Beautiful Boyz is a love letter to melodrama that goes unopened and unanswered.
CocoRosie’s main power comes from the two head members, sisters Bianca “Coco” Casady and Sierra “Rosie” Casady. Their music includes a broad range of instrumentation, sometimes including various children’s toys – one of the main reasons they are often described as ‘freak folk’. They have a habit of playing with stereotypical norms – donning facial hair and contouring their face to illustrate masculine feature – sometimes all in rainbow colored hues. Summed up in one word, CocoRosie is weird.
Aesthetics either repel or attract an audience, but faced with only the music, it’s arguable they can add anything if not seen.
Released first as an EP, Beautiful Boyz was accompanied by two other songs. It next appears a year later on the album Noah’s Ark in 2005. Different accompaniment was used as well as the lack of refrain sung by Antony Hegarty, now known as Anohni, of Antony and the Johnsons, on the first recording.
The song Beautiful Boyz is a possible nod towards the gay French writer Jean Genet. The sisters of CocoRosie were influenced by French culture; the band itself was formed in Paris.
The lyrics, though, paint a story of a lost, orphan boy, who singularly showcases a type of “beautiful boy”; a boy with a dark part that grows up mischievous then turns sinister. “Born illegitimately to a whore most likely/He became an orphan”. Yet, likely because of this rough past, he is seen as doing wicked things since he was young – stealing from a nun and probably much worse – “Oh, he went to prison/In every country he set foot in”. This boy’s heartbreaking past offers an excuse for his current misgivings. CocoRosie certainly takes it. It poses the question, can there ever really be an excuse for bad deeds? CocoRosie certainly thinks so. “A devil’s child with dove wings” – he is ‘evil’ but has this redeeming feature known for angelic purity.
His character is expanded; “Tattoos of ships and tattoos of tears”- tear tattoos, a prison tattoo argued to mean you have killed someone, and ship tattoos bring to mind pictures of pirates or of sailors, both rough and ragged, and freedom of the ever-moving open sea. CocoRosie is commenting on a type of bad-boy archetype that they further romanticizing, calling them beautiful, those poor, tortured souls. They flip between the singular boy’s story and the troupe of boy they elude too. They expand this ‘type’ outside of this one boy in particular by referencing “Pimps and queens and criminal queers” in the chorus. These are the three kinds of beautiful boyz – each wrong in their own regard but still romanticized and valued by CocoRosie.
The idealized lyrics match this song’s sound. It’s cloudy and grey, but simple and beautiful. Agree or disagree with the pompous lyrics story, they grey morals of the beautiful boys is represented by the grey cloud the sounds create, blanketing the ears in a grey mist. The indirect timbre of the vocals, their shaky and less-than-technically sounds reflect the shaky morals and add to the air of mystery and somber attitudes. The lyrics don’t tell a direct story word for word and the sounds reflect this by the light, spread out chords and singular notes of the loudest instrument, the piano, standing in as the thin barebone foundation to the melancholy song. The same four chords are played, the piano, as stated, highlighting this with the simplistic following of the tune. The sound could easily be played besides a Tim Burton type scene of a worn house overlooking an angry sea, stormy weather above, wind whipping the leafless trees, the screen door, creaking, opening and slamming itself shut.
Love them or hate them, CocoRosie can spin a world through sound. Though their attitudes and attire might reflected individuals ironically so social-rule-bending that they become selective and niche; the weird girls sitting alone at lunch because students take their silence for haughtiness; the pure sound they are able to create is worth all the bedazzled pink bullshit surrounding it.