"Jessica Hopper's criticism is a trenchant and necessary counterpoint not just on music, but on our culture at large." —Annie Clark, St. Vincent
An acclaimed, career-spanning collection from a fiercely feminist and revered contemporary rock critic, reissued with new material
Throughout her career, spanning more than two decades, Jessica Hopper, a revered and pioneering music critic, has examined women recording and producing music, in all genres, through an intersectional feminist lens. The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic features oral histories of bands like Hole and Sleater Kinney, interviews with the women editors of 1970s-era Rolling Stone, and intimate conversations with iconic musicians such as Björk, Robyn, and Lido Pimienta. Hopper journeys through the truths of Riot Grrrl's empowering insurgence; decamps to Gary, Indiana, on the eve of Michael Jackson's death; explodes the grunge-era mythologies of Nirvana and Courtney Love; and examines the rise of emo. The collection also includes profiles and reviews of some of the most-loved, and most-loathed, women artists making music today: Fiona Apple, Kacey Musgraves, M.I.A., Miley Cyrus, Lana Del Rey.
In order for the music industry to change, Hopper writes, we need “the continual presence of radicalized women . . . being encouraged and given reasons to stay, rather than diminished by the music which glues our communities together.” The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic—published to acclaim in 2015, and reissued now with new material and an introduction by Samantha Irby—is a rallying cry for women-centered history and storytelling, and a groundbreaking, obsessive, razor-sharp panorama of music writing crafted by one of the most influential critics of her generation.
Hopper, music critic and former senior editor at Pitchfork, follows up her groundbreaking feminist treatise on the punk, independent, and mainstream music scenes of the past 20 years with this revised and expanded edition that hits just as hard. Historically, she argues, women have been ignored in the boys' club of studio producers, promoters, and record makers. These 55 pieces covering a great variety of artists including Kim Gordon, Rickie Lee Jones, and Nicki Minaj serve as a scorching critique of the endless hoops female musicians have had to jump through in the male-dominated music scene. In a 2015 Pitchfork review, pop-country star Kacey Musgraves is heralded for transcending the "bro-country" vibe pervasive at the Country Music Awards, while a 2018 profile of Cat Powers discusses how the artist's talent gets overshadowed by fans' obsession with her mental health. Essays on Fiona Apple, Liz Phair, and Joni Mitchell underscore the harsh criticism ambitious female performers constantly face ("The year Mitchell issued Blue, an album that would be a landmark in any artist's career, Rolling Stone named her Old Lady of the Year' "), but emphasize how, despite their unjust treatment by industry and critics, women continue to drown out the noise with their music. This fiery work is the literary equivalent of a maxed-out Marshall stack.