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AQUA, “PLAYMATE TO JESUS” – UFFE KONGSTED (2011).  Out of the Scandinavian darkness that brought you Iceage and Mayhem comes Aqua.  I fell into the black hole of their videography earlier this week while researching Ke$ha and was too emotionally exhausted by the end to do anything but go to bed.  There’s an eerie severity to this band that’s hard to catch if you don’t watch their videos.  I always thought “Barbie Girl” was an anthem of ’90s Love-Parade European pansexuality, but there’s an unhappy element to Lene Nystrøm’s performance that’s lost in the audio-only single.  René Dif could have been a fantastic hardcore singer if he’d made a few different lifestyle decisions.  I don’t know what Bountyland is, but I hope that the sweet sugar Candyman never takes me there.  All of that candy-coated darkness comes to 2011’s “Playmate To Jesus,” Aqua’s dark ode to Christian universalism.  What sounds like a Katy-Perry-esque power ballad has a malevolent undertone (opening lyrics: “Come here/let me take you on a trip/leaving in the name of love/silence and emptiness”) that, when paired with a video set in an empty house occupied by the “Lost” smoke monster, ends up being more chillingly strange than inspirational.  Dif looks ghoulish in his hooded middle age.  Nystrøm courts blasphemy singing “fly around the sun/playmate to Jesus” while wearing nipple tape.  The end is a smouldering apotheosis that does little to illuminate what the hell is going on.  Universal love never felt so bleak.


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