My friends welcome back to Tuesday blogs. Before I start please let me know in the comments if you like my ‘fun’ Tuesdays. Also, ‘spooky’ Tuesdays are coming in October! 😊
Anyways last Tuesday my hair history series began with cute, albeit embarrassing childhood photos. This week I’m giving a quick update on my ‘no poo’ journey. (I don’t know why people call it that, it immediately makes you think of bowel movements.)
So let me set the scene. Part of my sustainability goals for 2018 includes finding alternatives to beauty and cleaning products. I’ve stopped buying shampoos, conditioners, and shower gels in plastic bottles. It may seem like a tough journey but have no fear! It’s not as scary as it sounds.
We’ll begin with the bad and finish with the good.
Things that didn’t go so well:
I’ve had some help with my zero waste goals (linked below). One of the items I got was a shampoo bar. Unfortunately, it didn’t suit my hair which is naturally dry. It just stripped the oils out of it, and it felt worse than before.
Before I got the oil under control, it did cause an odd pimple around my hairline which is not a place I normally get them. However, this has cleared up now my hair has adjusted.
Your hair gets very oily before it recovers, but if you can get over this your hair oils will regulate.
Things that went very well:
So after the failure with the shampoo bar I went back online. I researched the simple washing with water method and so far this has been the best for me. You can rinse with apple cider vinegar if your hair gets too oily but I haven’t had that problem.
My hair feels thicker, softer, and my dandruff has all but cleared up.
I got a bamboo hair brush, and it’s excellent at soaking up excess oil. Brushing your hair is the best way to distribute the oil all the way down your hairs.
Well, friends, I’m embarking on a hair journey this September. I’m nervous, but happy I’ve finally gathered up the courage to do the “no poo” challenge.
This September I’ve given up using shampoo and conditioner as part of my sustainability goals. I hopefully won’t have to buy shampoo or conditioner anymore and I’ll be avoiding the plastic bottles they come in. I’ll be talking about this more in October when I’ve hit the month mark, but until then I thought it would be fun to revisit my hair journey from birth.
So I went digging through old photos to find hair goals in Drogheda from 1990 to 2000. (Spoiler my friends, it’s mostly boring). I’ll be doing a hair journey from 2001 – 2010 at some stage when I had free reign over my hair. However, there is some adorableness mixed with cringe here so please, prepare thy self.
My Hair, A History
My Hair, A History
“Can you see my tiny mohawk?”
“Eh Mam, I’m not happy with this dress.”
My Hair, A History
My Hair, A History
“The year of the tiny pigtails!”
“The 80’s hair is hanging in there!”
“An adventure in velour.”
“I had the Natalie Imbruglia pout 2 years before she released ‘Torn’!”
My Hair, A History
My Hair, A History
“Mam let me wear red lipstick at Christmas!”
“Look it’s a brunette Stevie Nicks.”
“All I can do is stare at the shoes. Mine are dreadful, Chris is wearing socks and sandals. Thank goodness our hair is on point!”
My Hair, A History
My Hair, A History
“Apparently posing with things in my hands was very important.”
“This was for my tenth birthday and I thought I was the coolest cat in school. Mam spent all morning braiding my hair, then carefully placing plastic butterfly clips…”
List posts are the blogosphere’s favorite for a good reason — “list” content works, in large part due to the attention-grabbing power of the headline, but also because of the shortening of attention spans due to instant access to information.
A headlinethat lists a number of reasons, secrets, types, or ways will work because the reader knows exactly what to expect from the post. As long as you deliver on your promise, everything should work out great.
Hello, fellow bookworms! I see you there. 😉 In this post, I would like to talk about my Goodreads challenge along with the female authors I’ve read since January. I won’t be necessarily reviewing the books because I don’t want to spoil any of them on you, but I will be talking about how they affected me.
I set myself a goal of 80 non-work related books to read this year. If you’re on Goodreads why not come join me on my quest. How many have you pledged? Here is a link to my profile:
So far I’ve accomplished 52 of the total 80 which is 65%. As you can see from this very hi-tech screen grab below.
As part of this challenge, I want at least half of those 80 books to be from female authors. Although I have read many female authors in my time, I wanted to make a conscious effort to give equal support to both male and female authors this year.
The following 20 books I’m going to discuss are from female authors I’ve read this year. Seeing as I’ve already read 52 books and only 20 of them are female authors, I’ve some catching up to do.
Let me know in the comments below if you love/hate any of these books and why? Maybe one of these are on your ‘to be read’ list. Let’s have a chat. Ok let us not waste any more time, we begin.
