like a pair of bottle rockets

My name is Sophie. I'm a writer.

sophcw at gmail dot com


#lindsay zoladz

“Over the past two decades—beginning with the Spice Girls—”empowerment” has been the default aspiration of the female pop star. (Think: pretty much every hit song ever recorded by Beyonce. Or Kelly Clarkson. Or Pink. Or Ke$ha. Or…) We tend to use this word like it is an unquestionable feminist virtue, but, just like any word, formulaic overuse can make it feel hollow.”

Another note on Lindsay’s fantastic essay - this is why I love/relate to Robyn so much. She manages to combine “empowerment” with unflinching emotional pain in so many of her songs. I would definitely argue she’s part of this whole “sad girls” phenomenon despite being a pop artist. 

Also FYI I love sad music so much I don’t even know where to start. I have an entire blog called “Sad Jams.” I basically haven’t cared about any music that isn’t sad girl music in the last like, three years. 

“Maybe embracing this style has something to do with self-preservation. For girls who are aware that our culture expects them to be benignly happy, shiny objects—smile for me, baby—there can be a defiance in not only embracing sadness online, but cultivating a kind of ambiguity as to where the performed feeling ends and the “genuine” feeling begins.”

– Man, feeling this essay so hard while listening to Rilo Kiley songs I downloaded off Limewire when I was 15. Basically the only music I’ve really cared about in the last few years has been sad girl music. 

“I suddenly wonder if my anger about this whole controversy has been excessive. I decide to re-read my draft, to see if there is a good place to stick in the requisite, “Don’t get me wrong, I like a lot of Justin Timberlake’s music.” But then I see it, the second sentence in this piece: “I’m not exaggerating.” And I’m sickened all over again by my need to justify my experience, by my worries that you won’t feel that my concern—and nausea—is real. But at that very moment, I finally realize why I have been so bothered by this story. It replicates a larger dynamic in our culture—the way those affected by sexaul assault are too often bulldozed over, made to feel small, or crazy, or hysterical, or unreliable, or asking-for-it, or just flat-out wrong. Even in the amorphous “confusion” of the internet, the hierarchies already present in our culture repeat themselves, and chaos too often reorganizes into familiar patterns. Marginalized voices are drowned out; those with pow”

Really great column on Justin Timberlake’s obliviousness by Lindsay Zoladz


And I’ll

fish for compliments

And I’ll

drink until I’m happy

And I’ll

wonder what you’re doing

But I won’t call

—Waxahatchee, “Grass Stain”

And I will grow out of all the empty bottles in my closet

And you’ll quit having dreams about a swan dive to the hot asphalt

And I will grow out of all the empty words I often speak

And you will be depleted but much better off without me

And we will find a way to be lonely any chance we get

And I’ll keep having dreams about loveless marriage and regret

—Waxahatchee, “Swan Dive”

When I was writing my review of Waxahatchee’s excellent new album Cerulean Salt, I kept thinking about this line that Mary Timony sings in the Helium song “Superball”: “Everything I say ends with ‘and.’” I take “Superball” to be this sly and surreal little poem about the elasticity of identity, and in particularly about a femininity that can house all sorts of contradictions. “I’m small, like a superball/Throw me at the wall/I’m fragile, like an eggshell/I’m mad as hell.” With each line she morphs into something different, with different physical properties, different strengths and different weaknesses; she is up on some serious Alex Mack shit. To be small and fragile and mad as hell. And…

A more precise description of a Waxahatchee song might be “Everything I say begins with ‘and,’” but still. I really like the rhythmic structure of Katie Crutchfield’s lyrics, she never goes for the easy or obvious end rhyme, there are a lot of interstitial words spilling over between lines, and the sense you get from that approach is that these words are pouring out of her almost faster than she can get them down. (Seriously, listen to her music with an ear for the soft-spoken, hidden “ands,” it’s like an egg hunt.) They all feel like run-on sentences, thumbing their noses at grammatical rules and containment, existing somewhere between stations, capturing both the anxiety and the joy of endless possibilities, the youthful feeling that there will always be more. I felt that way in my early twenties; a lot of people have felt that way in their early twenties. Small and fragile and invincible and huge. It’s as disorienting as it is empowering and if you’re lucky you never grow out of it. I saw a quote going around the internet yesterday, an interviewer asked Margaret Atwood what her favorite word was. “And,” she said. “It is so hopeful.”

Never thought I’d be linked to in a comparison to Taylor Swift (or maybe it’s Lena Dunham, but that’s cool. Also yes to all of this. 

 I was jealous because my life felt like a series of false starts and this girl had gotten her footing before I had and when you’re a girl that means everything; the first one across the finish line gets to be the ingenue with her portrait in the New Yorker and the one who stands a chance of being listened to or getting that career doing what she loves. “As more women achieve in a given area,” the filmmaker Sally Potter once observed, “They are forced to compete with each other for the same space rather than the space itself expanding.” To the second one across the finish line they’ll say, “We all saw that Lena Dunham movie, why would we want to hear what another 23 year-old girl thinks about the world?”

Now I am older than Keats was when he died and I live in a room whose walls somebody else painted this very soothing shade of taupe and I’m still the same age as Lena Dunham but I’m not jealous of her anymore. I am making a living doing a different thing that I love and I feel as lucky as she has probably at some point felt, and I catch myself whenever I start buying into a worldview that mandates I see anyone a little bit like me as my competition. So good luck to her. May she make the space expand.

Lindsay Zoladz