Dorian Electra’s Agenda Expands with ‘My Agenda (Deluxe)’

Just over a year ago, Dorian Electra changed the world of electronic music forever with the release of My Agenda. It was a wild send-up of toxic masculinity in internet subcultures and sonic ingenuity with an insane range of artist features from The Village People to Rebecca Black.

I remember listening to the album over and over last fall, desperate and hopeless in my desire to experience it live. The vaccine was nowhere in sight, and the only thing that was helping me to imagine my future in a positive way was the promise of more music. Listening to My Agenda (Deluxe) in November of 2021 and knowing Dorian Electra’s next tour starts in January, I feel like I am finally able to move past so much of this year’s leftover abstract angst and despair.

My Agenda (Deluxe) (2021) / Courtesy of Dorian Electra

My Agenda is made up of eleven songs, with a total listening time of 25 minutes. The deluxe album more than doubles the length of the original at nearly 58 minutes and 23 tracks. After the last track on the original album “Give Great Thanks,” plays out, we get six remixes, followed by four formerly unreleased original B-side tracks, then one more remix, and finally, Electra’s acoustic rendition of “F the World.”

Anamanaguchi’s remix of “My Agenda” does what Pabllo Vittar did to “Fun Tonight” on the Chromatica remix album. It’s part chiptune, part nightcore, and one hundred percent fun. The vocals are simultaneously stuttered, plunged underwater, sped up, and sprinkled with added screams. It all works to somehow turn an already explosive song up another notch. This remix is decidedly less dark in tone than the original track, which played as a sort of cartoon conservative imagining of the “gay agenda.” Anamanaguchi gamifies the album’s thesis using 8 bit sound effects. It’s a fantastic introduction to the rest of the remixes.

“Gentleman” and “M’Lady” went hand in hand sonically and thematically on My Agenda as creatures from the imagination of Electra’s neckbeard persona. The Gentleman thinks of himself as just that, and the Lady is built up in his imagination as a reflection of his desires and self-hatred. d0llywood1’s remix is energetic, and Danny Brown’s verse gives us a more confident and belligerent gentleman: “Shoot my shot won't miss / Nice like that you gotta admit.” Kero Kero Bonito turns “M’Lady” into a sweeping and twisted love story of epic proportions. “Heaven or hell / We’re falling in love / Open the door, is that you in the dark.” The differences in Electra and Sarah Bonito’s voices creates a dialogue between the Gentleman and the Lady: “You’re so dangerous / I know this won’t go well / Cast a spell on me, drag me down to hell.” Bonito’s ghostly vocal delivery keeps with the vaguely medieval sound of this song, echoing antiquated gender dynamics espoused by the Gentleman. These vocals are punctuated by an equally epic series of synth stabs. The scope of the world created by this song is totally cinematic.

“Edgelord” was already an over the top song — on this album it is sent even further over the top with the addition of the biggest edgelord of all time, The Joker, to the track (alongside Savage Ga$p, who is perhaps most well known for the song “E-GIRLS ARE RUINING MY LIFE!”). I looked all over the place for a speech-to-text Joker bot or program, but after a fruitless search I can only conclude that it is simply The Joker himself on the track. It was interesting to listen to this song while thinking about Dorian’s recent Twitter confession that they have never seen any Joker movies or media, they just “live the lifestyle.” Savage Ga$p injects a little bit of more mellow e-boy energy to the song with lines like “Roses roses / I love when you start shit / Get the fuck out of my life.” Oh, and it’s also remixed by Johann Sebastian Bach, which explains why a harpsichord is layered over Dorian’s vocals towards the end.

ElyOtto’s remix of “Barbie Boy” felt more like a cover at times, as unlike most of the other remixes, the featured artist on the original track, Sega Bodega, is removed, and no new lyrics were added. Though the production was similar to the original song, ElyOtto’s sharp and somewhat twinky delivery added a new dimension to this song about the standards and anxieties of queer masculinity.

The first B-side we get to experience is “Crusader,” a three minute track that is potentially from the perspective of a white knight of sorts. ”You need to be rescued / I will protect you / Let me whisk you away / I’ll never let you in harm's way.” The vocal harmonies in this song are quite sweet, and the melody is peppered with lots of twinkly crescendos and ascending chimes. As the speaker imagines themselves staying awake and up late to ensure that the person they are saving never gets away from them, it is clear that they are a captor and not actually any kind of savior, though in the last verse, they change their tone: “I can’t be the one to change or save ya.”

