Cover Image: You're History

You're History

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Member Reviews

This was an unusual read about some hugely talented recording artist and while I mostly enjoyed it, I have to say that it was a struggle in places.
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This book is an in-depth look at the impact of 12 female artists & bands. 

The author is obviously incredibly knowledgeable on the subject, however the chapters on artists I’m not familiar with went rather over my head. For me, the book did not explore enough of the artists backgrounds and who they are as recording artists but it has some interesting facts and lyric meanings, and it was a treat to read a book on pop, which is often an overlooked genre. 

Many thanks to netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Not my usual type of read but that cover definitely caught my attention and also it fitted with my challenge to read more non-fic but unlike the other NF books I have read this year this one I struggled to keep engaged with.

If you love pop music and are into dissecting songs then you will love this book. I will say that I did absolutely love how it got me listing to music and artists I have not listened to in years and a note to the publishers and/or the author; You should really put together a public play list on Spotify off all the songs mentioned in the book. It would make for GREAT companion listening whilst people are reading. 

Overall I did enjoy the book and how it was not pretensions about pop music, in fact it celebrated it for what it is and this amazing artists that used it the genre to create songs that get under your skin. I am glad I stuck with it and finished the book as some of the latter chapters where my favourite but I would also love to know more about the women featured in the books from a personal level. I may look to see if their biographies about any of them which I can try.

Also Nenah Cherry's Buffalo stance and Manchild are the best songs EVER and even now make the hairs on the back of my hair stick up. She was such an underrated artist.
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When I requested this book, I expected something different. More pictures and less text (maybe?). I wasn’t aware that it would be a collection of essays.

That being said, I bet this book will be a great fit for someone who loves music and female empowerment. It just wasn’t a book that I expected and that is why I DNFd it.

I did read few of the essays (about Taylor Swift and TLC). The writing style was interesting and author clearly feels passionate about the topic. That is why I can’t give this book less than 3 stars (even I DNFd). 

Maybe I will give it a try later. Until then, my rating stays at 3 stars after reading only a part of it.
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A really good collection of essays about the strangeness of a number of female musicians.  You can disagree with the selection but not with the passion with which the women's music, and the focus is much more on that than their lives refreshingly.  Lesley Chow is very good on how music should be approached as a whole, using the borrowed term "braid" writing, rather than focusing on the lyrics that "rock" writers and journalists tend to focus on, although she doesn't entirely avoid that trap.  At one point she writes "one could write the story of American contemporary music based largely on a history of 'oohs'" - the appendix offers the 10 greatest Oohs in music - and sometimes I wished she had had the courage of her convictions and written that story, rather than the more conventional accounts she did produce.  Perhaps that should be her next book.  However, this is excellent writing about excellent musicians and send me back to their songs with new things to look at, which is really what all music writing should be about. Recommended.
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Very interesting and lots of good details about the artists. Not for me but entirely my own fault as I misread the description and thought there would be more biographical details. One for the music lovers!
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Interesting account of how some song lyrics are created and why, I had to play the tracks studied in this book to refresh myself of the lyrics. Twelve female artists form each chapter with an in-depth analysis of the artist, style, genre and lyrics. Clearly the author is passionate music critic and knows her stuff.  Enjoyed the Kate Bush and Chaka Khan chapters most of all. Thank you #NetGalley for the copy.
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2/5 stars 

Thanks for providing this precious arc in regards to the publisher and author!

It was a fine novel. Not too dazzling but fine piece of literature and incomplex
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I found this a fascinating read, I was drawn to it from the title and loved the in depth looks at brilliant women in music- it’s like a Little People Big Dreams book for grown ups!
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Witty, honest and well-rearched, this book is perfect for music fans and musical laymans alike. Although parts of this book feel like overly-gushy blog posts, the heart of the message is loud and clear: pop music is no less significant than any other genre of music and it is time we stopped treating it as such. 

Read it one day, a very easy read and thoroughly enjoyable.
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this was really interesting! covering various women in music including taylor swift and nicki minaj, this examines what makes their music so popular, so catchy, and why pop music deserves the same respect as every other genre 

worth a read!
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You're History is a compact little book with each chapter diving deep into a different unconventional female artist. Right off the bat, I enjoyed this but I didn't love it. While Chow has an interesting way of talking about music, the purpose of this book didn't have enough clarity. The general theme of 'strangeness' wasn't quite enough for me to sink my teeth into. 

That said, the artist list that the author chose is compelling – from Janet Jackson and Kate Bush through to Rihanna and Taylor Swift. I would gladly read music theory about any singer featured in this book which made it enjoyable by default. And the author did have some truly interesting thing to say, especially in talking about artists who usually get little credit for the artistry. Discussions of non-lyric centred pieces of songs were particularly intereting – think the oohs and ahhs or the pop use of 'baby'. 

It was worth a read because it gave me food for thought but it never quite gripped me. Despite that, I certainly wouldn't discourage people from reading it, especially if the artist list appeals to you.
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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 ideas 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. 

