What the world needs now …
The world needs Fefe Dobson.
But not in the way her fans nor her record company would like to think.
A young, black girl from Canada, Dobson offers up a bratty snarl that draws inevitable comparrisons to her fellow countrywoman, Avril Lavigne.
Her self-titled debut is an exercise of commercial pandering, a vertible checklist of sonic wizardry geared to milk the lunch money of unsuspecting adolescents everywhere.
Watered-down punk riffs — check. Nasal vocals — check. Token ballads — check. Simplistic assertions of feminine strength — check.
Fefe Dobson is the stuff from which indier-than-thou record store employees have nightmares.
And the world needs her.
The world needs her in the same way it needs asexual gay men on network television, in the same way it needs Japanese girls in dread locks, in the same way it needs Latino guys digging Morrissey.
The world needs her because there just aren’t any black women singing in front of electric guitars. (And what about Res? She hasn’t done anything since her debut in 2001.)
Why does the world need black women singing in front of guitars? Well, why the hell not?
Why shouldn’t one of the best reggae bands in the world come from Japan? Why shouldn’t some white trash dude from Detriot be hip-hop’s most scrutinized star?
Why shouldn’t Ravi Shankar’s daughter scoop up eight Grammys for a lethargic album of countrified jazz? And what’s to stop another cello player from transcribing Jimi Hendrix’s performance of the “Star Spangled-Banner”?
Just because the brand of rock Dobson performs is as disposable as next year’s trend among 15-year-olds doesn’t mean the idea of her is without merit.
Picture it — the screech of guitars, the scream of fans, and above it all, a woman, exploiting her femininity as a weapon in a battle of the sexes, cutting clueless men down to size in the process1.
And she is black.
This color-blind dream could extend to a point where a group of young black men can find themselves tourmates with Death Cab for Cutie.
The world may not be ready for a black woman slinging a guitar. Hell, the world can’t accomodate more than one Living Colour, let alone another Pansy Division.
But what the world is ready for doesn’t reflect what it needs.
And it needs Fefe Dobson.
1 See Shiina Ringo in the artists directory.