Laughing at music stereotypes, with Kyle Gordon

Laughing at music stereotypes, with Kyle Gordon

In the summer of 2023 a song goes viral, a phenomenon with tens and tens of millions of views across Twitter, TikTok and Instagram.

It's “Planet of the Bass”, it's the product of this DJ Crazy Times. It's the summer of “Barbie” and the Aqua revival, the song sounds in every way like an example of Eurodance, with the inevitable duet with a beautiful vocalist and with absurd phrases (“women are my favorite guy”) which however are not so absurd when thinking about songs like this. You might have thought it was yet another song from the past resurrected by social media. Instead it was a perfect parody of Kyle Gordon. After less than a year, and other songs, he released “Kyle Gordon is great”, which is not just his nickname on social media, but an album in which he pokes fun at the stereotypes of musical genres, from country to bossanova to Irish music .

The long tradition of musical parodies

Weird Al Yankovic: if the name doesn't mean anything to you, look it up on YouTube. For 40 years he has been the icon of musical parodies, so much so that his career deserved a documentary not long ago: rewrites of iconic songs and their video clips from Nirvana to Michael Jackson. Making fun of pop and rock stereotypes is nothing new, just as so-called “novelty songs” are not new, songs made to make people laugh.
Kyle Gordon's songs are children of this tradition, even if like many colleagues of his generation he lives on social media and platforms, which he arrived on during the pandemic.

It is decidedly less refined than .Bo Burnham and is closer to Yankovic: it works precisely because of its simplicity.
The rule of parody is that it reveals something of the original to us and in this, Kyle Gordon's “songs” are, in their own way, perfect: “Wanderin'” (“When real men made real music”) is a merciless portrait of the stereotypes of country, but which not only makes fun of the most reactionary tendencies, but also the way of telling stories of the “male” American singer-songwriter, from Johnny Cash to Springsteen. The same goes for “The Irish drinking song” (“Kill a fuckin' Englishman and throw him in the sea”) or the bossanova/lounge (“Ugliest girl on the beach”).

Album or video?

Not everything works like “Planet of the bass”, although the emo-rock parody “My life (Is the worst life ever)” is notable. Often, in Kyle Gordon's parodies, we slip into cringe (deliberately?) like “Girls are the best”, a replica of female motivational songs in country music. And the album itself is small: 26 minutes, with audio fragments from fake radio stations introducing the songs: listened to as songs, the parodies work much less.

That said, to spend a pleasant half hour, and to laugh at the stereotypes of music – but also reflecting on its mechanisms – Kyle Gordon is one of the most interesting names around.