I wasn’t sure what I wanted this mix to be about. I just knew it wasn’t going to contain any music from the witch house genre because that genre is so dumb, I can’t believe it exists.
I thought about some of the things I’ve been ruminating over and being a woman has been a major one. Being that it’s National Women’s History Month, it seemed fitting to make a mix with this theme in mind.
I have never been convinced that I would ever truly be a woman until I was bearing my own children. And if that’s how we’re defining things, I’m nowhere near being a woman. Maybe a very large girl but not a woman.
I’m in a stage of life which generally consists of dodging exasperated reminders that my eggs are dying (thanks Mom), and having non-religious friends and co-workers wonder what the hell is wrong with me and my friends (considering a good 70% of my friends are now married, I attend around 5-7 weddings per year and of these friends getting married, ALL are younger than me). So it has been brought to my attention that maybe I should start figuring out what all this womanhood stuff is about.
Whether I like it or not, and whether I am ready or not, are all irrelevant: I already am a woman. As I’ve wrestled with what it means to be Asian or the oldest child in the past few years, the last year in particular I’ve thought a good deal about what it means to be a woman and a Christian. Though I want to, I can’t articulate any of these thoughts quite yet. But I will, hopefully before the very last of my eggs die.
This mix is about being female and being proud of it — because as much as I hate some of the crap women have to put up with, I love being a lady. It’s not necessarily a mix that third wave feminists will find super enlightening but it’s something that will hopefully make you appreciate female artists of merit.
So take a moment to celebrate the women in your life and if you are female, celebrate yourself and your achievements and get ready for some good jams.
About the cover art (click the image to download the music): The little girl’s name is “Mirai-chan” and she is the subject of a photography book by her mother, Japanese photographer Kotori Kawashima. If you haven’t noticed from my last post on Yoshitomo Nara, I seem to be developing a strange fascination for little disgruntled looking Japanese girls (…there has got to be a better way to word that) (and that’s why we call this blog “Lizisms”).
I think I looked pretty disgruntled as kid in my younger days; maybe that’s why I relate. But what I really love about these photos of Mirai-chan is her total nonchalance to the world. Some of the pictures of this bright-eyed, furrowed-brow child made me laugh out loud (here and here), in a very unattractive way.
To me she kind of captures what it means to be female: at some point in your life, you do what you want without knowing you’re doing it. And after you go through a period of self-realization, you do what you want, but with total deliberation. I think both are important to note in becoming a woman.
Well that’s enough ruminating. On to the music!
01. (Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay (Live) – Sara Bareilles
I love this song. No one does it better than Otis but I have to hand it to Sara, I think Mr. Redding would be proud. I appreciate that Sara’s music is not conventional pop music and that her artist image doesn’t pander to stupid notions of what a female pop artist is usually associated with.
02. SexyBack – Corinne Bailey Rae (Justin Timberlake cover)
I tried to stay away from songs that talk about how much a woman needs her man or how her world is nothing without him. That being said, I hope I didn’t compromise my efforts by including such a sensual song but damn, Rae knows how to do a cover. I have admired her as an artist for a few years now and after reading about the tragic loss of her husband, have only grown in my respect for her musicianship and individuality as an artist. I recommend all of her music. All of it.
03. Well OK Honey – Jenny O.
She has a nice voice and a versatile sound. And I like this song. The end.
04. A Change Is Gonna Come – Leela James
I can never get enough soul music. If I had to choose a genre to listen to for the rest of my life, it would be soul. As much as I love other types of music, I can never get sick of soul. I’m probably the only 26-year old I know who regularly stocks her car with CDs by The Temptations or those Greatest Motown Hits compilation discs that are always in the clearance bin. This song has always been such a source of inspiration for me when I think of the dreams that social movers and shakers had before me and in my own personal pursuits. Originally penned by the illustrious Sam Cooke, I think Leela James truly does this song justice. If you are not familiar with James’ discography, get on that (likewise for Sam Cooke).
05. Crush – Sleigh Bells
This band brings my leather-studded heart warm electric fuzzies. There is a part of me that loves unleashing my inner pop punk fangirl (Fat Wreck Chords, anyone!???) and thrash my head to loud, bass driven music with huge guitar riffs. That is exactly what this band is all about. And how about Allison Krauss’ angelic vocals? It’s such a stark contrast against the monstrous instrumentals. Listening to these guys is about as bad ass as I will ever get in this life. Weeeeee.
06. Bitter Heart – Zee Avi
I first heard about Zee Avi from a friend a few years ago. I thought it ironic that she later signed to Brushfire Records because she always reminded me of a female Jack Johnson. While her music isn’t naturally my taste, I am proud of her and her heritage as a female Malaysian artist who has made it big enough to sell her music at almost every Starbucks I’ve ever been to. I always smile when I see her CDs there.
07. Islands – the xx
Most people know about the xx by now. After I found out about them, I watched a few videos of them performing live and impromptu in Denmark and other places around Europe. I was always impressed by how good Romy Madley Croft sounds live. She doesn’t need a recording studio or a thousand dollar mic. Her voice is true talent. And in spite of her fame she seems incredibly down to earth too. I feel a bit bad this song isn’t very representative of her voice but I think it’s a good introduction to those of us who aren’t familiar with the band.
