Clementine Creevy is a pretty cool name, and so is the woman to which it belongs. Clem, as she’s more often called, is the singer and guitarist of Cherry Glazerr, a California punk band. The group just got done touring the country with beach-punk-centric Wavves and Best Coast on the Summer is Forever II Tour. The tour made a stop in Detroit, where Clem rocked around the stage and brought an energy unparalleled by most opening acts all while wearing a simple leggings, t-shirt and sneakers ensemble. Cherry Glazerr had the young crowd thrashing. Oh, and she’s also fresh out of high school.

Clem is a prime example of a young woman traversing her way through the music industry, while maintaining who she is personally as well as who she is an artist. There are so many pressures on women, especially those who are young and in the public sphere. These demands come flying from every angle — behavioral, physical, relational and positional. In terms of music, demands such as these manifest themselves in the hetero-normative, overly-emotional and outward-looking lyrics that female performers are expected to have (on top of their flawless bodies and sexy-but-never-slutty personas, of course). Needless to say, being a woman in music can be extremely constricting.

But Clem is lashing out against these constraints. When interviewed, the young musician often calls upon female music icons that inspire her — namely Patti Smith and Carrie Brownstein, — both of whom have helped women traverse leaps and bounds in the industry, especially in the generally male-dominated rock and punk arenas. It’s encouraging to look at the domino effect that bold female artists can have on one another and on future generations of musicians; musicians like Janelle Monae, FKA Twigs and Lily Allen. The influence of past and present artists is clearly shown by Clem’s outlook and Cherry Glazerr’s work, especially is the song “Teenage Girl.”

Dreamy and drawling, the track starts off in a relaxed, seemingly non-declarative manner. Clem’s voice comes in, echoing and lax. She sings “Milkshakes and cat eyes / Lipstick and French fries” in a musing state. These opening lines transition into ones of more consequence, without any change in tone or instrumentation; “Internalize so much, but so little / Don’t make us feel belittled, world.” It is easy to gloss over these lines in their vague, softly-sung state. But when thinking about the context in a larger cultural scope, especially when considering the age and sex of their singer, these lines carry weight.

The opening lines provide a stereotypical context of what a song entitled “Teenage Girl” should be about; an unimposing, bubblegum track fraught with vanity. What comes to follow addresses the internal explanation for the lines, why these teenage girls feel the need to embrace their stereotype. Women, especially young women, are so often told that their opinions aren’t as important than those of men:  internalizing one’s thoughts is often easier than making your voice heard. I think this is what Clem is trying to call attention to in her short, sweetly-sung lyrics — that just because a young woman embraces her femininity and interests that are deemed cliché doesn’t mean she’s incapable of thought. A woman can be more reserved and girly because she wants to, not necessarily because she is doing what is expected of her. Perhaps it is exactly the opposite. Women should be free to create, express and decide upon their opinions; whether that means they want to speak openly and be feminine, be both, neither or somewhere in the middle.

Teenage Girl speaky directly to the belittlement that young women and girls face daily. The rest of the song goes on to pick up its pace and sings about “sneaking cigarettes and lunchtime,” “pink sparkly sunglasses” and how “Rob Kardashian’s a tool.” Again, these seemingly typical-teenage-girl pursuits could be looked at as satirical or as an impassioned call for women to never be ashamed of what makes them happy. Based in repetition and liveliness, the chorus, making up the majority of that track, rings out with “Teenage girl / Doo doo doo doo.” The song seems to be both a celebration of what makes being a teenage girl so special and a critique of how that important time in a girl’s life is often fraught with unrealistic expectations, double-standards and mixed signals.

With the help of her band, Clem’s able to wrap all the layers of meaning into a two-minute, dance track. The majority of Cherry Glazerr’s work tackles the lyrics in a similar fashion: with honesty and wit. This kind of approach allows Clem to wrestle with and own her youth through her art. Being a young woman, whether that means attending high school or figuring out your 20’s, is difficult in and of itself. There are endless bounds, constraints and double-edged swords — be friendly but don’t lead him on, be sexy but don’t ask for it, be ladylike but still be able the hang with the guys. Under the microscope of fame, media and the expectations placed upon young female artists, Clem’s successful and graceful musical actions become all the more impressive. And, following the strong female powers who inspired her, Clem’s voice can be used to bring attention to the steps for equality that still need to be taken. All hail the teenage girl.

 

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