Thursday, July 30, 2009

What a Girl Wants.

Though I've technically been on 'vacation' with my family for the last week, I'm still thinking about Rock Camp, and about the songs the campers wrote and performed for us. You wouldn't really describe all of them as 'rock'. Even though it's technically a Rock Camp, there is no stylistic standard or rule at WMRC. The campers are exposed to a lot different artists over the course of the week, and they get to hear recent popular music of various genres and subgenres. The result is that you can hear a lot of different influences in the songs the campers' bands write. At the last session's showcase, you could hear the girls perform songs tinged with rhythm and blues, new wave, soul, alt country, and even jam band type songs.

The songs are lyrically diverse as well. You can hear all kinds of points of view, a range of moods and tones, and tons of different themes and topics. Some of the songs are super serious, and some of them are really funny, like Sugar Collazo's "Female Llama Empowerment" (a mid-tempo "Dark Side of the Moon" style rocker about a gypsy girl whose best friend is a very progressive llama), and The Oxymoron's untitled number (a synth heavy Doors-esque stomp about an unconventional couple's non-traditional wedding and post-matrimonial adventures).

Most of the songs are a bit less fantastical. Most of the songs revolve around one or both of two themes: summertime freedom and self-discovery. Both themes frequently get tied to rock'n'roll, along with images and expressions of destruction, as in the shedding of old skins and the revelation of new ones.

Summer is a fun topic for the girls, they write about eating candy, going to carnivals and beach boardwalks, staying up late, and spending time with their friends. Underneath the frivolity is a childish sincerity. There's something almost sad about the campers' collective love of the season, and their group rejection of the way school can confine, overschedule, exhaust, and even terrify and bore kids.

The campers' songs about self-discovery are even more complex, and diverse. Their declarations of themselves and their empowerment can sound angry or jubilant. Their rejections of the status quo, their formerly conventional selves, can sound anywhere from joyous like, LOL's "Total Teenage Drama" --

to deadpan, like The Geeks --

to melancholy and introspective, like The Perfectionists:

My favorite example of a camper band writing about self-discovery is the song written last summer by Psychedelic Pink. They opened the August showcase with an untitled song, where they nervously sang that "Everyone thinks I'm a totally conventional/do I have to mention a /regular goody two-shoes school girl", but that there's "a rockstar inside of me that wants to get out/I really wanna let her out but I threw away the key".

One can't help -- and I'm almost certain that I speak for all of the volunteers when I say this -- but marvel at the depth and poignancy of what the campers have to say. I think almost all of us can relate to their lyrics about struggling to empower yourself, and then struggling to come to terms with who you are after you realize that there's a rockstar inside of you, in the words of Psychedelic Pink. And I think we can agree that hearing so many distinct and unique girls' voices, all saying similar things, makes you realize just how infrequently you really hear girls' voices. I've said it before in this blog, and I'll say it again: I believe that young girls, especially teenage girls, are the most misunderstood and maligned sector of society.

I know it isn't for lack of trying; it seems to me like a lot of corporations put a lot of energy into trying to figure out what girls want -- or, what they want to buy, at least. If these folks really listened to girls, the way we try to really listen to them at Rock Camp, they'd know that girls don't want to buy anything. They just want to be able to sing their songs of freedom. Because for "rock'n'roll girls" like us, songs of freedom are all we ever had.

No comments: