Popular Things That Suck: Lizzo

It’s no secret that we live in highly polarized times, and artists like Lizzo profit from the fractured “you’re with us or against us” nature of communication, especially online. A key part of Lizzo’s ascending fame is seen in the reality that, as a white man, if I’m looking to criticize her music or brand, I know I have to tip-toe very carefully and try to dodge landmines with every step (also, it’s important for me to acknowledge being a white man, which some will take as reason to disregard everything I say). One mistake and I’ll be branded as racist, misogynistic, fatphobic, prudish, or any other variety of insult that could result in me being “problematic” or “canceled.”

Lizzo’s brand is built to withstand criticism because she represents the admirable traits of self-worth, body positivity, sexual liberation, etc. Shrewdly, she has incorporated all of these positive themes into her persona, turning her art into a morality litmus test — to like Lizzo is equated with being a progressive person who holds the valorous, correct views on these subjects, which means hating her as an artist is now seen as akin to not being down with the cause. Complicating this is that, yes, if someone is a racist or misogynist or hates fat people, they are likely to also dislike Lizzo and raise a big stink about it, and those are often the most visible negative reactions to her. This means that even legitimate criticism of Lizzo only results in you being grouped in with an assortment of internet trolls and human garbage. The trick played here is one I’ve also been witnessing a lot in corporate public relations: associating your product with social justice allows you to frame any reasonable objections as the offensive ramblings of internet bottom feeders, which squelches dissent and assures the consumers that they’re “the good ones” who are part of a cause.

I find Lizzo to be the peak of this kind of noxious empowerment marketing, which makes her an artist I think about disproportionately to how much I actually interface with her work. My visceral skepticism with this seemingly well-meaning artist who has a positive effect on people has also led to me questioning myself: does my irritation at Lizzo make me one of those garbage people? I don’t know, maybe it does. But I think there are elements to her presentation worth analyzing and criticizing, and I’ve grown frustrated with the cheerleading portrayal of her in the media, especially locally in Minnesota where any artist from here who “makes it” (turns their art into a commercially successful product) is treated as if they just found a cure for cancer.

At the core of Lizzo’s whole positivity brand is the idea of “self-care,” which is personified in her music that is aggressively uplifting with themes built on her own confidence and disdain for anyone getting in her way of flaunting it. “Good as Hell,” her most inescapable song, celebrates the self in a way that obviously appeals to a wide range of listeners who relate to Lizzo or aspire to have her “no fucks given” attitude. Like all things Lizzo, this is a potentially beneficial concept that gets stretched to the point of irritation. Of course having confidence is great, and so is empowering others, but Lizzo’s music also encourages contentment and a refusal to work on or accept your flaws. The actual ethos of “self-care” was revealed last year, when she tweeted “PEOPLE WHO ‘REVIEW’ ALBUMS AND DON’T MAKE MUSIC THEMSELVES SHOULD BE UNEMPLOYED” after Pitchfork gave her a positive, but not suitably over-the-moon, review. Lizzo’s idea of self-care isn’t about growing and improving as a person, whether through internal reflection or criticism, but about embracing yourself as the flawless center of the universe and your skeptics as ignorant losers who must not understand your special gifts.

It’s a convenient position to hold for an artist whose success is more due to sociopolitical trendiness than talent. Part of Lizzo’s egotistical “self-care” lifestyle seems to involve ripping off other artists, as she has faced notable plagiarism accusations for using the line “I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% that bitch” from “Truth Hurts,” for which her defense was that she simply “borrowed” a line in her song from a popular tweet. While this isn’t a horrendous crime or anything, it’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of someone’s talent that their lyrics are coming from Twitter. But nothing Lizzo does goes a whole lot deeper than a tweet anyways. Her entire brand is this surface-level, thoughtless positivity that cloys, and most of the music I hear of her sounds like the sort of corny “get happy, people!” sounds you could picture being played during a 7 a.m. workout class at a mandatory corporate retreat. I never sense any introspection in her work — there’s no need for it when you’re already perfect.

