It seems as though the only way a female music artist can gain success in today’s society is through a performative display of hyper-sexualization. There isn’t so much a focus on the music’s content or even an artist’s talent but an intense fascination with things that most women can’t control, like the way they look. In a world of mindless club-banger pop and R&B, it’s cathartic to hear an artist like Kate Nash. I knew she was special when she proudly avowed, “This is my body, covered in skin and not all of it you can see” on her song “Mouthwash” off her first album Made of Bricks.
Her new album, My Best Friend is You (Polydor) doesn’t disappoint. She enhances that sense of vulnerability by allowing the listener the privilege of a front-row seat to the theater of her emotions. This is not to say that the album feels staged or artificial. Quite the contrary, Nash has had an unlikely, organic rise to success: She gained visibility from MySpace and by 19 had a record deal, yet Nash still claims to be an outsider, stunned at the way she was able to sneak into the male-dominated music industry.
According to an article in last month’s Guardian UK, Nash, a proud feminist, wanted My Best Friend Is You to deal directly with female empowerment. One of her extreme irritations is the way young girls in contemporary society are expected to be exceedingly sexy, a standard that she believes has intensified since she was a girl. Nash deliberately hires women sound engineers and roadies whenever she has the opportunity. Unlike many artists, she doesn’t run from being a role model, she embraces it. However, this does not come without the admission of insecurity, jealousy and self-doubt as evidenced in songs like “Do-Wah-Do,” “Kiss That Grrl” and “Later On.”
What most steals my heart off My Best Friend Is You is her spoken-word performance at the end of “Don’t You Want to Share The Guilt”
…Not being able to articulate what I want to say drives me crazy…Sometimes when I’m at a really noisy train station, one of the one’s with the big fat trains like King’s Cross, I feel like putting down my bags and shouting things out, because I’ve got something to say.
Nash refuses to go unheard. She rejects becoming a commercialized product and an easel for male fantasy. It’s not about the fanfare with Nash or about strutting around in the most expensive couture with half a grain of talent, gyrating every body part that can move. Kate Nash simply wants the world to know she has something to say. Now listen.