Saturday, September 26, 2009

She's A Rebel: Girls Who Rock Pt.1

Good Evening!
(This is gonna be a long one people!)

Often, girls are seen as minorities in the world of rock music. Its a man's genre, and decades later, we're still trying to find our place in it. I'm actually taking a class on gender roles in relation to popular music and some of the ideas brought up, I find to be very interesting. What does a woman have to do to prove she's an equal in this male dominated arena? It may be tough to gain credit, notoriety, and an audience... but there are definitely women who do a great job representing the rest of us and I'd like to use this entry to highlight a few that I personally respect. Forget the Spice Girls, this is some real girl power.


1) Joan Jett
No list could be complete without this woman. For me personally, she is a huge inspiration. Having had the chance to see her in concert, I have to say the most amazing thing about Joan Jett is the way that she is able to control a stage. Keep in mind, she's 51 years old and been in the rock game for about 34 years now. Thats a major accomplishment for any artist. Starting out in the background of a band called the Runaways, she quickly gained a reputation of her own and moved on to front her own group, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts and even started her own record label to distribute her music. This band is still active today, having recently stated that a greatest hits album with two brand new tracks is in the works. She has been praised as the "Godmother of Punk", the original punk rock front woman, as she is one of the first of her gender and genre to achieve and maintain success beyond the era's popular club culture. There's even a movie in the making focused on her life. She definitely helped to pave the way for women in rock today, I highly recommend checking out a live show if you ever get a chance. 

2) Madonna
Now, I know what you're all thinking... Madonna is not very rock n roll. But you're wrong, the queen of pop does in fact possess the spirit and integrity of any rock n roll great. She's an outspoken woman, not afraid to push boundaries and press buttons. In her early days, Madonna's music faced great criticism for its taboo themes and content, marking her as a favorite target for the press and many religious groups. . Her career has evolved and changed, yet maintained steady levels of success over the years. To this day, her reputation remains firmly in tact. It is because of her willingness to step outside the box that I decided to include her in this list. Personally, no Madonna songs beyond the early 90s will ever find their way on to my itunes, but I still give credit where its due

3) Kittie
I have to admit, this is a bit of a bias addition for me as they are a product of London's own music scene. However, as a modern day Runaways with a metal edge, they fit quite comfortably amongst the other choices. Its not often that you come across an all female band with a serious heavy metal edge who have managed to make a name for themselves. While they may not be a grammy award winning group, they certainly possess the passion, drive, commitment and talent that make them a memorable act. I mean, you cant be all that bad in the metal community if you're asked to play Ozzfest or open for Slipknot, right? Kittie has also played host to a revolving door or members, but as long as the Landers sisters are a constant, this band definitely has the potential to break out. Having recently found a great deal of success in the darker, more high profile European metal scene, I foresee great things over seas for this band.

4) Amy Lee (Evanescence)
While she may have dropped off the charts lately, I still consider Amy Lee to be an important icon. I have to say I personally love the way opera and rock can meld together so beautifully. She may not have been the first to do it, but she was one of the first to take it to the top of the billboard list. 

5) Hayley Williams (Paramore)
Onto the new wave of female rockstars! I'll start this one off with a band who's seen mass amounts of praise due to their involvement with the popular Twilight franchise. However, the story of this little Tennessee act  goes far beyond the vampire movie soundtrack. Hayley actually started singing for the band back in 2004. It is said that the other members, all male, were hesitant at first about the idea of adding a woman to the mix as it could make or break their future. Luckily for them, they found huge success in the growing pop-rock scene. Hayley became a symbol for the younger generation of women. Her vibrant style, powerful stage presence and unique vocals make her one to watch. With a sold out summer tour behind them and a new album just released, their career has only just begun.

6) Cassadee Pope (Hey Monday)
Also part of the Fueled By Ramen family of artists, and a find of the one and only Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy. While I may not be his biggest fan, he definitely knows how to find true, raw talent. Hey Monday was only formed in 2007, but their shows are already getting rave reviews. At the centre of the group is Cassadee, a 19 year old from Florida with a flawless voice. If you find that hard to believe, check out any one of their acoustic live tracks on youtube and you too will be a believer. Following the path treaded by label mates Paramore, this band is on the rise with a lot of thanks owed to the front woman. 

7) Siouxsie Sioux
I'm gonna go ahead and assume most people don't know who she is. In fact, unless you really love punk rock, she's probably a total stranger to you, but thats totally ok. Siouxsie (pronounced Suzy) is the front woman for a 1980s act by the name of Siouxsie and the Banshees. Having managed to top the billboard charts, they are definitely part of rock's colorful early hardcore history. Their music has been described as a newer wave of experimental punk, a rather new mix of sounds. This style has been credited with the eventual rise of goth and industrial music. These are some pretty heavy and impressive accomplishments for a little club band from London, England. This band would never have gotten as far as they did without their lead singer and her eccentric stage presence. In a time where men dominated punk, she stepped forward without a second thought, paving the way for women everywhere. 

Choice Tracks: Halloween, Sin In My Heart

8) Poly Styrene (X-Ray Spex)
Again, probably a fairly unfamiliar name to many of you out there (but thats what I'm here for!). If you were at all interested in early work by Siouxsie and company, you may be interested in the X-Ray Spex and their vocalist, Poly Styrene. Taking on a more punk flavor, these bands emerged around the same time frame and both struggled to gain respect in harsh underground clubs. It cant be easy to stand on the same stages as the Sex Pistols and win over the same audience while wearing a dress! But somehow the X-Ray Spex pulled through and helped to dismantle the stereotypes of women in punk music. They were about music, not gender. Polly has been described as one of the least conventional front people in the history of the genre. For her to emerge in the late 70s like she did was truly remarkable. For this, she definitely deserves to be on this list.

9) Karen O (Yeah Yeah Yeahs)
Back to some more of the modern women who are rocking the mics today, we have Karen of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Known almost as well for her wild fashion sense as she is for her phenomenal vocal talent, Karen is a force to be reckoned with. The three piece formed back in 2000 and have steadily climbed the ladder to indie stardom. I mean, you know you're doing something right when you're opening for the White Stripes and headlining Lollapalooza! Their music has been described as a melding of Blondie and Siouxsie and The Banshees... personally, I have no problem with that mix!

10) Emily Haines (Metric)
A Canadian sensation currently dominating the charts. The 34 year old front woman has experienced a great deal of success worldwide with her band mates in Metric. A passionate vocalist and keyboard player, she has also lent her talent to other acts like the indie noted Broken Social Scene, Stars, K-Os and MSTRKRFT. She also created a solo side project by the name of Emily Haines and The Soft Skeleton. Emily is not afraid to experiment with music, to try new and untested things, making her a perfect fit to this list. 

Stay Tuned For The Second Installation
Rock On!
-The Girl At The Rock Show

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