Liz Phair (1967-) is an alternative/pop rock musician best known for her controversial, sexually explicit and emotionally honest lyrics. Her debut album, Exile in Guyville
, was very critically acclaimed. It was ranked #328 on Rolling Stone's 500 greatest albums of all time. In the 2000s, her music shifted to pop rock, which wasn't well-received by many
. Some critics, while reviewing Somebody's Miracle
, admitted that her self-titled album didn't deserve the backlash it got. Currently, she is composing music for television dramas, working on shows like Swingtown
and In Plain Sight
. She is also on tour to support Funstyle
- Exile in Guyville (1993)
- Whip-Smart (1994)
- Juvenilia (1995; EP)
- whitechocolatespaceegg (1998)
- Liz Phair (2003)
- Comeandgetit (2003; EP)
- Somebody's Miracle (2005)
- Funstyle (2010)
- Girlysound (2010; bonus compilation disc of demo songs to accompany the physical release of Funstyle)
She's also famous for the Girly Sound
) tapes, which contain Liz's pre-1993 lo-fi demos. It's one of the most sought-after Alternative Rock
Liz Phair provides examples of:
- Answer Album + Perspective Flip - A rare non-narrative example: Exile in Guyville was intended as a song-by-song reply to the Rolling Stones' Exile On Main St.. Try not to think about it too hard, since some of the song counterparts don't make sense. She did give an interview to Rolling Stone where she elaborated on the parallels.
- Breakup Song - "Divorce Song"
- Censored Title - "H.W.C." (abbreviation for "hot white cum", the phrase used in the song).
- Concept Album – Funstyle, according to Liz. The thread that is sewn in all 11 songs is the power of collaboration and doing music for fun.
- Cover Version – Juvenilia has a cover of "Turning Japanese", originally by The Vapors, and one of the bonus tracks on the 2008 reissue of Exile in Guyville is a cover of "Say You" by Lynn Tait and the Jets.
- Deadpan Snarker – Liz is not a snarker, but she can sound like one when she sings. See "Chopsticks", for example.
- Doing It for the Art
"I had plenty of time to sit with Funstyle. There were a lot more songs that I didn’t put on that record that were recorded during that period, some of which are very good, and a lot of which I’m sure the critics would prefer. I really felt like I stumbled into a new style which, I’m not gonna start rapping, I’m not Joaquin Phoenix. It was just something that needed to be aired. It was a part of my creative journey that needed to see the light of day, and it was either shove these things under the carpet and pretend like I never did them, and no one would ever hear about it, or stand on my own and say, “I like it. This is what is exciting me now. This is what I see as a creative person now.” And that’s what I chose to do."
- Dream Team – Liz Phair + Dave Matthews, who played guitar on a couple of songs on Funstyle.
- Whitechocolatespaceegg has contributions from people associated with R.E.M.: the band's longtime Record Producer Scott Litt produces and plays instruments on it, and "Fantasize" features contributions by Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Bill Berry, Nathan December and Scott McCaughey.
- Dye Hard - Liz is more remembered as a blonde than a (natural) brunette.
- Executive Meddling
- Liz suffered heavily from this, having run out of money during the recording of her self-titled album. The execs refused to release her album unless she worked with writing team The Matrix (no, not that one), which produced her biggest Billboard hit, "Why Can't I?", which sounds almost nothing like the works that made her famous, and got her a 0.0 from Pitchfork.
- Liz fought with her management to release “Bollywood.” Fortunately, Liz won.
- Genre Roulette - Funstyle is her most diverse album. It contains Indian-styled hip-hop ("Bollywood"), soulful chanting set to what sounds like the outside of a party ("Smoke"), funk-rock ("My My"), adult contemporary a-la Somebody's Miracle ("Miss September", "Oh, Bangladesh", "Satisfied"), indie rock ("You Should Know Me", "And He Slayed Her"), space-y rock ("Bang! Bang!") & ethnic dance music played over a Chicago housewife talking crap & some guru ("Beat Is Up").
- Intentionally Awkward Title - "Hot White Cum" (although it's officially titled "H.W.C."), "Fuck and Run", "Shitloads of Money", "Six Dick Pimp", "Fuck or Die"
- Intercourse with You - Almost anything by her fits this trope quite nicely, except for Somebody's Miracle, which, actually, didn't have a single explicit song on it.
- Keep Circulating the Tapes - Aside from Juvenilia and the upcoming Girlysound disc, Liz's pre-1993 demos can only be found on the Girly Sound bootlegs. Two tapes entitled Yo Yo Buddy Yup Yup Word To Ya Muthuh and Girls Girls Girls respectively are the most common and are available to download on the internet for free. A third tape and information about it remains elusive.
- Les Yay - The Girly Sound version of "Flower" contains the line "I'll fuck you and your girlfriend too."
- Lyrical Dissonance - "Divorce Song" is sadder than it sounds.
- Money Song - In "Shitloads of Money," Liz foreshadowed her shift from indie darling to mainstream wannabe by declaring, "It's nice to be liked/But it's better by far to get paid."
- Non-Appearing Title - She has a couple, including "Chopsticks", "Strange Loop", and "Table For One".
- Non-Indicative Name - "Flower" is probably the most vulgar song named after a plant ever.
- One-Hit Wonder - "Why Can't I?" from Liz Phair is her only Top-40 charting song in the United States.
- Piss Take Rap - Liz actually raps in "Bollywood". Of course, like the Painful Rhyme example above, it's all in good fun and not meant to be taken seriously.
- Power Pop - A lot of her full-band material fits in the category quite easily.
- Precision F-Strike - In "Smoke":
Bouncer: "You're NOT getting in."
Liz: "Fine - fuck you!"
- Record Producer - Both the generally liked (Brad Wood) and the less so (The Matrix).
- Refrain from Assuming - P2P networks sometimes title her songs wrong. Most commonly:
- "Flower", which is mistitled "Blowjob Queen", after its most famous line.
- "Why Can't I?", which is mistitled "Why Can't I Breathe".
- "Favorite", which is mistitled "My Favorite Underwear".
- Self-Titled Album - It reflected her controversial move towards pop-rock music.
- Shout-Out - From John Mayer to Stephen Colbert on Funstyle. Also, the title of Exile in Guyville was partially inspired by Urge Overkill's song about leaving the Chicago indie scene, "Goodbye to Guyville".
- One of the lyrics of "Stratford-on-Guy" is "And I was pretending that I was in a Galaxie 500 video."
- Signature Song - "Never Said", "Flower", "Fuck and Run", possibly "Why Can't I?" & "Extraordinary".
- Spoken Word In Music - There's a lot of this in Funstyle.
- Take That - "And He Slayed Her" and "Satisfied" are Take Thats at former Capitol Records boss Andy Slater.
- "U Hate It" was written when her management heard "Bollywood" and got upset, instead of laughed.
- The Something Song - "Divorce Song", "Elvis Song"
- Three Chords and the Truth - Girlysound is all this. Exile in Guyville had some guitar-only songs, like "Glory", "Dance of the Seven Veils", and "Gunshy".
- We Will Use WikiWords In The Future – whitechocolatespaceegg and Comeandgetit.
- What Could Have Been - Liz Phair, love it or not, was a great album for the mainstream. If it was properly promoted, then it could've been more successful. Sure, the indie fanbase would still hate her, but at least she would've met her goal.
- You Keep Using That Word - Liz is called a lo-fi artist, yet her main indie albums (read: not the Girlysound tapes) were recorded on decent equipment (a more appropriate word would be "minimalist", but that would only apply to certain songs on Exile - a lot of the album is made of full-band Power Poppy indie rock).