At the age of 24, Australian guitarist and singer Orianthi landed the gig of a lifetime. I can imagine that the call might have gone something like this:
“Hello, is this Orianthi Panagaris?”
“This is Michael. I saw you perform with Carrie Underwood at the Grammy Awards, and I’d like you to be my new guitarist.”
“Michael? As in Michael Nguyen from my high school math class? Are you in a band now? I thought you were going into dental school.
“No. This is Michael Jackson.”
“Ummm, you mean the Michael Jackson? Are you kidding me? You want me to play for you?!
“Yes, ma’am. I haven’t seen a girl rock like you since Joan Jett got her ‘Bad Reputation.'”
“Wow! You’re serious?! When do I start?”
Obviously, things didn’t work out like Orianthi or Michael thought they would. The tragic and unexpected passing of the King of Pop made Orianthi’s tenure with him a short one. But the exposure she received in the concert film detailing his last days, Michael Jackson’s This Is It, propelled this blazing-fingered guitarist into the public consciousness.
Orianthi’s first hit, According to You, gives off a grrl-power attitude that’s Miley Cyrus-meets-Avril Lavigne. Or maybe Kelly Clarkson-meets-P!nk. And here’s where Joan Jett factors in: Orianthi’s fierce guitar chops strongly recall the 1980s, a time when every pop-rock song, it seemed, was punctuated by an intricate guitar solo.
Turns out there’s a solid reason for why Orianthi sounds like she does. And a snippet from her backstory offers a fascinating case study (and prelude to our breakdown of her track’s lyrics) in how music can influence young listeners:
Orianthi’s father was a musician himself, and she grew up (in Adelaide, Australia) surrounded by both instruments and the records of guitar greats from the ’60s and ’70s. “Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Cream, Santana … he was into guitar players that are real songwriters,” she says of her father on her website. So it was only a matter of time before she picked up the guitar herself.
But it was a Santana concert, she says, that really turned her on to the instrument’s potential. “When I was 11, Carlos Santana came to play Adelaide and that show really affected me,” Orianthi recalls. “I begged my dad to get me a second-hand electric guitar so I could be like Carlos, and that was it, no more acoustic. After that, I would buy all of Carlos’ videos—on VHS!—which I kept rewinding to try and learn his solos. I totally wore out the tapes.”
It’s a tale that aptly illustrates the power of popular music to inspire imitators. And in this new Guitar Hero age, I’m positive that Orianthi herself will become an inspiration to others who go to her concert at age 11.
OK. Finally we get to meat of Orianthi’s song. Its narrative hook is simple: A young woman’s boyfriend has nothing good to say about her, so she’s putting him on notice that there’s a new guy on the scene who’s more appreciative of her strengths.
“According to you,” she tells her currently cranky, critical beau, “I’m stupid, I’m useless/I can’t do anything right.” And that’s just the beginning of this ungracious oaf’s grievances. “According to you,” Orianthi continues, “I’m difficult, hard to please/Forever changing my mind.” Complaints like those go on for another verse or two before this much-maligned gal informs her guy that the status quo is going to get a shake-up.
Her new guy’s got a significantly sunnier outlook on Orianthi’s character: “But according to him/I’m beautiful, incredible/He can’t get me out of his head/According to him/I’m funny, irresistible/Everything he ever wanted.”
Hmmm. I wonder which one she’s going to pick.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews as the site’s director. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children. In their free time, the Holzes enjoy playing games, a variety of musical instruments, swimming and … watching movies.