Q & A 8: What kind of music would your favorite character(s) like?

In Q & A, a semi-regular feature of Fantastic Fangirls, we ask our staff to tackle a simple question — then open the floor to comments.

What kind of music would your favorite character(s) like?

Anika

This is my favorite game to play. I imagine myself an amateur singer-songwriter, I was a Dance major in university and I listen to a LOT of music. And I can tell you the top 3-5 artists and 10-25 songs any of my favorite characters from any of my favorite fandoms listen to. For my favorite X-girl Polaris? Her playlist on my ipod is 20.5 hours long. I can tell you exactly what she listens to: girl rock with plaintive lyrics. Think Avril Lavigne, Aimee Mann, Liz Phair and Ingrid Michaelson. Girls who not only wear their hearts on their sleeves, they go out and sing about it all. They have a lot of emotion and no shame. Just like Lorna.

Now, Lorna is also a bit of a powder keg, and her playlist is rounded out by pop punk like Sugarcult, classic grunge like Nirvana, and modern brit-pop like Oasis and Coldplay. But I think the best illustration of Lorna’s taste in music is Alanis Morissette. At turns angry, desperate, overwhelmed or hopeful the one thing both Alanis and Polaris always do is endure. They keep on keeping on and never lose that inner sparkle.

I’m free but I’m focused
I’m green but I’m wise
I’m hard but I’m friendly, baby

I’m sad but I’m laughing
I’m brave but I’m chicken
I’m sick but I’m pretty, baby

What it all comes down to my friends, yeah
Is that everything’s just fine fine fine

— “Hand in My Pocket,” Alanis Morissette

Caroline

I can’t say with any kind of certainty that Cyclops killed disco, but he definitely helped to sound the death knell. Sure, you can trace the genre’s demise to July 12, 1979, when 75,000 people showed up at Comiskey Park to have their records ceremonially exploded. But my cultural radar tends to hone in on the moment a few months later, when Marvel Comics published Uncanny X-Men #130. This issue introduces the character of Dazzler, a jumpsuited singer-dancer with some kind of light powers. Most significantly, it introduces her to Scott Summers, who stands, bathed in her iridescent glow, and reflects — via the greatest thought balloon of all time — “I know zilch about disco, but this lady is good!”

It’s one thing to have the arbiters of cultural coolness declare that your product is on the way out. But when Scott Summers declares himself a fan, you know your cutting edge is as dull as it’s ever going to get. It’s like your dad, your 12-year-old cousin, and Oprah all declared their love for your favorite album on the same day. What I’m saying is, the boy just isn’t very hip.

Naturally, I love this about Scott. A recent comic showed him wearing a Dazzler T-shirt, indicating he has the same taste in music as the 15-year-old Pixie. In fact, I’m pretty sure he welcomed the X-Men’s move to San Francisco because it’s the only place in America you can buy a Dazzler T-shirt in a grown man’s size. Granted, Dazzler’s been re-invented a few times since the death of disco; a scene in the last issue of Uncanny X-Men tries to sell her as some kind of sultry chanteuse that grownups would actually listen to. But I’m pretty sure that most of the people in that club are viewing the performance with a touch of irony, or at least the kind of skepticism that rises when you hear that Justin Timberlake’s solo album was really pretty good. Scott, he’s just thinking, “Oh, Dazzler. It’s great to know she still rocks.”

Jennifer

I’m going to tell a personal story.

Last year, as I was writing my senior thesis on Captain America, I decided I needed a soundtrack to help me through the process. But nothing I owned seemed to fit. Captain America, after all, doesn’t seem like the type to listen to the kinds of pop, classic rock, and singer-songwriter music that makes up the majority of my iTunes library. Golden Age comics and “MMMBop” don’t quite mesh.

But one day, I was visiting my 81-year-old grandfather, and I noticed that he had a whole collection of big band and swing CDs. There was the music of his youth, collected in cheap infomercial compilations. Glenn Miller. Duke Ellington. Benny Goodman. Tommy Dorsey. I asked if I could borrow the CDs, and he agreed. And as I sat down to write my thesis, I did so with visions of Steve Rogers swinging a dame across the dance floor at a Christmas party, moving to the peppy rhythms of “In the Mood.”