The more difficult to critique aspect of Lizzo’s presentation is in her sexually provocative imagery, which is mostly seen on her Instagram profile or music videos. Lizzo is proud of her body and shows it, which is (again) admirable and I suppose you could even say brave given that few people who look like her are in positions of celebrity. But Lizzo is also in a bit of a catch-22, where the whole reason for her success is because she’s “not like the other girls,” which gives her sexuality shock value. A lot of her audience, along with music writers, eat this up, acting like it’s completely amazing and stunning that a fat woman has sexual desires and isn’t ashamed of her body, similar to those old Susan Boyle viral videos where everyone condescendingly acted incredulous that an unattractive person could have talent. In this way, Lizzo’s presentation only reinforces stereotypes, and it benefits from the same collective prudishness that she thinks she is fighting against. To be fair to the artist, none of this is really her fault, but is more about the hysteric reaction to something that shouldn’t be a big deal. It adds to what makes her popularity grating when everyone is in utter disbelief over what is really no different than anything else from the old “sex sells” playbook.

There should be more body diversity and acceptance in media, and maybe Lizzo’s obnoxiousness is a price worth paying if it leads to that. The problem is that, despite her portrayal as an outsider who is different, she is succeeding in the same superficial way that every other pop star does, and there is nothing in her work that goes deeper than novelty. All of it is shamelessly commercial, and based on how often her music shows up in advertisements, it’s been a boon for corporations who want to commodify social issues while conveying that buying their product is in some way rebellious. There is a lot to think about and discuss with the intersection of body image, sexuality, and confidence in society, but Lizzo only addresses those potentially fascinating subjects in the most thoughtless, obvious way. Of course, this is why she is successful: her entire brand benefits from a culture that has no interest in considering these difficult subjects beyond the most feel-good and simple conclusions.

The Green Child Explore Our “New Dungeon”

Now that we’re months into this pandemic debacle, some of the first songs written during and about the experience are starting to surface. The Mexican Summer label has an ongoing singles compilation called Looking Glass that is focused on “the human condition as reflected through remote connection” and it includes this song called “New Dungeon” by The Green Child, a collaboration between Raven Mahon and Mikey Young that I raved about when their self-titled album was released back in 2018.

This song captures what I’m starting to think of as the mundane psychedelia of these times. I am living through what genuinely is one of the craziest things that has ever happened, but on a day-to-day basis the experience is surreally boring. Furloughed from my job and with my life basically on pause, there is plenty of time for the mind to wander while stuck indoors doing my various introvert hobbies like listening to music, writing, and watching old movies and crappy empty arena wrestling. With a certain level of privilege also comes guilt — as someone used to the shut-in life, this all feels like it’s easier than it should be. The titular image of the “new dungeon” summarizes this experience, as everyone is in this shared uncharted territory that feels like a prison for the mind. The song also gives the listener the key to escape it.

Like their cousin Cold Beat (another band formed from the ashes of Grass Widow with Mikey Young contributions), The Green Child’s music is subtle, maybe to a fault in terms of connecting with a wide audience or exciting most music hype people. But the quiet, reflective psychedelia of this track is exactly what I’ve been feeling lately. Singing over a repetitive taut synth part, Mahon’s lyrics (at least the ones I can make out) describe fairly dull experiences about exploring a new space, which take on a psychedelic tinge due to the sound and her distant delivery. She says it was inspired by moving into a new jam room in their house in Australia, when “self-isolation was exciting before it got weird.” This made me realize that pre-weirdness is kind of The Green Child’s thing. Their songs are psychedelic and strange, yet never quite tip over into the realm of being completely bizarre and incomprehensible.

That mix of weirdness and normalcy is at the heart of the current quarantine experience, as are the feelings of living in a world that feels like it’s about to change substantially in ways that aren’t really known yet. I’ve always valued psychedelic music that can take me somewhere else while also capturing feelings I have in a more abstract, intangible way. “New Dungeon” is the epitome of that, and it’s quietly one of the more powerful songs of the year so far.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s “The Mosaic of Transformation” Offers Soothing Sounds in Troubling Times

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s new album, The Mosaic of Transformation, has the unenviable task of following, no joke, what I consider one of the greatest albums of all time in 2017’s The Kid. It will take some restraint not to turn this post into more gushing about that work, but suffice to say, it had a mix of childhood wonder and sophisticated pop songwriting that is shared only by a select few artists who I worship (Björk, Trish Keenan, that’s about it). Just to up the difficulty further, what made that album so remarkable was its execution of about the most ambitious concept you could try in music, which is telling the story of life. Where are you supposed to go after you’ve made an album that already captured everything? Such an album necessitates regrouping and trying something on a smaller scale, and that’s what Smith has done here, with a shorter series of songs focused around energy and the human body.

