So Everyone is all excited about Ani's new album and some people think she's crap and some people think she's God Herself. I think people are getting confused on what exactly selling out means. Live appearances on TV and radio airplay does not mean she is selling out. It's actually pretty incredible that she can gain the kind of FameInterviewsMagazinecovers that she has purely from touring and word of mouth (something that Tori Amos was barely able to do, even with the help of a major record label's financial support). No, this is not Ani's best album. Not nearly as emotional, beautiful and striking as OUT OF RANGE and NOT A PRETTY GIRL, her two best albums. It does not have the simplistic acoustic sound or folk melodies of LIKE I SAID or IMPERFECTLY. It does not have the novelty of DILATE and LITTLE PLASTIC CASTLE, her two previous studio albums that brought a new distinctive sound to her older formula. But that's just it, she's had her fun with novelties. What's she supposed to do, come out with a jazz CD just to sound new? How about hip hop or country? In a way she has already done that. And now she can move on. The new sounds we heard on the last two studio albums can be heard on UPUPUPUPUPUP, and you know what? I bet Ani doesn't care that she's not sounding new or novel. She's about making a living off of doing what she loves (writing and performing honest music), not trying to please critics. The critics came to HER, hailed her as new an innovative and now they are tired and will move onto their LatestDiscovery, disappointed that she has not come up with a GreatAlbumThatWillGoDownInMusicalHistory.
Anyone who knows Ani, knows that her music is mainly about being live. She is at her finest on stage, complete with flaws and mistakes. Those of you who want a portrait of just the singer, buy LIVING IN CLIP. If you want a portrait of the SONGS, then buy the studio albums.
UPUPUPUPUPUP is merely a continuation of what she has always been doing. She started as a folksinger, and she still is a folksinger (and she will probably always be a folksinger). Whether she is back to simple melodies on "Tis of Thee" or "Everest" (Jewel-esque, as some people disdainfully proclaim), or she is getting a little country with "Angry Anymore," she is STILL a folksinger. She may use vocal distortion and keyboards on "Jukebox," but she is just as funky as she was on "The Diner" back in her OUT OF RANGE days.
As for the critics and former fans who constantly gripe that she's "gone off writing about love... she's lost her politics" . . . all I have to say to you is what do you think "Both Hands" is about? "Both Hands"... her signature tune and all-time favorite of die-hards? It's a love song. What about "Falling like this" and "Hell Yeah" and "This Bouquet" and "Sorry I Am" (I could go on...)? You think she's lost her politics? Gosh, you're right! "Tis of Thee" must NOT be about racism! "Come Away" must NOT be about drug addiction! "Trickle Down" must NOT be about corporate power! Gimme a break. The very title song is about politics.
To be honest, I did not take to UPUPUPUPUPUP at first. But after several listenings I realized that she is doing what she has always done. She's documenting her live material onto an album. She's being creative in reinterpreting her own songs. She's being uninhibited. She's being a folksinger. And that's fine with me.