Elizabeth Clark Phair (born April 17, 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, and it was ranked #328 on Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 greatest albums of all time. In the '90s, she used a heavy production style with loud rock instrumental backings, and eventually became a famous name in Alternative Indie circles.
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. She began composing music for television dramas, working on shows like Swingtown and In Plain Sight. In 2020, she announced that she had signed with Chrysalis Records; her first album for the label, Soberish, was released in June 2021.
- 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)
- Soberish (2021)
She's also famous for the Girly Sound (or Girlysound) tapes, which contain Liz's pre-1993 lo-fi demos. It's one of the most sought-after Alternative Rock bootlegs.
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.
- Break-Up 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.
- Country Matters: Had no problem saying it in "Dance of the Seven Veils".
- 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.
- Design Student's Orgasm: The original cover for◊ Funstyle (the physical version changed it), which Todd in the Shadows described as "computer vomit cover art", and which reportedly was done as a dig on M.I.A.'s Maya◊, which has a similar cover.
- 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.
- 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").
- Happily Adopted: At birth. She has notably never sought out her birth parents for any kind of confrontation or reconciliation, and considers her adoptive parents to be her real family.
- 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.
- Literary Allusion Title: The title of "Dance of the Seven Veils" is taken from Oscar Wilde's play Salome and the song is sung from the perspective of the play's eponymous character (who was originally from The Bible, which doesn't actually specify what kind of dance she performed).
- 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."
- Music Is Politics: Funstyle has a few tracks where Liz mocks the record industry and how she was being treated.
- New Sound Album: Her self-titled went from alternative to a more pop, radio-friendly rock. And then there's Funstyle, which is half throwbacks to her old sound, half jokey songs that are as silly as they get.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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", as well as The Rolling Stones' Exile On Main Street.
- One of the lyrics of "Stratford-on-Guy" is "And I was pretending that I was in a Galaxie 500 video."
- Silly Love Songs: Averted for the most part; Liz is not known for love songs. Played Straight with "Supernova", one of her biggest hits:You walk in clouds of glitter and the sun reflects your eyes
And every time the wind blows, I can smell you in the sky
Your kisses are as wicked as an F-16
And you fuck like a volcano, and you're everything to me
- 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.