Bowling With No Panties

Everybody's a critic. I am actually right.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Women Rule --- Where It Doesn't Matter


I stumbled on this article in Slate magazine earlier today about women crowding the top of the "Top 40" charts. It starts with...

"..."Stars Are Blind" is a sweet, sun-kissed love song with a snappy ska beat, and Hilton (with the aid, undoubtedly, of the Anteres Auto-Tune 4 Pitch Correcting Plug-In) puts it over well, cooing lyrics about her "heart and soul" in a reasonable impersonation of a human being with feelings. All in all, it's a surprisingly good start to Hilton's campaign to break into the pop diva game."


It goes on to name the usual suspects, women more known and admired for their looks than their talent, their personal lives more than their musicianship.

The author amuses me with this little snippet:

And for good reason. These days, the emotional range of a male performer is radically circumscribed: Rappers are slick trash-talkers and brutes, emo rockers are sensitive and aggrieved, R&B singers are lotharios. But pop's female superstars recognize no limits, playing all these roles and a dozen others, often in the course of a single torrid love song, all the while executing tricky dance steps with bared midriffs glistening beneath whirling strobe lights. (Now that's showbiz.)


Granted, he IS speaking of Top 40 Pop, which is chum at best, but it seems sick and wrong to me that no attention is given to women who are true musicians and songwriters and NOT some kind of prefab midrif baring dancehall boogie queen singing through a synthesizer. Sure, it sells because little girls want to BE THEM and middle aged men want to FUCK THEM, but JESUS GOD ALMIGHTY how is it that exposure to music has become narrower and narrower as far as what is being cranked out when the world is getting bigger and bigger?

As a young girl growing up in the 80's suburbs, I listened to a "classic rock" station until the frabjous day that MTV made it's groovy debut. Even then, I had to get my fix at a friend's house since my Mom was too frugal to get cable.

When I was a wee lassie listening to Led Zeppelin and Rush, there were few women I could turn to as a rock'n'roll-model. There were the Wilson sisters of Heart. Pat Benatar. Joan Jett. Chrissie Hynde. These were women who wrote music and played instruments. Their looks were secondary. They didn't dance, unless you count kind of kicking to the side and swaying the hips a little before a head-thrash as dancing.

MTV however, changed everything. Instead of looking at album covers and the occasional picture in Hit Parader, we got to see our favorite artists live and in crappy four minute movies acting our their songs (or not). Suddenly I had a crop of broads in music that I aspired to be like -- Annabella from Bow Wow Wow, Siouxsie Sioux, Kate Bush -- these chicks were freaky-beautiful but really let it rip.

If I could put my finger on one tiny spot that begat the slow exchange of intelligent musically talented women for "pop-tarts", I would have to say it was Bananarama.

That's right.

Bananarama.

They were cute, all sang in unison, wore half shirts and scrunchies and were very popular despite being musically boring because THEY WERE HOT.

Now look where we are. Women rule the top of the charts but not with talent. They rule with their barely covered bodies and semi-pornographic faces they make while they sing. Women can claim that they are finally out doing men at something, but it's a Pyrric victory -- because we're the best at singing stupid songs made for hormonally flooded teen girls who scream over the likes of Jesse McCartney. We're the best at being eye candy for middle aged men. We rule at bragging about how hot we are in bed set to a hip hop beat. We rule at rolling around in the sand while lipsynching.

Where are the girls like Joni MItchell? Laura Nyro? Carole King? Janis Ian? JANIS JOPLIN, even?

If these women were attempting to break into music today, they'd have a hard time getting a deal unless they went indie. FUCKIN' BANANARAMA!!!!


(I will admit that I like Gwen Stefani although I was less than bowled over with her solo offerings. I also admit I like Christina Aguilera especially since she quit with the Dee Snyder getups.)

5 Comments:

  • At 6:24 PM, Anonymous Archeress said…

    You are completely right on. Glad you mentioned Kate Bush. Can anyone today write and perform a song on that level? okay i do like gwen. But the Heart sisters? actual musicians. People don't realize how cheaply made the music is nowadays. People had to sing with some fucking skill before pro-tools.

     
  • At 8:10 AM, Blogger copyranter said…

    Ann Wilson could fucking belt it.

     
  • At 7:12 AM, Blogger Maulleigh said…

    They're still out there; they're Fiona Apple, Beth Orton, Liz Phair, Cat Power, M.I.A., and many many others.

     
  • At 1:47 PM, Blogger Fairmaiden327 said…

    OMG I am deeply embarrassed to admit that I was a Bananarama nut and me and my girlfriends dressed like them. I, today, still cannot look at a scrunchie without wincing. God the 80's...ugh, I feel old.

     
  • At 11:08 AM, Blogger anonymous said…

    video killed the radio star?

    maiden, now im following *you*. :)

     

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