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Why Jewel Is Cooler Than Ani DiFranco

Over the weekend, I went to Bumbershoot, Seattle’s huge arts festival, which attracts worthwhile acts from all over the darn place. Over the weekend, I was able to see two interesting performers: Ani DiFranco, the punkish, angry, folky singer, who did a solo acoustic guitar set, and Jewel, the happy, wistful, folky singer, who did a solo acoustic guitar set.

As I told people who I was going to see, I noticed something interesting. When I said I was seeing AniDiFranco, I got nods of approval. I was seeing someone COOL. When I said I was seeing, Jewel, however, I got tolerant nods. If not outright mockery. I would have gotten more approving reactions if I said I was going to a Britney Spears concert to rub up against the teenage attendees.

But it didn’t stop there. Everyone mocked Jewel. Everyone. The local newspapers referred to her with disdain. One free weekly local paper filled a whole section with jabs at her. She was the target of choice for the comedians at the festival. When the MC at a different concert mentioned Jewel’s name, people booed. Booed!

What kind of hipster groupthink cooler-than-thou bullshit is this?

And with Ani DiFranco, of course, it was exactly the opposite. Apparently, AniDiFranco is COOL.

Well, Jewel’s performance was stunning. Ani DiFranco’s performance was, well, eh. OK, I guess. I was intrigued. And, through careful observation and scientific analysis, I was able to figure out exactly...

Why Jewel Is Cooler Than Ani DiFranco:

What They Did

Ani: Stood alone onstage with a guitar and sang sincere heartfelt songs about shit.

Jewel: Stood alone onstage with a guitar and sang sincere heartfelt songs about shit.

Advantage: None.

Musical Quality, Guitar

Ani: Good.

Jewel: Good.

Advantage: None.

Musical Quality, Singing

Jewel: Anyone who is in any way connected to reality knows that, whatever else you can say about Jewel, she can SING. She has a voice that could cut diamonds. For people who like their music talent to occasionally have talent, this is kind of a plus.

Ani: Ani DiFranco has one of those raspy, atonal, lived-a-hard-life voices that tend to drive one towards a career in rock, because that’s where that shit is tolerated. She tends to give up and just speak during long chunks of her songs, because being musical would mean GIVING IN TO THE MAN.

Advantage: Jewel.

Musical Quality, Lyrics

Jewel: Extremely, painfully sincere.

Ani: Extremely, painfully sincere. Uses dirty words.

Advantage: Ani.

Musical Quality, The Little Extras

Jewel: Yodels.

Ani: Doesn’t yodel.

Advantage: Jewel. Oh, no, wait. Sorry. I guess that’s advantage to Ani. After all, doing your own thing and being different from others is really the opposite of what coolness is all about.


Jewel: Nobody will ever forgive Jewel for releasing that execrable book of poetry. And nobody should. Poetry is never good, under any circumstances. When someone makes there be more of it in the world, they should be held to account.

Ani: But wait a second. Ani DiFranco styles herself as a poet too. But she puts her poems ON HER ACTUAL ALBUMS. And she performs them WHILE ON STAGE. Why would you want to hear a singer sing songs when you can hear her launch into long rants about how much she hates SUVs and war. Whoa! Way to take big, controversial stands! You go, girl! Testify to power!

When Jewel released her book of bad poetry, she was new to fame and a lot younger than she is now. Ani, you’ve been doing this for eighty years, and you’re still reading shitty poems on stage. What’s your excuse!?!?

Advantage: Jewel. Her shitty poetry is better then Ani DiFranco’s shitty poetry, and easier to avoid.


Ani: Everyone shits themselves over how great and special she is.

Jewel: Everyone gets frothy at the mouth over how uncool she is. Everyone is too good, too hip, to listen to her. And, as five minutes watching her on stage makes clear, she could not give less of a shit.

Advantage: Jewel. Decisively.


Not only is Jewel way cooler than Ani Difranco, but this careful, scientific analysis has proved it so. Jewel is a better singer, better stage performer, and better poet. Now you have to go out and listen to her songs until you agree with my (proven correct) point of view. And the next time someone talks about Ani DiFranco in my presence, I get to make fun of them for once. I have now established my right to do so.

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