It’s a fitting theme for Smith, whose songs are made up of all these tiny interconnecting parts that combine to function against all reason. While on the surface her modular synthesizer noodling resembles new age background music (she did release an album specifically for yoga and meditation last year), it also appeals to obsessive types who enjoy being overwhelmed by little flourishes and touches that can be analyzed forever. One of the cool effects of The Kid was how all of her sounds that could feel random took on deeper meaning because of their connection to a narrative. A simple droning note and bird calls on “Who I Am & Why I Am Where I Am” became a moving piece on idly contemplating the self; the rapid percussion on “A Kid” brought to mind early childhood exploration and discovery as Smith seemed to be playing in her own musical sandbox. On The Mosaic of Transformation, her focus shifts from the evolving mind to something more physical; her bubbling, fluttery synth sounds now make me think of molecules or cells, and every song bursts with these little fragments of energy.

While Smith’s work recently has had her embracing more pop structure and melody, on The Mosaic of Transformation she dials back her voice and creates free-flowing compositions that use repetition to soothe the listener. The few lyrics on the album more resemble mantras than traditional storytelling, such as the refrain of “be kind to one another/we’re calming together” on “Remember.” The instrumental “Carrying Gravity” gradually piles on layers of strings and other sounds over its drones, creating a peaceful symphony of movement. The long closing track, “Expanding Electricity,” is the album’s densest song (and maybe the busiest of all of Smith’s songs in general, which is saying something), as all of the energy built up in the previous songs comes together to form a harmonious whole.

What’s missing for me on the album is any kind of narrative thread connecting the songs, which was such an important part of The Kid transcending its blippity-bloopity trappings. There is a high floor to Smith’s music because it is so creative and contains such thought and spirit, but without a central narrative, the multitude of sounds and flourishes start to lose meaning and it fades into the kind of background music that she expertly avoided on her previous two albums. The Mosaic of Transformation is also being released at a somewhat inopportune time: while its calming, peaceful sound provides some solace in this insane year, it also at times starts to border on being cloying and naïve, feelings that The Kid was able to harness because they fit its themes of wide-eyed childhood innocence. Smith’s unbounded positivity is admirable, but I’m beginning to wonder if there is a tipping point where it becomes too detached from the real world to be a valuable statement.

Those critiques come off harsher than I probably intend, only because I know how powerful Smith’s music is when she is able to connect her fascinating sounds with a fruitful story. She is still an expert at channeling her distinct charisma through her electronic tools, and this is another album that is identifiably hers and exists in its own musical space separate from what everyone else is doing. Just that alone makes this worthwhile in a blobby indie landscape that has fewer and fewer truly original voices. The Mosaic of Transformation is a step back for her, but it’s one that probably needed to happen. It still succeeds on its own terms and offers some serenity at a time when we could all use it.

“Warnings” is a Major Breakthrough for I Break Horses

While recently writing my albums of the decade list, my mind started connecting the dots between the records I enjoyed the most in the last ten years. A common link between many was that they sounded ambitious and vast, yet still maintained a sense of personality and intimacy. Albums like Tamaryn’s The Waves, Angel Olsen’s All Mirrors, and Bjork’s Vulnicura were three just from the top ten that came to mind as fitting into this framework. They all succeeded at scratching the itch I have for big, dramatic sounds, but also my desire to hear music that reflects an individual with distinct charisma, which tends to be my primary focus in the medium.

Warnings, the latest album by I Break Horses (the recording project of Swedish singer/songwriter Maria Linden), is a strong entrant into this class of album. Its release comes after a six-year hiatus since 2014’s Chiaroscuro; in the last year, I had coincidentally been revisiting her earlier music and wondering what happened to her, assuming the project had just ended without much fanfare. Her 2011 debut, Hearts, was the archetypical early 2010s electronic dream pop album that was very listenable, glossy, and chill, but didn’t have enough personality or originality to be more than a collection of solidly crafted, kind of forgettable pop songs. Warnings is a much more ambitious release that also feels personal and distinct, which is what makes it such a satisfying breakthrough.

