Sunday, May 27, 2012

Liz Phair, "HWC" & Jewel, "Intuition"

I was in the drug store the other day, and Liz Phair's early-2000's hit "Why Can't I" was on the radio. I remember at the time, the album was pretty well savaged for being a hyper-commercial sell-out effort. I think Pitchfork gave it a 0.0, which (smug bastard alert) signifies they actually don't care what music sounds like. No, "Why Can't I" (a pretty decent pop song) didn't seem like it belonged in the same catalog as the caustic angry college girl rock of "Fuck and Run." But that same album, the 2003 self-titled release that saw Liz collaborating with the people behind Avril Lavigne, also had Liz penning probably the catchiest tune ever written about getting jizz all over someone's face. Tell me again how she lost her edge?

Likewise, a strongly negative reaction met Jewel, whose dulcet songwriting style largely defined the 90's, when she came around the same year with 0304 and the single "Intuition," which was slammed as being an overt attempt at pop stardom, a sell-out effort. Except not only does "Intuition" work as a damn good pop song (and of course, razor jingle,) its lyrics are a pretty cutting takedown of the image-obsessed music industry. I was 16 years old at the time and I knew there was at least some irony to the woman who sang "Who Will Save Your Soul?" shaking her ass in a sexy firefighter outfit. The lyric goes "Follow your heart / Your intuition / It will lead you in the right direction" (eg: appearances are deceptive.)

Unfortunately, there's a saying that goes: "Satire doesn't fill the audience on a Saturday night." There's a tricky element of playing with the audience at work here. If you appeal to much to the people you're making fun of, the people who are supposed to "get it" will think you've gone dumb. Give artists a bit more credit. And more hot white cum.

1 comment:

  1. Well, I guess I know what line I'll be singing out loud for the rest of the week.