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Raucous, sensual and sublime: how twelve pioneering female artists rewrote the rules of pop.
From Kate Bush to Nicki Minaj, from Janet Jackson to TLC and Taylor Swift, pop’s greatest female pioneers are simply strange: smashing notions of taste and decorum, and replacing them with new ideals of pleasure.
Instead of rehashing biographies, Lesley Chow dives deep into the music of these groundbreaking performers, identifying the ecstatic moments in their songs and finding out what makes them unique.
You’re History is a love letter to pop’s most singular achievements, celebrating the innovations of women who are still critically underrated. It’s a ride that includes tributes to Chaka Khan, Rihanna, Neneh Cherry, Sade, Shakespears Sister, Azealia Banks, Janet Jackson, Kate Bush, Michelle Gurevich, TLC, Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj.
Lesley Chow is an Australian writer on music and film. She is associate editor of the journal Bright Lights and has published widely over the past eighteen years, in Salon, Times Literary Supplement, The Quietus, The Age, Pop Matters, and CNN. She has appeared on numerous film juries including Venice and Berlin, and was President of the Critics’ Jury at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2018.
“Lesley Chow is the best and rarest kind of critic—one who loves to be surprised, and can always surprise you in turn… The emphasis is firmly on aesthetic pleasure, and the book itself is a unique pleasure to read: joyful, witty, knowledgeable, intensely observant, and indifferent to received ideas.”
“By embracing pop’s sonic artifice, its vocal textures and its wordless moments of rapture – too often ignored by other critics – Lesley Chow constructs a new version of pop history. Her assemblage of pop’s ‘hybrid girls’ and wayward women is a sly, original analysis.”
“Lesley Chow’s sparklingly written book is full of whip-smart wit and electric prose. You’re History isn’t just a work of great criticism: it will make you rethink your understanding of pop music and the strange, sublime sounds of its creators.”
“Rediscovering these 12 female artists and their work felt like lying on the floor again, headphones on… album covers in front of me. It took me back to a time when I used to read as much about music as I listened to it. Lesley Chow explores the alchemy of pop that comes from breath, sound and lyrics. Her deep dive into these extraordinary women made me feel their music all over again.”
“A constantly surprising and thought-provoking book tracing… non-verbal bliss, irruptive sensuality, and mouth-music magic — a counter-canon of oozy oohs and sweet nothings that takes in Chaka Khan, Janet Jackson, TLC.”
“The slim, sharp book considers a range of female artists from Janet Jackson and Taylor Swift to TLC and Nicki Minaj, a group that the Australian cultural critic Chow views as ‘outliers, marking moments where the culture might have swerved to incorporate their influence, but somehow contrived not to.’”