Friday, October 30, 2009

Time to Criticize Another Sady Doyle Post!

Who the hell is shamed of liking Aimee Mann?!?!?


Sady Doyle’s new post was on the return of Lilith Fair. Now, while she does bring up good points, mainly about the history and cultural significance of the concert in its time and how its message was co-opted by the time, she denigrates the acts that played, referring to music from performers like Sheryl Crow, Natalie Merchant and Sarah McLachlan as “that shit”, not only implying that they play crappy music but that they aren’t worthy of being headliners for such a landmark event. Doyle’s post smacks of snobbery, and she criticizes the concert for not playing the type of riot-grrl music that was popular in the earlier part of the decade, like Sleater-Kinney and PJ Harvey. Every scene is a product of its era; Lilith Fair brought out the folk-rock girl-wave that was happening at the moment, making it really visible as a movement and it really was empowering for many young women at the time. Sady’s right; according to Wikipedia, Ani DiFranco did not play any of the shows the three years the concert ran, but we do not know if any of the bands she mentioned wanted to or were able to play. I doubt that McLachlan and co. intentionally left out these performers.

Now, I agree that the music of the original Lilith Fair was very hippie-dippie and adult contemporary, and presumably, 2010’s newest version will have a different feel and flavor to it, if only because the scene has changed. Sady criticizes Jewel, Gwen Stefani and Liz Phair for changing—mainly going more pop, though Jewel has hit the country route (mediocre at best)—but, in some ways, that’s to be expected. Any artist with a long career will hopefully change, often moving in different directions, and it’s unfair to expect artists like those three to retain their exact sound and perspective with an additional ten years of life on their résumé. What she might be angry about is that these artists, including Alanis Morissette, have mellowed out in the intervening years, gotten married, had children, migrated to acting, and their music—their loud, angry music—wasn’t at the forefront of their lives and careers anymore, and that is a disappointment . And true, there isn’t an artist remotely like Alanis Morissette in popular music anymore, and that is lamentable. Maybe Lilith Fair 2010 will bring out an undiscovered talent, one who is fiery and has stuff to say. Just because we’re in Lady Gaga territory now doesn’t mean she will rule forever.

Music, like most things, is cyclical. Ani Difranco could play Lilith Fair in 2010 and have a resurgence; maybe you will hear her on the radio. It’s not impossible, and stranger things have happened.

Sady also laments that Meredith Brooks' "Bitch", a massive hit in 1997 (a song she does not bother to look up its exact title), was “in context, not rebellious, but predictable”. In 1997, though, that song was anything but predictable. It was rebellious. At the day camp I attended at the time, we were forbidden from playing that song because of its title—but we tried to anyway, many times. I was always amazed at this looking back, as the misogynist, sexual and explicit music that became popular in subsequent years (think Eminem) was every bit as offensive as this single was not and was far more insidious then that one song could be. For a 12 year-old, it was very much a big deal. Sady’s perspective, as usual, does not consider anyone else’s viewpoint or experience, and condemns those who differ from her taste.

PS. By the way, it's Alanis Morissette. One r.

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