Raucous, sensual and sublime: how twelve pioneering female artists rewrote the rules of pop.
From Kate Bush to Nicki Minaj, from Janet Jackson to TLC and Taylor Swift, pop’s greatest female pioneers are simply strange: smashing notions of taste and decorum, and replacing them with new ideals of pleasure. Instead of rehashing biographies, Lesley Chow dives deep into the music of these groundbreaking performers, identifying the ecstatic moments in their songs and finding out what makes them unique. You’re History is a love letter to pop’s most singular achievements, celebrating the innovations of women who are still critically underrated. It’s a ride that includes tributes to Chaka Khan, Rihanna, Neneh Cherry, Sade, Shakespears Sister, Azealia Banks, and many more…
I would like to thank repeater books and netgalley for giving me this arc in exchange for an honest review
I actually finished this book a while ago . Pop music is often derided as vapid and lacking depth and since women dominate pop music it’s not easy for the criticism of pop music to turn into misogynistic attacks of the women who perform pop music. They are often dismissed till they perform a more “respectable” genre or sing deeper and more introspective lyrics. In this book, the author takes 12 women in pop music from the obscure to the uber famous and makes a case as to why behind the seemingly vapid lyrics and an offhand “oooh” when singing, there’s something more complex going on underneath the surface, that the lyrics themselves or lyrical virtuosity tells only one part of the story when it comes to music.
You can tell this writer really knows a lot about music and she is able to dissect why certain parts of music or a song works really well for the general audience and why certain aspects or songs don’t work. Sometimes her descriptions of music can go over my head as i am not musically literate. She also critiques how music commentary more often spends its time dissecting lyrics and providing vague commentaries of the actual music itself amd how artists are given respect based on only lyrics and gives a reason as to why the reason why a pop song works so well is sometimes as a result of a compelling “oooh” in its chorus.
However i think that there were times when her descriptions of songs and music were abstract. It almost felt like when you go to an art gallery and see a potrait of a woman sitting and then you hear two people talking about how it’s so much deeper and the metaphysical comemmentary an artist is making or the tools used in the potrait’s creation. It almost feels like a foreign language even though you all speak the same language. I also thought that she could have used more ubiquitous artists. This is just a personal preference. A lot of the artists she mentioned are obscure, at least to me, the prominent ones i knew were Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj and Azealia Banks and Rihanna and i thought she would mention the really famous ones like the lady Gagas or the Beyonces but this is her book and she can talk about whatever she wants.
Overall i believe this book is a celebration of women who are often maligned because the way they express their art and that their art doesn’t follow the rules other people have set up for what great art is supposed to be and not only does it talk about their music, it also talks about how their personas, their singing styles, appearance and even their music videos give greater meaning to their music and even if the song is not that “deep” it shows how eclectic choices made by an artist can resonate with the general audience and capture their attention.
Overall rating: 4/5 stars
If you’ve read this book, feel free to let me know whether you loved it or hated it and why, if you love the article you can show your love in the comments.