If ever a bold concept album took an unexpected, yet incredibly deep-rooted form, it must be Joseph Chilliams’ The Plastics. The Mean Girls conceptual project is a new look for… well… everyone, but Chilliams pulls it together with the grace, innovation, and raw inventiveness necessary to finalize a product as conscious and artistically-driven as it is unavoidably humorous and vibrant.
Weaving in and out of this world and that of Tina Fey’s, Chilliams’ blend of direct quotes from the movie, hyperbole of its thematic explorations, and his somehow relatable, stirring lyricism and general musicality makes it difficult not to find oneself intrigued and emotionally invested in the direction of the project.
The most glaring and undoubtedly daring of the four-track playbill is Karen’s Song, dedicated to and directly dissecting the vapid mind of everyone’s favorite cousin-licking meteorologist, Karen Smith. A convincing stream of her one-track consciousness, Karen’s Song, with the aid of a series of well-chosen samples,tells the story of her incestual desires and uncontrollable adolescent libido. But somehow, the track is so incredibly well penned and produced, that one can’t help but empathize with the wide-eyed supporting starlet, and slowly sway to the soft-pedaled trance of the track’s dualist harmony featuring Kaina and Sen Morimoto.
I don't care if you're my cousin
You should come over 'round ten
Got caught daydreamin' again
Writin' our initials in pen
There's a 30 percent chance
It's already raining
Should I touch myself again?
Though not quite as direct nor firmly glued to the concept, the three additional tracks that round out The Plasticsplay important, still conceptually rooted roles in the construct. There’s Unfriendly Black Hotties, a high-energy, at times highly arrogant banger dissecting some fragile intricacies of struggles in the black community while filling the cracks with unapologetic punchlines.
Sit that a** on my - like Rosa Parks
At the bus stop, tryna f**k, what it do?
Dreamin' 'bout that p***y just like Dr. King
I hit once, it drove me crazy like angel dust
You not wearin' pink, you can't hang with us
You f**k with R. Kelly, you can't hang with us.
Then there’s You Think You’re Pretty, a track seemingly dedicated to the art of eating a**.
I'm eating a** 'til I'm eighty
That's just how I was raised
Friends think we a phase
Like Timberlake with braids
I just wanna make you feel special
You my Glenn Coco.
And lastly, comes Burn Book, a dark, emotionally powerful production whose storyline and thematic explorations are inherently difficult to follow.
'Bout to be the next Fergie
Live my life like I'm thirty
Who wanna get they a** whooped
On Smash Bros, I got Kirby
The Plastics like a clergy
When I walk the class, all eyes on me like
Chief Keef in New Jersey
My mom put me on game early.
As absurdist as the concept may be, and as undeniably ridiculous as the lyrics are that support it, there is something deeper and grabbing about The Plastics that, in the same manner as Mean Girls, achieves a greater outcome than simple humor and offensive direction. Joseph Chilliams clearly aims to not take life so seriously, and in doing so, is able to bring us to the table for lighthearted discussions about music, film, civil activism, sex, humor, consequences, and the broad strokes of popular culture.
Only great art can direct such wide-ranging conversation and draw such polarizing reactions.
But if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s Mean Girls. Well played, Chilliams.