The difference in Linden’s approach is obvious from the first song, “Turn,” which dispenses with typical pop lengths and breathes freely over the course of nine minutes, which are built around a repeated arpeggio and dense rhythms. The lyrics describe a tumultuous relationship that changes over time, so the song has a reason to go this long as it conveys her shifting emotions. The words don’t exactly jump off the page if you just read them, but they’re elevated by the whole sumptuous atmosphere the song creates, as well as Linden’s voice, which remains the biggest strength of her work. Beyond just the subjective “she sounds great” aspect, there is a sincerity in her delivery, and she can range from delivering soaring choruses to the quiet parts of this song that give it a sense of solitude and intimacy.

The release of Warnings was prefaced by a stellar run of singles that guaranteed I was going to love this album way more than anyone else who wastes time writing about music. “Death Engine” is in a similar vein to “Turn,” in that it uses length and space to tell a dramatic story about suicide and loss. “I’ll Be the Death of You,” “Neon Lights,” and “The Prophet” are pop songs from Linden’s old playbook, with earworm melodies, smooth production, and more straight-forward lyrics about relationships. But even those more traditional songs show further self-assuredness with her craft. They all take their time and the focus continues to be more on Linden expressing herself with her voice than just on cultivating a cool aesthetic. The album also sprinkles in some short ambient mood pieces, which help break up the pop songs while showing different sides of Linden’s creativity. The only real misfire on the album is the last track, “Depression Tourist,” and even that has less to do with the craft and more to do with me being a cranky music boomer about autotune. I will never understand why someone who has talent like Linden’s would mangle their voice with that sort of gimmickry, and it feels out of step with the rest of the album’s organic, soulful vibe.

That’s a small complaint when the rest of the album gives the listener so much, and it’s also a natural side effect of the ambition that makes the other songs so memorable. When announcing her new album after such a long break, Linden vowed that she wanted “to create the most intimate and sincere songs I felt I had in me.” Warnings delivers on that promise, and she didn’t have to trade off any of what made her previous music so appealing to get there. This album’s sound and its depth are on a different level, and few recent albums have had this combination of evocative singing and songwriting with addictive pop hooks.

Midwife’s “Forever” is a Nuanced Depiction of Grief

Madeline Johnston, who records as Midwife, has come up with a great name for her genre of music: “heaven metal.” Her second album, Forever, has the noise of metal with songs built around heavy guitar, but it trades in that genre’s usual aggressiveness for calming repetition. The result is a gloomy, immersive atmosphere that is reminiscent of some of Emma Ruth Rundle’s work, though this music is less focused on hooks. Instead, Johnston makes these songs into formless voids that are dark, emotive, and also weirdly peaceful. It’s relaxing to let everything go and let this album’s sound wash over you.

Johnston muffles her voice in the guitar, almost sounding like she’s patching into the songs from a radio. The lyrics are simple and repetitive, matching the droning guitar parts, and they’re focused on loss after a friend of hers, Colin Ward (who is heard reading a poem on the album’s fifth track track, “C.F.R.W.”), passed away. That lends the songs an underlying purpose and feeling that helps keep it engaging, unlike some other drone albums that can be difficult to connect with if it just feels like the artist is experimenting with sounds for the sake of it.

Forever only has six songs, but each are their own distinct, haunting reflections on grief. Opener “2018” captures the initial shock and anger, with its only lyrics being “this is really happening to me” and “get the fuck away from me, 2018.” The closest the album has to a single is “Anyone Can Play Guitar,” which has a gentle melody that blends in with Johnston’s reverbed guitar. “Vow” and “Language” bring the volume down to nearly a whisper, using space and spare droning notes to create a feeling of vast emptiness. Ward’s poem jars the listener out of that lull at the start of “C.F.R.W.” which is followed by four minutes of reflective ambient sound that lets his death settle in. That transitions into the closer, “S.W.I.M.,” which returns to the heaven metal sound with the loud guitars and shoegaze-inspired riffs. Johnston sings her most straight-forward, heartbreaking lyrics on that song, conveying her struggle to move on: “I don’t want to swim forever, treading water my whole life.”

It is grim material, and Johnston portrays it unflinchingly, using both her words and the sound to convey her grief directly while also retaining ambiguity that will allow listeners to connect with these songs in their own way. As heavy as the subject matter and sound is at times, there is an undercurrent of resolve and strength in her noisy guitar parts, which help the album avoid feeling like it’s just hitting you over the head with sadness. Forever gives the listener a lot more than that; it’s a nuanced, heartfelt recording that belongs to its own genre and does justice to her friend’s memory.

