Terri is an ‘outsider’ musician. Or, to put it another way, she writes naive-but-brilliant pop songs then performs them in a sub-karaoke style so jaw-droppingly bad that it beggars belief.
Interestingly, Terri’s work is conceived as a multimedia package—she first came to the attention of citizens of her hometown of Chicago by selling VHS tapes of her performances while she worked as a limousine driver—and, like her delivery, these promos are spectacularly inept.
So, what raises Terri’s work above the level of the plain old shite? Her nonchalance. Jan Terri knows that she is a great songwriter, Jan Terri knows that she is an attractive woman, Jan Terri knows that by rights she should be topping the pop charts. That few of these things are true matters not: Terri’s self-belief is contagious because she happily goes about her business, putting almost no effort into her performances, so sure is she that the mantle of greatness is upon her.
Here is Jan Terri’s best song, and best video, in my view, Losing You. I’m particularly fond of the literal visual interpretation of the lyrics. And the fact that she looks like a black pudding in those leathers.
By way of contrast, here is Get Down Goblin, a Hammer horror inspired Halloween song. At first viewing I worried that the relatively high production values of this piece diluted Terri’s appeal, but the moment roughly halfway through when she appears to forget that she is being filmed is so charming that I came around. Also, the scene in which Terri mimes an organ solo on a piano is, perhaps, an image that speaks more eloquently of Terri’s genius than words ever could.
See also: Baby Blues a love song which is, quite frankly, deeply terrifying, and perhaps the equal of Losing You (note that the blue-eyed subject of the song is played by a man with brown eyes). And finally, there is Little Brother, which both daringly appropriates Frere Jaques and features a nod to the Shangri-Las with its spoken introduction. Terri also released an album, High Risk, but, sadly, I can find no trace of it on the web.
Update: it has been brought to my attention that Jan Terri’s genius has been brought to the attention of the head of a major record label, and that a certain lupine pop star may have plans to cover Get Down Goblin—the Jan Terri revival starts here?