Today, education is withheld from millions of children. Today, millions flee from their homeland, labelled refugees, making them seem less than human. Today, those who are divergent face oppression, rejection, and suffering.
Today, parents mourn their dead children, killed by tyrannical systems. Today, people get news that change their lives irrecoverably for the worst. Today, women struggle for rights we take for granted on a daily basis.
Today, our fellow human beings are forced from their homes as a result of natural disasters and war. Today, people never make it back to their families, never heard from again. Today, corrupt regimes prevent their citizens from accessing basic democratic rights, such as voting.
Today, I am grateful, regardless of the outcome of this referendum. Today, I vote and my vote is counted. A gift millions of humans worldwide still fight for. Today, I am filled with joy and humility, as I am part of history.
When I was 15 I was forced to watch a video of childbirth in science class. I went to an all-girls Catholic school, and I assume this was done to try to prevent teenage pregnancy. To this day, at 28 years of age, I’m terrified of becoming pregnant. I do not want children. I’m not a monster, but I’m not going to change my mind. Having children was never in the cards for me, I knew I couldn’t marry my first love because he wanted children, and I didn’t. You can’t compromise on a child.
The day I was born I nearly killed my mother. Ok, that’s a bit dramatic, but I did damage to her body. To this day she still suffers the consequences. Now I was desperately wanted, loved unconditionally and so was my younger brother. However, my parents had to discuss if it was safe for my mother to have another child before she became pregnant with him. Woman have to give some of their body and soul to have children. Of course, when a child is wanted, this is a small price to pay for the mother-to-be.
It’s a huge price to pay though, for the woman whose liberty has been taken away. Childbirth is traumatic. So when you say ‘love both’, you are telling the frightened teenager, who got pregnant by accident, that she will have to go through this trauma. That she will have to give birth, and then ‘give up the child’ as you so easily put it.
Even if you thought you were ready to hand over the child, when you’re suddenly faced with the reality of giving the baby away, it’s harrowing. Woman are not monsters and when we hold a baby in our arms, we want to love it. This isn’t always possible. When you say love both, you’re saying to a woman, you must carry this child to term, give birth, and then decide can I, A) give up some of my life force to raise this child or, B) give the child away. All the while knowing that when the child grows up, they will feel rejected because you couldn’t keep them.
Here are some tweets by the Vote No side, which have validated my feelings on repealing the 8th:
Trust me, if a woman is considering having an abortion, she is way ahead of you. Abortions are not just physically painful. Women do not have abortions as a form of birth control, and the decision is never taken lightly. Can you imagine if you’re trying to make this awful decision, and you read something like this?
This person is particularly callous. Note how they say, “Abortion to treat a “mentally unwell” mother is much like treating anorexia with liposuction.” Aside from that horrific statement, lets read what they’re referencing. Yes, in cases abortions may take place after the limit of 12 weeks. Why? Because continuing with the pregnancy will not only result in the death of the child, but the death of the mother. How can you love both if they are both dead? Savita Halappanavar would be alive today if it wasn’t for the 8th amendment. Please get your facts straight, and try to be kinder to those who are already suffering.
While I agree that maternal mental health care, childcare, flexible work hours, housing, financial aid, and emotional support are valid issues in themselves, they are not the issue we are voting for on May 25th. The vote will repeal the 8th amendment, which will stop women from being criminalised in their own country. They will be able to access safe abortion care, rather than travelling or ordering abortion pills.
This could be true, constitutional issues surrounding abortions are exceptionally complex. However, I would like to point out, that it will not remove all rights for the unborn baby. This is very important, and I will continue to state it. A women who is 5 months pregnant will not be able to walk in and get an abortion without a valid, medical reason. When it is repealed it will take 2 years for laws to be constructed and passed to for the female citizens of Ireland.
These numbers are a reflection of the abortions being recorded. They were not recorded as well before 1968 as they were illegal or abroad. Also they are not taking population growth into account. It’s very easy to manipulate numbers to show what you want.
This was tweeted by a male. He thinks, “killing a child in the womb because they are ill or terminally ill is barbaric.” Well I think that making the mother carry a dying or dead child to term is barbaric. I think allowing a sick child to be born, who will only suffer and die, is barbaric.* I think that compassion is right answer here. Compassion for the mother, (who may have children at home already), and compassion to the unborn child, who will be lost.
