Bowling With No Panties

Everybody's a critic. I am actually right.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Women Rule -- Part Deux

Speaking of abysmal pop stars I forgot to mention the Spice Girls. Perhaps it's because they've settled into the obscurity they deserve, but according to Carol Sarler, girls and women are still suffering from both their heinous music and the image they foisted upon us.

However, Maulleigh reminded me that there still are women out there writing great music and playing instruments. Sure, they might not be in the current airplay rotation, but they're out there.

It reminded me of my favorite Fiona Apple song, from her first album which is pure brilliance:

Never Is A Promise

You'll never see the courage I know
Its colors' richness won't appear within your view
I'll never glow the way that you glow
Your presence dominates the judgements made on you

But as the scenery grows I see in different lights
The shades and shadows undulate in my perception
My feelings swell and stretch I see from greater heights
I understand what I am still to proud to mention, to you

You'll say you understand
But you don't understand
You'll say you'll never give up seeing eye to eye
But never is a promise and you can't afford to lie

You'll never touch these things that I hold
The skin of my emotions lies beneath my own
You'll never feel the heat of this soul
My fever burns me deeper than I've ever shown to you

You'll say "don't fear your dreams"
It's easier than it seems
You'll say you'd never let me fall from hopes so high
But never is a promise and you can't afford to lie

You'll never live this life that I live
I'll never live the life that wakes me in the night
You'll never hear the message I give
You'll say it looks as though I might give up this fight

But as the scenery grows I see in different lights
The shades and shadows undulate in my perception
My feelings swell and stretch I see from greater heights
I realize what I am now too smart to mention, to you

You'll say you understand
You'll never understand
I'll say I'll never wake up knowing how or why
I don't know what to believe in
You don't know who I am
You'll say I need appeasing when I start to cry
But never is a promise and I'll never need a lie

I do consider myself a feminist -- because all that means to me is that we have equal value in this world as men do -- despite what our culture constantly tells us. Women are more than their fuckability, their ability to make and raise babies, or keep their house clean.

This blog isn't about women's rights or feminism, though. It's about my opinions of the quality of music out there. Unfortunately, there is sometimes a juxtoposition I cannot ignore.

The music that great and talented women make is often ignored or looked over in favor for sub-par music put out (mostly written by men) by these manufactured sex-dolls. Plenty of talented male musicians are looked over for pure crap, too, but for the females it seems to have reached some sort of heinous critical mass.

This is what I will listen to:

PJ Harvey
Ani DiFranco
Aimee Mann
Lucinda Williams
Allison Krauss & Union Station
Fiona Apple
Joan Osborne (her album of covers is awesome)
Joni Mitchell
Rickie Lee Jones
Cesaria Evora
Susanna Hoffs & Matthew Sweet's awesome "Under The Covers Vol. 1"

and the usual rotation of Motown, Rolling Stones, Tom Waits, old Van Halen, and Neil Young.

I'm willing to listen to any decent suggestions, too, as I'm banning radio.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Women Rule --- Where It Doesn't Matter

I stumbled on this article in Slate magazine earlier today about women crowding the top of the "Top 40" charts. It starts with...

"..."Stars Are Blind" is a sweet, sun-kissed love song with a snappy ska beat, and Hilton (with the aid, undoubtedly, of the Anteres Auto-Tune 4 Pitch Correcting Plug-In) puts it over well, cooing lyrics about her "heart and soul" in a reasonable impersonation of a human being with feelings. All in all, it's a surprisingly good start to Hilton's campaign to break into the pop diva game."

It goes on to name the usual suspects, women more known and admired for their looks than their talent, their personal lives more than their musicianship.

The author amuses me with this little snippet:

And for good reason. These days, the emotional range of a male performer is radically circumscribed: Rappers are slick trash-talkers and brutes, emo rockers are sensitive and aggrieved, R&B singers are lotharios. But pop's female superstars recognize no limits, playing all these roles and a dozen others, often in the course of a single torrid love song, all the while executing tricky dance steps with bared midriffs glistening beneath whirling strobe lights. (Now that's showbiz.)

Granted, he IS speaking of Top 40 Pop, which is chum at best, but it seems sick and wrong to me that no attention is given to women who are true musicians and songwriters and NOT some kind of prefab midrif baring dancehall boogie queen singing through a synthesizer. Sure, it sells because little girls want to BE THEM and middle aged men want to FUCK THEM, but JESUS GOD ALMIGHTY how is it that exposure to music has become narrower and narrower as far as what is being cranked out when the world is getting bigger and bigger?

As a young girl growing up in the 80's suburbs, I listened to a "classic rock" station until the frabjous day that MTV made it's groovy debut. Even then, I had to get my fix at a friend's house since my Mom was too frugal to get cable.

When I was a wee lassie listening to Led Zeppelin and Rush, there were few women I could turn to as a rock'n'roll-model. There were the Wilson sisters of Heart. Pat Benatar. Joan Jett. Chrissie Hynde. These were women who wrote music and played instruments. Their looks were secondary. They didn't dance, unless you count kind of kicking to the side and swaying the hips a little before a head-thrash as dancing.