“Fetch the Bolt Cutters” is Fiona Apple in Peak Form

It’s nice that we can all agree. Fiona Apple’s new album, Fetch the Bolt Cutters, is receiving nearly unprecedented critical praise, and deservedly so. If you’re like me and think of music primarily as a vehicle for personalities and charisma, it is hard for anything to top this. Every song on this album is one that only Fiona Apple could have made, with words that only she would say. The level of detail and specificity in these songs makes the album transcend the idea of confessional songwriting: this isn’t just a little window into Apple’s world, it is her world, and anyone who listens is living in it for its entire duration.

That’s an underrated and increasingly rare trait in art — the idea of the work as a way to deepen your understanding of other people. A lot of Apple’s lyrics on Fetch the Bolt Cutters deal with uncomfortable subjects of abuse and gaslighting at the hands of men, especially the way they impacted her mindset and her friendships with other women. The most jarring moment, on “For Her,” comes after a couple minutes of a fun-sounding ditty when the song stops and Apple matter-of-factly states “Good morning. You raped me in the same bed your daughter was born in.” It’s a far cry from “Sullen Girl” from Tidal, which couched its story of rape in a metaphor about a man taking her pearl and leaving a shell. Now, Apple is comfortable just saying the truth and embracing the harshness of it. On “Newspaper,” she describes a previous partner who caught her up in “his big show” and then began seeing another woman, who Apple felt an unspoken bond with.  “I wonder what lies he’s telling you about me to make sure we can never be friends,” she muses, backed by a variety of percussion and backing vocals. “You and I won’t get a witness,” she adds. “We’re the only ones who will ever know.”

But now, through these songs, people will know a little bit, even if they don’t have the specifics. As a man, I realize it looks weird that I’m almost always celebrating the work of women, but part of it is how much I value this aspect of art. I can try to live with empathy and do my best to understand other people with different experiences, but I can’t really know. Albums like Apple’s are the closest you can get to walking in another person’s shoes because of the blunt, vivid truths in her lyrics and the authenticity of her performance. That’s a gift that shouldn’t be taken lightly, and albums like this are why I listen to music.

The lyrics get so much of the attention, but the sound is just as big a part of this. I’ve written a decent amount about The Shaggs, who were untrained sisters who possessed little knowledge or training in music, yet still recorded an album at the behest of their father, which ended up becoming a cult classic. My argument in favor of them was that, while their music sounded unpleasant, there was a pureness and authenticity to it that is almost never heard, because it was made with no desire to impress and contained no references to other music. Fetch the Bolt Cutters is about the closest a trained, talented musician has come to capturing that magic. In every element of these songs, Apple is breaking down the barriers of pretension and performance, until all that’s left is just her voice, her stories and the truth.

The instrumentation is heavily focused on rhythms, with Apple’s familiar piano playing a part along with miscellaneous percussion (which I suspect is just from things lying around her house) and drumming from her friend, Amy Aileen Wood. “Mistakes” are left in the recording, most notably dogs barking in the background (five are credited on the album with “backing barks,” “collar jangles,” and “thrashing”). In the closing track, “On I Go,” Apple can be heard saying “oh fuck, shit!” after presumably screwing up a take. Leaving these in is just another way Fetch the Bolt Cutters reduces the distance between itself and the listener, which, along with the emotional, biographical lyrics, gives it an unparalleled level of intimacy. When I listen to this album, I feel like I know exactly who Fiona Apple is.

Out of all those traits of hers that come through so clearly on Fetch the Boltcutters, my favorite is her intolerance for bullshit, which was made famous in her speech at the 1997 VMAs. It not only makes her likable, but it adds to her work, which benefits from not having slick production, trendy sounds, or any of the other factors that are often associated with quality but make it difficult for listeners to connect with music in a deep way. This is a sophisticated album that was likely obsessed over for a long time, as all of hers are, yet it feels raw and spontaneous because of its loose structure and homemade production, which adds to the visceral power of the lyrics. Apple’s voice is a major part of this, as she almost scat-sings through a lot of the album rather than singing show-offy notes. Her singing feels utilitarian, like all she wants to do is get the truth out as quickly as possible instead of being weighed down by the usual performative flourishes. She has mastered the art of making such effortful music feel organic and achingly real –only an album with this many imperfections could sound so perfect.

