ETA: KINJA. I tried using the new version of this and it posted nothing. Then I got distracted by work stuff. So I am sorry for the blank post. Here is the actual. Heavens. On with the show.
I hear you. I hear you. “Zemar!” You say, “Hole wasn’t Pop?!”. “Zemar” you say, “Courtney is a trainwreck!!” Well to that I say Yes and yes. Now lets get your first issue out of my way. Grunge was so freaking pop that those idiotic parasitic fashion holes put it on the run way and the only thing that was salvageable from that horrific mess was Kristen McMenamy! Feel better now? I know I don’t. Why did you have to remind me of that? Ugh.
Alrighty on to the train wreck. Think of her this way (pre mommy-I’m not touching that): She brought mess and sexy together as a viable and legitimate representation of feminity. She was chaos, anger, frustration, and straight up over it. She was the Nancy and the Yoko Ono of the nineties. A talented and ambitious person wielding a menacing vagina and a brash mouth.
Courtney was (and dare I say still is) an intelligent woman. The interviews she gave were thoughtful and belligerent. She spoke openly about women in a rock world and how they were treated in the media. She spoke openly about her relationship with certain people in the business and what contributions she made to their art. And she owned her Nancy/Yoko crown of thorns. She also ruffled a few feathers (Madonna I’m looking at you kid). And she did this fronting an (almost) all girl band. BAMF.
This is no shrinking flower. Her voice is bombastic, it is demanding, and unyielding but with some softness interjected. Think of this in terms of women in pop rock. She isn’t gentle. She isn’t small and in the shadows. She is there front and centre and in your face and she isn’t backing down. She won’t be silenced by patriarchal norms and expectations. Her existence is a massive F-you to society.
Her style was bedraggled, doll, sexy, gutter snipe. It was a deconstruction of sexy in opposition to what mainstream pop was promoting and it was armor against exploitation. And millions of girls/women adopted that look. It appealed to us because it was adorably vulgar and anti-society. It let us wear our skirts and dresses but flourishes it with toughness. It defied the male gaze.
Ms. World is the obvious place to start. The lyrics address what being a “girl” really means. She touches on the insecurities and pressure of societal expectations that confuse and drown girls and women. Though she specifically says “pills” we can easily see this as an extension of self harm which girls face as they begin to realize that they sacrifice their selves in order to achieve female perfection. In order to be “Miss World”, to conform and to be liked.
I’m going with Violet next up because again it touches on insecurities. I like this aspect because so few pop stars really explored the insecurities of girl/womanhood or the shame that could often come with expressing sexuality or fumbling with sexuality as it were as she does in this song. It isn’t focused as much on the male in the equation as it is on her perception. Her insecurities lead her to act, she knows she should say no but she goes against her instinct perhaps hoping for a better outcome. And so she admonishes herself once the inevitable occurs and she is left behind. And by the end she now turns the tables and decides she’ll get what she wants, she will hold the power, and she will make her own choice.
I’ll finish out with Doll Parts because it’s this very macabre romantic tale. She is both wish full and angry, inlove and frustrated, expressing desire and being rejected. A different perspective of love and an open expression of desire which we don’t commonly see but shows another side to how women feel and see themselves reflected.