Apparently female musicians are extremely disappointing

At least, that’s the message I got from Buzzfeed this morning when I saw their article “12 Extremely Disappointing Facts about Popular Music.”

  1. Not a single female musician exists in the examples of good singers or bands.
  2. 8 out of 12 of the “extremely disappointing” musicians are exclusively female or have female lead singers
  3. Yes, we know you hate Justin Bieber. Because he’s not hyper masculine and appeals to young girls. Therefore he sucks. Yawn. Old news.

Yes, yes, it’s a dumb site that pumps out top 10 lists and memes. But this sort of sexist thinking is everywhere in our culture. These female bands and singers are all just shitty compared to real music.

Not to mention this bothers the scientist in me. Of course newer artists are going to sell more albums and singles than 50 years ago, because you didn’t correct for the increasing rate of singles and albums sold. But science doesn’t matter when your goal is to laugh at female musicians.


  1. says

    Female musicians have dominated the charts in recent years: Katy Perry, Adele, Lady Gaga… And they put on spectacular live shows. I don’t know what buzz they are feeding on, but it sounds kinda stale.

  2. carpenterman says

    This is such a load of crap that it doesn’t even warrent a sneer. I’m a jazz fan, as are many of my friends,and anyone who tried to tell us there are no females in any list of good bands and singers would be laughed out of the room. I don’t know who is compiling these “lists”, but they need to open their ears, as well as their minds.

  3. dynasty says

    Whoever made this list has obviously never listened to any hard rock or heavy metal. I start you off with Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil and let you find the rest.

  4. Brownian says

    This is such a load of crap that it doesn’t even warrent a sneer.

    Seriously, it’s on par with the hoary old “Women Comedians Aren’t Funny”. Do tell, Buzzfeed, and maybe lay some of the differences between how black people and white people drive on us.

    These boring throwback tropes need to die.

  5. Icaarus says

    Seems like they did zero ‘per capita’ correction.

    As a Canadian – Celine Dion should go away. Diana Krall/Elizabeth Shepherd for the win.

    Comparing a pop star to 3 alternative rock bands is a apples to oranges scenario

    Cast of Glee to the beatles is comparing a record label to a band

    So yea. Ignore this. the idiot who wrote it knows nothing about music.

  6. says

    Wow. It’s not just sexist, it’s downright ignorant. This person doesn’t know jack shit about music, and doesn’t care to. I don’t even have anything to say.

  7. says

    I love how even though women are the majority, Buzzfeed apparently believes that music made by women or that is popular with women is an invalid fringe/niche genre.

  8. says

    I definitely think a lot of what’s popular today is crap. But I’m old and weird. So instead of criticizing popular music, I thought I’d be constructive and provide a small list of female musicians / singers / songwriters I personally think are among the best of any sex. I’d love to hear other people’s too.

    1. Neko Case
    2. Kimya Dawson
    3. Julia Massey
    4. Kaki King
    5. Patsy Cline
    6. Alanis Morisette
    7. Katie Kate
    8. Psalm One
    9. Debbie Harry
    10. Ella Fitzgerald
    11. My friend Amelia
    12. The entire Carter Family

  9. says

    I had to face that kind of bullshit when I tried to sing with bands in my late teens. They had all sort of fun reasons why women weren’t any good, or were too much drama to be in their band. My favorite was that they’d had a female singer before, and she was great, but she had an affair with the lead guitarist and pissed off his wife, and DRAMA.


    When I recently started singing with my punk band, I wondered about the lack of female musicians in the Seattle DIY punk scene, and a fair number of the guys in it were all, “Yeah, that is a problem and we’re trying to be more welcoming.” But there was the one guy, who just said, “Well, girls just don’t want to rock.”

    That earned him the Women’s Studies 101 lecture on how girls are pushed away from “rocking” by parents who’d rather have a Taylor Swift than a Joan Jett, and from asshole attitudes like that.

    He was suitably chastened.

  10. says

    Can you tell me some good lady jazz musicians? Not just singers, but who play instruments? I can think of great jazz singers, but not a single player.

  11. says

    Assuming people dislike Justin Bieber simply because he is considered “unmanly” puts those of us who do not appreciate his music all in the same category. I tend to dislike vanilla bubblegum pop in general. His music is the quintessential.definition of the genre. I do not dislike his music based on his persona. It is purely based on the fact that he does not have a single song that does not annoy me. There are a lot of people making interesting music that deserves to be heard. Unlike this bland soulless pop. Assuming I am a typical patriachal asswipe because I dont like him is not any different than the generalizations perpetrated in the original.article.