Chow’s in-depth discussions of songs and what makes them unforgettable anomalies made me feel nostalgic as I remembered where I was and what I was doing when I first heard them. This was a really enjoyable read. This is a first for me by the author and one I enjoyed and would read more of their work. The book cover is eye-catching and appealing and would spark my interest if in a bookshop. Thank you very much to the author, publisher and Netgalley for this ARC.
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Thank you for the chance to read through this book in exchange for honest feedback! 

I appreciated the point of this book, and I think that the topic was interesting, modern, and engaging with some relevant musicians. However, I felt a bit bogged down by the text, as if I was reading someone’s dissertation rather than an engaging conversation about music, history and the commentary about these women. I’m also not sure about some of the choices of artists. It just seems very niche and not very accessible to an audience that may be enticed by the promises of the blurb and title. I would’ve thought there would be maybe some pictures or something a bit more illustrative for the albums or artists, just to show some more details. Not sure ultimately how I feel about this one.
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This is a really good read for anyone interested in women in music, and their role in their music styling! The writing is eloquent, and almost poetic in some parts, and this just made it a better book on the subject, not getting staled because I found the writing dry like can happen with music non-fiction. I loved this, I'd recommend it to everyone.
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This book looks at 12 female singers and their influence and the music found it very interesting and another way of looking at the artists listed.
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“This book is an argument for the cheap, the shrill, the coarse, the sour, the pungent, the saccharine: for any off-putting effect as long as it is memorable. I looked for songs that have been critically discounted but continue to boggle the mind, for emotional tones that are “nasty” (in the Janet Jackson sense of the word) rather than balanced, and for the one-off hit more than the tempered masterpiece.”

Chow’s gallery of pioneering, wayward artists consists of: Neneh Cherry; Janet Jackson; Kate Bush; Shakespeare’s Sister; Michelle Gurevich aka Chinawoman; Tina Weymouth and Tom Tom Club; Lisa Lopes, T-Boz and Chilli from TLC; Taylor Swift; Sade; Chaka Khan, and Azealia Banks featuring Nicki Minaj and Rihanna.

Chow’s passion, wit and knowledge of music made “You’re History” an absolute pleasure to read. My taste in music is eclectic; I love reading music criticism despite the fact that it can carry a pose of knowingness, of placing and summarising work. I don’t think that these artists are the twelve strangest women in music but I do now have some understanding of what makes them peculiar in ways that haven’t been fully discussed or acknowledged.

This is a book that is all about the music rather than the artist’s lives, so if you’re looking for biographical anecdotes this may not be the book for you.

Chow’s in-depth discussions of songs and what makes them unforgettable anomalies made me feel nostalgic as I remembered where I was and what I was doing when I first heard them. Who remembers Neneh Cherry’s “Buffalo Stance”? It still remains one of my favourite songs from the eighties and, yes, you can download it from Spotify. Listen to it.

Refreshingly, Chow celebrates the influential yet under-recognized genres of pop, hip-hop, disco and R&B, and highlights the innovations of women in music, especially women of color, who represent more than half of the book’s subjects.

A huge thank you to @NetGalley and @RepeaterBooks for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Wonderful book. Hadn't read Lesley Chow before but this pulls off an ambitious task of shining new light on very well known musicians.
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A love letter to the daredevil women of pop. A joy to read. Intelligent and funny. Writing about the actual music not sycophantic hero worship that is the mode of so many books about music. Loved it. Is there a playlist to go with tjis book? If not, why not?
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You’re History takes a unique perspective to music criticism. Finally, the lyrics alone are not the point.

“The most captivating music is slippery, telegraphing a secret meaning while asserting its intentions at face value. Music is not always about depth and timber: sometimes the song is best served by a slick, offhand treatment.“

The varied examples prove this theory has merit.

“Sade gets hooked on luxe mouth movement, to the point where the primary aim of the songs appears to be getting variations on texture, rather than lyrical or melodic originality.”

“[Taylor Swift’s] Blank Space forced a re-examination, introducing a new character to the world of pop. It’s narrator is a baby-faced girl who longs to be unmasked as a horror: Estella and Miss Havisham in one, with full sexual power and malevolence intact.”

Unfortunately, many of the artists described here are not as famous as they should be.

“Choosing lyrics for their mellifluous potential is unlikely to start trends or find acclaim, no matter how gorgeous or wine-dark the results.“

Even though this book is advertised as critique of twelve unique female performers, it includes many more. Even Prince, Michael Jackson and David Byrne make an appearance.

The book’s somewhat rambling and sometimes repetitive style feel like a late-night conversation with your most musically astute friend. I’ve always been a hater of music criticism. I just don’t agree with most of it. In my opinion, the almost universally critically acclaimed Bob Dylan cannot sing a note and should have been a poet. However, talking about how a song makes the listener feel is a valid part of criticism.

I truly enjoyed You’re History. I found some new favorites and remembered some forgotten gems. It is much more fun to ask Alexa to play each song as you are reading about them. 4.5 stars rounded up to 5  stars!

Thanks to Repeater Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
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