This is not a rubbernecking outsider art experience for me. I’m genuinely floored by this album. I think it would help for me to sketch out the albums that this seems to be in conversation with for me. See, a lot of people in the indie/avant/noise/whatever world will have plenty of referents for it but actually teenpop is full of provocative/batshit experimentation, much of which I’m a total sucker for.
A few of the more pretension pop experiments landed on the teenpop retrospective in 2007. Self-conscious experimentation and parody: Melissa Lefton, 2Ge+her, Jewel (from 0304), Skye Sweetnam, Fefe Dobson. Earnest and/or pseudo-philosophical experimentation: Kelly Osbourne (“One Word”), Hilary Duff (“Come Clean”), Katy Rose, Brie Larson, Lillix mk 2. And there’s the uncategorizable stuff that’s either occasionally or regularly moving and/or jaw-dropping in some implacable way — t.A.T.u., Amy Diamond, Keke Palmer, Aly & AJ, Margaret Berger’s “Robot Song.”
There’s the super bizarre stuff, usually not on major labels — DaHv (most novel of the teenpop novelties), Huckapoo (never-released alternate-universe teenpop classic), Gemz (imagine a group of preteen girls in Oingo Boingo), Girl Authority (Kidz Bop’s evil step-sister), Maya Bond (six-year-old screamo), Katy Rose’s 2007 dance album Candy Eyed, Devo 2.0 (no further explanation needed).
What’s great about My Teenage Dream Ended is that it kind of hits all of the bases (it’s firmly in the “super-bizarre” camp) but it also succeeds as avant/art. But I would probably argue that it means something different to me coming out of trawling through the catacombs of post-teenpop-boom non-starters than it does to people who associate Teen Mom with a current historical entertainment moment. Katy Perry and Ke$ha were delayed teenpop aftershocks in my world — the former strikes me as what would happen if someone like Melissa Lefton had actually caught on (remember Katy’s breakthrough wasn’t “I Kissed a Girl” but “UR So Gay”) and the latter strikes me as something that seemed to be happening in the post-TRL outside-Disney teenpop void I was writing about in my column, except it didn’t hit until way later than I would have predicted.
Anyway, there are so many cakes being had and eaten on this album. It’s very special. But I don’t think my terms for “specialness” really map on to a lot of people’s who (also) like this album for similar but not quite the same reasons.
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