*Update: An old friend contacted me regarding the language I used here. It really affected them in a negative way, and reading it back I understand completely why. I want everyone to know, that mothers who carry their sick babies to term are absolute heroes. I don’t think that it’s the wrong choice (although it sounded like I did), I think the situation is unique to each and every person. I am absolutely appalled at the idea that I hurt anyone’s feelings on this matter. I have no idea what it feels like to be in this situation. I want to thank my friend for calling attention to it. If anyone felt personally affected by anything I wrote please know, I’m truly sorry, and you are welcome to message me anytime so I can be held accountable for it.
When a child who has been neglected all their lives, turns to drugs and overdoses, this is a unique life being destroyed. When a father is murdered on his way home from work at 3am, this is a unique life being destroyed. When a girl is raped and forced to give birth to a child, this is a unique life being destroyed. Why is the life of the unborn, of a foetus more important than the already living, breathing, unique life? This is a non-argument. Once the child is born, if it lives in poverty, people couldn’t care less. Also it’s ‘foetus,’ not ‘fetus.’
This is not being supressed, this kind of information is readily available on any legitimate governmental medical site. This is a insensitive description of some hard cases, and is not the norm. What is not being said here, is that these unborn children, are probably already dying. They will not survive in the world without their mother, and will soon perish. This is a terrible tragedy, and no one should have to go through it. Yet when at all possible, shouldn’t we do everything we can to preserve the life of the mother? Of the human beings suffering from the death of their child?
Of course she was distressed at having to travel. Her own government made her a criminal in her own country. I have said this, and I will say it again. No one has an abortion on a whim, or as birth control. The entire experience is traumatic, and we are compounding the issue for the women who have to leave their country to do it.
Yes it will, but there will be laws created in place of it. At the moment, women are criminals in their own country because of this constitutional amendment. If the amendment is repealed, it will make updating the law much easier. As a ‘yes’ voter I want the children protected as much as the ‘no’ side. Unborn babies will have rights. It’s important to state this.
Yes it will legalise abortion for any reason up to 12 weeks / 3 months. A women who presents herself to a doctor, looking for an abortion will undergo a 3 day period in which she will be counselled and presented with each option. These women are being painted as evil, and that needs to stop. Life is not perfect, and sometimes a woman will need to avail of this service so her own life can continue. Don’t make an already difficult decision, more difficult by sending them abroad.
When I see something like ‘Mental Health,’ on a political poster, I wince inside. As someone who has mental health problems, it only exacerbates how we are viewed. As if it’s not a real health issue. The cases they are talking about here are exceptional hard cases. You must remember repealing the 8th will save women like Savita Halappanavar. She was diagnosed, and she needed an abortion. She died because of our restrictive laws. This cannot be allowed to happen again, regardless on your views of what constitutes an illness.
Finally I agree hard cases are the exception to the rule. However the argument is once again, when does life begin? A foetus cannot survive outside the womb. We must be compassionate to the living, breathing woman with a harrowing decision to make.
To end this post, I would like to post some information for the Yes side of the campaign. If you are in doubt, if you are undecided, please read these.
Abortion will continue regardless of the 8th being replealed. Women have a basic medical need withheld for them in their own country. If they need to avail of medical attention, they will travel so they can fulfil that need.
We can save lives. Read this as many times as you want. Savita Halappanavar would be alive today, if it were not for the 8th amendment. We cannot let women die, because the law is criminalising them. We need to stand up for ourselves and vote Yes on May 25th.
There is a reason, human rights advocate Colm O’Gorman and others like him are voting yes on May 25th.
When a women, whose just been told that her baby is dying, and killing her along with it, has to go abroad to seek the appropriate medical attention, a hard case is created. Woman have had to leave their baby in another country, when they died from a fatal foetal abnormality. How cruel is this? We cannot allow this inhumanity to continue. Vote Yes.
Make them keep the baby. Force these woman who have already been violated in the worse way imaginable, to carry their rapists child. To go through the trauma of child birth, and then give up the child. A child who will either, A) find out they are a product of rape, and how is that going to impact them? Or B) will never find out why their birth mother rejected them, and have to live with the consequences of that.
Our Taoiseach is a conservative. Yet he is voting yes.
If this was the other way around there would be all out war. The ‘No’ side’s vitriol, spawned from a generation said and lead by the Catholic Church has providing proof of their awful natures. I can’t help but notice there are 3 men in this photo, taking down a poster which says ‘Stop Policing My Body.’ Horrific.
Storytelling is so personal, it’s difficult to disguise yourself in your words. I was terrified for many years of people actually reading what I wrote. Only my English teacher or my mother were permitted. Having worked hard on my writing technique throughout my life, it’s difficult to tell if I’ve improved or not. This is a symptom of my ‘imposter syndrome.’ I’ve always felt I wasn’t a real writer.
