The Lion, the Kitsch and the Warhol

Like every good citizen, I love Crystal Castles. Their album was a soundtrack to my summer and looks well set to still frequent my headphones this winter as I march about to lectures in the dark. I relished their razor-sharp appearance in the woods at Latitude festival too, I’ve never felt so young, and my photo of lead-shouter Alice Glass is incredible!

I’m not sure where I stand on the whole plagiarism/theft/sampling debate though. Lots of indie kids’ fingers have clearly been at hard work typing their plight of Timbaland’s ‘illegal’ sampling of the CC song Courtship Dating for the intro of 50 Cent’s Ayo Technology. I think both tracks are great, and different, but more importantly – Crystal Castles utilise masses of other people’s ideas.

Firstly, they use Chanel’s logo. There probably are a few hundred adolescents who are oblivious to the logos’s high fashion origin, but no matter how much I love CC’s raw electro pop music, I don’t quite see them succeeding Chanel in the product-recognition stakes. There are thousands of aspiring graphic artists out there, all desperate and poor, so why don’t CC commission their own logo? Unless I am incorrect and Crystal Castles members Alice Glass and Ethan Kath are actually in their old age, have been around underground for decades, look fantastic thanks to Nivea, and have actually had their logo stolen yonks ago by Chanel. I can just picture Karl Lagerfeld in his youth, clad in a then-pioneering fluorescent new-rave anorak over a BORN IN THE 1880s t-shirt, gripping a Smirnoff Ice as he head-bangs to Crimewave in a disused railway tunnel, circa 1952. (Below is a photo of Karl Lagerfeld at a Chanel launch with the Crystal Castle's logo hanging from the wall with Third Reich glamour)

Secondly, the Madonna-and-bleeding-eye image on the front of their album (pictured below). I’m sure this is meant to carry some kind of wafery anti-establishment relevance, but Crystal Castles forget that Madonna was once an enfant-terrible herself, breaking into Sire Records and yelling “make me a star”, and then going on to flog millions of records about abortions and virginity.

Finally there are all the Game Boy tunes that Crystal Castles sample. I have no problem with this. Nintendo music is a deeply rooted part of our childhood indoctrination that everybody should be free to reproduce if they so wish.
I wish all the fourteen year olds on MySpace would calm down about sampling disputes though, they should be doing their homework instead of claiming to understand Daft Punk’s Homework. Plus many of the songs they angrily cite as ‘the original’ are also well-known covers or samples. It’s all part of Andy Warhol’s legacy anyway. Even Karl Lagerfeld borrows from Andy Warhol's legacy like, erm, oh yeah - his whole look.

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Jack of Hearts is an informal but dedicated blog written by Jack Cullen -


  1. This article is fantastic.

  2. I, of course, a newcomer to this blog, but the author does not agree

  3. Hi Cialis, is that a comment or a complaint or a haiku? Please do elaborate.

    Jack xx