Taking sides: What's the deal with Liz Phair?
Last weekend Liz Phair dropped a new album out of nowhere, "Funstyle." She released it on her Web site and based on early listens it's, well, a lot like recent Liz Phair albums. Which isn't a good thing. It features the song "Bollywood," which you can listen to above. It's .... something else. Has she gone crazy? Does she just not care anymore? Is it some elaborate joke? Some combination? And why are we still so obsessed with her if most people only like her one album from 15+ years ago?
In our weekly Taking sides column we attempt to tackle the conundrum that is Liz.
Allison Stewart: I think it boils down a very extreme example of an artist and her fans wanting two very separate things:
Liz wants: Money. And attention. She doesn't make albums that often, they don't sell well when she does, and she's a girl who likes Barneys. Put those together, add some self-delusion and entitlement, and you've got a rap song about how Liz wants to get paid. Even for Liz Phair 3.0, it's very ... base.
Her fans want: They want the Liz of "Guyville" back, but at this point they might settle for "WhiteChocolateSpaceEgg" Liz (I know I would). "Guyville" meant a lot to a lot of people, and the farther down the rabbit hole Phair goes, the more they question whether she ever meant it in the first place, or just did it as a calculated way to get famous. It messes with their perception of an album that meant a lot to them, and I think that's what bothers them the most.
Aaron Leitko: I don't think she's crazy at all. In fact, is this song really even that weird for her? All of her big songs from "Guyville" -- like "Divorce Song" and "Flower" -- were bratty confessionals set to the popular music of the day (i.e. alt-rock). It's been 15 years. Back then she was a boy-crazy Oberlin grad making tapes at home. Now she's a middle-aged woman and mother trying to make a living as a professional musician and making tapes on a computer. Liz Phair's tasted and circumstances have changed, but her process is pretty much the same.
David Malitz:The odd thing in talking about Liz Phair over the past decade is that we always seem to be looking for a reason why. That it all must be some sort of master plan. Like, she's making a grand statement with this soulless, glossy pop album! Maybe she's just - not that good? She certainly wouldn't be the first artist to fizzle out after a career-defining debut.
July 8, 2010; 4:30 PM ET
Categories: Taking sides | Tags: Liz Phair
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