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This is why we can’t have nice things, breaking news edition: Liz Phair’s new song “Bollywood”.

July 4, 2010
by

[originally posted at my blog Love is the Slug]

It has been a long, long, long time since I have really enjoyed anything new that Liz Phair has had to offer to the world musically. I’m one of those LP fans who loved Exile In Guyville to pieces but not much else after. She has been, for me, a musical example of the law of diminishing returns and I’ve often felt like someone needed to stop kissing her ass and telling her the crap she was putting out was any good.Especially all of that Matrix-produced bilge that made her sound like Michelle Branch.

But honestly, I would listen to her sounding like Ms. Branch for several hours at a time if it meant I could un-hear the musical abortion that she has posted on her official site as an introduction to her surprise new album, Funstyle, that can be bought from said official site. But don’t take my word for it, go ahead. Go listen to it. No, go ahead, I’ll wait right here, eating these tasty potato chips.

Oh, are you back? Did you listen? Well, clearly you did. I can tell by how pale and shaken you are. Shh, shh, no baby, it’s okay, it’s okay, you’ll be fine. Just drink a glass of water and go lie down. I’ll be here, don’t worry. No, I know, it’s hard to understand why the hell anyone would do that, I get it. Do I think she’s trying to be ironic? Well, probably. At the very least I think she thinks it’s a funny and scathing take on the music industry and Hollywood. But, no, you’re right, I can’t for the life of me figure out why she’s trying to sound like a painfully white, frightfully low budget parody of M.I.A., that doesn’t really scan for me either. I guess it’s just an example of how some people have a whole career’s worth of good music in them and some have one album. Now you just rest and we’ll both try to forget what the bad lady did to our ears.

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35 Comments leave one →
  1. July 4, 2010 7:56 pm

    [Originally posted on Love is the Slug]

    At the very least I think she thinks it’s a funny and scathing take on the music industry and Hollywood. But, no, you’re right, I can’t for the life of me figure out why she’s trying to sound like a painfully white, frightfully low budget parody of M.I.A., that doesn’t really scan for me either. I guess it’s just an example of how some people have a whole career’s worth of good music in them and some have one album. Now you just rest and we’ll both try to forget what the bad lady did to our ears.

    I have never liked Phair, but I have appreciated what she has meant to others particularly EiG. But this sounds like some serious scattered, smothered and covered hot buttered fail.

    Though I might have too much booze in me to tell for sure. It’s veering dangerously close to Jewel’s Intuition. Except, well I could dance to that.

  2. July 4, 2010 8:00 pm

    After listening to it again I feel like she is trying to have an Eminem moment with that whole “face down in the pool, boy” line. Ugh!! So horrid!

  3. July 4, 2010 8:01 pm

    Oh. My. Gawd.

    Gratuitous Douglas Adams reference. Ringing phones. Bad white girl rap.

    Your writeup made me think of these lyrics to the TMBG song “Number Three”

    There’s only two songs in me and I just wrote the third
    Don’t know where I got the inspiration or how I wrote the words
    Spent my whole life just digging up my music’s shallow grave
    For the two songs in me and the third one I just made

  4. July 4, 2010 8:03 pm

    After listening to it again I feel like she is trying to have an Eminem moment with that whole “face down in the pool, boy” line. Ugh!! So horrid!

    I’m always a little nervous about Phair’s musical experiments, mostly because being friends with a Phairfan means by default you’re a Phairfan too.

  5. July 4, 2010 8:08 pm

    @redlami: That lyric is both generally fantastic and specifically appropriate.

    @Snarky: But can they possibly be a Phairfan after this??

  6. July 4, 2010 8:29 pm

    Now that was a funnier parody than anything ‘Weird’ Al Yankovic could have created as a Ke$ha knock off. I literally started laughing from the very first note of that mess and right on through!

    Really Ms. Phair can have a nice long career if Dr. Demento ever gets his podcasts as popular as his radio show used to be.

  7. July 4, 2010 8:39 pm

    @nycpenpusher… Even though I haven’t listened to it in years, I was still sad when I learned that Dr. Demento was going off the airwaves. But you’re so right, that song would not be out of place on one of his playlists.

  8. July 4, 2010 8:39 pm

    @Snarky: But can they possibly be a Phairfan after this??

    I honestly, don’t know, but I do know that nearly 80% of Women’s Studies scholars cite Exile in Guyville in papers on the topic of the intersection of feminism and music or something like that.

  9. July 4, 2010 9:36 pm

    Really though, the thought I have is related to the whole image concept and selling out. You had Aretha Franklin singing “Respect” and then later she did “Til You Come Back To Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)” which some might say denies the first song. Ditto for Helen Reddy with her heroic anthem “I Am Woman,” which was undercut by her song “That Ain’t No Way To Treat a Lady.”

    Ultimately, “Respect” and “I Am Woman” have their places in history secure, and I’m sure that Phair hasn’t truly done damage to her previous work with this laughable mess, especially when everyone will hear it and run away, as we just did!