I’ve been especially self-reflective lately. This is mainly due to my age, however there is a certain healing power in it. My internal house work has kept me busy, fixing up old memories I haven’t been in for years. My teenage years were painful for me, and I’ve only established that truth lately. I didn’t want to dwell on my school days or early college years and spent a lot of time avoiding those memories.
Now that I’m more at peace with all iterations of myself, I have the courage to post a story from when I was 14. I present it as evidence of my writings maturation. The only changes I’ve made are grammatical, because nobody wants to see that. Otherwise it is a raw example of a ‘Jenni’ story, circa November 2004.
Freezing air filled my lungs. I knew it was going to catch me; it was inevitable. I turned up a narrow cobbled street. It was slippery but I kept on running. It was evening and the sun was setting rapidly. The tall buildings around me let very little light in so this particular street was very dark.
I could hear it breathing very heavily behind me. It was definitely gaining on me. The cold perspiration was running down my back. I could barely breath anymore. The pain in my side was the only thing I could feel. Everything else was concentrated on getting away from my creature. I wanted to slow down but my human in instincts told me that if I did it would be the last thing I ever did.
As I ran I remembered back a month or so ago. When a friend of mine had bought a rare species of monkey from the Amazon jungle. “ Go on!” He said. “ All these foreign monkeys are in fashion!”
Well it’s a pity that the creature I bought wasn’t in any of the archives in the local library. It wasn’t in any rare creature’s book and a friend of mine who studies rare animals said, “well you know what Michael I’ve never seen anything like it and I’ve seen a lot of strange things!”
Even the man who found him said that he found him in a rather strange place. He said “He somehow dug his was under some tree roots without damaging the tree, and he was asleep when I found him, so he was the easiest catch I ever made!”
“Amazing!” I thought, “beautiful, wondrous, a new chapter for human kind.” He was four foot tall, with four limbs. It walked on its hind legs but its arms were very small. It was covered in short strong fur. Its features were almost human like except for its eyes. They were large and dark. They seemed to be full of intelligence. It even bowed its head as if in some sort of greeting.
I was thrilled with my new pet, but I did not forget my old one. The next morning I awoke to find my cat John-Joe and the creature on my roof. “John-Joe come down I have your breakfast” but the cat continued to hiss and spit at the creature.
“Raorrrrr.” I snapped back to reality. I was still unable to breath and the creature was barely ten metres behind me. I was now running through the small forest beside the town, towards the docks. Night had fallen by this time,
I thought of the date. The 31st of December, not two weeks ago I had watched my cat plunge to its death. My cat knew, as he stood on that roof that the creature was corrupt. So it jumped off the roof not landing on all fours but sadly in my water barrel and drowned before I could fish him out.
I was very distraught at the death of my cat that I was blind to the truth. I should have guessed the reality of the situation when I read about the strange machine, which had been found by a logging company in the Amazon Rainforest. This I did not find strange. What I did find strange was the fact that my creature’s DNA did not match any compound I had studied in collage. I went to the library and researched this compound but I found no matches.
I was on a high. I believed I had discovered a new compound. I thought I was going to win the Noble prize for science this year. I was too busy working to realise that my creature was building strange equipment in my garden shed.
*Crunch* I nearly tripped over a tree root, I should be concentrating on the task at hand. I ducked into a large hole in an old oak tree. I felt light headed I paused for a moment to try and catch my breath. I could hear the creature coming closer. So I jumped out of the hole and started running again.
I could see the end of the forest and the start of the docks. I reflected on how intelligent the creature was. I knew my only hope was for the creature to drown.
I had discovered the creature’s machine quite by chance the night beforehand. I was going down to the bottom of my garden to get a sample of earth. When I heard strange sounds coming from the shed. “Click, zizz, waaag, nawk, tlick” these were the sounds I could hear. I went and looked in the window of the shed and to my great amazement and horror I saw my creature working on his machine. Oh my God I thought this creature is an intelligent life form.
Then it hit me; this wasn’t a creature from earth. I was having flash backs of the news headlines for the past few weeks. “It like some sort of metallic flying disk.” said one “It’s like nothing any scientist had seen before,” said another. The piece of machinery found in the rain forest belonged to my creature. I thought I was going crazy but now I knew my creature was an extra-terrestrial.
I knew now that if I let my creature continue working on its machine it would eventually transmit Earth’s co-ordinates to its own kind on some far away planet, and that could only mean one of two things: 1. They would be peaceful and want to join in union with Earth and teach us new and exciting things or, 2. They wanted to destroy human kind and all it stood for and take over the planet.
