Ben Lee and something about subtext being dead

Curly of hair and soulful of song, Ben Lee has lived the kind of life that makes movie-making people salivate. Cue American accent:

“It’s a coming-of age-story Bob. Ugly/cute kid from Bond-eye – that’s an Ossie beach Bob – starts playing songs, makes friends with the Beastie Boys – we’re in talks with their people about involvement, looking good Bob – and ends up moving to LA and screwing Claire Danes! Then he has a spiritual awakening and wins lots of Ossie awards. The moral of the film: if you’re friends with the Beastie Boys, you can get any goddamn dame you want.”

Yup, things seem to be going pretty sweet for the eternally earnest Ben. Like Paris Hilton, you get the impression he never gets embarrassed, isn’t short of spare change or a star-studded mobile phone and can probably get any goddamn dame he wants [as long as said dame’s idea of a nice dinner out involves fresh veggies and filtered water]. And lots of people really don’t like him. Google ‘Ben Lee’ and ‘hate’ and you fast get the impression Ben’s super-in-touch-with-his-feelings-and-the-world vibe threatens the cynical cool advanced civilisations are built on. My Mum’s really into energetic healing and crystals and stuff, and I know she’d say something like, “Well this person is singing about their feelings and emotions and that might be threatening to people who aren’t as comfortable with themselves yet”. I think it has something to do with the premise of what we define as ‘cool’ being a subversion – not a complete denial – of honest, direct communication. Call it subtext, call it poetic license, hell, just call it art, but we’re used to lyrics that deal more in metaphor than ‘we’re all in this together’ hippy love-ins; music that even its makers balk at having to explain. Ben’s not like the other kids. He told me these days he sees his role clearer than ever as being a communicator. And hey, he won a few ARIAs and Awake Is The New Sleep shifted some serious units, so maybe he’s onto something. Maybe the age of ridiculously convoluted lyrics is over. Maybe subtext is dead. Witness the revolution…

The Shins ‘Mine’s Not A High Horse’

Then: “These are the muddy waters I’m swimming in/ To make a living were I to drown in them/ it should come as no surprise”

Now: “I sing about bad times in my life/ So don’t be surprised if I get real depressed every now and then”

Kelis ‘Milkshake’

Then:  “My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, And they’re like it’s better than yours, Damn right, it’s better than yours, I could teach you, but I have to charge”

Now: “My sex appeal attracts men quite effectively”

Scissor Sisters, ‘Take Your Mama’

Then: “Do it/ Take your mama out all night/ So she’ll have no doubt/ That we’re doing oh the best we can/ We’re gonna do it/ Take your mama out all night/ You can stay up late ’cause baby you’re a full grown man”

Now “It’s OK to be gay, people!”

Dandy Warhols, ‘Not If You Were The Last Junkie On Earth’

Then: ‘”I never thought you’d be a junkie because heroin is so passé”

Now: “I used to be a smackie. That’s hip, right?”

Jet, ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl’

Then: “I said are you gonna be my girl?”

Now: “ I said is this song gonna get me laid?”


Georgia Clark




About Georgia

I'm a young adult novelist with a weakness for hot nerds and cheese platters, not necessarily in that order. I am currently working on my third novel. I'm pretty excited about having just turned 30 because it means I can justify spending a lot of time thinking about homewares.
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