Angry Girl Whisper Music: My New Favorite Genre

Johanna Zenn

To me, nothing feels more cathartic than listening to music by women who are clearly pissed off. Not to make this a gender studies analysis (although those are always fun), but there is something so visceral in hearing women finally allowing themselves to feel the sort of righteous anger that they’re taught to repress. Kurt Cobain apparently wrote once that he “[took] comfort in knowing that women are the only future in rock’n’roll.” I couldn’t agree more. Nothing makes me happier than hearing Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna yelling about narrow gender roles in “Feels Blind” or Priests vocalist Katie Alice Greer shout her political disillusionment in “And Breeding.” And that’s just one genre. I could play Rico Nasty’s “Smack A Bitch” on repeat all day. If you are a woman yelling, for almost any reason at all, over instrumentals, know that I will probably be listening and that I am in awe of you.

Recently, however, something shifted, the stars aligned, and the universe had new plans for me. Last month, the horror movie The Turning came out. Although the reviews for the movie were mixed at best, the soundtrack is weirdly amazing. It features Courtney Love, Soccer Mommy, girl in red, MUNA, and many others. The grand fixture at the center of this soundtrack is Mitski’s song “Cop Car.” Now, I know this isn’t a new song and that there is a live recording of Mitski singing it in 2014, but I had never heard it until this studio version. It made me go absolutely insane for about two weeks. She sounds so sinister; she could be the evil villainess in a disney movie. The way she whispers “I’ve preemptively blocked all the exits,” as if she’s trapping you, the doomed listener. I could picture this song playing in the background while Amy delivers her “cool girl” monologue  in Gone Girl. The way the song builds against Mitski’s paradoxically soothing-sounding voice just makes me lose my mind. She sounds like a woman wronged by society carefully revealing her plans for revenge.

Around the same time, Hayley Williams also released her new single, “Simmer.” This song is much more overt in its message, contemplating the difficult nature of controlling one’s anger. It’s brilliant. When she asks “Oh, how to draw the line between wrath and mercy,” it feels familiar. That weighing of the pros and cons between giving in to anger or letting sleeping dogs lie. Both songs were swirling around my head giving me the feeling not of the cathartic release of anger, but the terrifying, calculated calmness that occurs just before the wrath arises. It’s menacing and powerful. I couldn’t get enough of it. So now along with yelling-angry girl music, I am a huge fan of whispery-evil-girl music. If your music makes me think of wronged women, specifically probably Maleficent in Sleeping Beauty, thank you for all you do in contributing to society and I am your biggest fan.