Why Can’t I? Liz Phair Goes Mainstream

Liz Phair Exile In GuyvilleVoted one of the Top 10 alternative rock albums of all-time, Liz Phair’s 1993 CD “Exile In Guyville” is one of those landmark debut records that changed music history. No big singles, just 2 to 3 minute album tracks full of emotion, honesty, and a female’s raw interpretation of life, love, and dating. “F*ck and Run” and “Never Said” perfectly capture the Lo-Fi sound and Liz’s raw honesty. Many artists have since copied Liz Phair’s style but her intense debut album was groundbreaking. Despite being such a critically acclaimed masterpiece, sales never even reached Gold Status.

“F*CK AND RUN” 1995 Live Performance

“EXTRAORDINARY” (Alternative Video)

Liz-PhairFlash forward ten years, Liz’s label looking for a more commercial sound suggested she record just a few tracks with The Matrix, a big-time pop music production company who typically work with the likes of Avril Lavigne and Britney Spears. The result? Liz finally reaches Modern Rock radio and crosses over to the pop charts with 3 hits. “Why Can’t I”, “Extraordinary” and “Rock Me”. Each song is radio-friendly with a huge hook and brought a new audience to Phair’s music as her CD were platinum for the first time. But the alt-rock community slammed her commerical sound. Pitchfork Media went so far to give her album a rating of 0.0 and many called her a “sell-out” jumping on the teen-pop sound.




“WHY CAN’T I?” Liz Phair

Many artists have to balance their artistic integrity versus making a living with their craft. Personally, like many people, I became more exposed to Liz Phair’s earlier music after hearing these radio hits. Being an “underground” superstar has a lot of street-cred but imagine the possibilities of exposing your music to a wider audience after this pop breakthrough. Unfortunately for Liz, after The Matrix singles, she never quite found her niche in either genre. Her label essentially lost interest and Liz has shifted gears. She’s now a writer and composing music for TV shows where she won an ASCAP award for the “90210” reboot.