My wife and I sat down to watch Rihanna on Saturday Night Live this weekend. It didn't go well.
"All she needs is a pole," she sniffed as Rihanna ground her way through "Birthday Cake." "She gives sleaze a bad name."
For me, I found her performance, well, boring. Another song about sex. Whatever happened to the strong, independent, in-your-face female performers we used to see in the alt-rock world back in the 90s?
Apparently I'm not the only one feeling nostalgic for this kind of artist. Gillian Orr of The Independent feels the same way. In a story that appeared today, she longs for the frank, unhinged, outspoken and aggressive anitcs of Liz Phair circa Exile in Guyville, Jagged Little Pill era, Alanis Morissette, the loopiness of Tori Amos and Fiona Apple and the don't-f*ck-with-me attitude of Shirley Manson of Garbage.
Hell, I was involved in a discussion about Meredith Brookes and her late 90s girl power/woman power hit, "Bitch." Why aren't we hearing I-am-woman-hear-me-roar declarations like that anymore? Damn, I miss that.
I love strong, independent woman who aren't afraid to speak their minds about subtantive issues. Outside of MIA and maybe Cat Power, who of today's artists can hold a candle to those 90s alt-rock divas? Where are the daughters of the riot grrls? Of whom might Patti Smith be proud? Where are the strong role models?
Katy Perry? Jessica Simpson? Rihanna? Please.
Yes, Liz Phair sang a lot about sex but there was an honesty and realism to how she handled it. Lest we forget, that was one of the things for which she was praised by men and women alike.
The good news is that Morissette, Garbage, Apple all have albums in the pipeline. Maybe they'll show the kids how it's not necessary to sing about boys and clothes and partying.
I LOVE women in positions of power. We need more of them. It's just that the power they weild has to more about being known for singing simple songs about sex (the "don't-you-want-this-baby" kind especially) and mindless partying.
Meanwhile, I'm re-adding some Liz Phair to my playlists. I think MIA is just on this side of insane, but I like that; in fact, thank God for MIA.
And please, Courtney Love, continue to do whatever it is that you do. You're certainly more entertaining than Rihanna.