  10. evmaroon permalink
    July 4, 2010 10:03 pm

    Face down in the pool! Is there a new slayer now?

  11. July 4, 2010 11:17 pm

    Ultimately, “Respect” and “I Am Woman” have their places in history secure, and I’m sure that Phair hasn’t truly done damage to her previous work with this laughable mess, especially when everyone will hear it and run away, as we just did!

    Well she’d already tried to step outside her comfort zones before…

    Liz Phair reminds me of bad zines, post riot grrrl and women’s studies classes. I swear people played this damn Self Titled album raw. And this song even smells like Vh-1, which smells like Axe body spray and CK-1

  12. evmaroon permalink
    July 4, 2010 11:22 pm

    I dated someone who insisted on wearing CK-be in large quantities. She just had to go.

    Meanwhile, I have a tin ear for Liz Phair, so it all sounds like butt to me. I’m sure I’m missing something somewhere.

  13. July 5, 2010 1:04 am

    @Snarky’s Machine but that Liz Phair clip is an actual legitimate song, not a total joke like the new material Chriso is putting out there. I mean, granted it’s not terribly “good” but it feels like a serious attempt to record something.

    CK-1 was just Lemon Pledge in a nicer decanter. Obviously, it’s all in the packaging… right, Liz?

  14. July 5, 2010 2:34 am

    That eponymous album of hers came on the heels of her saying that she wanted to sound like Avril Lavigne. While I guess I respect her honesty, it’s a little hard to swallow that due to my general feelings for the music of Avril Lavigne.

    I think what a lot of Phair’s post-Guyville work proves though is that she’s at her best when she’s approaching a record like a thesis paper. When she’s left to her own free-from musical devices things start to slide downhill.

  15. aliciamaud permalink
    July 5, 2010 7:08 am

    I thought I might privately enjoy that song with a dose of nostalgia for the girl I was in college. But after listening, even the tender, shadowy memory of that CK1-wearing, Exile-in-Guyville-listening chica has packed up her cd-walkman and gone home to work on her Feminist Images of Women in French Cinema homework.

    Just awful.

  16. evmaroon permalink
    July 5, 2010 8:39 am

    Well, my REM albums still sound decent to me, is all I’m saying.

  17. July 5, 2010 5:48 pm

    I didn’t make it more than 15 seconds in. Huh. Weird too, because the other night I found a bunch of records hidden behind some books and her second album, Whipsmart, was in there. I threw it on and it’s actually quite good. There are some truly fantastic moments, like “Nashville”, that still hold up. And I still think “I won’t decorate my love” is an underrated lyric.

    “Grasping at straws” is what comes to mind with the new tune.

  18. July 5, 2010 5:58 pm

    I thought I might privately enjoy that song with a dose of nostalgia for the girl I was in college. But after listening, even the tender, shadowy memory of that CK1-wearing, Exile-in-Guyville-listening chica has packed up her cd-walkman and gone home to work on her Feminist Images of Women in French Cinema homework.

    LOL. I know way more Liz Phair music than I should. She was the soundtrack for every roadtrip to a women’s studies/grrrl/feminist convention/academic chow chow fest I’ve ever been on.

  19. addipanandosi permalink
    July 5, 2010 5:59 pm

    I got 32 seconds into that mess before I was like, “For reals? is this a prank? WHAT THE HELL?!?!?!”

    It is so, so bad. So seriously bad. So painfully awful. Ouch.

  20. July 5, 2010 6:44 pm

    Yeah. “Grasping at straws” was the first thing that came to mind.

    “Vomit is in my ears” was the second.

    I’m going to put “Nashville” on again. I listened to it a few more times and it’s deliriously romantic and earnest. In a good way.

  21. July 5, 2010 9:24 pm

    I like EiG, but it never really spoke to me. I enjoyed her “Avril Lavigne” stuff in a “Oh god, what is this?!?!?!?!” kind of way. But this…

    this….

    It’s too bad to talk about. It’s sort of like a musical version of The Village was for me. Ultimately, I just wanted to join William Hurt in screaming “TIS BUT A FARCE!!!” and keep going for a few hours.

  22. July 6, 2010 12:50 am

    I like EiG, but it never really spoke to me. I enjoyed her “Avril Lavigne” stuff in a “Oh god, what is this?!?!?!?!” kind of way. But this…

    I have never heard a Avril Lavigne track, so I’ll have to take Liz’s word for it. Though I did find “Why Can’t I?” catchy the way I found Jewel’s “Intuition” catch – though I prefer the latter to the former.

    I admire Phair’s ability to use music to process her understanding of feminism or female roles in music, but she has that Sarah Silverman thing going on – it’s considered far more provocative from Phair, because she’s just an adorable little girl and how cute is it for this cute blond girl to take down the myth of the Stones with her guitar and righteous feminist anger.