I had to make a decision and I couldn’t make it lightly. As I stood there I realised the fate of human kind rested in my hands. Without further thought I went and got my shotgun and headed back down to the shed.
Before I open the door I asked God for forgiveness. I barged in took aim and shot the creature’s machine. This was my mistake. My creature turn round with anger filled eyes, it let out a deafening scream. I froze for a second then thought better of it and ran.
I could hear a foghorn echoing in the distance and it snapped me back to reality. I ran for the nearest boardwalk. I stopped at the end of it and turned round. I could hear fireworks in the distance and people cheering happy New Year. The year was now 1980. I thought how far we had come since 6000 BC.
The creature came to a halt at the start of the boardwalk. For a few seconds we stood motionless. The creature took a running start and jumped at me, I ducked just in time and the creature plummeted into the water.
For a few minutes the creature helplessly splashed about in the water with its small weak arms, until eventually it sank. I sat on the end of the boardwalk till morning; I wanted to make sure it was dead.
I thought of how far human kind could have jumped into the future if we could have studied this creature and it’s machines. I also consider how the world could have been thrown into complete chaos if the aliens had prevailed.
I think we will leave this problem with aliens for the people in the 21st century. I stood up and started my long journey home.
If music is passion, then colour me happily spent. Throughout my life, music has been partner to my creativity and emotions. As I write this I listen to music. My constant need for it was amplified in jobs when I couldn’t spend my work day enjoying it. Voices, instruments, and choruses have soothed my soul from as far back as I can remember.
As it is my 28th birthday today I decided the challenge myself by writing a blog about 28 female artists that inspired me and an album of theirs. These artists moved me not just because of their music, but due to their strength, feminist undertones (or overtones), and talent. So without further ado.
1983: Cyndi Lauper – ‘She’s So Unusual.’
She really is so unusual, and still is. Lauper not only has had a magnificent musical career, she’s been an activist for LGBTQ+ rights for decades. Her debut album is particularly special with a song from Prince, a cover of ‘Girls Just Want To Have Fun,’ and one I listened to on repeat, ‘She Bop.’ What a she bop it is! The album art was by none other than Annie Leibowitz. The album is Grammy winning and if you’ve never listened to this album, treat yourself! It’s pure fun.
1986: Kate Bush – ‘The Whole Story.’
Kate Bush’s voice is big. Her song writing is exceptional, and her best loved song is the opening for this album, ‘Wuthering Heights.’ This album was played throughout my childhood by my Mother who is a huge fan of Kate Bush. Listening to it now, it’s marching rhythms, quiet whispers, and misty landscapes transport me. My favorite track is ‘Running Up That Hill,’ and I find myself singing it long after the album end.
1993: Martina McBride – ‘Who I Am.’
My family are a big fans of the American country and western genre, and my Father especially loves it. Martina McBride has a huge voice for such a little frame. This was one of the albums I knew off by heart as a child. Every word, every lyric, and every note. My favorite track, “Where I used To Have A Heart,” was so dear to me, that I sang it in a competition. This album reminds me of singing to my granny Patricia as I practiced, and her admiration gave me the confidence to do it. The track, ‘My Baby Loves Me The Way I Am,’ has never meant more to me than it does now. (Winks at Boo).
1993: Björk – ‘Post.’
Ughhhhhh this album is phenomenal. Björk never fails to entertain me. She is crazy, she is beautiful and she is concentrated talent. I’ve been to Iceland and her landscape informed her musical style. This album is a dynamic and energetic adventure. She bursts onto the scene with ‘Army Of Me,’ and throughout the album we are treated to a mixture of styles and stories. The popular ‘Oh So Quiet,’ would give no indication what the rest of the album would be like, and she confounds expectations with tracks like ‘Possibly Maybe,’ and ‘Cover Me.’ I love you Björk, your energy is addictive.
1994: Madonna – ‘Bedtime Stories.’
Only recently a Madonna convert, I understand why she seems to be so divisive. She does everything a male artist of her age might do, and because she’s a woman that’s not ok. Female voices have been shamed for centuries. “Opps, I Didn’t know I couldn’t talk about sex.” She has shown no signs of slowing down although she turns 60 in August of this year, and what do I have to say about that? Slay. Queen. There are no rules, you are hurting no one, in fact your music has healed many for decades. You are the master of reinvention, of female empowerment, and pop. This album in particular is a favorite of mine, and I have a special love for, ‘Human Nature,’ and ‘Bedtime Stories.’ The latter of which was written by Madonna and Björk.