08. Criminal – ZZ Ward
This woman could give Adele a run for her money. Her sound is a bit different but with nothing lacking in terms of soulfulness. I would liken her to a one woman version of The Black Keys as she employs a huge range of sounds and instruments in her music. I like how she mixes R&B, soul and blues so fluidly and that she’s not afraid to sing over Childish Gambino or Tyler the Creator beats. She’s relatively new on the scene (I found out about her on NPR’s 2011 SXSW Preview) but will eventually be a force to be reckoned with.
09. Lana Del Rey x Nas – If I Ruled the Diet Mountain Dew (SoSuperSam Remix)
I’m quite a fan of SoSuperSam, an female DJ who hails from LA. Not only is she very stylish, she has great taste in music. But I can’t stand Lana Del Rey or her music and was almost offended when I saw Sam had made a mashup of Nas with Lana. I mean, the prior is a legitimate hip hop icon while the other skates painfully close to being a caricature of herself. But ladies have to stick together. So while I wouldn’t be the best to recommend good Lana Del Rey songs, I appreciate her guts to put music out there and perform it live. If you listen to each song separately, then the mashup, you realize how ingenious the combination is. Also, Lauryn is on the track. One up.
10. Fame Boozer’s Lullaby – TOKiMONSTA
TOKi is an Asian American female DJ who is respected by enough people to be signed with Brainfeeder. ‘Nuff said.
11. Valerie – Amy Winehouse
Amy Winehouse is hugely underrated. If you haven’t listened to Frank, you are severely short changing yourself. While she received a lot of flak for being an unstable diva, there is no denying how talented she was. I immensely appreciate how she helped to usher soul back into our diet of mainstream pop music. Her music wasn’t gimmicky and her voice is irreplaceable. I wish her inner demons hadn’t got the best of her because she sang with a raw honesty she was actually capable of. It’s something a lot of current female pop artists only able to emulate through fancy production.
12. Haiti – Arcade Fire
When you Google Regine Chassagne, two searches come up: “Regine Chassagne can’t sing” and “Regine Chassagne ugly”. People are horrible. I don’t agree with either statement and obviously Win Butler, the frontman and co-founder of this groundbreaking band, feels the same. Butler is married to Chassagne and in my opinion, she adds an unmistakable amount of charisma to the group. She’s also a multi-instrumentalist, short in stature and not skinny. I like that, a lot. This song in particular is primarily sung by her, off their 2004 record Funeral. In it, she poignantly sings about the extreme disparity that exists in Haiti, where her parents emigrated from to Canada. So to all the haters: she’s got some substance too.
13. Myth – Beach House
In my mind, Beach House is such a feminine band. Listen to the vocals, the lyrics, the music. And yet, I know so many guys who resonate with their music and may not have any problems saying such is the case. I had the opportunity to see them live at Coachella in 2010 and was absolutely enthralled with their gold streamer-filled set. This is a new song off their upcoming album, Bloom.
14. Take It All – Adele
I’ve been intentionally reading a lot of interviews on Adele. Most recently, I read about her in both Vogue and Cosmopolitan (the latter my roommate subscribes to so you can stop judging me) and I was so impressed with her detachment to her fame. Perhaps it’s an elaborate press scheme but she really comes across as a hard-nosed gal with a good sense of friendship, fortune and fame. She talked about being pissed about having to go to the Grammys as it fell on the same night of her friend’s bridal shower. That’s what I’m talking about.
15. Fembot – Robyn
GQ recently did a huge series on artists who had made remarkable comebacks in their musical careers. They profiled everyone from Lil Wayne to Iggy Pop. I personally think they should have included Robyn. She’s come a long, long way from “Show Me Love,” people. Her last album, Body Talk is ripe with songs of assertiveness and strength, all set to catchy, futuristic beats.
16. Can’t Take My Eyes Off You – Lauryn Hill
For someone born in the late 80’s this woman pretty much defined what it meant to be a female with undeniable strength and creativity. I salute you, Ms. Hill.
17. Ritual Union – Little Dragon
Something about Yukimi Nagano’s voice is very likeable to my ears. I think I could see myself being reincarnated as Little Dragon music, if I believed in reincarnation. I think it’s marvelous the way the band has made music around her very unique voice and lyrics. I quite enjoy the way she not only commands but guides the band, from interviews I’ve watched. All of her collaborations with other artists have been stellar, most notably with Gorillaz, SBTRKT, and soon to be Big Boi!
18. Million Dollar Bill – Whitney Houston
Rest in peace, Whitney. This is one of those songs that let you know you were definitely born before 1990 but one that represents the staying power artists like Houston, MJ and only a handful of others truly have. It’s a rarity these days. In the days after Houston’s passing, I thought about her roots, growing up singing in the church and how much more simple her life was back then. I hope she is resting in the peaceful presence of her Savior.