“Los Angeles / Give me a miracle, I just want out from this,” Danielle Haim sings on the first track “Los Angeles” in Haim’s newest album Women in Music Pt. III. The song is centered around the sisters growing up in the valley. Yet, as I sat and listened to the song all the way in New Jersey I felt connected to this opening line. When an album is released in the middle of a pandemic you turn to it as a way to escape, and Women in Music Pt. III served as much needed escapism.
The trio seems to hone their skills with each album, and this time around it’s no different. Women in Music Pt. III is chock full of personal songs that touch on losing a friend, depression, and navigating life. Unlike previous albums, WIM Pt. III takes you into Haim’s world. While things may not always be pretty, the sisters aren’t afraid to show every part of themselves.
A unique aspect of the album is the way it weaves into different genres. Haim creates alternative music mainly but “Leaning On You” isn’t afraid to have a bit of a country twang and “3 AM” leans into a funkier R&B sound. The experimentation on the album ushers in a version of Haim that’s eager to become more inventive. At times it seems as though all current music sounds alike, but then Haim puts out a new album and reminds you that they have always been about breaking the status quo.
As a group, Haim is incredibly self-aware and it seems as though somehow they knew this was the time to release songs that had a bit of something extra. On “I’ve Been Down” the sisters help listeners procure an image of quarantine living with the lyrics, “And I’ve been watching too much TV / Looking up at the ceiling / It’s been making me feel creepy / I’m just trying to shake this feeling.” The yawn that opens “Up From A Dream”, the “Do-do, do-do-do-do” found on “Summer Girl”, and the scream in “All That Ever Mattered” are the perfect added texture to the album.
The accompanying music videos remain very much Haim. With California as their backdrop Este, Danielle, and Alana strut together, stand still, or dance in sync. Their choreography starts out restrained before the sisters gain momentum in the video for “I Know Alone”, there’s a playful atmosphere as the sisters walk then run in the video for “Don’t Wanna”, and “Now I’m In It” sheds all preconceived notions as Danielle serves coffee in a diner, gets carried in a stretcher by her sisters, and walks through a car wash. Each moment quirkier than the next.
Music as an Escape
Of course, when planning the release of their album a global pandemic that caused everyone to stay home for months probably wasn’t something they were expecting. In fact, the entire music industry has seen its usual ways of operation turned upside down due to coronavirus.
Tours have been canceled, award shows are virtual, and new music releases have been pushed back. Every solo artist, musical group, and band has had to rethink how to get things done as fans eagerly await new music to be dropped.
Listening to Haim’s album during quarantine reminded me of how helpful music can be. During tough times it is common for people to turn to music as a way to bring them joy. There was something about Women in Music Pt. III that made me hopeful.
Even as life was upended I could put on my headphones and dance around the room to “Don’t Wanna” or sing in the shower to “Gasoline”. One of my quarantine highlights was actually joining a live Zoom class and learning the choreography to “I Know Alone” by the Haim sisters themselves.
With talk shows going virtual and musicians turning to Instagram Live concerts, there’s a certain creativity that has been necessary to succeed. Female artists in particular have been shining during the pandemic and pushing the boundaries of what can be done.
Women in Music
Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers was a somber awakening during quarantine. The deeply personal lyrics on the album made the listening experience cathartic. Bridgers’ songs “Savior Complex”, “Graceland Too, and “I Know the End” gave me room to feel the ups and downs of living through a global health crisis.
In her own words the song “Graceland Too” is “a reflection of trying to be there for people.” There’s something about the way Bridgers sings the lines “I would do anything, I would do anything / Whatever you want me to do, I will do,” that pulls at my heartstrings without fail.
Charli XCX’s album How I’m Feeling Now made the music industry take a pause. With this album, it was clear Charli did something inconceivable. Dua Lipa, Taylor Swift, and Flo Milli are other female artists that have come out with some of their best work during this time. Swift shook her fans and the album charts with her surprise release Folklore. While Milli’s rapping prowess shows she’s here to stay.
Through their album Haim takes the music industry to task by singing about the misogyny they’ve faced over the years whether in professional situations such as interviews or day to day moments like going to the guitar store. The sisters are using their music as a way to shed light on the way women who make music are treated. Luckily, with gender equality being discussed more in public forums the “normal” way women are treated is starting to change.
If Women in Music Pt. III proved anything, it’s that women in the music industry are vital. They push the boundaries and create music that sticks. A year from now, “Los Angeles” will still tether me to quarantine memories. “I just want out from this” reminding of a time when I was yearning for an escape.
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