Saturday, September 28, 2013

"Feed Me Diamonds" (MNDR, Feed Me Diamonds, 2012)

In a baffling story last week, DJ Alex C. debuted a new song and accompanying music video, "Feed Me Diamonds" (featuring Lisa Rowe), released through Kontor Records. The problem is that the song is actually MNDR's, but Alex C. and Kontor haven't credited MNDR, and, according to Amanda Warner (AKA MNDR), she isn't receiving any royalties. In other words, they basically plagiarized MNDR's work. It's enough to get Warner, normally one of the coolest (like, chillest) people on the Internet, pretty upset.

It always astounds me when people who should be professionals somehow delude themselves into thinking they can get away with this sort of thing, but what's especially bizarre in this case is that Alex Christensen (AKA Jasper Forks (AKA Alex C.)) is actually a fairly well-known and successful dance music producer in Germany, and Kontor, although its ghetto website seems all kinds of shady to me, has been associated with some legit acts. Lisa Rowe, featured vocalist on the Alex C. version, is a still-aspiring artist, and the only one who has so far publicly responded to the plagiarism claims, basically by saying on Twitter that she doesn't know anything. I'm willing to believe her, since she's essentially nobody, and it's entirely within the realm of possibility that she just accepted a job without asking too many questions. But you'd think Alex C. and Kontor would know better. If they're going to play the "just accepted a job without asking too many questions" defense, that's really no more an excuse at their level than knowingly plagiarizing.

What makes me sad about this whole affair is that Warner, although she already has a following and can be plenty proud of what she's achieved so far, is herself still at a level where, as an artist, she could really benefit from any bit of positive buzz or kudos. Alex C. (or whoever the hell is behind this—I'll say that one really suspicious element of the video is that all of Christensen's appearances seem like they could have been spliced in from old footage of him) might have credited MNDR for this song he obviously appreciated enough to cover, but instead he just stole it and passed it off as his own. I'm guessing the YouTube video won't stay up much longer, as the sham has been quickly exposed, but it has already generated hundreds of thousands of views and many positive comments by clueless Germans. They've been selling the song on German iTunes and Amazon. One wannabe DJ has even uploaded his own remix of, ugh, "Alex C.'s 'Feed Me Diamonds'" to YouTube.

Well, the story is still developing, so, who knows, maybe there could be some really crazy twist yet to be revealed (like, maybe someone on MNDR's team did sign off on this, but they failed to loop her in on it). In the meantime, I'll just take this moment to share MNDR's original (and, frankly, vastly superior) version of "Feed Me Diamonds":

[soundcloud url="" params="" width=" 100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

Plus, a bonus video, courtesy of Sarah Laird & Good Company, of MNDR performing the song live with a string ensemble on the Late Show with David Letterman:

As someone who, at one point, worked with gemstones (like, professionally), I often wondered, while snapping myself awake from workplace drowsiness, what would happen if someone were to swallow a diamond. The mineral forms at temperatures that would melt a human being whole, so I wouldn't imagine there's anything inside the human body strong enough to break it down. Would the stone then just tear its way through one's digestive system? That, in fact, was MNDR's inspiration in writing the song, as she explained to Spin ("MNDR Breaks Down 'Feed Me Diamonds,'" August 13, 2012):
It's an homage to Marina Abramovíc. It's weird to use the word inspire. I wish I could another one. But she's really important to me, and a really important artist. I was going through a really tough time, a really dark time personally. I was really broke and hungry, and I had dysentery. Everything was the worst I could expect or experience. She claimed that her father, who was an important political figure in Yugoslavia, was assassinated by being fed diamonds. I read about it more and that was a way to overthrow tyrannical kings, to make it look like natural causes, because when you eat diamonds, your digestive system will shred and you bleed out. This album isn't a happy go lucky pop record and it captures a lot of emotional moments in my life. Politically and emotionally, this one really brought it all together.

I'm thinking maybe it was diamond dust that was snuck into these people's food, if indeed these stories are true at all. I don't think, in most cases, a cut and faceted diamond stone actually would do damage if swallowed. It wouldn't break down either, but it would remain intact through the digestive process and eventually come out the other end. (And, given that these rocks are worth far more than I got paid at that job, I'm sure, if any employee ever swallowed a diamond, the company would have locked them in and waited for that to happen.) We've seen that scenario play out before with wedding rings on multiple sitcoms, albeit I think it's usually a dog that swallows the diamond on those shows. Diamond dust could do some damage, however, since it would still be stronger than anything inside the digestive system, and, being so fine, it would be like countless tiny blades, as opposed to one polished stone with few points.

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