The Teenagers Are Grade-A Asshole Material


photo by Ryan Dombal

So once upon a time I tried to understand a band called the Teenagers, three guys my age from Paris-via-London, who maybe I liked because their music may or may not have had a certain airheadedness that may or may not have been an interesting exercise in doing Pulp’s “Common People” as, say, a Bang Bus episode. First came their debut New York show, and then came their album, Reality Check; lately they’ve been back on the remix grind, with a Vampire Weekend remix of “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa,” which Hipster Runoff posted a couple weeks ago, and then just this week a remix of Britney Spears’s “Womanizer,” which ‘hit the internet’ either yesterday or the day before, who knows.

Now, no question that these guys are not bright, but many musicians fall into this category. Many more musicians in fact pretend they’re not bright when in fact they are, which I never quite understood but always thought had something to do with the general intellectual pitch of backstage discussion/Viper Room game-spit, or maybe just chalk it up to something as simple as a bad case of Ramones envy, pick one, again, who knows.

But let’s extend some credulity and believe these guys are the genuine article, as far as how deeply they profess their horniness, unintentionally betray their general naivete, and write pop songs that hit that ignorance bone in just the right spot. “Streets of Paris” isn’t a great song but it’s a very good one.

So there’s a total ying-yang karma-loop opposite-assholes-attract logic to the VW remix, right down to the song in question, where Ezra Koenig asks “Do you want to fuck?” and all three Teenagers spring three huge erections and say, “Yes, please.” (In fact, yr correspondent inadvertently witnessed the exact moment when this gangbang went down and this remix was born, but that’s a different story.) If there was any charity left in the tank here I’d even give them credit for giving top billing the vacant, non sequitur ‘sophistication’ that lurks not-so-far beneath Koenig & Co’s undeniable ear for a silky, African hook. Except I’d also have to then point out that this is Moment A where the Teenagers go in with their maybe-admirable slick/bad/degraded/perverted intentions and end up getting trumped instead, staring into the abyss of a vapidity far more profound than their own.

But it’s Britney where these guys really get their eyes snatched out, even though I understand that to give guys like me the basic rationale to keep your name high on Technorati you, as a remix unit, have to take on the Britneys of the world from time to time, like it or not. Witness as these guys basically take their stems, sit down at the G4s, and realize that Spears—and of course, of fucking course—has already done their work for them, which is to say that even the worst Britney Spears song is forever smart-dumber, forever more deeply attuned to that blank thing deep down in the consumer that leads him towards tumescence even as he essentially gazes at himself, his culture, his last five purchases, the last ten thing things he masturbated to, the last fifteen things he ejaculated onto, etc. The remix sounds exactly the same.

Coincidence that this song follows ‘Britney Spears “Womanizer (The Teenagers Remix)”‘ on my iTunes? I think not.