Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Meredith Brooks 'Bitch'

Chart Peak: 6
The American smash 'Bitch' gave Meredith Brooks her first UK success when it made No. 6 in July '97... The guitarist has already sold well in excess of a million copies of her debut album Stateside.
One of the many planned features for this blog that I've never quite got around to writing was an analysis of swearing on the Now albums. There are stronger words to be heard on the albums, albeit surely sometimes included by mistake; but never has a swear word been quite so prominent in a song title, given the broad audience the albums are supposed to appeal to. Though this song is sometimes euphemistically known as 'Nothing In Between' (there are even a couple of YouTube uploads under that title, possibly for viewers in places with stricter online censorship), a wholly sanitised edit would seem rather pointless. At least the fact that she is directing the word to herself (as the Prodigy did on 'Firestarter', also typically played uncensored) takes some of the sting out of it, and of course she's using the word with some level of detachment. Attention-grabbing title aside, the song recalls the offspring of  'I'm Every Woman', and 'W.O.M.A.N.", a sort of list-song trying to be defiant but some how it doesn't seem to match up to its own intentions, never quite sounding rebellious enough.

It doesn't help that the actual sound of the record is a very dated combination of grunge riffs and programmed beats, a bit like a more self-conscious version of Alisha's Attic. It comes over as rather too corporate for its own good and rather thin. It's very hard to avoid the sense that Brooks was one of the hundreds of acts signed by record companies in search of their own Alanis Morrissette, even if she saw herself differently (reportedly she refused to be photographed without a guitar at this time). She wasn't technically a one-hit wonder ('I Need' got as high as 28) but struggled to come near this sort of success afterwards. She later became a producer, which is in fairness a job where women are seriously under-represented so I suppose she deserves some credit for that. Even though the song had enough cultural impact at the time to inspire an answer song by Sonic Youth, it's too much a product of its time for serious contemplation now. Mind you, I didn't like it then either.

Available on: 101 Power Ballads

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