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Friday, August 8, 2008

When Fashion Met Music Videos: PJ Harvey

Dean Mayo Davies pays tribute...

Polly Jean Harvey—aka PJ Harvey—is, simply, one of the greatest female recording artists of our generation, and one of the best live acts you'll ever witness. Aesthetically, she keeps fans on their toes (and ears), but she's by no means a pop-chameleon who feels the need to reinvent herself every six months. That philosophy all too often implies a lack of authenticity, a resistance to commit to something wholeheartedly. Whatever PJ’s custom-made style, her essence remains the same—and that’s the difference. Here, in celebration of the diminutive diva (in stature, not stage presence), three YouTube moments...


1. This Is Love

In head-to-toe bespoke Todd Lynn—complete with ultra-long fringe—PJ keeps it simple in this video (from her "Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea" album of 2000). Pretty much all you see, besides her killer look, is a white room, a Fender Telecaster guitar and a confrontational declaration of euphoria from the lady herself. Come to think of it, maybe it's not so simple after all. Can you imagine anyone else making this work? As described on YouTube: "The best video ever."




2. The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore

Even in a bra and PVC miniskirt, Polly Jean owns the stage. While an outfit like this is charged with provocative connotation, she remains aloof to such unseemly thoughts throughout, adding even more intensity to the live performance at Reading Festival in 2004.




3. White Chalk (performed live on BBC’s Later with Jools Holland, 11/16/2007)

After having worn everything from pink Lycra catsuits in the mid '90s to two bootleg Spice Girls T-shirts sewn together as a mini-dress, PJ played her most recent shows in austere Edwardian monochrome gowns by Annie Mochnacz (in collaboration with director/photographer Maria Mochnacz and PJ herself). It's a look that goes hand-in-hand with the purist, almost folkloric nature of her new album, White Chalk.

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