I don’t listen to the radio very much on a day-to-day basis. We live in the era of the iPod so much that I never even bothered to find a station in the DC area, leaving me lost when I hop in a ZipCar. But when I go home to visit my parents, I vacillate between KISS 108 and 104.5. And the latter almost always leads me to that inevitable moment when you revisit something from your past that you remember fondly, only to discover that it was probably always terrible. This visit around, it was Meredith Brooks’ “Bitch,” a blast from the ancient past, by which I mean 1997.
I can’t say why, exactly, I retain such good memories of the song. I was thirteen when it came out, and hearing a woman howl “I’m a bitch!” on the radio seemed…daring, I suppose, a year before “Baby One More Time” hit airwaves and a new generation of young female singers began redefining those standards. But the lyrics are really kind of dreadful, and the message is worse. ”I’m your hell, I’m your dream / I’m nothing in between.” Really? Maybe it’s just that at 25 I feel a little weary of all this nonsense, but do we really want to celebrate that kind of female mercuriality? Is being nice to a dude part of the time supposed to make up for treating him terribly the rest of the time? Is it authenticity or just an excuse to act out? And that whole “I’m a goddess on my knees,” thing? Well, there are some meaningful ways to talk about the power of submission, but the whole thing comes across as semi-crude and just another one in a list of opposites. And that’s the most sophisticated the song gets.
I’m not devastated or anything. But I’ll admit to having perked up a little when I heard those opening chords. They just won’t be the same next time.