Singer Michelle Shocked used to be something. In one way, that sounds incredibly unfair to say. The woman can still sing. She still performs fearlessly and passionately. But Michelle Shocked has become her own worst enemy, raging a against a machine that just ignores her most of the time, until she says something crazy enough to sell some papers or generate some click traffic. She’s like the Gen X Sarah Palin that way.
When Michelle Shocked first hit the “alt-folk” scene with her debut album Short, Sharp, Shocked — one of the best album names ever, by the way — the world was hers to conquer. She was adored by fans in a time when female singer/songwriters had the attention of youth.
But Shocked slipped, bit by bit. Her initial trilogy of albums for Mercury Records sold less and less. Eventually she formed her own label and started working her tail off on her own. She wasn’t the only one. Anyone who is truly “alternative” ends up doing their own thing. Ask Ani DiFranco.
But all along the way, Shocked had the support of a niche community. Well, it was a niche back then. Lesbians supported her in a big way. She was one of them, so they figured.
Except, maybe she wasn’t. Shocked was raised a Mormon. Once she broke big in the college radio scene, she flirted around the edges of the lesbian subculture. She joked about it. But she also married a man, leading to a shift in the story. Most figured Shocked was bisexual, and that was okay too.
But Shocked later found Jesus. She was baptized as a born-again Christian at West Angeles Church of God in Christ, a church known for its celebrity attendees. She joined the choir there. Then, much to the chagrin of her long-standing fan base, Shocked started talking trash about homosexuals in her concerts.
At a gig in San Francisco in 2013, Shocked told the audience that “God hates fags,” and that she feared the world would be destroyed if gays were allowed to marry. She spoke of ministers being forced at gunpoint to marry homosexuals.
If you say "Michelle Shocked" three times in a mirror, Gertrude Stein will appear and serenade you with "It's Rainin' Men". #truthvsreality
— Lord Fanny (@satyrico) July 28, 2014
That was it for most of what was left of her support. Shocked went on to wage long, drawn-out Twitter battles against the media. She posted home phone numbers of reporters, which got her banned from Twitter three times.
Now Shocked wants to go on tour again. She needs to raise money to make the tour happen. So she has launched a stunt that she hopes will bring in a few bucks. It is an album of entirely silent songs called Inaudible Women. She claims the songs are actually so high-pitched that only dogs can hear them. And she has named the tracks after people in the record industry that she feels are the enemy, as well as one reporter with whom she has feuded ever since the San Francisco debacle.
You have to give her props for doggedly not giving up. It is unclear who she appeals to now, but almost any act will find a fan if it looks hard enough. It will be interesting to see who, if anyone, buys Michelle Shocked’s album full of nothing. But chances are, the whole will end up just being a sum of the parts -- a whole lot of nothing.
Image via YouTube