The Case Of Liz Phair’s Disappearing Career

Jun 21st, 2007 // 24 Comments

0603_liz_phair_b.jpgA question posed to us by a friend last night: Sixteen years ago, if a friend had asked you, “What do you think Liz Phair will be up to in 2007?” would you thought to have answered “Writing songs from the perspective of Nancy Drew about feeling alienated in the school cafeteria for a teen movie?” If you answered “yes,” then pat yourself on the back and let us know whether or not Lily Allen will be scoring Teletubbies episodes come 2033. But if you’re slightly confused, please head to the MySpace page for the Nancy Drew soundtrack and take a listen to the 30-second clip of “Perfect Misfit,” Phair’s first new song since Somebody’s Miracle. Yeah, we know it’s only a snippet, but the lyrics alone are really making it tougher and tougher for us to keep defending Whitechocolatespaceegg to anyone.

Nancy Drew Soundtrack [MySpace]

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  1. MC

    I don’t know about you, but I’d welcome an Urge Overkill-scored Hardy Boys movie.

  2. Jupiter8

    Nothing’s sadder than a sellout that nobody buys…

  3. t.a.m.s.y.

    Whitechocolatespaceegg is still awesome. She can never take that away from us, no matter how hard she tries.

  4. Julio Allison

    Kind of begs the question: was Liz Phair really ever that good? Think about it, now…

  5. loudersoft

    “and i can feel it in my bones
    i’m gonna spend another year alone
    fuck and run
    fuck and run
    even when i was seventeen
    fuck and run
    fuck and run
    even when i was twelve”

    why hast thou forsaken us, liz phair

  6. RepentTokyo

    i like liz phair.

  7. Twilly

    liz is making me die a little inside.

    she’s also making it hard for me to keep putting “polyester bride” on mixes i give to friends.

  8. Maulleigh

    I always “pooh poohed” people who said she was slipping over the years. And then one day I listened to just Liz Phair on my itunes: everything and anything I had. There was a MARKED difference between her old stuff and her new stuff. Old stuff was clever and fresh. New stuff was boring, pop lyrics.

    Perhaps Biggie was writing her rhymes all along?

    You don’t have to justify whitechocolatespaceegg to anyone; that was the last best albumn. One of my favorites.

  9. Weebot

    Liz Phair isn’t as bad as everyone makes it out to be, especially in a post-Kelly Clarkson world. However, Somebody’s Miracle is damn close to indefensible.

    I wish she wouldn’t make it so hard to defend her as an artist; at every turn she seems to be saying that all she ever really wanted in life was to be Sheryl Crow.

  10. nonce

    Regardless of why she decided to become the poor man’s Sheryl Crow, or how far she’s willing to run with it, everything from Whitechocolatespaceegg on back is still unimpeachable.

    People still worship the pre-1980 Rolling Stones, after all, despite the continued existence of the post-1980 Rolling Stones.

  11. zaky

    Liz Phair has sucked for a long, long time. She’s like a soccer mom.

  12. zaky

    Liz Phair has sucked for a long, long time. She’s like a soccer mom now.

  13. Thierry

    It’s too bad that she’s now writing such terrible lyrics, because her voice has really improved.

  14. Butch Huskey

    actually Liz Phair seems to be the model kelly clarkson should be following, do an album with 8 songs you wrote/like/feel passionate about + 3 songs the corporate hacks wrote/produced for you ….

  15. WasatchMan

    So many of Liz’s male listeners are so busy masturbating to her old records that they can’t realize that she’s moved on to subjects appropriate for a more grown-up woman. But she’s still the same Liz. If you will actually listen to some of the tracks on “Somebody’s Miracle” like “Why I Lie” and “Table for One” you will find the same scalding wit and lacerating honesty. Too many people are trying to type-cast a damn fine artist instead of giving her a chance to grow and change. Because they want to hang on to their spank-bank dirty-mouthed sex object of 15 years ago. And that’s a shame.

  16. Maura Johnston

    @WasatchMan: you mean like being in the cafeteria and having nowhere to sit? i’m all for her songs that tackle ‘grown-up subjects’–wcse is one of my favorite albums of all time–but the subject of ‘perfect misfit’ ain’t one of them.

  17. The Illiterate

    So let me get this straight: Phair, who has always written songs from other people’s perspective–young, old, male, female, black, white, whatever–writes a song from the perspective of a 14 year old misfit girl, using language that would be exactly what one would expect from a 14 year old misfit girl, and manages to make a pretty decent pop song out of it, as well (even slyly quoting “Wild Thing” to suggest that there are all sorts of ideas brewing in this girl’s head), but somehow this is taken as a sign of her lack of personal maturity instead of further proof of her already obvious artistic maturity. Wow! (wacking self on side of head) Why didn’t I think of that!

  18. NickEddy

    Sixteen years ago I woulda said “Who?” and gone back to listening to, I dunno, the Sundays.

    Then in ’93 I woulda said “Oh, her. She’s gonna do what now? Um, okay.”

  19. andrewsky

    My gosh. Okay, I’m remembering here being 14 and maybe having some lunch table issues myself. What I would do about it is, I would close the door to my room and put on “Exile in Guyville.” I’d lay flat on my back on my bed and mouth out “Explain It To Me” along with her raspy, uncouth recording. I seem to remember that being pretty goshdarn effective.

    I just refuse to believe that the solution to the oh-so-awkward “awkward teenager” problem is for Liz Phair to record tracks that highlight the fact that some teenagers, despite Lindsay Lohan’s best efforts, remain awkward.

  20. mike a

    phelander: it’s not about “hating” at all, and no one’s suggesting liz starve for her art. but let’s face facts: this is one of the least successful sellouts in recent memory. i read somewhere, can’t remember where, that liz’ self-titled album of a few years back sold as much, or maybe just a little more, than WCSE. and somebody’s miracle sold less than that. we’re not exactly talking huge numbers here. so if you’re selling the same amount of albums either way, why not sell them to a dedicated audience who appreciates what you do?

  21. Jupiter8

    @phelander:
    To be fair, I hated her when she was indie too..

  22. The Illiterate

    @mike a: But if her “sellout” albums aren’t selling, and she keeps on making them anyway, that must mean she really wants to make them. Returning to her old style just to recapture her fans respect–whatever that would mean in this case, since you seem to imply that it wouldn’t make her any more money–may actually be a bigger sellout, artistically speaking. Shaping your career to the expectations of your audience, no matter how much they may “appreciate” you, is always selling out, whether you do it for adulation or cash. Besides, if Phair made an album in the style of Guyville tomorrow, this thread would be full of comments about how she couldn’t cut it in the real world and now she’s cynically taking advantage of her old audience just to make herself feel better. Even if I didn’t like her records so much, I might figure she’s a genius just because she inspires so much hateful nonsense–that’s usually a sign somebody is doing something right.

  23. phelander

    Yeah, to the haters…you try to feed kids AND keep your indie cred you ignorant assholes.

  24. Trackback

    1 minute and 43 seconds into the trailer for No Revervarions, Liz Phair makes her less than triumphant return… if you don’t count her less than triumphant return with Nancy Drew.

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