"it is better to be a flamboyant failure than any kind of benign success"
malcolm mclaren was a figure whose impact on pop culture is far greater then his name recognition, and his impact on m21's own youth was certainly greater then any other artist- a kid from suburban san diego never would have discovered punk rock without him, after all. did he invent punk rock, 80's alternative youth culture, hip-hop, and world music? no, not really; but he did put them all on the map, and more importantly he fused fashion, music, and underground culture, in a way that still profoundly impacts the world of pop culture we are surrounded by today- over 30 years after he unleashed it all from the tiny london shop he owned with his former wife, dame vivienne westwood. now that's impact, and malcolm, defying his own quote, was a flamboyant- never benign- success.
not only was malcolm a pop-culture/promotional genius, igniting and exploiting trends in an incendiary fashion, he was a musical genius in his own right, producing some of our favorite music of all time. here is a sampling of the music he made under his own name for those who are unfamiliar, as well as for those who just want to enjoy a bit of nostalgia with m21:
buffalo gals: fashion by viv, music by malcolm- he made hip-hop cool for us white people:
most associate the "voguing" phenomena with madonna, but malcolm stole it from the queens in new york who originated it, and set it to music long before she stole it from him (hey, he was the master of appropriation, so it's only fitting- what goes around, comes around). this is 9 minutes, but worth it:
that vaguely jazzy/world music-y/cocktails with a beat music that everyone alive has listened to as the background soundtrack of countless restaurants/lounges/nightclubs for the last 2 decades? again, malcolm blew it up first (bonus points for making catherine deneuve a popstar):
finally, in our opinion, malcolm maclaren's true masterpiece, fusing dance music, opera, and rap, the incomparable "madame butterfly", possibly the most gorgeous (and slightly ridiculous) pop song ever:
goodbye, malcolm, you old scoundrel you. thank you for making my teens and twenties so damn much fun.