As we prepare to welcome A-Trak back on 3rd December, we look back at the eye-opening video for "Barbra Streisand"
Somewhere in the midst of an Armand Van Helden inspired Internet blackhole, I rediscovered the video for "Barbra Streisand". In 2010, the song, like a jungle parasite, burrowed into the heads and hearts of the entire world for the closing of the decade. A product of Armand and A-Trak's playful side project, Duck Sauce, "Barbra Streisand" became number one in six countries, finding itself played every night in pretty much every nightclub in the world for good six months.
Revisiting the "Barbra Streisand" music video becomes as much a visual memory jerk as it is an aural one. Filmed at a time when Twitter was just finding its feet and YouTube was the home of ad free DIY uploads, it's a funny, but kind of sad, reminder of how things have done changed even in as little as six years.
For example, here's Diplo, looking decidedly less serious than you would ever find him now. "Barbra Streisand" came out a year after the release of Major Lazer's debut, Guns Don't Kill People, Lazers Do, made back when UK producer Switch was still part of the group and when Skrillex was probably still making screamo. At the time he was working heavily with Santigold, who also appears in the video to teach A-Trak some dance moves.
Santigold helped bring fresh musical associations to New York's left field, a sound that had been dominated by the garage rock sounds of The Strokes, Interpol and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and along with Ezra Koening of Vampire Weekend, proved that NYC's music scene was not just about white people in leather jackets.
Via the Barbra Streisand video, we're treated to candid glimpses of artists who are now superstars that are now careful to curate every aspect of what we see of them.
Pharrell Williams, looking exactly the same as he always has done. 2010 marked the beginning of what has been one of the most remarkable rises to fame of any producer.
A refreshingly candid snapshot of Kanye West, un-doctored and unedited, if only for a second.
Before coming right back to the Kanye we know and... love?
We catch glimpses of artists like then It Babe, Uffie, the First Lady of seminal French label, Ed Banger. Tracks like "Pop The Glock" and "ADD SUV" (released in 2010 with Pharrell on production and Armand on remix duties) caught the hearts of hype blogs, though her career failed to materialise into anything more substantial.
Whereas Uffie faded from this video into obscurity, another character appears, who has only risen to prominence. Non other than the now ubiquitous owner of social media real estate, Fat Jew. Five years ago the 'cultural commentator' was a member of comedy rap group Team Facelift. He left the music industry the year "Barbra Streisand" was released, sensing opportunity elsewhere. To think that Instagram didn't even exist in 2010, he has since become the world's first male plus size model, and hosts a show called Money Pizza Respect on Beats 1.
In amongst the unexpected and the now non-existent are the reliables, in the form of Todd Terry and Questlove, both artists who in their own right prove their eternal relevance.
Revered in 2010 and now legendary in 2016, they have weathered the storms the music industry has faced since the beginnings, and will continue to prove that in amongst the bullshit, true talent remains steadfast and as important as ever.
So what does "Barbra Streisand" mean? It's probably just the throwaway accompaniment to a song that will forever be associated with no-drinks-on-the-dancefloor clubbing, though if nothing else it shows that the subsequent half-decade has been the making or breaking of Duck Sauce's friends.
Some have continued their trajectory of success regardless of scenario. Santigold and Ezra have respectively continued to release critically acclaimed music, natural born music makers who were born from a bubble pot of excitement that "Barbra Streisand" captures perfectly.
A few have had their careers affected by something on the cusp of explosion. Uffie, a burgeoning artist, could have capitalised on the likes of SoundCloud to grow and maintain her following and fanbase. The Fat Jew dipped out of music when he saw a gap in the market elsewhere. Their relevance means everything or nothing, depending on whose watching, proving that it doesn't matter if you're mates with Armand.
As for the others; rest assured we won't see Kanye or Pharrell cropping up in candid music videos again. "Barbra Streisand" captured a hey day, and for that, we can only learn to love it.
Come see A-Trak on Saturday 3rd December, tickets and info here
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22 Nov 2016