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PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2016 12:31 am 
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This is a serious question. Why isn't PJ Harvey more popular for her music and influence?

I think Rid of Me and To Bring you My Love are masterpieces. Her voice is great, she can play many instruments, she can talk about a myriad of different subjects like war, loss of a lover, female empowerment, infatuation, happiness, even menstruation, and she does that beautifully with very well written lyrics. She's the only artist to win the Mercury Prize twice. She's a genius in my book, and admired by many famous musicians. The first one I think of is Courtney Love. Polly almost fronted Nirvana!

I understand she's not mainstream, but there are other non-mainstream artists out there that have more popularity than her. You could say it's because the 90's was her prime and that she used to be famous 10 or 10 years ago, but Alanis Morissette was also hella famous 20 years ago and her most viewed video on Youtube currently has 45.465.832, while Polly's most viewed video only has 4.406.347. In my opinion, numbers don't matter, but she deserves MUCH more than that. This forum is another example. People barely post in a new topic, it's almost dead the way it is.

Discuss.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2016 10:41 am 
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It depends on which country you're talking about, I guess. But I actually think she's very popular worldwide.
And yes, the forum is not super-active everyday, it depends weather there is any news. And I like that, I like to think we are devoted fans but not obsessed over her every move, it's a form of respect to some extent.
I don't know, I actually like the way she is famous in her own peculiar way.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2016 12:32 pm 
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I know what you mean, Billy. (Which country *are* you writing from, incidentally?) We all think she wipes the floor with everyone else and can't quite get the indifference of those around us, but such is the lot of the fan. I've been surprised more than once by the variety of people who've never heard of her, if you see what I mean. It's not a matter of time blunting the memory because Let England Shake was, quite rightly of course, deluged with acclaim and public attention. But someone with such a strange combination of quality, self-challenging change, and humility isn't ever going to be more than a minority taste. Even if I now think of her as 'The real Queen of England'; and I think my friends get somewhat jaded with me telling them this. I cherish the ones who agree, and regard it as the sign of a balanced and sensible individual (though not the only sign).

They know who she is in Dorset. When Hope Six topped the album charts back in April the Bridport News ran the story and said 'Well done, Polly'. Even my mum knows who she is.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2016 12:37 pm 
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And while I think of it, I'm on the Forum partly so that I can rattle on at length about P and *probably* not bore anyone too much, and see what other people have to say. But people don't seem terribly talkative. Perhaps longer-standing members did all that years ago?


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2016 8:27 pm 
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Okay, I'll bite.

1. Much of Polly's earlier music is dark with lots of minor chords. The lyrics can be be quite dark also.
2. Polly doesn't banter much with the audience, at least not when she has a band behind her. This lends the appearance of her being aloof.
3. Polly seems to have never much enjoyed interviews or even touring for that matter. 'Meet and greets' are out of the question.
4. Polly's web site has never been much more than a billboard written by promotional staff.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2016 11:01 pm 
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Polly's popularity really doesn't matter to me. I only really consistently listen to classical music & PJ.

I long ago came to the conclusion that most people want music they 'like', i.e. makes them feel good about things & doesn't challenge or disconcert them. That's fine. But it's not for me.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2016 11:27 pm 
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DrDark wrote:
Okay, I'll bite.

1. Much of Polly's earlier music is dark with lots of minor chords. The lyrics can be be quite dark also.
2. Polly doesn't banter much with the audience, at least not when she has a band behind her. This lends the appearance of her being aloof.
3. Polly seems to have never much enjoyed interviews or even touring for that matter. 'Meet and greets' are out of the question.
4. Polly's web site has never been much more than a billboard written by promotional staff.


Kinda off-topic but I want to talk about your first point. I'm a music theory junkie, so bear me with me.

When you say her earlier music had lots of minor chords, you're talking about around the TBYML area, right? In Dry and Rid of Me, she wasn't playing chords necessarily, just 5ths and some other intervals to spice things up. Very simplistic. She said time and time again she dislikes the idea of repeating something she believes was done before, but in her early music, there were many songs which she starts or have a section somewhere that she's palm-muting a clean power chord. Yeah... that itself is very repetitive, but I love it. :grin:


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 23, 2016 11:48 pm 
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^ Yeah. I meant minor keys not chords.

