Thursday, October 21, 2010

Phair warning

I've said so on Twitter and Facebook this morning already, but I have found myself rather inexplicably listening to Liz Phair this morning despite my original plan to have a Kylie listening party before I go out and tackle the yard. Phair's re-emergence is entirely Amazon's fault. I head over to their digital downloads page pretty much every day to see what the deal of the day is and there's Liz in the new releases section with her album Funstyle. Well, I was powerless to resist so I clicked on it. I had no idea she was still releasing albums! Her last album Somebody's Miracle, in the words of Shania Twain, didn't impress me much. It had what I felt to be a boring and generic Sheryl Crow vibe - not the sound I was expecting from the woman who, on her previous album, was extolling the skin-moisturizing and hair-conditioning virtues of semen in the song "HWC" (for the uninitiated, I'll let you figure out what the letters stand for.)

To say that I am a Liz Phair fan would be grossly overstating it. My introduction to Phair was not with Exile in Guyville as it was for so many others. My first real exposure was on her self-titled 2003 album. Phair was vilified as a sell-out for making this poppy album when she had been an indie darling prior to this. But for me, Phair was finally making music that was accessible to me. To this day, I have still not heard all of Exile in Guyville. Indeed, only one song from that album is in my iTunes library, although I noticed that the re-issue is one of the $5.00 albums on Amazon this month. So while I like a handful of her songs, most of my love is reserved for the Liz Phair album. That said, I can understand why long time Liz Phair fans would be disappointed with the direction she started taking in 2003. Still, the whole thing reeked of pretension on the part of her long time fans. It speaks to me of the bias against pop music in general. Who says that something with a good melody and fun production is necessarily without a soul?

I listened to samples of Funstyle on eMusic to see if I would even be interested in it. Predictably, most of it didn't do much for me, although I ultimately puchased three songs from the album. But after listening to Liz Phair for the last 45 minutes, I'm ready to go re-evaluate my position on it. There is definitely an Indian sound to the album (one song is even called "Bollywood") and truthfully, it is kind of a mess. But my prediction is that by the time November gets here I'll have succumbed to it and the entire album will have been purchased a la carte from eMusic - hopefully before they institute their new pricing scheme which will make buying from eMusic feel less like stealing.

I remember how, when I first discovered Liz that Heidi wasn't quite sure what to think of her. She told me once that she alternated between being intrigued by her and by wanting to wash her mouth out with soap. I wonder how she would feel about her now, 6 years later. If I know her, her opinion probably has softened but she will still probably not be a fan of the music.

The Liz Phair listening will undoubtedly pass, but right now, I'm loving the fact that she's running neck-and-neck with Amy Grant for my most played artist of the last 7 days on my page. In the words of OMC, how bizarre.


Anonymous said...

this album is wacky fun that gets better as you listen to it. like a mould of people I was horrified when I listened to her rapping but the song and the other weird experiments in funstyle are truly funny and catchy.

Dan said...

The song that I'm really grooving on is "Beat Is Up."