Friday, November 18, 2011


While channel surfing last night, I came across the soul singer, Trey Songz performing an unplugged session to an intimate MTV audience. It surprised me to witness the heartfelt enthusiasm of his fans, the camera even managed to catch one girl wiping a tear away from her cheek. It was not long until Trey held out his hand to a young girl in the front row and led her to a barstool onstage. He traced his fingers across her back and kissed her forehead seductively: "Can I sing to you? Can I sing to her?" He encircled her as the introductory chords of Kings of Leon's Use Somebody rang out. He leaned in close to her, caressing her cheek and touching her hair, inching closer to her trembling lips. I watched, absolutely agape.

It could well have represented a lyrical manifestation of the song itself. This nameless girl with the long black hair and yellow top could have been the somebody Trey was referring to. After all, the song did not necessarily suggest that you had to know a person before you could use them. More than that, this demonstration played up that incredibly potent adolescent fantasy of the female fan kissing her musical idol. It was suggested that they would kiss, in the manner he held up her chin and gently pressed the tip of his nose to hers. In spite of her embarrassment, it was apparent that she so desperately wanted this dream to be realised. However, the promised kiss was left unshared. As the song ended, Trey asked her name and led her back to her seat in the front row.

In an interview immediately following the clip, Trey described an instance where he did actually kiss that one lucky girl, that one random fan pulled from the audience. It was in Los Angeles and Trey's drummer insisted that he needed more, whatever that means. He spoke of his routine coyly. There was this unspoken acknowledgement that it was very much a performance, a fantasy. While he managed to claim responsibility for the manner in which he exploited his sexual appeal in live performances, I couldn't help but feel a bit dirty about the whole encounter. It forced me to recall similar routines of rock and roll intimacy: a highly energetic girl leaping onto Morrissey, throwing her legs around his waist; Bruce Springteen inviting Courtney Cox on stage to dance; Bono leaping over barricades at Live Aid, rushing to embrace a crying fan.

Yet, in spite of Trey's admission, I still find myself reflecting upon the effect of that performance. How its appeal is grounded within the promise of an impossible interaction, the chance that in a sea of tens of thousands of fans, he could see something in me. In spite of the sensual nature of its choreography, I cannot help but think of it as a relatively non-confrontational gesture in the eyes of the sexually inexperienced adolescent female. It is almost as if the kiss were at the absolute periphery of physical interaction. On a subconscious level, she would neither be affronted with the fear, pressure or gravity of actually having sex. It would just be a moment of pure cinematic romance, the last few seconds of a film before it fades to black. Despite every aspect of its contrived choreography, every empty glance, every insincere touch, I cannot help but think: "My god, I would have died."


  1. "he could see something in me"

    I think this is key - is not the function of this fan to stand in for every other fan there, and watching at home? To ritualistically secure the cathexis of every fan by telling them, this could be you.

  2. Thank you kindly for your comment, Lawson!

    I knew, even writing this, that you would be able to identify the absolute essence of this! That's the L-factor.

    Even now, I'm not quite sure why I reacted to this exhibition as I did. Did I want to be this girl? No, not really, but then I'm not a fan. However, I know what it is to be a fan and perhaps that's why it struck me as it did.

  3. Everyone wants to be that girl. Hell, even I want to be that girl. But as a boy. And the singer is a girl. And I had awesome hair.