My grandfather died last May. A World War II veteran and child of the Depression who grew up to be a kind, loving, and gentle (but strong-willed) man, he had always been my own personal Captain America. And now, when I listen to those CDs–which I have inherited–I can remember not only the fictional character who would have enjoyed those tunes long ago, but also the real man whose generosity first exposed me to that music.

Sigrid

It’s canon that Kitty Pryde’s favorite band is Cats Laughing. Check out Excalibur #5, for instance. Kitty apparently liked Cats Laughing enough that even her enemies knew it.

Since I’m actually from the Twin Cities, I can say I’ve heard Cats Laughing play. (Also The Flash Girls, Boiled in Lead, and Gallowglass. Though not Eddi and the Fey. It’s still a life ambition to hear that band rip out a few tunes.)

Knowing the music it’s perfectly obvious to me why Kitty loves the band. (In character, that is. I don’t know any gossip or speculation as to why Claremont put the band in the comic. I can only guess that he’s a fan.) In character, Kitty loves the band because, well — let me give you a lyric to illustrate.

You want to be a hero
With the axe about to fall,
You’d buy it for the love and for the glory,
For it all.
You want to dress in black
And lose your heart beyond recall,
Hunt a dream through rain and thunder,
On your honor,
For it all

— “For It All,” Cats Laughing

There. That, there. That’s my semi-samurai superhero, right there. That’s the Kitty that stood down Loki, the Kitty that won her mind back from Ogun, the one that survived Rachel’s future as long as she did. That’s the Kitty that broke into the Hellfire Club at age 13 1/2 to rescue the X-Men, the Kitty that told off Magneto. The one that runs towards danger, not because she’s crazy or suicidal, but because she’s a hero. Because there’s no-one else. Because that’s what heroes do. That’s the Kitty who really thought she was coming back from the Breakworld, but didn’t give up when she knew she was lost.

(For the interested, I recommend checking out their music on LastFM.)

What about you? What kind of music would your favorite character(s) like?

  • Caroline

    @Anika Wow, the thought balloons in that Lorna panel you linked to could BE an Alanis song. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Alex HATES Alanis. (What do you think he listens to?)

  • sigrid

    @Caroline I personally can’t view Duran Duran with that sort of ironic detachment. When I play “Hungry Like the Wolf” on Rock Band 2, all I think is how cool Duran Duran is, and how hard they rock. I think there’s no hope for me.

    @Jennifer Hah, thanks to the conversations we’ve had about Steve’s music, I, too, think of Captain America when I listen to Tommy Dorsey.

    @Anika <3. I <3 Lorna's taste in music *so much*. As you know perfectly well.

  • Caroline

    @sigrid I think about Scott and I’m pretty sure he’s never danced in his life (you know, I mean — danced to dance music; I imagine the original 5 all learned some ballroom dancing because the Professor *made* them, and considering the gender ratio, let’s try not to think about what those practice sessions were like). But anyway, it’s that much more appropriate he likes music you’re SUPPOSED to dance to but never actually does it. Just, you know, thinks about it a lot. Repression, they name is Summers.

    I also meant to say that I love Jennifer’s anecdote about Cap & the big bands, + thank you for the info about Cat’s Laughing. I think I remember you telling me that’s a real band, but I’d forgotten!

  • sigrid

    @Caroline I think Rachel balances out the repression spectrum against all her living Summers relatives. Well. Her and Gabriel. But I can’t imagine Gabriel dancing.

  • Anika

    @Caroline Alex absolutely hates Alanis. I think Lorna plays it really loudly when she wants to make a point and poor Alex is left thinking ‘What did I do THIS time?’

    Alex is canonically a fan of Broadway/Hollywood musicals, which I find funny for some reason. But I’d say his musical tastes tend toward Maroon Five, The Fray, Semisonic, Snow Patrol. Back in the day he was a big Poison fan.