The second new track, “Strapping Young Lads” goes extremely hard. It opens immediately with a military march type beat which quickly intersects with a throbbing dubstep melody. The Strapping Young Lads themselves extend an invitation to their crew: “Me and my guys / By the way we’ll need companions / Join us and have a hand in saving this land / Join us strapping young lads.” Dorian’s palpable vocal strain creates an increasing sense of urgency as the beat gets faster and faster towards the end. The song finishes with 20 seconds of screaming and marching drum snare, creating the auditory effect of the very war or apocalypse scenario which the “Strapping Young Lads” feel they are preparing for. This song echoes a more desperate and violent kind of masculinity than is embodied by characters in the other tracks. “Strapping Young Lads” is incredibly catchy and hardcore, so I naturally find myself wanting to vibe along to the sonic arc of the song, but it brings to mind very real images of militias and hate groups in the U.S., making for a much more complicated listen.

“1 Pill 2 Pill” is what you would get if Dr. Seuss wrote about conspiracy theorists. “Listen to my podcast / I can tell you all the true things/ Give it to you straight, no / I will expose the blue things.” The lyrics refer to the idea that an individual can be blind to how the world really works, something that’s ironic in the context of incels who are often incredibly blind to their own misogyny. This song sounds like it was recorded inside of a cave, perfect for highlighting the dark, isolated parts of the internet where many incels and conspiracy theorists lurk. “Those of us below are left with no one / The world is pretty ugly when you realize / that’s why no one wants me / I don’t even try.” Dorian Electra has certainly addressed incel ideology in their work before, but this song is perhaps its most explicit unpacking. The chorus is alternatingly pitched up high and warbled beyond comprehension, and then slowed down and deepened, undercut by a reverberating bassline like raindrops in a puddle.

“Chainmail” is the last of the four previously unreleased B-side tracks, and it is quite a finale. The guitar is tight and powerful. There are elements of breakcore, rock opera, and screamo in this song as well as literal knife slashing sounds. Lyrically, this song feels less streamlined, less interested in telling a story. It doesn’t have much to do with enhancing the narrative arc of the album — it’s just very good. The last forty seconds played out of context could be mistaken for a Bring Me The Horizon song (which I mean as an enormous compliment).

Photo by Jade DeRose, retouch by XAiLA, hair by Gregg Lennon Jr., makeup by Nick Lennon, styling by Brooke Llewellyn

On My Agenda, “Give Great Thanks” was the closing track that seemed to complete the journey of the attitude of the edgelord character, from self hatred and a need for attention and dominance into a sort of form of self love through total submission to a kind of masochistic pleasure. In the track’s edit, Count Baldor introduces an unnervingly clean drum kit sample that eventually glitches out. A beautiful lilting piano melody that could accompany the closing shot of a soap opera plays out through the end of the song.

Dorian Electra released an acoustic version of “F The World” on Youtube and Twitter last year as part of what I can only refer to as their Christian Girl Autumn cosplay era. I am so happy that there now exists a full recording of this version. In the way that a critic of abstract or expressionist art might challenge a visual artist to prove their ‘talent’ by creating naturalistic figurative works, Dorian Electra has preempted or perhaps responded to such criticism by producing a pessimistic folk-pop ballad with no vocal pitching or modulations, demonstrating their full vocal range and incredible ability. This time, when they sing “So my skull’s not to measure / So there’s no one to pleasure,” referencing the way incels use phreneology to “explain” and doom themselves to a life without sexual relationships, they become a kind of femcel Dar Williams.

The album art for My Agenda (Deluxe) is an Xbox 360 game sleeve, with characters designed to represent many of the featured artists and producers. This deluxe album expands the lore of the original, introducing some new characters — conspiracy theorists, white knights, delusional mercenaries — and reinforcing or exploring new elements of old ones — edgelords, gentlemen, incels.

The phenomenon of the deluxe album is especially interesting to me in the age of streaming, when fewer people are actually buying a physical or digital album in its entirety. I remember buying each new song off of The Fame Monster individually as an eleven-year-old, confused as to why Gaga hadn’t simply released them as part of The Fame initially, or separately as their own record.

The concept of deluxe albums perseveres, however, and Much like how The Fame Monster painted a darker, more complex picture of Gaga’s relationship to the experience of celebrity, My Agenda (Deluxe) offers new and expanded attitudes towards contemporary manifestations of toxic masculinity.

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