Rachael Kane and the return of sweet 16

Rachael Kane and the return of the sweet 16

Rachael Kane and the return of sweet 16

Have you seen that girl?
She’s a great light in this world.
She doesn’t try to be anyone else …

So opens Rachael Kane’s new song about, well, a girl, and more particularly about the delicateness and power of a girl becoming a woman. The beauty of the teenage girl has been the subject of popular music since the dawn of it. But never has she been celebrated quite like this. And why not?

In Rachael’s hands the beauty of this time is held in preciousness – this is a zone free of exploitation – and maybe, if at first the song strikes you as too potent, or confronting by virtue of its unashamed loveliness, it will give pause to reflect just how far we have drifted from truly honouring women in popular culture.

For most people this song will signify a powerful departure from the usual cheap-shock world of pop music. A breath of fresh air in a market saturated by tired and tried clichés – from the extremes of the impossibly good girl to the duality of the sex-and-tatts-bad-girl. Rarely are girls represented for the truth and loveliness of who they are.

But why aren’t songs like this our ‘normal’?

What have we done to women in pop music that has rendered them a trophy, a prize: either hard to get and unobtainable (remembering only an object can be obtained) or completely owned and possessed by our gaze so that every part of her body is visually devoured by the cameraman’s shot, from legs, to midriffs to breasts and mouth?

Today even a woman’s most sacred places are not out of bounds in the quest for MTV ratings with up-skirt shots and increasingly pornographic imagery the ‘new benchmark to beat’ in the marketers’ and artists’ quest to trump the last extreme.

The depiction of women in pop music is a topic close to Rachael Kane’s heart. A few years ago she was that young artist. Bouncing on the bed suggestively. Pillow fighting and pouting. Working to the whim of the music industry and at the mercy of her own need to ‘make it’.

And by today’s standards the industry then was pretty tame…

The ‘need’ to succeed and everything that came after it, she says, was based on a false ideal of what constituted success.

I recently had the chance to speak to Rachael in her Melbourne studio.

What is your understanding of success in music today?

Success in music today is all about humanity. It’s about choosing to write what I know is truly evolving for people. It’s also about being who I truly am and sharing that with people through the music. Not changing myself to fit any moulds or preconceived ideals. Just being my true self and allowing that to come through in the music.

How important is it that we sing about young women, and men, in a way that truly respects and honours them?

It’s of huge importance. The way we sing and what we sing about to young men and women influences them in ways we have not realised. We are all role models for young people, but as artists we put ourselves out there to be seen by many and because of this we hold great power and influence: this is something that has been largely underestimated and comes with huge responsibility.

Why do you feel you made the choices in your career that you did when you were younger? Did you ever feel pressure to promote a particular image?

Absolutely. When I was younger I was missing a deep connection to myself, therefore I was susceptible to many things I saw outside of me that weren’t very healthy. I also didn’t feel like people really saw me or loved me for who I was, so I thought I needed to be famous to get that; unfortunately this need drove a lot of my choices. I constructed the image I had to fit within the boundaries of what would be accepted by the ‘powers that be’ at the time; those being the record companies, the radio stations, video shows and the media. It hurt a lot to do this, but at the time I didn’t realise I was filling a need, it just seemed like what I had to do to be accepted and get the job done.

I had to hit rock bottom to wake up, but it was a blessing because I realised I can just simply be me.

So what was the inspiration behind the song?

My dear friend Sara Harris is developing a project called 'The Girl to Woman Project’. She asked me if I had a song for it. After seeing some of the awesome footage she had of girls and young women talking about themselves, this song came through to me almost immediately after the meeting.

Listen to a sample of The Girl to Woman Song.

Filed under

Role modelsSelf-esteemTeenagersPornographyMusicMusiciansMusic videos

  • By Rebecca Asquith, BA

    Internet professional, media educator, writer, producer and presenter Rebecca has a keen interest in the intersection between media & communication and our health & wellbeing.