Playful song has a powerful message

Issue 

Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under
First single: ‘Map of Tasmania’
Amanda Palmer
Available at www.amandapalmer.net/afp

I first met US singer-songwriter Amanda Palmer when she was playing with drummer Brian Viglione in punk cabaret band The Dresden Dolls. Her song writing and performance was brutally honest, going places stylistically and thematically into which very few performers in today’s music industry venture.

As a solo act, Palmer continues to court controversy. The lyrics to her song “Oasis” from her 2008 debut solo album Who Killed Amanda Palmer got it banned from radio in Britain for “making light” of rape, abortion and religion.

The poppy song tells the tale of a young woman who is harassed by fundamentalist Christians when she has an abortion after being raped, but whose greater concern is getting a signed picture from pop band Oasis.

As stated on her blog, the song was designed to “shed light on terrible things, but in an upbeat way”.

The first single off her latest album, “Map of Tasmania”, continues that approach.

The new album, Amanda Palmer Goes Down Under is a collection of songs written about or recorded in Australia and New Zealand.

First written on a ukulele in a Hobart dressing room, the song initially comes across as nothing more than a playful extended joke on the Australian slang reference to the female genitalia as “the map of Tasmania”.

However, below the surface, the song calls into question the beauty standard, which Palmer says she’s “no fan of”. She injects a more radical message: self-acceptance and a rejection of proscribed ideals.

The song’s lyrics encourage women to resist the pressure to shave their pubic hair and “grow that shit like a jungle”. (“I think it sad,” she sings of the practice, “it hurts with the stubble”.)

Palmer herself has fallen foul of the “beauty myth” imposed on women, being told by record label executives to edit shots of her belly from one film clip as they deemed it “too fat”.

In an era where ideas of female beauty are becoming more rigid and women’s bodies increasingly marketed, the song provides a breath of fresh air not only to the singer’s many young female fans, but to people of all ages looking for an alternative.

Below: The film clip for “Map of Tasmania”; the film clip to Palmer’s 2007 song “Oasis”, which was banned from British radio; and Mel Hughes beatboxing to “Map of Tasmania” on stage with Amanda Palmer.

Comments

Yeahhhhhhhhhh! Amanda Palmer <3

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