1994: Sarah McLachlan – “Fumbling Towards Ecstasy.”
Although she is well known for her hit ‘Angel,’ the Sarah McLachlan I fell in love with was featured in Buffy The Vampire Slaye. I was drawn in by the beautifully melancholy of ‘Full Of Grace,’ off her album Surfacing. It was her album ‘Fumbling Towards Ecstasy,’ however, that hooked me. While this came out in 1994 I didn’t get my copy until well into the 2000’s. I actually ended up buying it twice when I thought I lost it (this was when CDs were still a thing). This album is ethereal, large, and gothic. McLachlan lyrics expose an alternate view into female sexuality, which for a young teenage girl is important. When then mass media provides a very bleak offering of the female sometimes you need a Sarah McLachlan to show differing female sexualities. You just have to look at the art work on the album and you’ll understand what I’m talking about. Highlights for me from the album are ‘Fear,’ and the cover of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Blue.’
1995: Alanis Morrissette – ‘Jagged Little Pill.’
In fairness young Jenni should probably not have been listening to this, but I just adored it. I remember as a 10 or 11 year old playing it for my then 14 or 15 year old cousin. “This is one of my favourite albums it’s amazing!” To which she giggled at the lyrics, “And every time I scratch my nails down someone else’s back I hope you feel it. Well, can you feel it?”
“Jenni,” She offered, “This is very grown up, should you be listening to this…?”
Regardless of whether I should have been or not, Morrissette got me through my teenage angsty years. While this isn’t my favourite album of hers, it was certainly impactful on young Jenni. Maybe she’s why I was so precocious?
1997: Celine Dion – ‘Let’s Talk About Love.’
No one will tell me that listening to Celine Dion is lame. This Lady is an unbelievable artist, her voice is a fairy-tale and I fell in love. The year this album came out, a gift from my parents, I listened to it over and over. Listening to it now in 2018 it’s still as persuasive and beautiful all these years later. As if Celine’s own voice wasn’t enough we get the gift of a duet between her and Barbara Streisand, ‘Tell Him.’ I learned this on keyboard so I could sing it to my grandmother as she adored both these ladies. I think I was bought this album because ‘My Heart Will Go On,’ is on it, however there is nuance to the rest of the album because of the collaborations. Just look at the list of writers and you’ll understand. I love Celine Dion, and she loves us back.
2001: Alicia Keys – ‘Songs In The Key Of A Minor.’
I only recently discovered this album. I’ve always been a fan of Alicia Keys, especially when she recently got fed up of make-up and stopped using it. Since then she looks as beautiful as she always has. Make-up is great, it’s a way to express yourself, and it’s no longer just for females, there are plenty of males posting make-up tutorials. It should be a choice, not a necessity, so thank you Alicia. This girl has chops and it’s an extraordinary debut. Her ability on the piano alone earns her praise. Her voice creeps down your back. The reimaging of Prince’s ‘How Come You Don’t Call Me?” is a gift. Her lead single ‘Fallin,’ is still perfect. This neo soul, RnB, and at times jazzy offering is ambitious for a young woman vying for chart success. In the end, she triumphs.
2001: Destiny’s Child – ‘Survivor.’
I like to joke that Solange was my favourite member of Destiny’s Child, (She would fill in if any of the girls were sick). Still all the same, I love Kelly, Michelle, and Beyoncé. The single ‘Bootylicious’ uses a sample of Stevie Nick’s ‘Edge of Seventeenth.’ So as tribute, Nick’s is in the video, which I just love. This album delivers female empowerment. Between the singles ‘Bootylicious,’ and ‘Survivor,’ another track ‘Independent Woman Part I,’ was featured on the soundtrack of 2000 film Charlie’s Angels. (Which I also have). Destiny’s Child is a girl band I go back to over and over again. This is a multiple platinum selling album for a reason. Now go watch the ‘Survivor’ music video on YouTube, I know you want to!
2001: P!nk – ‘Mizzundastood.’
P!nk is weird, like really weird. It was such a godsend for awkward teen Jenni who was also extremely weird, and hadn’t yet realised that this is actually, well, normal. ‘Don’t Let Me Get Me,’ made me cry with joy as she sang:
“I’m my own worst enemy
It’s bad when you annoy yourself
Don’t wanna be my friend no more
I wanna be somebody else”
I was always trying to escape my own head, I was so cruel to myself, I never had compassion. I wish I could hug myself, all I can do is look back and feel glad of the learning curve. I appreciate the album more and more as I get older, and own every record P!nk has released. The music business needed someone edgy like P!nk to balance out the Christinas and Britneys. One of my favourite tracks is ‘Misery,’ a duet with Steven Tyler. I couldn’t pick one as an absolute favorite, because the whole album has such a special place in my history.
