Do you hear that sound, ladies? The indescribably gentle sound of Canadian acoustic guitars on the breeze? Strum, strum, strum… it is the music of the heart! And, perhaps more specifically, the music of Lilith Fair, which has unveiled its new line-up. Which looks exactly like its old line-up, actually, and will make you feel for all the world as if Buffy is still on the air (yay!) and also like you cannot for the love of God turn on the radio without hearing that one Meredith Brooks song or possibly Paula Cole wondering where the cowboys have gooo-uh-OOOOOOONE (eh). Let’s run down the list, shall we? Sheryl Crow, check, Sarah McLachlan, check and of course, Indigo Girls, check, Ke$ha… wait a second!
Ke$ha! What are you doing here? I thought you were wandering around LA, passing out in bathtubs and causing families of suburban squares to drop their pancakes! Possibly because they were afrighted by your strange resemblance to Dee Snider! Because, you know, last time he visited, things didn’t turn out well.
Now, it is not as if I am suggesting Ke$ha has nothing to contribute to a semi-feminist women’s music festival. She has penned, for example, this touching ode to the bonds of sisterhood, entitled “Backstabber,” which I will be posting here for you in lyrics-containing amateur-You-Tube video format, so that you can appreciate its subtle poetry.
Ah, yes. “I’m sick and tired of hearing all about my life / From other bitches with all of your lies / Wrapped up so tight, so maybe you should / shut your mouth, shut your mouth, shut your fucking mouth.” Was that an allusion to Auden I noticed there? I think it was! Oh, no, wait. I think it was not, is what I meant to say. So, yes: Ke$ha has nothing to contribute to a semi-feminist women’s music festival. Sorry.
And we can talk about Lilith Fair, and how it was a co-optation of other all-girl or pro-girl music scenes and festivals, including Riot Grrl and the “women’s music” (often specifically lesbian women’s music) of the second wave, or even Michfest, which was once beloved until they wouldn’t back down on the damn “hating trans women” thing, FOR CHRISSAKES, with the difference being that Lilith Fair smoothed off all or most of the really radical politics and challenging noises and instead served you a spectacularly bland soup of folky harmonies, served at room temperature so that you don’t burn your mouth on it. Or we could save that for another post. (A post I have written… in the past!) For now I will just say, this is maybe an inherent problem in removing all of the actual politics from your feminism and coming up with a profit-friendly, inoffensive message of, “ladies! They’re okay, I guess?” Because if Lilith Fair is just “music with ladies in it,” then there’s no guiding principle to choose which ladies go there or why you want those ladies to be present or what purpose you want your festival to have other than proving that ladies can make terrible radio jams too and people will pay money for them. And you end up inviting, I guess, Ke$ha. And you don’t even want to know what that girl just left in your bathtub.