Liz F*cking Phair - This Title Doesn't Need a Qualifier
MUSIC is not a GENRE - Season 3 Episode #11
ALL ABOUT IT
FEATURED MUSIC: REC – The Weird Objective
We need to get sick. We need to be tired of the same stories again & again. History is NOW, and enough is enough. Too many artists – too many people – have been taken advantage of by those in power, pushed around & forced to either comply or risk major rejection. So many of us have been manipulated, exploited, stepped on, shunted aside – all for money & power.
That includes us fans, who are force fed opinions WAY MORE than we realize. Take this week’s shining example, Liz Phair. She came roaring out of Chicago with an album that’s now one of the top 500 greatest of all time. Then she faded. NOPE NOPE NOPE. That’s the narrative we’ve been fed by critics and the industry every step of the way. Thing is, IT’S TOTALLY FALSE.
I just listened to her entire catalog, and I’ve come away with one overriding impression. She’s always been herself, always done what she wanted, and always kicked ass at it. Whoever you think she is, she’s not that. Or that’s just a small part of her. Her output is kind of like Bowie’s. Every album does something different. You have the deceptively raw & off the cuff sounding debut, Exile in Guyville. Whip-Smart proved she didn’t just burn out all her creativity the first time around, and was here to stay. It added just enough tightness & difference to indicate she had more places to go. Whitechocolatespaceegg is an absolute songwriting & performing tour de force. She is the titan of making intimate, quirky lyrics & catchy pop melodies go together like they’re meant to be. And don’t overlook her guitar playing. This is my personal favorite.
Her eponymous album was PANNED when it came out, because she dared to be power pop. Ridiculous. We’re all so easily duped by production values, critics & fans alike. We think a loosey-goosey tossed off sound indicates more authenticity, and a polished put-together sound is shallower. They’re both affects and it’s all total bullshit. It shows how few critics ACTUALLY LISTEN beyond first impressions. It’s why SO MANY ALBUMS that were first panned end up getting “reconsidered” years later.
Somebody’s Miracle – it’s Taylor Swift before Taylor Swift even got started. She takes the stereotypical “singer-songwriter” production mode and spins lyrics, intricacies, & vulnerabilities that would come to define pop songwriting. Funstyle – experimental and going wherever she wanted to. Weird & not afraid to say fuck-you to both genre constrictions and the industry. I suggest listening to this first. If you end up liking or loving it, all the other albums will fall right into place.
The point is, regardless of what story we’ve been told or impressions we get before digging deeper, she’s always been herself. Which is exactly what we should want every artist – and every person – to be. Every single thing she’s done stands the test of time, because it’s always honest & real. Dig in and give her all the listening & credit she deserves. And get ready for her long awaited new album to pop very soon.
My entire last project, REC’s The Weird Objective, was dedicated to that same kind of genre fuck-you. It goes everywhere I wanted it to. And because it’s 32 TRACKS, it’s also kind of a fuck-you to the industry. Judge for yourself:
REC – The Weird Objective - https://www.nickdematteo.com/rectheweirdobjective
Do you remember Liz Phair? If you do, do you remember her as just a sexually explicit rabble rouser? Or do you know her hits more? Are there other artists you think deserve more credit for persevering despite misperceptions & mistreatment? Discuss dammit!