[show=iamamiwhoiam-review size=large]I knew it’d happen eventually: I’d wake up, see the newest video by mysterious YouTube video artist iamamiwhoiam, and finally have to sit down and figure out what this was all about. Today is that day.
iamamiwhoiam joined YouTube (s GOOG) in December 2009, whereupon he/she/it began uploading strange but ethereal music videos featuring an anonymous blond woman, her identity disguised by masks, make-up, masking tape and/or mud. The only publicly listed information about him/her/it (screw it, I’m going to go with “her”) is that she hails from the the small island nation of Vanuatu, and that she prefers to title her videos with strings of numbers or letters.
Seven videos have been posted so far, and thanks to a serious viral marketing push by whatever entity is supporting this project, many music sites and blogs helped these videos earn over two million total views.
I’m not an expert when it comes to defining musical genres, but the style invoked by iamamiwhoiam reminds me of Orbital, Zero 7 and other trip-hop I enjoyed back in the early 90s, with the addition of a distinctly Scandanavian Sigur Ros-y sound. In short, I do like it — it’s the videos I’m not totally sure about, probably for the same reason that I also wasn’t a big Bjork fan in the 90s: They’re just so friggin’ weird.
iamamiwhoiam specializes in staring at the camera, wearing strange costumes, and posing dramatically in visually appealing but strange settings. o, her longest video yet, is possibly the most coherent and thus the most interesting, but for the most part they seem to be weird for weirdness’s sake. Which is a great way to get some attention, but not necessarily a great way to keep it.
However, the other great way to get attention: Be rumored to be someone famous. In the months since the iamamiwhoiam channel was launched, no shortage of female artists were suspected. Today the conventional wisdom is that iamamiwhoiam is Swedish singer-songwriter Jonna Lee, but according to MTV News, Lee’s management denies the artist’s involvement.
Prior to Lee, though, the frontrunner was Christina Aguilera (despite her management also denying the rumors), as she was working on a new album with collaborators from the indie electronica scene. However, here is what I am prepared to say for sure today: iamamiwhoiam is NOT Christina Aguilera. The idea that the pop artist was prepping yet another comeback with an extremely strange yet intriguing viral campaign did make a certain amount of sense back in February. But that was before Aguilera’s video for the first single off her new album, Not Myself Tonight, debuted.
In said video, Aguilera tries to give Lady Gaga a run for her money with extreme S&M-inspired costumes, frantic dancing and no shortage of simulated bisexual antics meant to titillate. It’s not art, like iamamiwhoiam, and it’s not even that interesting, a quality which Lady Gaga never fails to achieve. When MTV calls out the video’s references as being Madonna, Michael Jackson and George Michael, you know a higher level of thought is not in play here.
Watching Not Myself Tonight made me like iamamiwhoiam a whole lot more, actually. For sure, being weird for the sake of weird isn’t much of an artistic statement, but it’s more than a cheap imitation of those who have come before. These videos are undeniably, authentically hers — whoever she might be.
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