Liz Phair Raps, Confuses In Her New Single, "Bollywood"


Liz Phair‘s new album, Funstyle, is currently available for purchase on her website, and in order to entice you to buy it, she’s posted a single, “Bollywood,” which I think you should listen to before we go any further:

I was one of those 90s teenagers who clung to “Exile In Guyville” like a life raft in high school, but the time has long passed since bashing Liz Phair for not sounding like the Liz Phair of yore was considered clever or fashionable or even remotely necessary, and so instead of lamenting the loss of “Explain It To Me” Liz, let’s just focus on this Liz, and this song, which is, well, I don’t know what the hell it is. What is this?! Is it a rap? Is it a dance song? Is it a skit? Is someone talking to her? Who is talking? What is happening here?!?

Stylistically, I am immediately reminded of Madonna’s tragic “American Life” rap, wherein she rhymed “soy latte and double shott-ay” and, I hate to say this, Ke$ha’s “Tik-Tok,” which relies more on talking than singing, though I don’t think any of the lyrics from this particular song will catch on quite like “Woke up in the mornin’ feelin’ like P.Diddy.” Knowing that the album is called “Funstyle” leads me to believe that this is Phair’s dance-pop record (I haven’t listened to the whole thing yet, so in fairness I can’t make an assessment on anything but this particular single) but even in that genre it sounds somewhat dated, like something from 5-10 years ago that perhaps Ashlee Simpson would have come up with.

Still, it seems to sting more coming from Liz Phair than it would coming from Katy Perry or Ashlee Simpson or Ke$ha, which, again, goes back to the difficulty those of us who grew up loving Phair’s earlier work have with reconciling Exile, Whip-Smart, and whitechocolatespaceegg with everything that came after. However, Phair’s own site is currently promoting both her new album and her Exile reissue, perhaps to prove that even if her old school fans aren’t comfortable with it, she’s happy to embrace her old and new directions.

And so it goes that one can still love an old record but feel terribly confused to be standing here, in possible double-shottay territory. I’m still not quite sure what to make of this song, really. What do you guys think?

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