Even though the “manic pixie dream girl” is mainly a standard film archetype amongst the millennial and post-millennial set, if there was a musical equivalent, it’d be Dani Taylor. Adorable and spunky with the right balance of “delightful” and “awkward,” she embodies that quintessential trope that implies that she may not be the girl for you, but she’ll help you find the right “you” for you.
In her new song “Girl Most Likely,” Dani carries an infectious sort of whimsy and eccentricity that was set upon the world by “Claire Colburn” (Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown), “Allison” (Zooey Deschanel in Yes Man), and“Clementine” (Kate Winslet in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), characters who were just one step out of sync with reality but 100% in sync with the heart. In perfect lockstep, she sings, “I open my umbrella before I leave the house / Oh well, I might be late but I’m always right on time.”
For those lonely, nerdy guys out there, she’s perfect. In her own mind, however, she’s the nerd. “I wrote this song because I am the ‘girl most likely’,” she laughs from her parked car at a Starbucks, borrowing WiFi, just outside of Glacier National Park in Montana. Even that setting has enough quirk to launch a thousand Natalie Portmans. “I define the ‘girl most likely’ as someone who defies all odds against them and succeeds with confidence in their goals and dreams. I wrote this song because I want to empower those with similar experiences being labeled the ‘girl most likely,’ the ‘underdog’, or the ‘loser’.”
This Xena sense of warrior instincts however came with an unfortunate price. “A lot of people have told me that I would never be a country singer-songwriter because I ‘wasn’t good enough’,” she confesses, exposing the emotional scab she hides. “I even had a friend once tell me I shouldn’t pursue it because ‘nothing would come of it’. In high school, a girl I barely knew told a friend of mine that I ‘would never be successful in life’… and I didn’t even know the girl!”
Thankfully, these naysayers were 100% wrong. Like Taylor Swift staring down bitter industry pundit Bob Lefsetz in her song “Mean”, this other Taylor turns those bad experiences into strength and confidence. “I never let it stop me,” she smiles, exposing that Amazonian poise and power. “I knew I had to go on this journey even with the universe against me. I wrote this as a reminder to myself and others to keep going. Don’t dwell on the negative things that happen or the rude things people say to bring you down. Take that negativity and use it as fuel to keep going. Staying positive and proving people’s opinions wrong is the best thing you can do for yourself and others. There is no better revenge than knowing who you are, staying confident and positive, working hard, and ‘being nothing like you [or they] thought’.”
Playful and coy, “Girl Most Likely” carries that countrified smirk and snicker of early Tay-Tay and similarly imbues a formidable pop punch that will knock those critics down with a single blow. Unlike the manic pixie dream girl archetype, however, which exists to support the male character to find personal redemption, Dani strives to help her fellow losers find their own voice and empower each other to be their best selves. It’s girl power not in the Spice Girls snarky sense, but for the girls who want to grow up to be strong women like the compelling Cate Blanchett, the mighty Nicole Kidman and the engrossing Octavia Spencer.
“I want girls, underdogs, people who are told they can’t do something, and or anyone put down by others to take their power back when listening to this song,” she says, changing the image of the song’s quirky waif protagonist to empowered superhero. “This song is for those of us who need a reminder that we are strong, we are worthy, and the only opinion that matters is our own.”
“You may not get me / But you’ll never forget me,” she sings, making her mark in the world, establishing herself as a powerful artist to watch. But even though she may take center stage and the spotlight is focused on her, her selflessness of wanting to help someone find their own voice is what makes her embody the best part of the manic pixie dream girl trope. She doesn’t exist to save herself or the undeserving naïf of a male suitor… She exists to help YOU be your best self. “My greatest ambition is to be there for those who don’t have someone to pump them up, to be there for someone who doesn’t have someone to comfort them during a breakup, to be there for those that need someone to give them advice,” she concludes, with that glimmer that made Winona Ryder’s “Lelaina” so captivating in Reality Bites. “My greatest ambition is to have my music be there for someone when they need someone to listen.”
And like the manic pixie dream girl, Dani Taylor disappears with a wisp, leaving her positive impact and an indelible mark on the brain. And we, the protagonists, are all THAT much better because of her.