In, But Not of, the Pop World

Popular culture is an intricate part of our exceedingly complex modern world. Paradoxically, it has become a blessing and a curse. Music and art, television and movies can function as legitimate means of social criticism and catalysts for change. They can also anaesthetize our feelings and paralyze our culture's progress.

Pop culture seems obsessed with its own definition of success. Money and power equate with popularity and position. Those who do not fit neatly into the equation are continuously reminded by pop culture icons, who ironically have achieved such success, that they are zeros in society.

Admittedly, "regular folk" feel powerless sometimes. But to have this perception so intricately woven into our culture's consciousness robs us of our enthusiasm for living and crushes our dreams beneath the cynical wreckage of society. There seems to be far too much whining and not enough constructive criticism. It is into this tension, this world of zero-speak, that singer-songwriter Sam Phillips wedges a truly alternative perspective.

Sam Phillips' new release, Omnipop (It's Only A Flesh Wound Lambchop) (subtitle courtesy of Mel Brooks' The Producers) is an attempt to inject some levity into what she considers an overly serious music culture while at the same time commenting on broader cultural issues. Omnipop follows the 1994 release Martinis and Bikinis—a solid rendition of Beatlesque pop that earned Phillips much critical praise. While the two albums are similar in theme, they could not be more musically disparate. If Martinis is served up dry, then Omnipop represents an express trip through the cocktail lounge.

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Sojourners Magazine January-February 1997
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