2002: Christina Aguilera – ‘Stripped.’
“So, what am I not ‘supposed to have an opinion?
Should I be quiet just because I’m a woman?
Call me a bitch because I speak what’s on my mind
Guess it’s easy for you to swallow if I say and smiled.”
Gurl, you got it. Another female artist that played as the background soundtrack to my formative years. Whether or not it had an effect on me can be argued, but no one can deny I am not one for being forced into a box. Or being told how to act because of my sexual organs. My clothes are a mixture of male and female, my ideals are neutral and reasoned, and I am not hysterical when I am passionate. My behaviour has been shaped by a society that told me, ‘girls should be seen, and never heard,’ to which I responded. “Fuck that, you know how loud I am, and my friend told me it was charming.”
Critics argued against it’s unwillingness to settle on a genre, I think this is one of it’s biggest strengths. You go from RnB on ‘Can’t Keep Us Down,’ to gospel on, ‘Cruz,’ Rock on, ‘Fighter,’ and pop on ‘Beautiful.’ Alicia Keys is featured on the track, ‘Impossible’ and Lil Kym on ‘Can’t Keep Us Down.’ The production launches it’s promotion with her talk track ‘Stripped Intro,’ and keeps up the theme until the final track, ‘Keep On Singin’ My Song.’ This album has aged well.
2003: Dido – ‘Life For Rent.’
Dido, where have you gone? I have her first 3 albums, and only realised recently that she released another album in 2013. ‘Life For Rent’ was written mostly between herself and her brother Rollo. This multi-platinum selling album was a gift from my godmother. It was all I wanted that Christmas. I loved her so much, from her debut album to her new release. Although I thought I was so grown up at 13 when I got this album, most of it went over my head. When I revisited it as a 28 year old, I noticed how much I’d missed of its subtle nuances. Dido’s voice is not strong like Christina’s, or celestial like Björk’s but it was whispered in my ear like a pray. Highlight track for me is, ‘Mary’s In India.’
2004: Norah Jones – ‘Feels Like Home.’
I think most people have Norah Jones’s 2002 album, ‘Come Away With Me,’ but somehow ‘Feels Like Home,’ made it’s way into my possession first. Any album that features Dolly Parton is a win in my opinion, and ‘Creepin In,’ was a duet with her. It seems Jones had more creative control on this album and spoiler alert, that usually makes an album better! For me, this album gave me peace when I needed it, Jones’ voice was one among many that year but hers captured me, and gave me sanctuary.
2004: Sam Philips – ‘A Boot & A Shoe.’
Have you ever watched the Gilmore Girls? What a show that was, and still is. One of the best things about the show is the accompanying soundtrack, which was mostly composed by none other than Sam Philips. I discovered this album through Gilmore Girls, and fell deeply in love with the sardonic lyrics sang in such as soft voice, that you are surprised by the undertones. The song that was featured in the final episode of the latest Gilmore Girls offering is Philip’s, ‘Reflecting Light.’ This song needs more attention. I think the album, heck Sam Philips, needs more attention overall.
2005: Kelly Clarkson – ‘Breakaway.’
Clarkson’s ‘Breakaway’ was featured in the 2004 film ‘Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement.’ Although the film was a let down for me, (as a huge fan of the books by Meg Cabot), it led me to the album by Kelly Clarkson, which is a plus. I’ve seen Clarkson live, and yes, she doesn’t need a studio to hit those notes from ‘Behind These Hazel Eyes,’ and ‘Since You’ve Been Gone.’ It’s even more spine tingling in person, when it’s just her, in her jeans, wandering around stage. There are a lot of over produced singers out there, and trust me, Clarkson is not one of them. ‘Where is your heart,’ and ‘Beautiful Disaster,’ are excellent examples of her versatility on this album. The success of this album, and of Clarkson herself, comes not from the exceptional voice she was given, but the way she uses it.
2006: Nelly Furtado – ‘Loose.’