Book number 1: ‘The Bell Jar’ – Sylvia Plath
As far back as secondary school (high school for my American friends), I’ve loved the poetry of Sylvia Plath. Her melancholy resonated with miserable teenage Jenni. At Christmas I received her only novel as a gift from my parents and proceeded to read it on the 1st of January. What an interesting way to start this year of books. Although it was a compelling read, I still feel her poetry is superior. It’s essential reading for anyone suffering from bipolar disorder, and although it’s not necessarily autobiographical, there are many parallels to Plath’s own life.
Book number 2: ‘Talking As Fast As I Can’ – Lauren Graham
I have mentioned before on this blog that I have an Audible account. It allowed me to listen to several of these books in the voice of their author. As a huge Gilmore Girls fan, I knew that this book would be best consumed audibly and I was correct. Graham does talk fast, but she keeps a sensible pace so you enjoy full extent of her funny anecdotal life.
Book number 3: ‘How To Be A Bawse’ – Lilly Singh
If you don’t know who Lilly Singh is, I’m really sorry. Here is her YouTube channel. Go ahead and subscribe. I’ll wait…
…done? Did you watch a video or two? I know she’s great, you’re welcome. Now back to her book. There are so many self-help/ motivational books out there. This is one of the good ones. Honestly, she not only deals with the ins and outs of being a Bawse, but she explicitly explains her experiences with depression.
You also get the added bonus of it not only being read in the author’s voice but with some surprise guests. It’s an inspirational read.
Book number 4: ‘Americanah’ – Chimananda Ngozi Adichie
I thought this novel was phenomenal. I was a fan of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie from her speech “We Should All Be Feminists,” so I wanted to give one of her novels a try. Although this one isn’t read by the author herself, it’s beautifully narrated by the talented Adjoa Andoh who brings the different accents to life. It was highly rated on Audible and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s an exquisitely winding love story between Nigeria and the United States of America. Treat yourself with this yarn.
Book number 5: ‘Wishful Drinking’ – Carrie Fisher
When I heard the news that we lost Carrie Fisher, I was devastated. I am such a huge Star Wars fan, and she was one of the first examples of a strong female character that I remember. Along with being such a wonderful personality, she’s also an excellent writer. Her voice (both literary and physical) is so unique. She finds the funny in both the darkness and the light of life. I don’t even have to individually single out any of her books because they are all awesome.
Book number 6: ‘The Princess Diarist’ – Carrie Fisher
Speaking of Carrie Fisher did I mentioned that I love her? In this audiobook, you also get a section narrated by her daughter Billie Lourd.
Book number 7: ‘Furiously Happy’ – Jenny Lawson
This book has been on so many “10 books to read if you suffer from depression,” or “15 books by female authors,” or “books by online personalities,” that I had to bite the bullet and get it. While the cover is exceptionally attractive and draws you in even before you open the book, the contents are even crazier. It will make you laugh I promise, you’ll be so annoying you’ll want to read sections of it out loud to the person next to you (sorry Le Boo!). If you haven’t heard of her you can check her out here:
Rose McGowan has been such a controversial figure, and part of me really wonders how would she be received if she were a man. I am a fan of her hubris, I think she genuinely is brave when you account for all she’s been through. This book is an eye-opener and at times very distressing. The story of her struggle began way before her rape. She has been homeless, she grew up in a cult, and her home life, in general, was very tumultuous.
If you haven’t yet, read this book. Or listen to it on Audible. (I’m not sponsored by Audible by the way, I really wish I was though!)
Book number 9: ‘The Great Gasbag’ – Joy Behar
This book was a bit of light reading between books with a heavier subject. I’m a huge fan of The View which Joy Behar calls her home. Whoopi Goldberg is my Queen. Behar is the only remaining original panel member and she is not winding down. This book may be humorous, but she knows her stuff. Read it for a laugh or read it for the political facts. Either way, you’ll get what you came for.
Book number 10: ‘Repeal The 8th’ – Una Mullally
This was a tough read in the lead up to the referendum. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can read my post about it:
This book is a collection of essays, personal stories, and poetry. It made me cry like a small child. It made me angry and see red. It also showed me the value of my vote. I was voting, not only for myself but for all the women that came before and all those who would come after. It was just downright powerful.
Book Number 11: ‘A Line Made By Walking’ – Sara Blaume
I’ve spoken about my mental illness here in the past 6 months and any story that continues the conversation is worth reading. This story is set in Ireland, following an artist struggling to cope with her mental health issues. The story has the added dimension of being both unique and uncomfortably familiar at the same time. The images painted by the author are still stuck in my mind, and the cover of this book drew me in inexplicably. It’s also nice to support Irish authors when possible.
