There's a whole history of great artists battling their record companies, from Neil Young's war with Geffen Records in the early '80s to Prince's fight from emancipation from Warner Bros. in the mid-'90s. Now a new artist has entered the fray. Amanda Palmer, who first gained notice as half of Dresden Dolls, has put her quest to divorce her current label, Roadrunner Records, in a song sung to the tune of "Moon River." Check it out.
I first learned of Palmer's beef with her label via an email/blog distributed by industry commenter Bob Lefsetz. In a screed that Lefsetz headlined "E-Mail Of The Day," Palmer wrote that her "label-dropping game has become very fun," and went on to complain that the "head of digital media" at her label in Australia didn't know "what Twitter was" and then the label rep claimed "it hasn't caught on here yet." Palmer says she proved the label rep wrong by Twittering she was going to make an appearance in a public park. A mere 12 hours later, she claims 150 fans showed up to get their records signed.
Palmer's beef with her label has been going on for some time. In December, she reported on her blog that Roadrunner allegedly cut scenes from her video for the track "Leeds," featuring her exposed belly, "because they thought I looked fat." The set off a firestorm among the Palmer faithful, who posted photos of their bellys with some not-so-nice messages for executives at Roadrunner, coined the movement The ReBellyon, and even created their own website for the cause. Check out the "Leeds" video below and Palmer's infamous belly.
Never one to shy from controversy, Palmer also created a stir with the video for "Oasis," the semi-autobiographical tale of a teenaged rape victim who chooses to have an abortion and copes with the trauma by focusing on her love for the band fronted by the brothers Gallagher. She turns the serious subject matter on its ear with '60s-style harmonies and a downright goofy video. Apparently such treatment didn't sit well with British broadcasters, who declared the video "making light of rape, religion, and abortion" was not suitable for broadcast. Check it out and let me know what you think.
Both of those tunes are from Palmer's solo debut, Who Killed Amanda Palmer? The album was produced and features Ben Folds, who aside from releasing music under his own name and with the Ben Folds Five, spearheaded an interesting project with William Shatner in 2005.
Who Killed Amanda Palmer?, a title inspired by David Lynch's groundbreaking TV series Twin Peaks, slipped under my radar when it was released last fall. But now, thanks to her rebel rousing, I've rediscovered Palmer and I'll be tracking her next move. I don't know about you, but I like artists that push the boundaries and create controversy while simultaneously making thought-provoking music. That said, Palmer's actions, music and videos leave me with all sorts of questions for you. First, do you think Palmer's justified in asking for her release from Roadrunner? Does she look fat in "Leeds Unlimited" and if she does, does it matter? What do you think of her handling of the subjects of rape, abortion, and fandom in "Oasis"? While you ponder all those questions, take a look at the videos for "Point Of It All" and "Runs In The Family," two more tracks from Who Killed Amanda Palmer?