In the world of muckraking journalism, Nellie Bly is the equivalent of the computer science pioneer Ada Lovelace -- a woman who helped invent her craft, and who did it better than the men who achieved more fame for similar work decades and centuries later.
She feigned mental illness to gain admission into a New York mental asylum for an investigation that turned into a bestselling expose, and she traveled extensively in Mexico reporting on the lives of working women and government corruption. Most famously, she circumnavigated the globe on an assignment for the New York World.
There's a lot there for an artist like Karen O to admire. On the occasion of Bly's 151st birthday, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman and Oscar-nominated singer has written a new song in tribute. It's the first orginal piece of music written for Google's homepage, and it's a surprisingly pointed tune in an Internet space (Google Doodles) that's usually generically uplifting.
"We gotta speak up for the ones who've been told to shut up," Karen O sings, accompanied by original animation from artist Katy Wu.
Bly earned her big break by penning a blistering riposte to a newspaper editorial suggesting that working women belonged in the home. Karen O started her career reinventing New York's downtown punk scene in the early 2000s. We think they would have had a lot to talk about.