Bra and Brass Bands Both Lack Voices

Branded Girl-Group The Vassarettes Raise More Questions Than Answers

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The Vassarettes
We've been a little busy filling in around the office this week, and perhaps Vanity Fair Brands was aware of this, because its new brand-band The Vassarettes has begun to garner some (decidedly unfavorable) attention this week.

Your first question is going to be "what's a Vassarette?" Settle down. It's a line of underwear from Vanity Fair Brands that is designed to make women feel "sexy. fun. 24/7," and the womenswear company recently held some sort of talent competition to find ladies willing to play music while wearing some over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders from the collection.

The band, assembled by PrimalScream Music, is clearly modeled on all-girl rock bands like The Donnas -- check out this striking logo comparison -- but with several layers of rebellion sloughed off. As of yet, they only have one song, "Are You Ready for the Real Thing?" which, predictably, doesn't say much about anything. However it's inspired others willing to say something, like "fucking awful" (Copyranter) or "it's catchy and jangly and power poppy and hard not to like" (BrandFreak) and Frukt's blog even declared them creepier than the Pussycat Dolls, who happen to have their own line of lingerie.

At first, we didn't think the last point held much water water until we realized that, although both groups are paid to play music barely clothed, The Vassarettes are explicitly obligated to do so, which is a little skin-crawling outside of a strip club. There are some women in rock who tend to voluntarily take their clothes off on-stage -- i.e. Roby Newton of Milemarker -- but few who actually have it in their contracts.

Beyond questions of female empowerment and women's relationships with their bras -- both of which we're loathe to step into -- the most important issues here seem to be authenticity and voice. Clearly, few would ascribe much of the former to these ladies, who, while seemingly competent enough with their instruments, would fall under the category of "performers" rather than "musicians in a band." Hell, this worked for the Spice Girls, and, for a certain age set, the inherent "inauthenticity" of these girls won't be the non-starter we might assume it to be.

However, we could easily see parents of that less-skeptical audience frowning on this campaign, especially if they get the strip club vibes like we do. Worse yet, the adolescent brothers of these young ladies may be the most engaged audience of all for The Vassarettes.

Even if it gets past the parents or even finds an older age group, the campaign's most difficult question will still be this: what's the voice of this band? What are their songs about, what's their perspective, and why do they play rock music instead of other genres? If you're brave, give them a listen and try to answer this question. The Vassarettes' fairly extensive microsite has videos and bios on all of the members, but none of these perspectives seem to translate into the lyrics, notes, rhythms, etc. There's a big disconnect, and, while we're equally convinced they're lacking great songwriter(s), we don't think the bra gimmick alone will cut it for teen/tween girls.