  12. says

    My favorite was that they’d had a female singer before, and she was great, but she had an affair with the lead guitarist and pissed off his wife, and DRAMA.

    I love how the blame apparently wasn’t with the man who cheated on his wife.

    But this is nothing new. I’ve always hated the whole “homewrecker” concept as if the spouse doing the cheating was just an unwilling victim.

  13. says

    Yeah, I’ve had that talk with people before. The person with responsibility to the relationship is the person IN the relationship.

    Because you don’t know what the cheating bastard (of either gender) told the person they cheated with. They could have sung a song of woe and no sex and passion lost, or they could have said their spouse was totally cool with it, no really.

    As someone who has both a spouse and a steady girlfriend, I have a policy of “Oh, your partner’s good with it. Great, then they and I need to have coffee to discuss it, cool?” If the answer is no, then the answer is no.

  14. troll says

    Beth Gibbons of Portishead is amazing. Kate Bush isn’t really my thing, but her talent is utterly undeniable. Nikki Telladictorian of Pr0metheus Burning kicks an incredible amount of ass in a genre that tends to be fairly sausage heavy.

  15. jamessweet says

    Of course newer artists are going to sell more albums and singles than 50 years ago, because you didn’t correct for the increasing rate of singles and albums sold.

    Wait, no, this can’t be right… they didn’t have music piracy 50 years ago, so they sold WAY more singles and albums. Duh.

  16. pipenta says

    And some of us aren’t keen on Bieber even before we hear his music because every time he pops up in the headlines he’s a creepy patriarch on training wheels: homophobic, anti-choice and with enough jebus tats that he apparently is starting to look like a steamer trunk, albeit a skinny white steamer trunk.

  17. jamessweet says

    And by the way, in addition to the misogyny, a lot of this list is the Buzzfeed equivalent of, “Hey you kids, get off my lawn!”

  18. says

    I have a friend who actually said “I don’t like female musicians.” After confirming that he did in fact mean it as a broad, sweeping statement, I just stared at him incredulously.

    He tried defending what he said with something about hipster music, but I found myself physically incapable of listening to that level of unrealized sexism and left.

  19. Nichole says

    I’m a female jazz musician! Recently I’ve developed an interest in women in jazz, specifically instrumentalists. Here are just a few:

    Grace Kelly (saxophone)
    Esperanza Spalding (vocals & bass)
    Mary Fettig (saxophone)
    Toshiko Akiyoshi (piano, band leader)
    Hiromi Uehara (piano)
    Marian McPartland (piano, also the awesome show “Piano Jazz” on NPR)
    Maria Schneider (composer, band leader)

  20. says

    Can I give a different view on this. I feel sexism could play a part in this but I feel it doesn’t as much as, or in the way that, you think. It’s comparing generally thought of good musicians with shitty generic corporate pop performers (note I didn’t say artist). As a musician myself I often feel cheated when talentless attention seeking people get a team of industry hardened writers and producers to do almost everything for them. Then they spend millions on advertising to convince you they are who you want to hear. Quality music is rarely appreciated over this kind of crap. Like fast food over a well cooked meal.

    Anyway, this corporate machine dominates pop music. They’ve turned out major performers for decades and while some of them can turn out to be good artists, most are not. Pop music is dominated by women. The only major genre, really. This is likely because of sexism. The labels find it easier to give a over-sexualized image to a young girl to appeal to boys and girls alike. A lot of the people on the list fit that bill. Take Katy Perry for instance. Now compare her to Adele (whose music I don’t particularly like). Already we can just feel a difference.

    I think this person at buzzfeed just doesn’t like shitty generic pop (or hip-hop) and that is why they are products of his derision (see also Nickleback and BEP, commonly hated performers). Also the Justin Bieber thing is a stretch. As someone else said, I don’t want to be lumped in with sexists because I don’t like his (read: his industry handlers) music.

    Anyway, I agree the comparisons are unscientific and need to be remedied But I think the sexism is a bit over-stated here. Or at the very least isn’t addressing the real sexism within the industry.

  21. says

    @pipenta Do you have any evidence that Bieber is homophobic? I know he’s Christian and anti-choice but he has contributed to the It Gets Better project. I think he’s said that sexual orientation is “everyone’s own decision”. Maybe not totally accurate but far from homophobic.

