Karen O paid tribute to Nellie Bly with a quaint, endearing song that accompanies today’s Google Doodle celebrating what would have been the 151st birthday of the pioneering investigative journalist, adventurer, industrialist, inventor and activist.
Katy Wu’s animation chronicles Bly’s remarkable career, which began when she wrote a fierce retort, published under the pen name “Lonely Orphan Girl,” to a nasty column in the Pittsburgh Dispatch titled, “What Girls Are Good For.” Fittingly, Karen O begins her own song with the blunt, beautiful line, “Someone’s gotta stand up and tell ’em what a girl is good for.”
The Google Doodle touches on Bly’s numerous achievements, especially her work as a journalist and her monumental 72-day trip around the world. “Nellie, take us all around the world with you / We wanna make something of ourselves, too,” the Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman sings over an acoustic melody and Wu’s globe-trotting visuals.
Karen O’s stripped-down paean to Bly bears some of the sonic touchstones of her solo debut, Crush Songs, which was released last September via Julian Casablancas’ label, Cult Records. The LP comprises songs O wrote and recorded privately in 2006 and 2007, around the same time the Yeah Yeah Yeahs released their second album, Show Your Bones.
As for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the band has been silent since they finished touring behind their 2013 LP, Mosquito. Last month, however, Karen O and guitarist Nick Zinner came together to perform Lou Reed’s “Vicious” as part of a bittersweet tribute to the Velvet Underground frontman, who was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist.