Monday, November 27th, 2017

Keith Urban – Female

Now it’s time to hear from a man!


Eleanor Graham: Tag yourself, ladies. I’m “broken halo mother.” To be fair, if I was married to Nicole Kidman, this chorus would probably be my internal monologue at all times too.

Katherine St Asaph: If you respect women so much, could you give them more than some suspiciously breathy and wordless backing vocals. The future is feeble.

Anthony Easton: That a song so patronizing, so absurdly dumb, and so loathsomely contemptuous of women seeks to be performed by a man who wants everyone to know his virtue is bad enough. That it was written by CMA/ACA award winning Nicolle Galyon just adds lazy complacency onto the whole disaster. 

Will Adams: I suppose we were overdue for another entry in the “Accidental Oppressor” series. To Keith’s credit, his song isn’t six minutes long and is at least modeled on an interesting albeit questionable concept: “What if ‘Bitch’ were written by a man?” It’s got the clumsy handwringing you’d expect as well as some bizarre notions of sexism — is “Adam came first” an actual argument, or is it only there to earn the “hey girl” punchline of “is he saving the best for last?” But the worst feature of “Female” is the anonymous woman’s voice, played by Nicole Kidman and co-writer Nicolle Galyon, threaded throughout. She’s pretty, nondescript, unquestioning; she’s just there to reassure Keith and his male listeners that their surface-level understanding of misogyny is fine and that they’re the good guys.

Katie Gill: That chorus is the world’s weirdest game of word association imaginable. Is there something that I’m missing? How are “technicolor” and “holy water” even associated with women in the first place? Still, I’ve got to give Urban credit for at least calling out the “she asked for it” bullshit, even if he manages to do it in the weirdest way possible, and ends his chorus in a remarkably out-of-touch way. Tip for ya, Keith: nobody calls women “females” unless they’re a certain type of MRA red pill m’lady Reddit-dwelling neckbeard.

Alfred Soto: The arrangement has a tick-tock simplicity, and Keith Urban doesn’t cover the words with syrup — but what words! No matter his sincerity, “Female” comes from another era of country songwriting, an era when “female” remained a louche noun and men thanked god Almighty for Ma and the missus. 

Stephen Eisermann: I’ve always believed that the best way to be an ally to a marginalized community is to listen intently to the community and speak up for them when they are being victimized; however, you are to never speak over. This feels very “speak over.” It sounds like a man who wants to fix everything for women everywhere, but doesn’t want to know what they want because he knows “the best” way to fix their problems — and that’s just plain unhelpful. Also, lol at “Technicolor.”

Josh Langhoff: Mexican banda singer Edwin Luna is overzealous in re: female modesty, but here are five ways “Un Aplauso,” his banda’s recent ode to The Female Gender, is superior to this shite. 1. Luna’s song has horns. 2. Not sure how both songs fare in the Willis test, but at least “Un Aplauso” is upfront about its desires. Like, literally; Luna shouts out himself and his banda at the beginning of the song, which unexpectedly makes the whole thing less icky than whatever Urban’s trying to do here. 3. Luna sings like he’s thinking of a couple actual women he’s met, and not like he’s emceeing the poetry slam at the Gethenian sex museum. 4. WTF does “holy water” have to do with any of this? 5. Luna’s video features a live birth. If Urban coulda pulled that off on the CMA stage, I might up him a notch. But the more expedient option might be for both of them to shut up.

Jonathan Bradley: I first heard about “Female” when its release was reported by the kinds of websites and television comedians that don’t have much of anything to say about country music unless someone’s done something stupid. After reading these outlets’ transcription of “Female,” I had to check in with a credible lyrics site to confirm I hadn’t been duped by an elaborate practical joke. Keith Urban’s new song isn’t a lumpen but well-intentioned attempt at Male Feminism — that’s “Shattered Glass” — it’s a stocktake of signifiers snapped in the soft-hues of a homewares brochure and catalogued by a befuddled onlooker who tallies his observations with a biologist’s remove. Oddly, the writers include a woman (Nicolle Galyon) and a man who has written a number of nuanced and resonant songs for women performers (Shane McAnally — though he did also write “Different for Girls“). A few years back, I suggested that “God Made Girls,” another country song with a reductive view of femininity, plausibly insisted some people could find power and value in its conservative interpretation of gender roles. Urban’s song is liberal in intent, but is there room within its ephemeral free-association for anyone to find anything? Apparently yes, but they deserve better: in this week’s Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, the highest spot held by a woman is number fifteen.

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5 Responses to “Keith Urban – Female”

  1. no I’m not related to Ross

  2. I’m fire suit

  3. “shoulder”

  4. def “technicolor river wild”

  5. incredible news
    taylor swift has added this to her “taylor loves” playlist