August 5, 2021 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

Betty Who’s “The Valley” Makes Pop Personal

Betty Who is the kind of artist who might have been able to coast on covering ‘80s ballads for a good part of her career. Her combination of mournful, forceful vocals and youth-inflected lyrics lend themselves to it, and listening to her recent cover Donna Lewis’ “I Love You Always Forever” gives you a taste of what Who’s career might have been like if she’d been just a little less savvy, a little less ambitious, and a little less interested in the psychology of heartbreak, memory, and the past.

Giving a first listen to “The Valley,” Who’s California-written (with the exception of one song) sophomore album featuring anthems about impossible loves, lost time, and self reflection, you might be tempted to call her a musical Proust. Her themes and obsessions, are the same as the famous writer, but with an energy and accessibility that he (famously, woefully) lacks.

Take the second song from “The Valley,” the bouncy “Some Kinda Wonderful,” in which Who describes finding a great relationship and not believing that she could possibly deserve it:

“I keep thinking we’re meant to be/But I don’t know how to show you the best of me.”

Or the self-love anthem “Beautiful,” in which she describes looking in the mirror at her “enemy” – herself –and trying to come to terms with her self-image.

Doubt, regret, and pain plague almost every verse of “The Valley,” from the torch songs to the most upbeat singles. But it’s not that kind of mournful, oppressive sadness that weighs you down: Who blends the bitter and the sweet so artfully that you forget to examine the pain in her lyrics in favor of screaming them at the top of your lungs.

“The Valley” takes its inspiration from unexpected places, including the sprawl of California’s hills and valleys, Pasadena’s white picket fences, and the queer community’s greatest tragedy of last year.

“I wrote [“Beautiful”] the day after the shooting happened in Orlando at Pulse,” Who told Out. “I had a session scheduled and I was so moved and devastated by what happened, and I went into the session — I really didn’t want to be there. It was with one of my best friends, so he was kind of like, ‘Get your shit together, let’s do it.’ I was like, ‘I’m just tired and sad,’ and he was like, “et’s write about it.’ I was like, ‘How do we taking something so awful and turn it into something that is special and makes you feel good?’”

That’s the whole challenge of “The Valley:” To take despair and make it into something you can use.  And part of that is asking questions: What do you do when love dies, or simply slips away? How do you throw away a memory? And most importantly:  How much Moscato do you need to buy to cure a broken heart?

When Who turns to the second person to admonish someone in pain — whether herself, as in “Beautiful,” or her heartbroken friend in “You Can Cry Tomorrow,” she’s at her most eloquent. She finds a way to reconcile the past with a hope for the future while leveraging that hope against despair. In these times, that’s a political act, and one of the most radical there is.

Related Posts

Lil Nas X Releases New Music Video “Industry Baby”

July 26, 2021

July 26, 2021

Lil Nas X has shared the music video for his new song “Industry Baby”. Directed by Christian Breslauer the video...

Gaywatch: Back To The Beach

July 14, 2021

July 14, 2021

On Saturday July 10th Venice Pride hosted Gaywatch: Back To The Beach, a queer dance party at the only gay-owned...

Backstreet Boys & *NSYNC Partner Up For “Bingo Under The Stars” Pride Event At The Grove

June 19, 2021

June 19, 2021

On June 18th The Grove hosted “Bingo Under The Stars” as a charitable Pride event at The Grove’s Level 8....

“WeHo Sounds” Free Virtual Concert Series

June 11, 2021

June 11, 2021

The City of West Hollywood kicks-off “WeHo Sounds”, a free Friday evening virtual concert series on June 18. Concerts will...

West Hollywood Declares May 23rd “Born This Way Day”

May 23, 2021

May 23, 2021

The City of West Hollywood is celebrating the 10 year anniversary of Lady Gaga’s hit song Born This Way by...

Michael Mayo Finds Freedom on Debut Album “Bones”

May 23, 2021

May 23, 2021

Bisexual rising vocalist, songwriter and instrumentalist Michael Mayo will be debuting his newest album.  Mayo’s genre-defying, highly personal debut solo...

LGBTQ Mariachis, Mariachi Arcoiris de Los Angeles Return to Fuego at Hotel Maya

May 20, 2021

May 20, 2021

The world’s first LGBTQ mariachi band, Mariachi Arcoiris de Los Angeles will return to Fuego at Hotel Maya in Long...

Lil Nas X “Satan Shoes” Controversy

April 9, 2021

April 9, 2021

Since releasing his controversially queer-positive music video “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” gay singer/rapper Lil Nas X has had...

Lady Gaga Oreos Have Hit The Shelves

February 11, 2021

February 11, 2021

Oreo has released a fitting neon green and pink version of their famous cookie in partnership with Lady Gaga celebrating...

LGBTQ Marching Band Performs During Thanksgiving Day Parade For First Time In History

November 29, 2020

November 29, 2020

The Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps, an LGBTQ marching band, performed during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade making it...

#FreeBritney Rally

November 19, 2020

November 19, 2020

Fans of Britney Spears, one of the most popular pop stars in the world, performed at a Free Britney rally...

Britney Spears Loses Conservatorship Battle

November 15, 2020

November 15, 2020

Legendary pop princess Britney Spears has been in a long and drawn out court battle to remove her father, James...

WeHo Sounds Virtual Concert Series

November 12, 2020

November 12, 2020

The City of West Hollywood is launching its 2020-21 WeHo Sounds Free Virtual Concert Series, which will take place on...

Lady Gaga Launches “Gaga Radio”

August 13, 2020

August 13, 2020

Lady Gaga has added talk show host to her resume by becoming a host on her very own “Gaga Radio”...

Queerantine Kicks Off Season Two

August 9, 2020

August 9, 2020

Queerantine, a one-of-a-kind, weekly music video showcase highlighting artists across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum, created and hosted by musical artist Kisos,...