I love music. Music made by men and women, music from all different countries and decades. But last year it dawned on me how many songs only talk about women in terms of how they look.
Now I’m not just talking about the ‘You’re the hottest bitch in this place’ line in Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines (a track which I love despite its lyrics and that video) I’m talking about Chris DeBurghs 'Lady in Red', about Bob Dylan’s ‘Girl From the North Country’, about Verdi’s Violetta even!
Just to be clear, I don’t think talking about how a person looks is a bad thing AT ALL. I like to dress up and talk about how beautiful Mark Ronson is as much as the boy or girl. It’s just when you think of all the great things women do (like talk and write and run and jump) and how little those things get mentioned in songs because people are too busy talking about our appearance it gets a little boring.
And so I started rewriting some songs. It started with James Blunt’s ‘You’re Beautiful’ (‘You’re intellectual’) and then N*E*R*D’s ‘Frontin’ (sung by a woman to a man) and the rest is just a notebook bursting with great tunes and the biggest list of female skills known to humankind.
But of all the songs I rewrote I found Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’ the most interesting. Partly because it’s written by an amazing woman, partly because of the time ol’ story of comparison it tells, and partly because I just love watching pre-wrecking ball Miley Cyrus sing it with Dame Dolly herself (who apparently is her Godmother?!)
And then what with so many other excellent campaigns challenging the way women are perceived (i’m looking at you No More Page Three and The Everyday Sexism project and The Vagenda) and so many brilliant friends around I thought why don’t we make a video to share this new version? It could showcase their talents and might encourage people writing songs or books or films to think a little more about mentioning all the great things women can do as INSTEAD OF or AS WELL AS how women look*
We filmed it in one afternoon in my flat and all the people at the party are my lovely friends who did a great job ‘pretending’ they were at a party. We hope you like it.