty no-name male drummers out there?

        Do you think we hold female performers to a higher standard because we assume it’s more natural for men to be in that world, and we expect a whole lot from the women who actually do make it? Or is it something else?

  5. Jack says:

    I don’t see why musicians should be the same in their real lives as they are in their music. I actually have a lot more respect for the ones who can properly separate out their musical careers from their personal lives. The ones that can’t do this are usually the arrogant ones or the ones that go crazy and OD on drugs.

    I can see how you can lose respect for Karen O after listening to that interview, but I think it would’ve been a lot worse if she actually acted the way she did in your first video. Not saying that she couldn’t use a couple of speech lessons though. Maybe someone should send her this link: I mean, don’t you think she’d be much more interesting if she spoke like the guy in that video??