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Iggy Azalea and Clueless

iggy_azalea2014 has been a rapturously successful year for Iggy Azalea, the Australian born rapper joining the ranks of the Beatles as one of only two acts to hold number one and number two on the Billboard singles chart with their first two releases. ‘Fancy’ featuring Charli XCX is the number one hit in question, and is this year’s ubiquitous earworm. Undeniably, part of the success of the song has been the American high school vibe Azalea has created to sell it (see cutesy ‘prom’ themed live performances), and particularly the way Azalea has embraced the 90’s revival. LUCY BALLANTYNE investigates.

To say 90’s revival is having a moment would be the understatement of the new millennium. Jelly sandals, crop tops, dungarees, microskirts and dark lips: the ASOS generation just can’t get enough. This cultural moment is all about Gen Y reliving what we wore and what we wish we had been wearing in primary school playgrounds. Pop stars have taken note, with both Katy Perry and Lady Gaga staking claims on a “90’s House” sound (and failing pretty dismally), but few have pulled off the style with aplomb. When our children’s children look back on the year 2014, after sweeping their way through piles of velvet and scrunchies, there’s really only one name that will come to their lips. Who that, who that? I-G-G-Y.

One look at a comments section on an Iggy-centred article is enough to find that people can truly loathe Azalea, and justifiably so. Her comments about Indigenous Australians have been truly heinous, and her status as the world’s biggest female rapper/white girl from Mullumbimby has gotten noses well and truly out of joint. But in the same breath, even the most irate of critics will exclaim: this video is rad.

Charli XCX, who sings Fancy’s chorus and appears in the Clueless remake, is the girl who screams ‘I’m a 90’s bitch’ in Icona Pop’s ‘I Love It’. The video for ‘Fancy’ has been viewed on YouTube close to 132 million times, and is a startlingly accurate homage to the 1995 teen film Clueless.

Clueless is beloved for a range of reasons, not least for its genuinely excellent comedy and dreamy idealist college-boy love interest Paul Rudd, but particularly for its quintessentially 90’s aesthetic. Beautiful clothes are a huge part of the film’s humour, its iconography and its emotional pathos – think Cher’s enviable revolving wardrobe, and her scream “But this is an Alaia!” on being held at gunpoint. The fashion of Clueless spawned generations of copycats and articulated perfectly the visuals of its moment. For the 90’s fashion convert, it’s the Holy Grail.

In Fancy‘s behind the scenes video, music video director du jour Director X explained that Azalea and her contemporaries grew up on Clueless “in a way that’s really personal”. Given Azalea’s decidedly daggy fangirl response to Alicia Silverstone’s twitter approval of the video, this seems to be true. Iggy’s homage to possibly the most iconic film of the 1990’s seems to come from a place of genuine affection. Born in 1990 (yeah, seriously), Azalea isn’t exempt from the zeitgeist obsession with all things 90’s that continues to make her a success. That illustrious yellow plaid ensemble is the real ‘new classic’ in this scenario.