  22. Ethan Hobart says

    I don’t think anyone has mentioned Anna Calvi or Amanda Palmer yet. They are both made of awesome.

  23. jamessweet says

    I suppose your friend might have a leg to stand on if he had said, “I don’t like female vocalists“. I mean, on average, men and women sound different when they sing, and I suppose it’s conceivable someone might just not like how one gender typically sounded. I admit that I am not fond of choral music in general for exactly this reason: for some reason or another, when there are more than 4 or 5 voices singing in harmony, the effect often becomes displeasing for me for some odd reason, or at least less pleasing than if there were fewer singers (probably bad memories of church, heh).

    I noticed awhile ago that very little of the music I listen to has a female vocalist. I think some of this is simply a sampling issue: In the types of music I listen to, male singers tend to be more common. But then this can become a positive feedback loop, where the gender disparity causes more gender disparity, etc. And anyway, it definitely made me think whether there was something to it, e.g. if I was subconsciously identifying more with male vocalists or something. As often is the case when privilege has the possibility of manifesting itself, it is very difficult to unpack even one’s own motivations.

    I’m sorta rambling here. In any case, I definitely agree that a blanket and unapologetic “I don’t like female musicians” is pretty effed up.

  24. Ethan Hobart says

    I haven’t really paid much attention to what Bieber has to say about anything, but considering how much of the anti-Bieber stuff on the internet is suffused with vicious homophobia, I’m betting he probably has acquired a certain sympathy with what actually gay people go through.

  25. Timid Atheist says

    How about it’s sexist both in the fact that usually women are only able to get anywhere if they go for pop music and because the referenced article decided that using a majority of female acts and comparing them to male acts of a bygone era was the way to show how shitty they think current female artists are.

    How about we reverse it and do some research that way? Jefferson Airplane had a lead female singer, I wonder what their stats are compared to a popular male group of current times.

    Shall we compare another popular male group to formerly popular female groups to see how well they stack up?

    Honestly those comparisons are ridiculous anyway because of the totally different genres the musical acts are in. Since when is Rihanna’s music anything like REM, Depeche Mode or Led Zepplin?

    Talk about apples and wrenches.

  26. jamessweet says

    I was almost going to comment on that. Bieber’s position on LGBTQ issues is far from clear. As you mention, he’s contributed to It Gets Better… OTOH, according to Wikipedia, some comments he made to Rolling Stone seem to imply that he’s of the “homosexuality is a choice” school of thought, which is typically associated with homophobia (there’s a whole side issue here, where he may feel that homosexuality is a choice but that it’s also a totally okay choice — which is exactly how I would feel if there were not so much powerful evidence that it is not, at least for most people, a choice… but it’s undeniable that that meme is most typically associated with homophobia)

    In short, it’s very murky. My personal gut feeling is that Bieber is one of a new generation of young godbots, who are anti-choice, anti-woman, pro-patriarchy… but totally down with gay people! Do they get a cookie for that? I’m not so sure…

  27. jamessweet says

    Misogyny (and racist, and homophobia, and transphobia, and classicism, and everything else) is best measured in consequences rather than intentions. And by that standard, this list comes across as pretty damn misogynist.

    Your diagnosis, regarding the author’s intentions and the unholy interaction with the prototypical manufactured pop star pushed by the music industry, may have some merit (though Streisand doesn’t exactly fit this model, and was a very odd choice for inclusion on this list). But I don’t think that absolves the article of the accusations of misogyny. At best, it is negligently misogynistic.

  28. Icaarus says

    Where can we all hang out to hear you play???

    I went thought the list of jazz shows I have seen in the last few months. Aside from one singer/pianist, and one singer/guitarist, I have only seen one female instrumentalist. It made me think.

  29. jolo5309 says

    Ten artists I listen to and enjoy that also happen to be female.

    Sarah McClachlan
    Kate & Anna McGarrigle
    Tegan & Sara
    Serena Ryder
    Anne Murray
    Hannah Georges
    Bif Naked
    Holly Cole
    Kathleen Edwards
    Jane Siberry

  30. vremevents says

    Actually, Jen, i see a number of things wrong with both the article and your response to it.

