By Woodrow Whyte
Kate Nash is BACK! Hooray! But wait… what is this?
I don’t think we can expect to see this in the charts any time soon (and that’s putting it nicely). However, for those of us who are fans, this is the vicarious fulfilment of an artist finally achieving what she has always wanted to do, regardless of the song itself. And quite typically, pissing a load of people off at the same time.
Ms Nash has always been somewhat of a pariah. From the very beginning she has taken a lot of abuse (and lemons) from the general music-listening public. Her first song to catch people’s attention, ‘Caroline is a Victim,’ was subject to a rather funny parody ‘LDN is a Victim’ (apart from the stabbing bit), which took aim at Kate and numerous London scenesters at the time (Lily Allen, Adele, Jack Penate, Klaxons to name a few) for their middle class roots and wannabe-Mike Skinner accents. Then there was the backlash against ‘Foundations’, in particular one lyric, which seemed ubiquitous at the time, was for a time responsible for a wave of lemons being thrown onto the stage every time Kate sang it (I’ve seen Kate literally scream and then jump off her keyboard to safety at least twice).
Her second album, My Best Friend Is You, did little to appease her sceptics and didn’t fair as well as her first record commercially, but by this point it was abundantly clear that mainstream success wasn’t the priority any more (if it ever was – I remember it being quite a shock at the time that ‘Foundations’ made its way to No.2 in the charts). Free to do as she pleases, always being true to herself, Kate isn’t exactly known for watering herself down for others. Yet there has been a noticeable (yet predictable for the more eager fans) shift that I think has only been fully realised with this new track.
Her blog and twitter page is littered with references to feminist-inspired bands and messages decrying the entrenched boundaries to women in our society. She laments over sexism in the music business and glossy magazines. Before this track, her sense of activism was only evident on a couple of tracks and a few interviews. But now the attention is firmly on the political state of womanhood. With a new-found sense of freedom, both creatively and personally, its liberating to see an artist follow their passion – which isn’t just ‘dancing in da club’ – in such an unabashed and indulged way. It’s powerful, it’s political and it’s pissed off and I think it’s fantastic.
I’ll be honest though, I’m not the biggest fan of the above song. It’s the rising-lung bile snarls that turn me off. But I think that it hints towards something that is going to be very special and unique in the current climate. I think she deserves respect for following what she believes in and not bowing to public and label pressure. Considering the song was recorded in one evening (“you’d never have guessed!” wrote one prominent pop critic), I would image you won’t be finding this on the album – or anything near as rough. Given the grunge/college-rock odyssey ‘I Just Love You More’ was the first track to appear online to promote the second album release – and sounded nothing like the rest of the album – I wouldn’t be surprised if the album sounded nothing like it.
But lets say it does, and let’s say its all as inaccessible as ‘Under-Estimate the Girl’. Could we still appreciate the music for the message it stands for? I’d like to think I could…
To read Kate’s response to the hoopla, read here.