  23. July 6, 2010 8:43 am

    I made it to the word “portfolio” which I think was 10 seconds in and I had to hit pause.

    @p0plife, I second your vote that Whipsmart is a good album. I actually liked it better then Exile to Guyville when I was in college!! But I also preferred the Munsters to the Adams Family, and I Dream of Jeannie to Bewitched, so take it with a grain of salt.

  24. July 6, 2010 9:02 am

    @Snarky’s Machine I don’t know how you didn’t hear “Sk8er Boi” since, like Visa, that was everywhere you want to be when it was charting. But I happened to like “Let Go,” Avril’s first album (aside from the above mentioned track) and I will still sometimes play it from start to finish (skipping that one song), something can can’t do with any of her other work. Assuming she’s still singing in ten years, I think “Complicated” is maybe the only song she’ll still be able to sing from that disc without being mocked from the stage… and that’s guessing she won’t be mocked for the rest of her material before that!

    @raymondj yes to “Jeannie,” NO to “Munsters!” Now I’m wondering in the split of 60’s sitcoms, who falls where? I figured out fairly early in my childhood rerun watching community that I was a bit abnormal for preferring “The Addams Family” to “The Munsters,” but if you liked “Munsters” better, which of “I Dream of Jeannie” or “Bewitched” would you likely prefer? I guess “Jeannie” had more slapstick elements which made it more like “Munsters” so you’re probably right to choose those two as a tandem, but maybe there’s some other criteria that I’m missing. And, just to tie it back to the topic, Liz Phair would have made a very good Marilyn… maybe more convincing than Beverly Owen and certainly moreso than Pat Priest!

  25. July 6, 2010 10:10 am

    @nycpenpusher: I guess in my mind, with both of those pairing, one of them came first with the premise, and the second did knock-off of it. Which is not to say knock-offs can’t go on to create grown up creative work on their own, but it’s hard to get away from their origin. Sort of like how I feel that even the best biopic in the world is still usually a B+ movie, it never fully transcends “being a biopic” into just “being a movie” for me.

  26. July 6, 2010 11:07 am

    @Snarky’s Machine I don’t know how you didn’t hear “Sk8er Boi” since, like Visa, that was everywhere you want to be when it was charting.

    I don’t listen to radio!!! And I don’t watch broadcast television!!!

  27. July 6, 2010 2:36 pm

    I lived with a girl my first year of college who became addicted to the song Sk8r Boi. AUGH.

  28. July 6, 2010 2:42 pm

    I was in college at the time, but hippie colleges didn’t seem to have much use for Avril, thus it was really easy to escape her clutches. Now, Phish and The Dead, that’s a different story.

  29. anthrok8 permalink
    July 6, 2010 10:00 pm

    Snarky’s, it’s a funny thing about both Phair and Sliverman. I think they’re much more interesting to read/hear interviewed than they actually are when they’re doing their art things.

    And, I went to A Naked Hippie College in the mid 90’s. There was just no escaping Liz Phair then, just after she herself graduated from another Naked Hippie College. Unless, of course, you could trump her with an early Ani DiFranco release.

  30. July 6, 2010 10:15 pm

    Ohhh man, I wish I hadn’t had to listen to that. My SO was like “WHY ARE YOU LISTENING TO THAT!!” and I’m all “I HAVE TO, CHRISO WROTE ABOUT IT!!” and then I shut my eyes hard and prayed for it to be over. People, I listen to KDAY. That’s 90s-early aughts hip hop. I can’t deal with this shit.

    @Snarky’s Machine but that Liz Phair clip is an actual legitimate song, not a total joke like the new material Chriso is putting out there.

    This made me LOL as Chriso is a master of the jazz flute (ok, he’s a drummer) and this made me laugh at the thought that you were saying his music was a total joke.

    Also, I have never heard M.I.A. knowingly, so I have no point of reference. But I just learned that annoying “WHY CAN’T I BREATHE WHENEVER I THINK ABOUT YOU” song is also Liz Phair? WTF?

  31. July 6, 2010 10:34 pm

    @penpusher: I really love “I’m With You”. It can actually make me choke up.

  32. July 7, 2010 2:15 am

    @Tasha: When I was working my first job here in SF that “Why can’t I breathe” song came out and it was on some mix CD someone was playing at work. I remember saying “is this a song by that Michelle Branch girl or someone” and my coworker who was all of 2o said “No, it’s a Liz Phair song, I love her!” And I just started yelling “NO! NO NO NO NO NO!!!” I just couldn’t believe it had come to that. I was slightly traumatized. And then, to make matters worse, the damn song got stuck in my head!!

    Also, I play the hell out of a flute. A skin flute! THANK YOU AND GOODNIGHT!!!

  33. July 9, 2010 2:23 pm

    I love a skin flute joke!

Trackbacks

  1. Liz Phair’s (no)Funstyle « Feminist Music Geek
  2. Liz Phair’s (no)Funstyle « Feminist Music Geek

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