Five Songs You Aren’t Listening to But Should

Oops. It’s Women’s History Month. I’ve done nothing to celebrate except slag on Anne Coulter. To rectify that, I’m giving you a list of five songs you aren’t listening to, but should, all by women.

1. “Turn Da Lights Off” by Tweet. I loved Tweet’s other song, which was about all kinds of self-love. That one made the list of awesomely bad songs because the nitwits at Blender and VH1 still think women being frank and excited about their sexuality is something to titter about. This one’s also about sex, and it’s got this groovy sample. Also, the video features the latest video accoutrement–the record player. Tweet doesn’t have the greatest voice or the most innovative lyrics, but this is a song you find yourself dancing around the living room to, even when the radio is off.

2. “Country Boys” by Tyra. This is my “drive around with the windows down” anthem of the moment. I love it, especially the way she kind of half sings, half growls “dirty, dirty South.” I’m so unhip I don’t know the difference between rap and hip-hop and I have no idea what being from the dirty, dirty South means, but if it involves the hot men in her video and growling like that. . . I’m all for it.

3. “Fist City” by Loretta Lynn. This is an old song, one that I’ve been kind of listening to all my life, but it’s the joy of digital cable and the awesome classic country channel that let me rehear this song. It’s awesome. Your first time through should be listening to the lyrics. Yes, on the one hand, it is a woman threatening to beat up another woman over a cheating man, which is not very empowering. But I can’t think of another song that got played on the radio, except “Goodbye Earl,” in which you hear a woman enjoying being unapologetically violent.

The second time through, pay close attention to how she delivers those words, how they lay up against the music. She has this really interesting way of fucking with the tempo to serve the lyrics. She starts out kind of slow and smooth at the beginning of both of her verses, to lure both the listener and the subject of her hatred in: “Well, you’ve been a-makin’ your brags around town, that you’ve been a-lovin’ my man.” Then, in the second couple of lines, she picks up speed, just a little big, so that the insult really stands out: “But the man I love when he picks up trash, he puts it in a garbage can.” And then it gets faster for the rest of the verse, until the end, when she slows it back down to “If you don’t want to go to Fist City.”

The best part is that she’s got all these sharp little “I”s and “t”s all over the song that she spits out like machine gun fire: “I’m not saying my baby’s a saint, ’cause he ain’t, and that he won’t cat around with a kitty. I’m here to tell you, gal, to lay off of my man, if you don’t want to go to Fist City.”

God, it’s great.

4. “Get Right” by Jennifer Lopez. I don’t know why I love this song, but I do. I think it’s the killer oboe hook–fine, killer sax hook–and the fact that her crappy voice kind of blends into the rest of what’s going on in the song and so it’s more about the music and the beat.

5. “Dracula Moon” by Joan Osbourne. The Corporate Shill lent be Osbourne’s first album when we were in college and I remember being up in my dorm room and pressing “play” on the CD player and not being very excited because I didn’t really like “What if God Were One of Us?” and not quite trusting the Shill when she said that the rest of the album wasn’t like that. But, egad, she was right! The whole album, except for that song, is so great. And this, I think, is the best song off it. “Don’t feel sorry for me. I hate that look on your face. You say just let go. You say come back home. I say I’m just falling from grace.”