It’s tempting – purely from a culture-watching perspective – to say that Austin’s haunting electro-pop trio, Keeper, has captured the zeitgeist with “Pretty Baby.” And that would be exactly the wrong way to analyze a song that indicts the paternalistic and misogynistic nature of show business for its entire history.

The song – brooding down-tempo through its first three quarters, before producer BoomBaptist ratchets up the speed and paranoia to its close – was recorded as a response to the dismissive and back-handed treatment the all-female group has experienced from the mostly male power structure in the music business. An accompanying essay (included below) from vocalist Yadira Brown lays out some of the experiences and grievances she and her bandmates have encountered, and the song certainly works as the group’s decision to take a stand against the inequality they, too, regularly encounter.

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A look at the song’s first verse and chorus paints a plenty clear picture:

“big boys, makin noise so loud
telling me to make you proud
just go out and be pretty babe
go out and be pretty baby
smile and take a bow

no no no, you do not own
see em countin the money
and they lookin so hungry
no no no, you do not own
voices sweeter than honey
but that’s not why they love me”

 

The song arrives for listeners to consider as the list of women sexually assaulted and manipulated by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein continues to grow, allegations of sexual assault against an electronic musician, one of their (non-local) peers, and in the middle of the #metoo social media movement that saw women pretty much everywhere disclosing that they’d been sexually assaulted at some time in their lives. So if you pull the camera lens back on the song’s lyrics and pan out for a wider view, it’s pretty easy to apply “Pretty Baby”’s frustration to a much more macro and sinister malevolence.

That’s something that well-executed art made on a foundation of truth can accomplish; taking the personal and letting it speak to (or for) the larger world.


Featured photo via Keeper Facebook.

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