So finally getting round to writing my first academic-style post on my new blog, its only been a week!
So I thought it would be good to first explain a bit more on the origins of my new blog title “The identity tilt” which was inspired by the lyrics of the Christine and the Queens song “Tilted”.
Firstly, a bit of background. Christine and the Queens is the pseudonym for French songstress Héloïse Letissier whose work, as well as music includes art, dance and photography. From live performances, she combines her music with extravagant postmodern, breakdance style routines, sometimes on her own (such as in the song “Intranquillité”) or with a group of backing dancers. Her first album, “Chaleur Humaine” (which translates as “human warmth” in English) debuted in France in 2014 and has only recently been released in the USA and UK in the last two years. Her career in 2016 has taken off significantly and risen to critical acclaim, incorporating an international tour to the USA and performing at the Glastonbury festival in July 2016.
The pseudonym of Christine and the Queens that Letissier goes by was discovered upon a performance she saw in London in 2010 by drag queen Russella and adopted the “Queens” when Russella amongst other drag performers became backing singers for her. Effectively, Letissier has paid tribute to them and the transgender community. Thus, Christine and the Queens was born and these identities, as well as Letissier’s own in which she identifies as pansexual are represented significantly within the lyrics of various songs on “Chaleur Humaine”. Let’s take a look at some examples:
She wants to be a man
But she lies
She wants to be born again
But she’ll lose
She draws her own crotch by herself
But she’ll lose because it’s a fake
Lyrics from “iT”
In these lyrics, this song explores the complexity and performative nature of a queered gender identity. The song explores how Letissier believed that by being perceived as a man she can be taken more seriously in her music and stage identity than as a woman. Fundamentally, she is explaining how a male identity is perceived as assertive and respectful, which she believes is what is required to be successful.
I miss prosthesis and mended souls
Trample over beauty while singing their thoughts
I match them with euphoria
When they said, “je suis plus folle que toi” (I’m crazier than you)
Lyrics from “Tilted”
In the first set of lyrics above, “Tilted” first describes her experiences with drag queens in London in 2010. Fundamentally, “Tilted” in this instance explores the playful nature of gender and sexuality, which is also echoed in the second set of lyrics by applying “magic marker”. This also suggests how individuals should be proud of who they are and society should respect and appreciate their identity and appearance.
As can be seen through these examples, Letissier identifies gender and sexuality as performative. Both these identity constructions are queered as they do not fit in to essentialist and biological categorisations of identity (i.e. male/female, heterosexual/homosexual). Thus, the lyrics identify the playful nature and multiplicity of identity construction.
For the last year or so, “Tilted” and its French equivalent “Christine” have been my favourite songs to date, and nothing is topping them! Check out her album as well as the French song “Intranquillité” (this is only available on the French deluxe album release) as its simply fantastic music and lyric writing as I’ve illustrated above.