Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett’s New Single Is an Ode to Margaret Atwood

Courtney Barnett is an Australian singer/songwriter widely known for her bold, blunt lyrics and easy, conversational style of singing. Her music blurs the line between spoken word and indie rock, and NPR has deemed her, “the best lyricist in rock music today.


Barnett hit the world by storm with the 2015 release of her debut album Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. Still, despite the excitement many felt from seeing a new, insanely lovable artist with such a refreshing, honest, witty style, Barnett was never fully safe from the hate-filled trolls of the interweb. 


Shortly after her initial album release, Barnett received the strangely-simple-yet-weirdly-aggressive message, “I could eat alphabet soup and spit out better lyrics than you.”


So, she took the remark and used it to fuel the lyrics of her latest single Nameless, Faceless.


“He said “I could eat a bowl of alphabet soup
And spit out better words than you”
But you didn’t
Man, you’re kidding yourself if you think
The world revolves around you
You know you got lots to give
And so many options
I’m real sorry
‘Bout whatever happened to you”


Barnett used the line to take a critical look at gender roles and as a broader take down of the patriarchal society built upon expectations and beliefs that harm both men and women. A society that raises women to believe they must be submissive, weak, malleable, and never make a fuss. A society that teaches men that, in order to keep their masculinity intact, they must never let their softness show and always remain angry, aggressive, and on-top.


She flows into the chorus with the famed Margaret Atwood quote:


“Men are scared that women will laugh at them / Women are scared that men will kill them”


This line is used as a basis to describe her own experiences of walking home alone from pubs late at night with her keys between her knuckles, ready to defend herself should anyone try to grab her or do her harm. 


This song is relatable in all the ways it shouldn’t be in today’s world. I know I, personally, have used this defense (along with pepper spray, tasers, and keeping a close friend on the phone with me should I need someone to call for help), and I know many (if not all) of my female friends have, as well. 


Safety is a big issue within gender inequality. Women are taught from a young age that we should learn the best ways to protect ourselves—take self-defense classes, make sure we are never out at night alone, always let someone know once you’ve made it home okay. (I’ve even gone as far as indefinitely sharing my iPhone location with friends when I’ve been out on dates.) 


It’s refreshing to see an artist speak out about something that sounds so commonplace and mundane, yet shouldn’t be. Noticing a stranger’s presence as he begins to follow you down an empty street at night, forcing yourself to ignore the intense stare of a man sitting across from you on the train so you don’t accidentally make eye contact, always feeling obligated to react and reject advances politely when being hit-on so as not to become one of the thousands of women murdered a year for saying “no”, can somehow always manage to shake you down to the core, leave your anxiety at it’s peak, and really start to wear you down. Witnessing someone in the spotlight use their artwork to loudly say “hey, I’ve been there, too. I get it, it sucks, and I’m tired.” feels redeeming and hopeful.


Barnett’s take is raw, gritty, and honest, all while still remaining energizing and fun, with her Atwood references adding a literary twist! 


Check it out now!




Featured Image Via Mixdown Mag