Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Liz Phair "Whip Smart"

I was watching late night TV, specifically to catch a much-hyped young female singer-songwriter.

The performance was pretty weak, but I had a compassionate thought. I thought to myself, how unfair . . .

Unfair to her, because she appeared to be somewhat terrified, and struggled to hit all her notes. She clearly wasn't ready to be on a stage like NBC late night.

Unfair because this was going to negatively effect her career. Whatever promo folks were in charge of getting her this gig were responsible for pushing thing too far too fast, and would have to deal with the repercussions of people saying she wasn't as good as the hype.

The year was 1994 and the artist was Liz Phair.

She'd put out the critically acclaimed "Exile In Guyville" record independently, and it was rightly lauded. Her debut was refreshing in its lyrical frankness, its overt sexuality and its lo-fi spunk. But no one bothered to check if Phair was a great live performer, or was seasoned enough to command a stage. She wasn't.

Check out the clip below, from Jay Leno in 1994, as she doesn't come close to hitting some of the higher notes.

I thought about this performance yesterday, when I started reading about Lana Del Rey's performance on Saturday Night Live over the weekend.

Her first album isn't even out yet, but people are talking, talking, talking about her. So much so, that there's already a backlash (not unlike the Vampire Weekend phenomenon). Many folks who have yet to see her live, tuned into SNL to get a glimpse of what the big deal is. And, judging from more than a few sources, she disappointed.

I watched her spotty performance and history seem to repeat itself, I asked myself, "Is it Phair?"

(And had I been fair to Florence And the Machine?)

See the video on Youtube.

See the video on Youtube.

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