“Not a Pretty Girl” by Ani Difranco

No-one in the Indie scene disputes Ani Difranco’s crucial historical importance…she did essentially invent the Indie Folk genre, after all…but many mainstream listeners find her in-your-face political soapboxing actively annoying. Here’s the thing, though…she was a late-in-life protege of the legendary Pete Seeger, so she has genuine roots in the true Classic Folk tradition. And Folk songs have been getting blatantly political since the days of the Almanac Singers, so it’s a little late to declare that unacceptable now. Difranco essentially writes modern versions of Sixties protest songs, and her actual writing is good enough to deserve respect regardless of whether you agree with her opinions. This song, the title track of her first true masterpiece album, offers a relatively easy-to-accept form of her political positions, but at the same time it serves as a near-perfect summation of her overall credo. It also demonstrates the thing that makes Difranco such a great artist regardless of her politics…this woman is a stunningly penetrating lyricist, and this song contains some of her most powerful and intelligent turns of phrase. It actually bears a strong resemblance in its lyrical subject matter to Sara Bareilles’ 2010 hit “King of Anything”, and while the latter song is prettier from a purely musical perspective, I can’t help but suspect that Bareilles was at least somewhat inspired by this song when she wrote it.

Verdict: Good.

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