Universally revered in the French speaking world, Jacques Brel is widely considered to be one of the greatest songwriters and performers of all time. But despite having sold tens of millions of records and some of his songs being adapted by the likes of David Bowie and Nina Simone, he still remains subject to a modest cult following in the English speaking world.
In part 1 of this BBC documentary series, Brel’s friends and collaborators introduce us to the world of the Belgian genius. They discuss the beauty, complexity and power of his literary lyrics, as well as the extroardinary way he embodied them on stage, in the pure tradition of French chanson.
This is the second in a series of posts about Riot Grrrl, the feminist punk rock movement. The previous part is a BBC documentary that you can listen to here: Part 1: Riot Grrrls.
To continue with our rediscovery of Riot Grrrl, here’s an interview from CBC Radio of one of its pioneers: Kathleen Hanna. Lead singer and songwriter of the seminal Riot Grrrl band Bikini Kill, she looks back on her beginnings with the band and the movement in Olympia, Washington: her anger, the deliberate amateurism, her unvarnished performances that were often met with negative reactions and even violence. She reflects on the evolutions of feminism and Bikini Kill’s influence on today’s bands such as Pussy Riot.
This BBC Radio 4 documentary tells the story of Riot Grrrl, the exuberant feminist punk rock movement dating from the early 90s. Angry about daily situations they were facing, such as sexual harrassment, abuse and the erosion of abortion rights, teenage girls decided to speak out and express their outrage through punk music. Away from traditional feminism, their radical activism participated in creating a whole subculture, generating collaboration around live performances and fanzines, showing everyone that girls could shout, fight and be as powerful as the boys, if not more.
(Part 2: Interview with Kathleen Hanna is available here)
If you’ve enjoyed Don’t Look Back in Anger, The Story of Britpop, here’s the Spotify playlist where you can listen to the best tracks featured in the documentary. Unfortunately, tracks from a couple artists – namely Oasis and Elastica – are unavailable on Spotify in some countries. So you’ll need to have the local files to be able to play these.
Britpop’s massive success lead to a signing frenzy and a second wave of bands. But it was a party some people never wanted to end. Britpop was turning itself into a mad pop production line. Over exposed and over exploited, it became synonymous with bloated records made on too much cocaine, boorish laddism and Tony Blair’s failed promises.