Becky vs. Shayna and Cheering for the Yankees

Wrestling fans have an unhealthy obsession with losers. Most online discourse now seems to revolve around who is getting “buried” or who “deserves better,” and often these complaints come with some bonus conspiracy theories about who Vince McMahon likes and why. It’s a very easy habit to fall into because the outcomes are pre-determined, which means theoretically any wrestler could be booked to win any match, so anyone can fantasize about what would happen if their favorite received the strong booking of top stars.

As a long-time Becky Lynch fan, I feel like a veteran of this type of fandom — I’ve already been through it all, come out the other side, and am now free to offer my wisdom to the less experienced fans who don’t know any better. Because Lynch was the loveable loser in WWE for most of her career, really starting with her classic match with Sasha Banks in NXT in 2015, then in her feud with Charlotte Flair, where Becky portrayed the plucky underdog who constantly got screwed by her former friend with a family legacy. At one point, I think Lynch lost something like 11 pay-per-view matches in a row. She was never portrayed as a complete joke, as WWE would throw her a bone with wins here and there, but she was obviously not a priority of the booking team for most of this time.

After a lot of these losses, Becky would go backstage and cut an unscripted fiery promo, where she was outraged at the villainous behavior of the heels and vowed to get revenge. These would be posted on WWE’s YouTube channel, where not a lot of people saw them, but most people who sought them out were won over by Becky’s genuine demeanor, her passion, and her ability to seem real in the increasingly fake world of wrestling. After every loss that should have made fans give up on her, Becky had a knack for saying exactly what she needed to in order to make people keep believing in her. She plucked away at this for a long time, gradually building an army of passionate fans without WWE really taking much notice until they turned her heel and the fans rejected it because they liked her too much. And at WrestleMania 35, it all paid off when she defeated Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey in the first women’s main event as the ascending fan favorite.

At Wrestlemania 36 this past Saturday, Lynch and her fans found themselves in a very different place: she has now been champion for a year, she’s one of their most promoted stars, and there is more scrutiny than ever before. While it’s so easy in wrestling to root for the underdog or the loser, Becky has become the ultimate winner, and a vocal segment of the audience is sick of her “holding back” the division, preventing their favorite losers from becoming stars. Her match with Shayna Baszler seemed prime for a passing of the torch: Baszler is a vicious heel who thrived in NXT and I thought was likely to defeat Becky to cement herself as a major player on the bigger stage of Monday Night Raw.

The company had other plans, and Becky prevailed in my favorite match of the first night of the two-night Wrestlemania spectacular. The match only lasted about nine minutes, but it was hard-hitting, intense, and both wrestlers fought like winning meant more to them than anything. In the end, Becky won with a roll-up out of a submission move by Shayna, which Shayna will likely view as a flukey embarrassment while Becky will see it as her outsmarting Shayna and finding a way to win through superior technique. As chapter one of likely a two or three match story, it was exactly what it should have been.

Watching that match is where I fully realized the weird position I’m in, cheering for the frontrunner as someone who almost never loves anything that’s too popular. Similar to Yankees fans, I’ve learned to embrace the trollish aspect of it — regardless of whether it’s “good booking,” at this point I cheer for Becky to win and then make fun of the people who get mad when she does. As far as I’m concerned, Becky should be champion forever.

This is probably the optimal way to watch wrestling rather than micro-analyzing the business decisions, and her matches particularly benefit from this method of viewing. Becky isn’t the most athletic or smoothest in the ring (she’ll be the first to tell you), but she fights like she cares and is able to scrap out these victories over seemingly much more physically gifted performers. She’s a protagonist people can believe in who is fun to root for, and it all feels natural because she created this energy herself through hard work and determination. So it’s a very different vibe than some of WWE’s other stars like Roman Reigns or (in the past) John Cena, who were the top face but had a certain hand-picked corporate stench to them.

Becky is certainly a corporate favorite now, but only because she made herself undeniable by using every chance she could to develop her character and make herself sympathetic. I included the history lesson at the beginning because I feel like there is some revisionist history around this, where people act like she got over through happenstance and then WWE started pushing her. The reality is that she dug herself out and changed the way the higher-ups perceived her by connecting with the audience at a level few ever have. Nothing is stopping other wrestlers who people moan about “deserving better” from doing this except that they aren’t as talented and smart as Becky Lynch.