I had started college, in 2007, and I was 17. I was struggling (you can read about it here: https://thinkingaheadblog.wordpress.com/2018/04/27/my-anxiety-my-magic/). Losing myself in music was a good way to cope. At the time Nelly Furtado was dominating the charts with singles, ‘Maneater,’ ‘Promiscuous,’ & ‘Say It Right.’ These swam around my head until one day, when I was feeling particularly low, I wandered into a music shop in Maynooth. I bought this album, and it ended up on my playlist for over a year. The production on the track, ‘Say It Right,’ reverberated through my bones. Furtado is another female artist that broke out of her record company’s mould. Something nearly all the female artists on this list have struggled with. To be in control of your own music, image and power is something women still struggle with. Give us choice and fuck off.
2007: Imelda May – ‘Love Tattoo.’
“Johnny got a boom boom, Johnny got a bam, he got a!”
Singer-songwriter Imelda May is my hero. She worked incredibly hard to get where she is. She wrote, recorded, and performed until Ireland listened, and then the world. She’s one hell of a woman, and she is unapologetically herself. This is her second album, and although I love all her offerings, this one has a special place in my heart.
2010: Rihanna – ‘Loud.’
Now here is a lady who gives no fucks. She does not apologise for her sexually contentious attitude, her drug use, or flexing. She dresses how she wants and she stopped taking herself or the industry seriously a long time ago (proven by her swigging from a hip flask at an awards ceremony in which she was front row). Her album was LOUD and it screamed. Featured is the collaboration with Eminem where she owned and highlighted domestic abuse. Nearly all the tracks on this album are hit singles, and she is so blasé about her success. Her line of Fenty Cosmetics offer 40 different foundation, to cover all skin types and types. She is now in the process of releasing a line of lingerie for woman of all sizes and shapes, so they can find something to make themselves feel good. I’ve listened to this album many times, and cannot help myself, I love, ‘Cheers (Drink To That).’ When she sings, ‘Let the Jameson sink in,’ I smile, nod, and lift my glass.
2011: Adele – ’21.’
Of course Adele is on this list. This breakup album came out when I was going through a breakup. Coincidence? Yes. These things just happen. When I needed to mope, Adele was there for me. When I needed to feel legitimized in my feelings, I blasted, ‘Set Fire To The Rain,’ when I needed to cry, I listened to ‘Someone Like You,’ and when I needed to feel acrimony, ‘Rumor Has It,’ had my back. Adele is another hero of mine. When she accepted her Grammy Award for ’25’ she used her speech time to air her grievance about Beyoncé’s failure to win. I applauded, not because I thought Adele didn’t deserve the Grammy, but because she isn’t afraid to say what everyone else is thinking. This is probably a reason why her music is so compelling.
2013: Beyoncé – ‘Beyoncé.’
When Beyoncé drops an album, you sit down and listen to it. Now I loved ‘Lemonade’, but ‘Beyoncé’ had so much more to say about femininity, feminism and the struggle of the female. I rank it higher than ‘Lemonade.’ You only have to listen to the first track, ‘Pretty Hurts,’ to understand where the album is going. Beyoncé voiced a concern for many females who fear they are compromising their feminism because they love their man, and still want to be a feminist. Beyoncé became a mainstream example of feminism. There isn’t a format for feminism, and this is the theme throughout this album. The track, ‘Flawless,’ featuring Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is spectacular. It’s a hit song, but it also offers a side to Beyoncé I’m glad she finally let out. This is my favorite Yoncé album.
2014: Warpaint – ‘Warpaint.’
I can’t remember how I found Warpaint, but I remember what got me enthralled. It was their music video for, ‘Disco//Very – Keep It Healthy.’ These LA girls, in their messy clothes, with a devil may care attitude, crawled under my skin and I couldn’t stop listening. Part of me loved the fact it was an all-girl band, the other part of me loved the musical style, the mixed voices, and the grim atmosphere. These ladies have been a staple of my music collection since then and I cannot recommend them enough. They are the modern skater, punk, indie rock girl band we’ve been waiting for. Our patience has been rewarded and we deserve this.
2016: Lady Gaga – ‘Joanne.’
I’ve had a wonderful and outlandish journey with Lady Gaga. She burst onto the scene when I was in my first year of college, and my college gang fell in love with her. Now she’s gotten this far, she’s given us this gem of an album, ‘Joanne.’ Named for her dead Aunt, this finally allows an insight into her musical influences which before seemed nothing but superficial, (and according to Madonna, “Reductive… Look it up.”). This spectacular offering has the hit singles, ‘Perfect Illusion,’ ‘Million Reasons,’ and, ‘John Wayne,’ and these are songs to be reckoned with. However, what is vastly superior are the themes she deals with on the album tracks. These include her sexual assault in, ‘Diamond Heart,’ self-pleasure in, ‘Dancin’ In Circles,’ and the healing power of your female friends in ‘Grigio Girls.’ I recently watched her documentary “Five Foot Two,” and it just showed me how powerful a person she is. She is our generation’s Madonna.
