In the early ’90s, when riot grrrls tore up college radio on one side of the dial and Lilith sirens strummed gently on the other, Juliana Hatfield fell somewhere in the middle. Less ferocious than Courtney, less sappy than Jewel, her brand of literate, grungy pop made the former Blake Baby stand out among a hundred other underground rockers looking for a ticket out of the Cambridge club scene.
We talk a lot about “selling out” on this site, but we don’t talk nearly enough about my #1 indie rock crush of 1994.
Juliana Hatfield has a new album out and it comes with a free digital diatribe. The best part deals with selling out, which isn’t surprising given the singer’s well-documented beef with label execs for shelving God’s Foot (it inspired the smart-ass “Sellout” on the Please Do Not Disturb EP). Here are some highlights:
I sold most of my records more than ten years ago and since then everything I do is measured against that … How do I get your attention? Implants? Do I have to take my clothes off to be heard? Well, I put a chunk of my naked flesh on the cover of my album. It’s the viscera where my art comes from. But you don’t know that. You’ll just see a sexy chopped-off torso…
It’s impossible to sellout these days. “Selling out” is an antiquated concept. Everyone is licensing their songs to car commercials. That didn’t used to be okay. Bob Dylan is in a Victoria’s Secret ad. The most talented girl singers have turned themselves into strippers. A notch above porn stars. ‘Cause sex sells. The next step would be for them to actually have sex in their videos. Mariah Carey has implants. Christina Aguilera has implants. Gwen Stefani has implants. Even her. She finally gave in. And Beyoncé is on her hands and knees evoking doggy-style sex in one of her videos. And she has so much (singing) talent! Why, Beyoncé, why? Why, world, why? Why do you demand this of her?
You get the point. You can read the whole mission statement here. Juliana’s always been outspoken, and I don’t mind her nonsense ranting. I love her music (Only Everything‘s my fave). I haven’t heard China; I’m gonna go buy it today, despite the negative early buzz.
If you don’t own any Hatfield, buy the Gold Stars compilation. “Everybody Loves Me But You” is heart wrenching. “Spin The Bottle” you should know from Reality Bites. And her first and biggest hit, the raw love/hate confessional “My Sister,” remains among her best work. Along with this fictional sibling, a bevy of other disappointing characters – immature boys, married men, vapid celebrities ? float in and out of Juliana’s consciousness and inspire her narratives. She chirps and cracks and grabs the listener’s attention every time, even when fumbling with another language.
Wait, Gwen Stefani has implants?
UPDATE: Joey Headset found this new MP3 on Juliana’s site. Thanks Joey!