A Complete Ranking Of The Mind-Melting Music Videos Of Joe Exotic, The Star Of ‘Tiger King’
'Here Kitty Kitty' is a bop.
Joe Exotic, the star of Netflix’s smash-hit Tiger King, is, to say the least, a distinct human being.
A gay polygamist Libertarian big cat owner with an impeccable sense of style and a problem with, well just about everybody that he crosses paths with, Exotic has become the anti-hero that 2020 needs.
He’s not entirely commendable, of course — the man has spent his lifetime abusing the big cats that he has used to make his name, and he does have a tendency for morally aberrant behaviour. But somehow, despite the fact that Tiger King pores through every one of his indiscretions, he somehow emerges as the show’s most likeable character.
Which is at least in part, surely, due to his music.
Yep, on top of everything else, Joe Exotic is also a country western star. And you know what? His songs are pretty bloody good. They’re rough around the edges, of course, but so is Joe, and quite quickly, the music he has made emerges as one of his most charming characteristics. Even when he’s using the power of song to piss off Carole Baskin.
Of course, it’s worth keeping in mind that neither Joe’s voice, nor any of his songwriting skills are involved in his music, as an expose has already proved. But who gives a shit? Joe is the medium through which these songs are transmitted, and it’s his personality that makes them what they are.
So you know what? Let’s rank ’em.
#8. ‘Pretty Woman Lover’
“I’m a pretty woman lover,” sings the openly gay Joe Exotic, “and an ugly woman’s dream.” So yeah, not sure what is going on with any of this, to be honest, from the limp braggadocious lyrics to the sub-Nickleback guitar riff.
Good on Joe for leading a list of his best attributes with his neck tattoo, though. My mum always said to open any conversation with your nicest quality, and I reckon that’s just what Joe is trying to do here.
#7. ‘How Was I To Know’
Even those willing to look past Joe’s flaws might find it hard to justify his behaviour after the death of his husband Travis Maldonado, particularly his treatment of Travis’ mother. In that context, ‘How Was I To Know’, his tribute to Travis, just feels a little ugly and small.
#6. ‘Say Something’
Joe Exotic’s too good for covers, and this version of ‘Say Something’ by A Great Big World proves it. It’s not bad, exactly. It’s just Joe pretending to be normal, rather than the swaggering Southern alien with a mullet for a heart that we truly know that he is.
#5. ‘This Is My Life’
Now we’re fucken’ talking. Turns out all my life, all I’ve ever needed was a video of a man with a mullet and a leopard print silk shirt singing songs about how he’s sorry that he let some of his employees get attacked and mauled by wild cats.
‘This Is My Life’ is ‘My Way’ if Frank Sinatra was a polygamist with padlocks bolted to his penis, and I adore every last second of it.
#4. ‘John Finlay’
Listen to those opening chords and tell me that you don’t get a shiver — whether of dread or awe, it doesn’t particularly matter. A loving ode dedicated to Joe’s first husband, ‘John Finlay’ has it all, from autotuned backing vocals to poetry so mangled you’d swore someone dropped it into a pit of lawnmowers.
#3. ‘Because You Love Me’
Play this one in the club and watch the place light up like a warehouse full of records that a disgraced zoo owner is trying to destroy. The mid-point between country ballad and Depeche Mode-indebted banger. Oh, and that banjo flourish? Unbelievable.
#2. ‘I Saw A Tiger’
Listen, it’s obviously a stretch to say that Joe Exotic loves tigers. There are too many dead tigers in his past to imply that. But he certainly thinks that he loves tigers, so it’s genuinely moving to see him express his adoration of big felines in this, his most personal song.
Sure, it’s full of the patented Exotic ‘big ooft’ lines — “I saw a tiger, now I understand / I saw a tiger, and a tiger saw man.” But it’s also straight from the bleach blonde heart. And for that we should commend it.
#1. ‘Here Kitty Kitty’
What other song could take out the top spot? Vengeance has created so many great works of art — the paintings of RB Kitaj, the discography of Taylor Swift, and ‘Here Kitty Kitty’, Exotic’s best song.
A cruel takedown of his arch nemesis Carole, and accompanied by a music video that sees a stand-in for the woman feeding bits of dead husband to a tiger, it’s a work of antic, wonderful surrealism. As jet-black as obsidian, it exists in a world entirely of its own, where big cats matter more than morals, and everything comes in denim or animal print.
Art is the distillation of an entire world view, packaged for others to examine and process. And on that front, ‘Here Kitty Kitty’ is about as good as art gets.
Joseph Earp is a staff writer at Junkee. He tweets @Joseph_O_Earp.