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DoM’s latest Mashup: “Pretty Suffragette”

DoM was my first interview guest ever for this blog (see that HERE) and I remain a big fan of his unique ability to combine elements from songs that I wouldn’t otherwise think had any real connection. His latest concoction—a combination of the music of Bowie’s “Suffragette City” and Sex Pistols’ “Pretty Vacant”—is a prime example.

As I’ve mentioned before about past mashups from DoM, he makes them seem like this is the way the song is supposed to be. I’m much less familiar with “Pretty Vacant,” which I’ve probably heard only a handful of times, than I am with “Suffragette City,” which I probably hear a few times every week. But thanks to DoM’s wizardry, Bowie’s music actually seems like a better accompaniment to Johnny Rotten’s vocals than the original Sex Pistols version. It’s more melodic, in any case.

Is there any other Bowie connection between the two songs? Well, the Sex Pistols song is fairly straightforward—the lyrics add a little detail to the song title—the narrators are vacant. In terms of Bowie lyrics, I’m reminded of the line from “Scary Monsters,” “When I looked in her eyes they were blue but nobody home.” I also think of the Bowie-produced Stooges song, “Gimme Danger,” that mentions, “There’s nothing left alive but a pair of glassy eyes,” or perhaps Iggy’s Bowie-influenced song, “The Dum Dum Boys,” which in turn influenced Bowie’s later “Dirty Boys.” But all that’s a bit of a stretch. It isn’t that surprising that edgy rock acts have some songs about burnouts in one form or another.

A more interesting parallel is how both the Pistols and Bowie play with the word “pretty.” Bowie used the term “pretty thing” in three songs. Without paying too much attention, it seems like the refrain of the Sex Pistols song is simply, “We’re so pretty,” and in fact, that is the line repeated a few times before culminating in “pretty vacant.” That actually is a Bowie-esque type of wordplay. Not being a Sex Pistols expert, I hear that as their way of commenting on the superficiality of societal standards of attractiveness. The band members’ confrontationally nonconformist look was less unattractive than anti-attractive. This took Bowie’s Ziggy-era approach a step further—while Ziggy’s appearance was bizarre, Bowie managed to make the bizarre attractive. The Sex Pistols, in their appearance and in this song, seem to reject the whole concept of attractiveness as a societal construct.

You might want to contemplate all that as you listen to DoM’s latest piece of work, or you might not—but listen to it. I’m pretty sure that’s something you’ll want to do!

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The Divine Symmetry series compares Bowie songs to other songs with some sort of similarity, intentional or otherwise. The term is borrowed from Bowie’s song, “Quicksand.”

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