If you grew up in the 90s, you were probably peripherally aware of Liz Phair. She came out with an album, Exile in Guyville, before being really marketed as this semi-feminist, semi-singer/songwriter, semi-obscure alternative rock star.
Her first album is really good. I never heard it until really really recently and it has really good "relationship" songs. The lyrics are really good, and the production is pretty minimal, so the whole thing ages pretty well.
Well, she signed to Matador and her second album was advertised everywhere, the "hits" off it were in heavy rotation all over the alt-rock stations, she was all over Mtv and it was ok. Super-production and overly obscure lyrics lost a lot of what made Exile in Guyville so great.
I never heard her third album. She then took time off to do family stuff, getting married, divorced, having a kid, etc. etc.
I had all but forgotten about her until her "comeback." Suddenly she was everywhere, in these baby-doll poses with a guitar and ultra-mega-production with a slick team of songwriters giving her these middle of the road pop songs. It was almost beyond my idea of selling out, I was just fascinated by this weird transformation, which wasn't really a transformation, just a weird progression, or perhaps peeling of layers. Underneath all we think of as anti-this or the underground-version-of-that or indie-this, is the same drive to be successful, to be famous, to get our work or ourselves out there, wherever that is.
Liz Phair did what Courtney Love did just without the craziness. It was the most boring ascension/descent in music history.
Liz Phair released an album recently. Did anyone notice? Why would they? The music industry that "made" this wonder woman is drowning in a sea of blood and the person who wrote the incredible "Fuck and Run" died somewhere along the line. So you have a dying man throwing a corpse at you.
THE NEW ALBUM (Coincidentally the absolute ugliest cover I could ever imagine for an album ever designed and I've imagined some complete shit):
Moral of the story: don't lose your soul on your way to the top. At least we can still listen to Exile in Guyville until this world goes up in flames...