2007’s Next Big Thing: Alive and Well

I subscribe to magazines solely to one day chop them up and make collages. I’ve been chopping my way through a couple years of Spin and Blender(RIP), and I’ve been noticing how many people lauded as The Next Big Thing never really became much of anything. It all seems terribly unfair that Taylor Swift gets to make millions off her musical equivalent of cotton candy coated in powdered brain tumor, yet Jude (the next big thing of 1998) eventually ended up signed to an obscure French label. It also seems terribly unfair that Fiona Apple’s CD sat unnoticed on shelves for about a year until she got in her underwear for the “Criminal” video. I was working at Blockbuster Music then and we couldn’t have GIVEN away those CDs. After the Criminal video, we couldn’t keep them in stock. Maybe she should have gotten naked for the earlier “Shadowboxer” video, too.

I barely remembered the existence of 2007 Vh1 darling Sara Bareilles. A jaded cynic would say that she shot herself in the face on “Bottle It Up,” the follow-up to her hit “Love Song,” by again singing about how manufactured love songs can suck it. Someone less jaded would say that Bareilles had a vision of what Nikki Sixx referred to as The Machine (which propels people to stardom and then grinds them up) and made a run for comparative obscurity.

It’s a damn shame either way. My recent rediscovery of her album Little Voice was a happy one. If you’re into Butterfly Boucher, Imogen Heap, Amanda Palmer or if you just have a general taste for ornery females, you should give Bareilles an hour. You already know the impossible-to-avoid hit “Love Song” and the lesser-known “Bottle It Up.” “Vegas” sounds a little like Sheryl Crow’s “Leaving Las Vegas,” but with more balls and a better sense of snark. “Come Round Soon” is a smoke-filled letter to a false-hearted lover in the tradition of dark cabaret piano murderess Jill Tracy. “Morningside” is the answer to the question, “what would happen if Fiona Apple dusted herself off and got in touch with her anger?” (No diss to Fiona, but woman cannot live by injury alone.) OK, so the first 10 seconds of “Love on the Rocks” sounds blindingly like “Benny and the Jets.” The lyric, “my friends say I look better without you” will win you back. If “Bottle It Up” is a 6 on the Pissy Scale, “Fairytale” is about a 9. That is to say, that it’s a delicious middle finger punctuated by a bridge of “go and tell your white knight that he’s handsome in hindsight.”

When Bareilles gives the world the finger, she does it with a wink and a smile. She’s still working on a second full-length, but she’ll be on board for the return of Lilith Fair. Your ears do not deceive you. Lilith. Fair.

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