    While the author of the article may have been wrong in comparing mainly female acts with male acts, do keep a few things in mind:

    – back in the 60’s-70’s there were more famous male singers than female singers, so you can’t do a comparison between today’s entertainers and yesterday’s entertainers without involuntarily skewing male. Sure, there were plenty of famous singers like Grace Slick, Janis Joplin, Stevie Nicks, Dusty Springfield and so on, but i think a statistical analysis would definitely show a much larger percentage of men in successful acts, at list until Madonna came along, and that was in the 80’s
    – the quality of music has definitely gone downhill, because of factors such as the decline of genuine investment in artists vs. “manufactured” acts, especially in pop. At some time during the last 30 years, the marketing department in most big music companies became more important than the A&R (artists & repertoire) department. Couple that with consolidation in the music industry (4 big record companies does NOT equal innovation), reduced music sales leading to risk-averse behavior when it comes to signing new artists, aggressive commercial practices (payola, the rising importance of mechanical royalties, film royalties etc.)and what you get is an industry that only signs acts guaranteed to bring in a quick buck, and that leads to an army of clones singing bland pop and self-aggrandizing hip-hop.

  31. Robert B. says

    Dood, Yoko Kano.

    Tracy Chapman.

    Dar Williams.

    Amy Lee.

    Rachel McDonnell.

    And I know someone said it already, but Joan fucking Jett!

    (And who had the thought that record sales were going to be a good measure of quality between the genders? Bias 101!)

  32. Icaarus says

    Hey now, the quality of pop may have gone down. But the indie/off brand/alternative/outside of pop world has just exploded. We went from definable genres in the 70’s to a true spectrum today. Electronic publishing has done wonders for enhancing this.

  33. Marshall says

    Yoko Kano

    Seriously, that name alone should be enough that anyone with ears can no longer take Dave there seriously.

  34. says

    @Timid Atheist

    How about it’s sexist both in the fact that usually women are only able to get anywhere if they go for pop music

    I addressed that specifically. Read what I wrote again.

    and because the referenced article decided that using a majority of female acts and comparing them to male acts of a bygone era was the way to show how shitty they think current female artists are.

    Again, I addressed that. This person doesn’t like cheesy pop, a genre dominated by women (due to sexism). But to further the point it feels more like the meme of shitting on anything current while romanticizing the past. Like taking a picture of Cary Grant and putting it up against a picture of someone from the Jersey Shore and saying “Men, what happened?” I’m just not so keen on calling people names on such flimsy evidence. A liar, cheat, racist or sexist it doesn’t matter. I feel my hypothesis explains this article as mush as the “this guy is sexist” hypothesis. I’m going to err on the side of caution.

    How about we reverse it and do some research that way? Jefferson Airplane had a lead female singer, I wonder what their stats are compared to a popular male group of current times.

    Worse probably. But I never disagreed with the bad comparisons or the bad science (I’m starting to think you didn’t read what I wrote). The writer of the article did mention male bands and performers of today sucking. Again, this is why I don’t think the sexism charge in this case is a bit of a stretch.

  35. says

    Misogyny… is best measured in consequences rather than intentions. And by that standard, this list comes across as pretty damn misogynist.

    Never thought of it that way. That may very well be true. But I still don’t think this article qualifies. I wouldn’t have seen the gender difference if it weren’t pointed out. I did see what I mentioned above, someone who like classic acts but not current top 40. It’s common among music lovers in general. And pop top 40 is a female dominated genre (because of sexism in the industry as I pointed out earlier)

    At best, it is negligently misogynistic.

    I can agree with that. I feel the article writer may have been looking at a list of top selling artists/top selling singles and that’s where the majority of their choices came from.

  36. JSC_ltd says

    Some more female jazz instrumentalists:
    Mary Osborne, guitar
    Ella Fitzgerald, harmonica (yes, that Ella Fitzgerald)
    Diana Krall, piano
    Candy Dulfer, saxophone
    Sister Rosetta Tharpe, although she’s more blues/gospel than jazz

  37. JSC_ltd says

    In addition to my little list in response to #2 above, let me add (some are obvious, some are not):
    Bonnie Raitt
    Lita Ford
    Jennifer Batten
    Sarah Jory — and seriously, you want to youtube that —
    Catherine Popper
    The Great Kat, if you’re into super-theatrical shredding
    Orianthi Panagaris
    Cindy Cashdollar
    Emmylou Harris
    Mavis Staples
    Garfunkle & Oates

  38. Kels says

    Michael Jackson’s on the good list, isn’t that pretty close?