Book Number 12: ‘The History of Bees’ – Maja Lunde
Heard of this book before? Always meant to give it a read? Well, get on it because it’s fantastic. If you’re like me and you’re worried about the bees (I’m not crazy they help grow our food), this book will reinforce you, while frightening those who are unaware of the dangers in a dwindling bee population.
An intermingling tale of three parts, Lunde manages to both connect people who have never met while demonstrating their utterly alien experiences. The narrators are all terribly flawed so that we feel at home with them, and by the end, you’ll be trembling with worry about our little fuzzy friends.
Book Number 13: ‘Swing Time’ – Zadie Smith
Although college and the books I read back then feels like many eons ago (I did only graduate from my Bachelors in 2010), I distinctly remember a novel called ‘White Teeth’ by Zadie Smith. I hadn’t read anything else of hers since and I was in Waterstones one day perusing when this bright yellow book caught my eye. Sure enough, it was Zadie Smith. I’d always promised I would read more of her but never got around to it. I decided to buy it there and then, and she’s still got it.
Book Number 14: ‘Grace’s Guide’ – Grace Helbig
Grace Helbig has a lifestyle/comedy YouTube channel whose brand is socially awkward. Although her YouTube content appeals to the painfully bumbling teenager girl inside, I was actually disappointed by this book. She seemed to get this book deal when many YouTubers were also getting book deals because of their online clout with young audiences. The novelty of this novel falls short, and while you might get more of an insight into the person behind Grace Helbig, you will get nothing but recycled life advice from this. (Sorry Grace!)
Book Number 15: ‘No Seriously… I’m kidding’ – Ellen DeGeneres
This book is worth more than the €1 I paid for it in a second-hand shop. It was a lovely light companion for awhile between otherwise serious life times. Also, who doesn’t love Ellen?
Book Number 16: ‘Wicca Starter Kit’ – Lisa Chamberlain
This book, and the next were research for something I’m writing. I was surprised at the many misconceptions I had about Wicca, and I found these books useful in my own life. As someone who likes to experience slowly and deliberately, this book came through with many basic tools to survive in a modern world. When you feel as though you’re completely out of touch with nature and your own natural bodily rhythms these paradigms will help.
Book Number 17: ‘Witchcraft Theory & Practice’ – Ly De Angeles
As I said this book was also for research purposes. It turned out to be a bargain for the €1 I paid in a second-hand shop. (I love thrifting books). This book, unlike the last one, is more explicit in its explanations, recommendations, and value. Wicca and witchcraft have been attached to women for millennia. It is your due diligence as a feminist to understand it’s history.
Book Number 18: ‘Nefertiti’ – Joyce Tyldesley
Simply put Tyldesley has an insanely impressive repertoire of writings and books on the subject of ancient Egypt. Although she has books which are concerned with the civilization as a whole, she is also known for books like this one, which are biographies of those long dead. You’ll get the idea from the full title, ‘Nefertiti: Unlocking The Mystery Surrounding Egypt’s Most Famous And Beautiful Queen.‘ If you want to get an idea about what Nefertiti was like, outside of her famous Berlin Bust (pictured on the novel’s cover), you can read this book.
Book Number 19: ‘You Can’t Fix Stupid’ – Terry & Linda Jameson
This is another fun book, that I read in a day. I actually took it with me when I was getting one of my tattoos. I kept chuckling and moving much the chagrin of my tattoo artist. If you know anything about the Psychic Twins you’ll enjoy this book, if you don’t you’ll still enjoy it.
They recently started a YouTube channel in which they discuss many interesting things, while also collabing with many other established YouTubers. I enjoyed this book, and you really can’t fix stupid. Have a look at their channel:
Finally as with the other Joyce Tyldesley book on this list, ‘Hatchepsut: The Female Pharaoh.’ is an intense read. I credit the depth of the characterisation to Tyldesley’s extensive archaeological fieldwork experience.
I was in the middle of writing a different blog for today, but I’ve given up because I have a massive headache. It feels like it’s slowly turning into a migraine. I don’t suffer from them often but I feel the weather may be causing it. It’s very ‘heavy’ outside. So basically the other blog, which was about anthropology and food, has been abandoned until next week. It’s pretty much done, but I have perfectionist tendencies, and therefore cannot focus my brain enough to finish it to my own imaginary standards.
It’s something I have slowly been trying to turn around, especially being in academia. There are only so many times you can proof-read something, change it around, and then find your way back to the same spot again. Perfection is an impossible goalpost, yet I continue to set these requirements for myself.
In fairness, me staring at this screen isn’t really helping the situation. I’m going to have to put the laptop away soon, otherwise, it’s going to make me nauseous. This has turned into a stream of consciousness now. I normally put my blog up the night before and schedule it for the next day so this will be a strange one for you to read.