2016: Laura Mvula – ‘The Dreaming Room.’
You’ll remember Laura Mvula from her 2013 hit single ‘Green Garden.’ I was a fan then, and I’m a fan now. Her most recent album, ‘The Dreaming Room,’ is packed full of gorgeous lyrically pertinent songs, and a collaboration with Nile Rogers, on ‘Overcome.’ My favorite track is ‘Phenomenal Woman.’ Her song writing suits her voice, her messages are graceful, and her rhythm is intelligent. You will thoroughly enjoy every inch of this album it is a tasty snack.
2016: Sia – ‘This Is Acting.’
If you know me you know I love Sia. Sia Furler was the singer on several Zero 7 albums which is a band I’m particularly fond of. Between this and her own solo career Sia has written music for Rihanna (‘Diamonds),’ Beyoncé (‘Pretty Hurts,’) Kylie Minogue (‘Kiss Me Once,’) Britney Spears (‘Perfume,’) Celine Dion (‘Loved Me Back To Life,’) Katy Perry (‘Chained To The Rhythm,’)…and so forth.
Furler’s ‘This Is Acting,’ is a combination of new songs and those that had been rejected by other musicians. Her raspy soulful voice invigorates me every time. The album offers an anthem for everyone. From “Cheap Trills,” which reminds me of those good old days in the pubs, was produced by God’s mouthpiece himself, Kayne West. (I know he’s a complete twat, but damn the man can produce). She proves her dance tune skills with, ‘Move Your Body,’ which is impossible to sit still to. Her song “Alive,” is very Adele-esque. That’s because it’s co-written by the megastar Adele herself. Her voice makes each second of every song feel epic, and props to the lady because she’s got more writing credits than I could list here. Her first number one was ‘Cheap Trills,’ and she was the oldest female to get her first number one single at the age of 40. Much respect for this.
2016: Solange Knowledge – ‘A Seat At The Table.’
This album should have won the “Best Urban Contemporary,” Grammy instead of Beyoncé ‘Lemonade.’ It did win for her single, ‘Cranes In the Sky’ at Least so that’s something. It is a much more coherent album than ‘Lemonade.’ There are interludes where her Mother and Father speak about their experiences of being African American. She sings about her hair, she sings about being mad, she sings about being mistreated:
“I ran my credit card up
Thought a new dress make it better
I tried to work it away
But that just made me even sadder
I tried to keep myself busy
I ran around circles
Think I made myself dizzy
I slept it away, I sexed it away
I read it away.”
It’s controversial but I’ve always felt Solange is the superior Knowles, but there is enough room in the music world for both. Although ‘A Seat At The Table,’ was realeased the same year as ‘Lemonade,’ it didn’t get the attention it deserved. From start to finish the story of this album sold through Solange’s earthy tones speaks to her audience. Her persuasion lies not in aggression but elegance.
2017: Miley Cyrus – ‘Younger Now.’
Miley Cyrus has got a lot of attention lately hasn’t she? Her transition from child star to woman was viewed as tentative and people are quick to say she did it wrong. Poor Miley, she’s pawn for her father used her to make money. What about, you have done a phenomenal job well done. Although I may not have been a big fan of the ‘Bangerz,’ and ‘Miley And All Her Dead Petz,’ era, her combination of all her musical past in ‘Younger Now,’ gave me pause. She talks about her bisexuality, her growth and regrets. The influences are country, rock, pop and electronic. Her song, ‘Love Someone,’ screams Fleetwood Mac (Stevie Nicks / Fleetwood Mac). Also there is a duet with her Godmother Dolly Parton. I’ve always said an album with a duet with Dolly Parton is a good album.
Also she just collaborated with Converse All Stars. I got myself an early birthday present:
Everyone, put down what you’re doing, right now, and listen to this album. It is unbelievable, it’s fun, it’s inclusive, it’s reaching everyone, it’s… just go listen!
Watch Tessa Thompson strut around with Janelle in the videos for ‘Make Me Feel,’ and ‘Pynk.’ Understand that the LGBTQ+ community are in mainstream media to stay, and expressions of sexuality is not controversial, it’s prevailing. Monáe questions beauty standards, uncontrolled jingoism, and terrible fear. Monáe pushes back at a society that tried to block her light out. She came from an impoverished background economically, but her rich inner life results in a cerebral masterpiece.
We are not worthy, but she went ahead and gave it to us anyways. Thanks you Janelle. xxx