MTV however, changed everything. Instead of looking at album covers and the occasional picture in Hit Parader, we got to see our favorite artists live and in crappy four minute movies acting our their songs (or not). Suddenly I had a crop of broads in music that I aspired to be like -- Annabella from Bow Wow Wow, Siouxsie Sioux, Kate Bush -- these chicks were freaky-beautiful but really let it rip.

If I could put my finger on one tiny spot that begat the slow exchange of intelligent musically talented women for "pop-tarts", I would have to say it was Bananarama.

That's right.


They were cute, all sang in unison, wore half shirts and scrunchies and were very popular despite being musically boring because THEY WERE HOT.

Now look where we are. Women rule the top of the charts but not with talent. They rule with their barely covered bodies and semi-pornographic faces they make while they sing. Women can claim that they are finally out doing men at something, but it's a Pyrric victory -- because we're the best at singing stupid songs made for hormonally flooded teen girls who scream over the likes of Jesse McCartney. We're the best at being eye candy for middle aged men. We rule at bragging about how hot we are in bed set to a hip hop beat. We rule at rolling around in the sand while lipsynching.

Where are the girls like Joni MItchell? Laura Nyro? Carole King? Janis Ian? JANIS JOPLIN, even?

If these women were attempting to break into music today, they'd have a hard time getting a deal unless they went indie. FUCKIN' BANANARAMA!!!!

(I will admit that I like Gwen Stefani although I was less than bowled over with her solo offerings. I also admit I like Christina Aguilera especially since she quit with the Dee Snyder getups.)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Disgusted With The Wayans Brothers

I must not be the target demographic for this new cinematic abortion titled "Little Man" spewed forth from the Wayans' Brothers. The reason why is that I am old enough to remember the FIRST TIME I saw this movie, when it was a FRIGGIN' BUGS BUNNY CARTOON!!

How could I ever forget Baby Face Finster? The clips I've seen on the trailer all include classic bits from that brilliant cartoon.

Cute baby in a bonnet in a basket at the doorstep? Check.
"Peekaboo" to the frying pan in the face?Check.
Seeing said baby standing on a stool and smoking a cigar while shaving?? CHECK CHECK CHECK.

Don't get me wrong -- "Don't Be A Menace In South Central While Drinkin' Your Juice In The Hood" was brilliant. It was a spoof of all those dramatic "boyz n da hood" movies hollywood was cranking out so that Whitey could see how the hip hop nation "really lived" (which cracks me up because all the black kids I knew growing up lived in raised ranches in the 'burbs and never even saw a gun). Such OBVIOUS exploitation needed exploiting and the Wayans did that with tongue firmly in cheek. Who can forget Keenan screaming, "MESSAGE!!" just in case y'all missed it?

Speaking of Keenan, "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka" is another brilliant comedic work. So smart and funny!

So WHY on GOD'S GREEN EARTH are they attempting to turn a 9 minute cartoon into a two hour movie? Have they run out of good ideas? Did they get a little potted one night, saw it and said, 'Yyyeeeahh, man, that would be, like, FUNNY!"

Can't these filmmakers LEAVE THE CLASSICS ALONE!!! They are classics for a REASON. They were funny in particular because of the place and time in which they were created, and they are classic because at the same time, they are timeless and universally funny. HOWEVER, updating things like:

The Pink Panther
The Dukes of Hazard
Cheaper By The Dozen
The Omen
Starsky & Hutch

IS NEVER A GOOD IDEA! NEVER! Sure, some of the YOUNGER GENERATION who had only heard of the originals or seen them because of older relatives might check it out, or even the dumbasses of Generation X in a mistaken wave of nostalgia, but PEOPLE, THIS HAS GOT TO STOP!!!

I refuse to see these movies, the trailers themselves leave me colder than a penguin's balls. Damien coming down the hall on a RAZOR SCOOTER!?! Jessica Simpson, a STUPID BLONDE as Daisy Duke? Catherine Bach may have had a southern accent, but anyone who watched that show with ferocious regularity like I did KNEW that DAISY was the brains of the whole operation. I don't even have to comment on the Pink Panther because those movies were fabulous because of the TIME they were made. Updating the Pink Panther to NOW? Throwing in BEYONCE? Give me a humongous BREAK.

I know it's not about a lack of talent out there. There are people writing original movies that are fantastic -- Transamerica, being one of them. There are also people writing adaptations of good books, which at least is a movie based upon something original and not a pathetic retread of an old semi-cheesy TV series, a fantastic movie that did not NEED an update, or a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

Bugs Bunny taught me everything I know about comedy AND classical music/jazz at the same time. I learned that if you want someone to get blown up, you throw him in the stove and then tell the cop that if your friend Rocky was in the stove, would you turn on the THIS? I learned that the forest might be dug up around you and replaced with high rises, your rabbit-hole planted in a large planter, but that if you want to take over the townhouse, all you have to do is be relentlessly annoying. I learned that science experiments were best tested on OTHERS than yourself, and that playing the piano like Liberace could halt a crazed Mr. Hyde in his tracks long enough for you to brain him.

Please, Wayans' Brothers, I implore you. Stick to smart subtle social commentary through your original films. Leave Bugs alone. The inevitible comparision will kneecap you, or at least bash you over the head with a frying pan.