The first two albums were more punkish energy than dark IMO, but TBYML started down that path.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2016 9:04 am 
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Critical acclaim and popularity are very different things. She has the first in abundance and yet does not appeal to the wider music buying(stealing) population.
A lot of my non-PJ friends still describe her as a wailing incomprehensible banshee. An image she could at times be labelled with.
As Dark says above, her music can be dark and inaccessible.
Artists don't necessarily have to be popular to be influential.
As for the forum/web activity- try following someone like Kristin Hersh- another highly thought of,influential musician who barely makes a dent on the internet!!!
I think PJ is fine where she is-inflencing, but not fawned over.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2016 10:44 am 
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DrDark wrote:
Okay, I'll bite.

3. Polly seems to have never much enjoyed interviews or even touring for that matter. 'Meet and greets' are out of the question.


She's had a number of meet and greets this year (i.e. the book signings). I met her at one of these and she didn't seem distant or aloof or anything but she's just very very sweet and gentle.

With the Instagram account and these book signings they're definitely trying to change that part of her image. Her Instagram may not be very active at times, but the pictures you get are almost always backstage pics, whereas most bands just post pics from their shows...

And of course you get bored of touring and living in a hotel room after a while, and you get bored doing the same interview and getting the same questions over and over again. If you watch a number of interviews from the LES promotion, it's just obvious that there's very little variation in questions. After a while you're probably just done talking. These things just make her human IMO.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2016 12:55 pm 
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A person only has a limited amount of time, and you take a decision over anything that comes your way - whether it be music, art, food, or whatever - as to how much of that limited time is worth spending on it. Sometimes a thing has an immediately pleasurable payoff; or it may take a bit of work. Now, I'd argue that even that part of Polly's output which does have an apparently immediately pleasurable impact is so wreathed around with unsettling ambiguities and complexities that it isn't straightforward, and it makes unusual demands of the listener. Also, with every change of her direction you have to work out afresh whether you like it or not (and some decide not). Although it's unfair, with most artists I'm not really prepared to put in the work; whereas with her, experience suggests that doing so will be rewarded. Had I developed a sense of connection with some other artist - Leonard Cohen, say, or indeed Kristin Hersh - I've no doubt I'd treat them the same way. But this kind of thing is never going to be more than a very minority sport, even though I sometimes think, 'Why isn't this woman's work taught in schools? Why isn't it one of the pillars of Western culture, like the Iliad?' Perhaps one day, when she, and we, are all long gone.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2016 1:01 pm 
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Well people here in Serbia would mostly ask you if PJ Harvey is a man, or even worse, they would hear it as DJ Harvey. When I went to Zagreb to see Polly, my aunt was perplexed as to why would I travel all that way just to see a DJ. I quite enjoy shocking my sisters, one of which doesn't listen to much music at all, and the other to current pop sensations that I couldn't care less about, with songs such as "Who the Fuck?" or "Snake". The older one actually admitted the words to "Snake" made sense as a different take on the biblical story. I, perhaps naively, hope that me exposing them to Polly could open them up to forms of expression different from the "cut-and-paste" format. My dear late grandmother was delighted when I listed to her all the instruments that Polly can play. All my supposedly best friend had to say when I played her the video for "Henry Lee" was how ugly she thought Polly was, which honestly quite confused me, as I never thought of her on those terms, quite the opposite. She loves the song now, and respects Polly apparently.

So I guess it all has to do with your taste and what you are used to, and whether you actually care about music at all as a form of art, or just as wallpaper. I don't feel I go out of my way at all when I listen to Polly, all her music is very accessible to me, so I don't really think I'm exposing myself to something that is out of my grasp or alternative or whatever. Popularity never meant anything to me at all, nor do I think it does in the grand scheme of things. To me it seems that Polly is quite revered by her fellow musicians, and that she has exactly the level of "fame" or whatever that she is comfortable with. She is driven by her work, and that to me is the trademark of a true artist and the only really important thing. All else is just a byproduct, as Marina Abramovic says.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2016 1:41 pm 
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Mr. Badmouth wrote:
She is driven by her work, and that to me is the trademark of a true artist and the only really important thing. All else is just a byproduct, as Marina Abramovic says.


Quite. She doesn't care, and thankfully has had just enough success not to have to. But encountering someone whose drives come from a different place, as it were, will be attractive to some people, and scary to others.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2016 2:33 pm 
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dickie wrote:
a wailing incomprehensible banshee


You say that like it's a bad thing


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2016 5:23 pm 
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Just to clarify, I'm from Brazil so her music isn't popular at all here. She probably came to my country once or twice.

I mentioned Alanis because she was EXTREMELY popular here. Brazil loves her and anyone over 30 knows who she is here, whether they're into rock music or not.


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