  • Caroline

    @Anika POISON! I hope ‘Every Rose Has Its Thorn’ is THEIR song. (Probably still better than ‘One’)

  • Margot

    I have been pondering this for two hours now.

    All I can come say is that I really hope that Dick Grayson had outgrown his love for the Flips. Although I am incredibly fond of the sheer ridiculousness of that band. “We’re just a babe, a board, and a bike.” Or whatever the actual lyrics to the song were.

    Oh, Silver Age. *loves*

    (As for what he would listen to now, I have absolutely no idea. Suggestions?)

  • My guesses:

    Remy LeBeau listens to some kind of dark folk music

    Deadpool makes his own music and loves Weird Al, Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus and The Blues Brothers

    Nathan Summers transcends music–or he listens to the Beatles because he’s a bad ass and the Beatles are the only ‘old type’ music around in the future

    Scott Summers listens to Bach, Chopin, Mozart and The Postal Service

    Hank McCoy takes in all music equally, but has a very soft spot in his heart for Fiona Apple and Imogen Heap

    Kitty Pryde listens to Dazzler, Beatles, and so much Chicago-based indie music I couldn’t begin to name bands

    Amadaeus Cho is a techno freak

    Jamie Madrox is an recent Irish folk fan, but is more of a early 90s grunge rocker

    Wolverine is a true 80s hair metal fanatic

    … I could go on…

  • sigrid

    @Mike Rapin That is comprehensive! Thank goodness we’re not the only ones who ponder these vital issues.

  • Scott does listen to The Postal Service, Mike, but per Caroline’s totally right-on assessment, he just started listening to them NOW.

    I imagine Jean Grey going for the catchy-yet-romantic girl rock that makes me say “oh, that *gets* me.” (That’s what she says, too.) Think one step to the left (or the right — whatever) of Lorna. Rilo Kiley and mid-90s anthem addicts like Belly and Juliana Hatfield. Maybe a little Sleater-Kinney when she’s pissed…MAYBE. (Scott: “Ech, turn off that noise. Let’s listen to this cool new group, The Postal Service!”)

  • Caroline

    @Sarah Re: Scott & the Postal Service — yes, exactly! He heard one of their songs last week, and he downloaded a bunch. They’re pretty okay! He tried to get into Death Cab but it wasn’t the same.

    I agree with you re: Jean and the girl rock — she doesn’t get Alanis *at all* and kind of makes faces about it with Alex behind Lorna’s back. But I suspect the girl groups come and go, and her lifelong musical tastes were formed by listening to the Fleetwood Mac & Springsteen albums that her parents have. And I just have to point out that I let a post about music go on for 10 comments before I mentioned Springsteen (but she totally digs him! she can’t NOT dig the guy who sang “blondes are fine, brunettes are fun, but when it comes to gettin’ a dirty job done, it takes a redheaded woman).

    Scott’s a little suspicious of the depth of Jean’s devotion to Bruce and to Lindsey Buckingham, but she can shut him up by mentioning his mancrush on Bono.

  • @Caroline I think that’s about right. She likes artists — whether classic or new-ish — that are anthem-happy, yet personal. She makes REALLY GOOD mix tapes.

  • Caroline

    @Sarah Right, right, I should say — Jean likes anthem-y Springsteen. ‘Born to Run’ and ‘No surrender’ and (of course) ‘Bobby Jean.’ She even likes those overproduced non-E Street Band albums from the 80s, which Logan (who only likes the *classic* stuff) will argue with her about when he’s in a cranky mood. She solves this by giving him mix tapes. Which he listens to A LOT. Even though he doesn’t like most of the songs very much.

  • handyhunter

    Scott totally would have taken Kitty to see Dazzler (from Wolverince First Class, I forget the issue), and been just as excited as Kitty.

  • I think what I love about comics is that we can have conversations like we’re having in these comments. The sense of shared ownership of these characters, the idea that anyone can write–and has written–them, gives us license to talk about the depths of Scott Summers’ unhipness. It’s awesome.