There was a time when women needn’t be trashily hot and talentless to be considered rockstars. I know that sounds impossible now, in a world where useless “Barbies” like Rihanna and Taylor Swift sell millions of records. There was a time when people like Joan Baez, Nico, Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, Etta James, Annie Lennox, Patti Smith actually used their talent, charisma and intelligence to communicate something more than just “put a ring on it”. Those were women who freed themselves from bonds and spoke their minds (some of them still do), because there was something more than diamonds and money in their minds. Unfortunately, the devolution that has been hitting (mainstream) music in the last years inevitably included the way women are sold to the public.
With the exception of some rare outsiders (whose twitter accounts aren’t obviously followed by millions), women in the music scene today are represented by three cliches; the good-looking Rihanna or the wanna-be-provocative Miley Cyrus/Nicki Minaj likes who pretend to be “bold” and “tough” but only end up looking trash and acting classless. Their annoying “music” represents 1% of the recipe, the remaining 99% being just an empty (beautiful?) frame made of boobs, lipstick and gossips.
Then we have America’s sweetheart, the “reassuring” Taylor Swift: even more subtle than the first type, this one makes every alpha man feel comfortable with a woman who is basically nice and cute, like a little puppy to cuddle upon your command. Their genre is no-brainer country/pop for dummies.
The third type is apparently slightly better as it is represented by singers who can actually sing, at least; normally they are even able to compose a song and although quite basic, their music is still enjoyable. The likes of Adele and Beyonce well represent this third type. The type you wouldn’t define as talentless, but still fits in the frame of what is “acceptable” and “easy-to-process” for the masses.
Because, after all, the point is, whether they’re empty, reassuring or just good singers, none of these 3 types represents a real “challenge” for a society that is controlled by men, none of them would ever be able to ignite or inspire a constructive revolution of clever women.
Twenty years of hard work and beautiful music by such intelligent, literate and intellectually emancipated women like Patti Smith or Annie Lennox are being completely wiped out by a new wave of senseless teenagers who start doing “music” not for the sake of communicating but for a mere desire to be rich celebrities. They are originating an army of young girls who think that female emancipation means acting like the worst of men, only worse.
Whereas Skunk Anansie’s Skin smashes all the cliches in one – an incredibly talented black homosexual woman who sings rock instead of soul must be every dumb producer’s nightmare – and defies the rules of what is “convenient” and what is not, these three types guarantee that today’s young women won’t aspire to anything more than learning how to sing imitating someone else’s voice. That would be slightly acceptable, at least a good start, but truth is, the highest percentage of these young women seems to be satisfied with the fact that “you’re cool only if you look beautiful, no brain is needed to be famous, rich and loved”. After all, cheap sex and good looks sell faster and easier than any form of art that requires talent and intelligence, so it’s easy to understand why the greedy major labels producers would rather push a vaguely lesbian video where Shakira and Rihanna “can’t remember to forget” someone who probably had sex with them both… but where is Art in all this? For the record, the song is the umpteenth embarrassing offence to good Music. Long gone are the times when videos like Bjork’s splendid “All is full of love” celebrated Love by showing the display of affection between two robots who any intelligent creature would find way sexier than Shakira and Rihanna’s vulgarity.
I suggest to try and strip these freaks off of their wigs, lipsticks, fake eyebrows, contact lenses, photoshop retouches, high hills, voice fixing tools, expensive clothes and see what’s left of them: probably, as my friend Antonella says, the cosmic void between real talents.
This is dedicated to all the great women in music history:
Patti Smith, Janis Joplin, Nico, Joan Baez, Annie Lennox, Joni Mitchell, Bjork, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Skin, Lauren Hill, Erika Badu, Ella Fitzgerald, Amy Winehouse, Cher and many many more.