"I wanna see you vogue bitch."
"This is pretty ghetto but it makes me want to vogue."
Do these lines of prose sound appealing to you? Putting aside all questions of innovation, production quality, genre, and style, liking "Yo Vogue," the latest single from Parisian youngster French Fries, really comes down to how one feels about the lyrics.
Without question, the oft-repeated vocal refrains of "Yo Vogue" are, at best, tongue-in-cheek goofs designed to add an element of playfulness to the track. It's a fun, upbeat tune, one rife with snappy kicks, eerie synth melodies, thick bass tones, and a sort of cocksure, hip-hop-flavored bravado. As such, it's no surprise that Claude VonStroke was eager to sign to the track to Dirtybird, a label with a long history of irreverent club anthems. "Yo Vogue" is undoubtedly a crowd pleaser, the kind of song that should inspire legions of reformed hip-hop heads to throw up their gun hands on the dancefloor. In truth, the music is spot on, as "Yo Vogue" recalls the space-age excellence of French Fries' last single, "Champagne" b/w "Hugs." The track's percussion-heavy approach and stripped-down aesthetic may take some generous cues from the recent output of Pearson Sound, but French Fries is far from alone in imitating the Hessle Audio boss. After all, there's nothing wrong with a little bit of mimicry when the execution is this strong.
Nevertheless, no matter how excellent the beats, there's really no excusing the vocal sample on "Yo Vogue." Obviously, vogue house and ballroom has wiggled its way through the blogosphere over the past year or so, and perhaps "Yo Vogue" is French Fries' attempt to pay tribute. Surely, it was all done in good fun and with a spirit of admiration, but it is a little disheartening to see vogue culture boiled down to a "bitch"-laden caricature. Granted, it may be unfair to expect a single club track to present a thoughtful treatise on an entire scene, but "Yo Vogue" still smacks of immaturity and an artist who wasn't thinking about his work in a larger context.
The 12" also includes two remixes, one from VonStroke and another from Leroy Peppers, a new moniker adopted by Dirtybird veteran Christian Martin. Both versions rely pretty heavily on the original vocal, yet each reworks the instrumentation in a unique fashion. VonStroke slows down the tempo while thickening up the low end even further, harkening back to classic electro. More accurately, the remix has a sort of ghettotech-on-cough-syrup vibe that's not without its charms. In contrast, the Leroy Peppers remix speeds up the proceedings, even pitching up the vocal sample to create a kind of robotic effect not unlike that found on Daft Punk's "Technologic." Synths play a prominent role, as 16-bit videogame melodies waft their way into the track as the percussion shuffles and pops below. It's not much of a dancefloor cut, but Christian Martin, more than any other Dirtybird act, has been flirting with UK bass sounds for awhile now, so it will be interesting to see if this new project bears further fruit.
As for French Fries, he remains a talented producer with what seems like an endless well of potential. At this stage in his career, he still seems to be finding himself, as shown by his tendency to turn out his own takes on whatever "hot" new sound is lighting up the message boards at the moment. In creative terms, "Yo Vogue" is a slight misstep—albeit one that's likely to get lots of play in the clubs—but it's not something from which he can't recover. In the meantime, perhaps he'll consider releasing an instrumental version.