Ani DiFranco – “Play God” (Singles Going Steady)

The beauty of the song lies in its ability to act as a unifying rallying call while still being a memorable song in its own right.

Adriane Pontecorvo: There’s nothing surprising and everything refreshing about “Play God”, a demand for reproductive freedom for women in which Ani DiFranco refuses to be nice about trying to hold on to her rights as a human being. “You don’t get to play God, man / I do,” she sings, her voice full of cool control. It’s a line that hits hard, especially among DiFranco’s personal stories of taking responsibility for herself. The melody itself is a jazzy vehicle for DiFranco’s message, letting her words take the spotlight while not adding much to the song itself. A brief, understated chorus of women’s voices lends extra drama and tension, but the words here are much more important than the music. [7/10]

Paul Carr: Ani DiFranco’s latest single is an anthem that addresses the disparity in society between those who are and those who aren’t in control of their reproductive rights. It’s a prescient and powerful message considering the restrictions placed on women in some places and cultures. DiFranco fearlessly proclaims that she is the only person who has the right to “play God” over her body. The beauty of the song lies in its ability to act as a unifying rallying call while still being a memorable song in its own right. She adds her sultry soulful sounds to a backing that could have easily been provided by the John Butler Trio. It’s a potent song that demands to be heard. [9/10]

Andrew Paschal: At an Ani DiFranco concert I attended a few years back, she bemoaned the difficulty of writing music about political issues without getting too bogged down in the details. She then launched into another song about reproductive freedom, “Amendment”, which as one can imagine gets pretty damn legislative. In the past decade DiFranco has too often traded her broad-ranging political passion and its seamless blend with relationship angst for an agenda of talking points. As is always the danger with protest music, she has frequently devolved into preaching, and it almost seemed like she should just go ahead and run for Congress rather than try to put a bill to song. If “Play God” still pales in comparison to her greatest work, it nonetheless traverses the political-personal continuum much more comfortably and fluidly. Her distinctive guitar-playing has a jagged psychedelia to it that lends a colorful sense of character, and the line, “You don’t get to play God, man, I do” is both viscerally cathartic and pointedly persuasive. A welcome return for a great feminist icon. [7/10]

SCORE: 7.67