Thursday, December 7th, 2017

Kirin J Callinan ft. Alex Cameron, Molly Lewis & Jimmy Barnes – Big Enough

Via Asher, here’s this complete dickhead (trust me, he’d take it as a compliment).


William John: Larrikinism — the idea that one can be excused from idiocy because of one’s outward goodness — is one of the many unfortunate legacies of Australia’s colonial history, and it lives and breathes in Kirin J Callinan, Sydney-based musician and self-proclaimed provocateur. Callinan’s curriculum vitae includes conducting a “stunt” during his set at a Melbourne music festival in which an actor playing an epileptic was subjected to strobe lighting, ostensibly then inducing a seizure, and leaving an audience mostly confused and disgusted. As recently as last month, he flashed his genitalia on a red carpet in front of teenagers waiting to get a glimpse of Harry Styles; he’s also faced criticism for engaging in blackface and transphobia. His modus operandi is not too far off that of recent visitor to Australia Milo Yiannopoulos — shitpost at the expense of disenfranchised, then sit back and enjoy the attention. We’re supposed to ignore these transgressions because Callinan’s an artist; he’s a larrikin. Not on the evidence of this horrible song, which pairs cereal-box EDM templates with winking, gormless vocals, employs a Jimmy Barnes scream or two for memeability, takes a trip through an atlas’ index, and finishes with a needlessly long passage of whistles. It’s performativity dressed up as auteur absurdism, “irony” and “satire” from someone whose identity prevents them from ever being truly marginalised by those techniques, and an unwitting submission for Best Newcomer at the Milkshake Duck of the Year Awards.

Iain Mew: The voice and the style are both just close enough for me to imagine Callinan’s bits as if they were Patrick Wolf really leaning into kitsch, and now I can’t stop laughing.

Katie Gill: I don’t think Kirin J. Callinan knows how to structure a joke. Because obviously this song is a joke song, anything that starts off with a whistle chorus then morphs to a pseudo-cowboy pseudo-EDM feel then changes to Jimmy Barnes screaming his lungs out and ends with a “Dancing in the Street” roll call of countries HAS to be a joke. But again: the structure is weird. The punchline’s going to be seen as Jimmy Barnes screaming his lungs out, as it straight up overshadows the purposefully ridiculous lyrics but then…there’s another two minutes of a song that’s too sincere to be entirely absurd and too absurd to be entirely sincere. Either go full tilt “Jackson Park Express” and fully commit to Jimmy Barnes screaming throughout the entire song or go home.

Nortey Dowuona: Solid, loping drums, indistinct guitars at the fringes of the mix while tinny synths whir and pulse W while the two singers sing in weirdly stylized voices reminiscent of Western theme songs while Mrs. Lewis provides a cooing whistle HOLY SHIT SCREAMING COWBOY THEY NAMEDROPPPED GHANA YESSSSS.

Jonathan Bradley: God I’m sick of this shitty Australian irony that thinks there’s wit in replacing any kind of sentiment with a smirk, the sort of shitty irony that leads a jack-ass Northern Beaches kid to think it’s a good idea to get his dick out at an award ceremony in the same week that, in his country, major entertainment figures were being exposed as sex creeps and workplace psychopaths. His is an all-too-familiar parody of Australian masculinity that asserts remove at the same time it demands distance, indulging in crassness not so much as critique but as a way to soften, to reposition, and to make newly palatable old patterns of power. Which could well account for the Chisel: I have never cared for Jimmy Barnes, but his career of stolid blue-collar sincerity deserves better than the memeification to which he’s subject here, amidst dumb synths that are only supposed to suggest grandeur in the way a really elaborate shitpost is. You could compare Callinan to Brandon Flowers to find how exactly he’s wanting: where The Killers mine the gaucheness of classic rock to discover the ex-frontier’s embarrassed romanticism, Callinan is a dumb troll doing panto Peter Allen (“I’ve lived in lonely cities…”) as if, by winking hard enough, he might will Capital-A Art into being. I’ve liked things this guy has done in the past, but “Big Enough” is a shit song and Kirin J. Callinan is increasingly proving himself a shit performer whom Australian music can do without.

Alex Clifton: Somehow “electropop parody screaming maybe-gay cowboy call for unity” doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of this delight — and yes, it’s a delight, unnecessary key change and all. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Christian cowboy living in India or a Muslim cowboy living in Australia; this gang really, really wants you to come join them. The mix of genres itself is admittedly weird, but there’s a heart to this song, an emotional core that strikes past the memed videos of the screaming cowboy. “Big Enough” is more moving than some of the more overtly tear-jerking songs of 2017, parody or not. The performers genuinely care about the source materials; everything feels affectionate and full of heart. Moreover, sometimes screaming is the only way to fully convey that emotion. I found myself crying with laughter when it first hit around the 2:25 mark, but it also acts as a genuine emotional release. Words fail us across cultures and can lose their nuance in translation; screaming, however, is universal. Hats off.

Will Adams: But like, even the meme part of this song isn’t even in the top fifty memes of this year.

Alfred Soto: I wish I had a clue what the four names intended by being involved in this unappealing mishmash other than scoring future soft drink commercials.

Stephen Eisermann: I was one of those over-eager students who always raised their hands in class even if they weren’t one-hundred percent sure of the answer. It was so bad, in fact, that I still cringe when people use a word in its definition when they are asked what said word means. “Don’t use a word if you don’t know its definition,” they always said, but some words are just so goddamn hard to explain. And yeah, I’m sure it’s bad practice to use a song’s lyrics to review its artistry, but I’m just at a loss for words otherwise. Thus, my thoughts on this song can be summed up with the following excerpt from the aforementioned song: “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.”

Edward Okulicz: This is a spectacularly awful song, created and performed with an insufferable, irreverent smirk by someone patting themselves on their back for crawling out of their privilege with the barest minimum level of wokeness. Cheap in sound, cheap in sentiment, built on gimmicks but lacking anything memorable other than the wail of Jimmy Barnes used for cheap lols, and a shit dance bit for bros who probably think dance music is for fags. Well fuck them and fuck Kirin J Callinan too. This song says and means nothing and I hope nobody else is fooled.

Reader average: [8] (5 votes)

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5 Responses to “Kirin J Callinan ft. Alex Cameron, Molly Lewis & Jimmy Barnes – Big Enough”

  1. This might be the greatest song I’ve heard all year. I can’t think of anything else that has made me this full of joy and tears from laughter.

  2. Who’d have thought that friggen “big enough” would take the controversy prize?

  3. Stephen’s blurb is infinitely better on mobile bc the “aaaaaaaahhh” stretches past the margins of the page

  4. do we have an updated controversy index, or a yearly one, by any chance?

  5. I can’t really argue with the knocks on Callinan, but this song has an awful lot of hooks and always brings a smile. Sometimes art in dubious taste happens to be pretty good.