So this is a very quick blog post today, the fact of which actually hurts my brain. Does that happen to you? Like the fact that I will barely proof-read this and then put it up on my blog irks me. As if I’m accountable to someone. I’m the person who is the boss, the big honcho. Ok, so that’s it. Leave me a comment if you’re a perfectionist and therefore your own worst enemy.
If you are not looking for relationship advice/ hate mushy stuff / and or terrible poetry, click away before you get hurt!
Ok, are we all here because we want to be and are interested? You have been forewarned.
You know the way sometimes you’re in a relationship, (whether that be with a partner or even just a friend), and you’re suspicious of it? Basically, your brain isn’t fully committed, and its judgment is clouded by your heart.
Your intuition will try to warn you. In a romantic relationship, you might ignore these because you don’t want to be alone. Maybe you’ll change your mind and have those babies in the future?
Not for me, it’s not fair on you, or the other person. I knew I couldn’t continue with one of my relationships because he wanted it all. Marriage, loads of kids, the works. What did I want? Independence, freedom to pursue my dreams, and a life without children of my own. I was terribly sad when I ended that relationship, and I felt awful for weeks. (Your first major breakup is always the worst). I did genuinely love this person at the time.
Except there can be happy endings. (Well they’re not endings because we’re only in our late 20s so, they’re more like midways). Anyways, now I have a wonderful partner who has the same outlook on children as I do and supports me pursuing my career. Also, my ex is now happily married. What more could you ask for?
I had another relationship where I didn’t feel valued or truly loved and trust me you need to get out of those. You deserve nothing but the best.
Basically, I want to show you how your intuition will manifest your subconsciousness in strange ways. Here are two of my poems. The first was written in 2009 when I wasn’t sure of my relationship. The second was written in 2018 when I have no doubts. The difference (apart from a little improvement stylistically) is the conscious differentiation between doubt and conviction.
I’m not sure where it’s agreeable,
To make your life plan,
Don’t forget, you won’t regret,
If you have a score on a stand.
Won’t you look at us now,
Cross that bridge, when we come down.
Tied to a plan, you didn’t lay out,
And you’ve lost all you’re crayons from the early hours.
Apparently, I should introduce who I am. So I gathered loads of random questions and combined them (referenced below) to make a list of 40. I might do a part 2 later that’s all serious. For now, enjoy the random stuff! Also, I included the questions below if you want to join in the fun.
What was the last thing you wrote?
This blog baby!
What is your favourite cartoon childhood show?
Man, there are so many, but probably The Weekenders.
Who is your favourite Disney princess?
Belle! She reads. A lot.
Do you prefer light bread or dark bread?
What’s your favourite fruit?
Which fruit do you dislike?
Is there a fruit you’ve never had?
What is your favourite breed of dog?
Canis lupus familiaris.
What is your worst earworm?
Peter Frampton – “Baby I love your way.”
What is your biggest pet peeve?
Peter Frampton – “Baby I love your way.”
Are you a creature of habit?
Which animal do you most relate to?
Cat or Koala. They sleep. A lot.
Which animal scares you the most?
False widow spiders.
How do you sleep?
If you had a boat. What would you name it?
Infinity & Beyond.
If you could change your first name, what would it be?
What’s your favourite season?
Favourite TV show of all time?
Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
Do you have a nickname(s)?
Jen, Gin-Jen, Birb, Lady Boo Birbington the 3rd.
How big is your to be read pile?
Too big, and counting.
What is your dream car?
What is your favourite place to take an out-of-town guest?
St. Peter’s church to see the charred head of St. Oliver Plunkett.
What do you say all the time?
In what area of your life are you the most immature?
Do you talk in your sleep?
You’d have to ask le Boo.
What is your favourite number?
3 & 7.
Have you ever been locked out of your house or locked yourself out?
Yes, and worst of all, myself, and both my parents did. At the same time.
Which famous person would you invite for drinks?
Professor. Brian Cox or Whoppi Goldberg.
What do you think is your best feature?
My sense of humour.
If you were to win a Grammy, what kind of music would it be for?
Indie music or just plain rock.
If you were to win an Oscar, what kind of movie would it be for?
A movie about the feminist struggle.
What body part wouldn’t you mind losing?
Have you ever tried to cut your own hair?
Yes, it wasn’t the worst actually.
Are you high maintenance?
I don’t think so… ask le Boo!
What is the silliest way you have been injured?
I set fire to my tights and burned my finger. No joke.
Which of the five senses is your favourite?
Which one could you give up?
How many foreign countries have you been to?
Who is the best Avenger?
Thor son of Odin!
What is something about yourself that you hope will change, but probably never will?
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. Thank you Janelle. xxx