You’re History: The Twelve Strangest Women in Music

Repeater. Mar. 2021. 162p. ISBN 9781913462314. pap. $14.95. MUSIC
Though Cardi B and Billie Eilish rule the airwaves, it is still rare for many music critics to take women pop, hip-hop, and R&B artists seriously. Chow (associate editor, Bright Lights) aims to correct that bias. Highlighting 12 women (among them Chaka Khan, Sade, Taylor Swift, and Janet Jackson), many of whom have been written off as vapid and unimportant due to their catchy music or seemingly lightweight lyrics, Chow argues that her subjects’ music has an overlooked profundity. Delving equally deeply into TLC’s Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and critical darling Kate Bush, Chow is most concerned with the feeling of strangeness, or elements that bristle against the conventional ideals of pop music but nonetheless create sublime soundscapes. The author’s definition of strangeness is inevitably subjective, and it’s a shame that artists such as Björk and Annie Lennox are left out of the mix. Yet Chow possesses a rare ability to describe in words how sound feels, resulting in dazzling observations about sound, breath, and the human voice.
VERDICT Those interested in music criticism will enjoy this in-depth study of unique women voices in pop music.
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