Song of the Day: Vampire Weekend, “Oxford Comma”

I’ve had this song stuck in my head all day. I looked it up this morning in order to play around with doing screen captures from a video for a few of my composition students who are doing photo essays, and I found myself humming/singing it in the halls. (Not good given the language, but also wildly appropriate given the language.) At any rate, I’d never seen the official video before. I was struck by the Wes Anderson echoes. Even the chapter titles seem to be drawn from The Royal Tennenbaums. I like the concept of being in some odd revolutionary outpost from the 1970s. I also like the self consciousness with the tracking devices. It doesn’t try to hide that it’s a music video. In fact, it revels in the incoherency of the whole genre, creating a pastiche of themes. I think Vampire Weekend gets criticized, unfairly, for this self knowing pastiche. The thematic link to Wes Anderson is deliberately. His aesthetic, one borrowed from François Truffaut, French New Wave Cinema, and the color palate of the Umbrellas of Cherbourg, is one we’ve given a sort of odd elite artistic credibility. It’s a form of elitism. Vampire Weekend borrows this credibility with great elan, using it to fuel their real social commentary on the inanities of such elitism.

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One thought on “Song of the Day: Vampire Weekend, “Oxford Comma”

  1. The first time I saw this video, I thought it was a Wes Anderson short. I think both Vampire Weekend and Anderson get bad critical raps precisely because they are conscious of their elite pedigree (which comes, to a large degree, from their upper-middle-class whiteness) and comment on said elitism in their art. In short, they don’t take whiteness for granted but instead question the impulses underneath it, and the privileges that come with it… which makes them different, and somewhat threatening, to 95% of indie rock and U.S. indie cinema.

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