Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hope my girlfriend don't mind it

Consider the following songs:

Stacy’s Dad, after Stacy’s Mom.

I Kissed a Girl, sung by Ivri Lider. (Bonus Smallville video with Clark Kent as the POV character, on the same theme.)

“I Kissed a Boy,” sung by a female singer with the gendered nouns and pronouns reversed. (What does it say about our culture that this is the one I couldn’t find?)

I Kissed a Boy, same lyrics, sung by a male singer. (Bonus Cobra Starship I Kissed a Boy with substantially changed lyrics.)

Which, if any, are transformative and why?

What is the relevance of the fact that it is, as far as I can tell, universally accepted that, under 17 U.S.C. §115, it is unobjectionable to flip gendered nouns and pronouns (among other things, making Alanis Morissette the Queen of Pain, but you knew that already)? Section 115 provides that a compulsory license “includes the privilege of making a musical arrangement of the work to the extent necessary to conform it to the style or manner of interpretation of the performance involved, but the arrangement shall not change the basic melody or fundamental character of the work.” Apparently, one’s sexual or romantic partners are part of one’s style or manner of interpretation, but the gender of the person described by the lyrics isn’t fundamental to the character of a work—an interesting result.

1 comment:

  1. Another cover of "I Kissed a Girl" sung by a male with the original lyrics is Max Vernon's (

    As a listener, I find gender-altered songs transformative enough that they can significantly alter my experience of the song--Vernon's cover essentially rehabilitated "I Kissed a Girl" for me.