Why you should care
Because M.I.A. and Tina Fey have paid their respects, and her new film, Peaches Does Herself, shows she’s as great as ever.
Toronto-born Merrill Beth Nisker is something else. On paper, she’s a former Hebrew school student who became a Hebrew school music and drama teacher in Toronto. In reality, after bumping around in folk trios, Nisker became Peaches.
Sexy, sexual and confrontational, the 46-year-old Peaches – a name lifted from the Nina Simone song “Four Women” – was every inch aggressive id when her breakthrough single, the delicately titled “Fuck the Pain Away,” was released in September 2000 in a back-to-school gesture to end all back-to-school gestures. No one was surprised that the dramatic confronter was dramatically confrontational.
The song hit so big that Q magazine said (and it was not alone) that it was one of the best songs ever.
The surprise came later, when the song hit so big that Q magazine said (and it was not alone) that it was one of the best songs ever. And Peaches, in grand shitstirring fashion, refused to do a video for it, calling instead on all of her fans to make their own videos for it.
This was early creative crowdsourcing to stupendous effect: frat boys went heavy drag and lip sync’d shirtless along to it, old folks did mashups, and famous folks did remixes. It appeared in six movies – including Lost in Translation, Jackass #2 – and was even Liz Lemon’s ringtone on 30 Rock.
And here it is in a random sampling of some of the cooler fan-directed videos, in all their electroclash glory (and in case the song title didn’t give it away, you should expect some adult themes coming at you, loud and clear):
Jean-Claude Van Damme Dances
And her majesty in the flesh.
Peaches, “Fuck the Pain Away”