    Seriously though, I’m into folk among other genres, and there are LOADS of fantastic female performers there. Seeing as others are providing lists, I might as well follow suit:

    Helen Arney (she’s geeky too! And sings about David Attenborough and Schrodinger and stuff!)
    Sophie Madeline
    Zee Avi
    Eliza Gilkyson
    Amelia Curran
    Adrien Reju
    Lindi Ortega
    k.d. lang (I can’t BELIEVE I’m the first to think of her)
    Puppini Sisters
    Anais Mitchell
    Caravan Palace (female vocalist)

  39. David Hart says

    I can’t believe no one’s presented Joanna Newsom or PJ Harvey. Or just about any Bulgarian trad singer – truly a country where male vocalists take a back seat. Takes all sorts I suppose.

  40. Kels says

    Aside from her great voice, that lead male dancer has some serious moves.

    Say, speaking of great singers and dancers, what about Janelle Monáe?

    I swear that woman’s feet have only a passing relationship with the ground.

  41. says

    Is this the right thread to make the joke about Ed Brayton being a raging a misogynist since his shortlist of top jazz artist don’t include women? No? Fuck. I’ll get me coat.

  42. Kels says

    Harvey’s not my thing, but there’s no denying she’s seriously good. Same goes for Ani DiFranco, come to that (who also hasn’t popped up on anyone’s list yet).

  43. Riptide says

    Three of my favourite artists are, in no particular order: Tori Amos, Sophie Hunger, and Carla Bruni. (Hopefully her husband will be unemployed soon so she can go back to making music!)

  44. gworroll says

    I pretty much ignore Buzzfeed.

    For list based humor done right, They actually do research and point out the absurdity of various isms as much or more than they rely on it for humor.

  45. Martino says


    this bothers the scientist in me. Of course newer artists are going to sell more albums and singles than 50 years ago, because you didn’t correct for the increasing rate of singles and albums sold

    Check your science credentials lady!!!

    Your argument seems to veer between women artists and new artists, so I’m not sure exactly what your point is.

    However, the “rate” of sales has nothing to do with the “number” of units sold by a “new” artist. The overall rate could be increased purely by the sales of established artists, or by an increase in sales to new artists as a body, with a concomitant, greater, increase in the size of that body.

    Has, actually, the rate increased? Are you sure there are more sales in 2012 than 1972? 1982?

  46. Eidolon says

    In the world of guitar shredding – not everyone’s cuppa – there is Juliette Valduriez. Give a listen to her ‘Lost Paradise”

    And Bonnie Raitt – slide guitar and blues singer – that be man country.

    Buzzfeed knoweth little to nothing about music.

  47. Dalillama says

    Honestly, I’m not even willing to give the statement that much credit. I’m personally someone who generally is not fond of female vocalists(Or less fond anyway), but there are still quite a number of female singers that I enjoy. The reason (for me) is that higher vocal registers tend to grate on my ears, and there are a lot of female singers who’ve been trained to artificially force their register, plus a few whose natural voices are a bit too high for my tastes. Children singing is much worse, and I avoid youth choirs like the plague. I suspect that I’m not alone in disliking the higher registers, but OTOH, I know a lot of people really like that style, so YMMV. In any case that argument doesn’t apply at all to instrumentalists, as vocal register is completely irrelevant (although some instruments are too screechy too, that’s the case no matter who’s playing them). Since it seems to be the thread theme, here are a few female vocalists that I like a lot and can: Karan Casey, Norma Waterson, June Tabor, Beth Orton, Joan Baez, Maddy Prior.

  48. No Light says

    My favourite singer/songwriter/musicians are. Erin McKeown and Thea Gilmore.

    Seeing them perform live togethw was amazing. Oh and Erin released an atheist/queer/anti-corporate album called “Fuck That”, including songs like “Fuck That, Shut the Fuck Up About Christmas” and “Visions I Have Had While High” It was on non-stop in this house over Christmas, a great antidote to the increasingly irritating whines of the Church of England about the “true meaning of Christmas blah blah poor oppressed christians”

  49. says

    In my experience, 95% of people who claim they arbitrarily find higher voices “grating” make a huge exception when those voices say, “Can I suck your cock?”

  50. says

    The Donnas
    Annie Lennox
    The Bangles
    The Go-Go’s
    4 non blondes
    Chaka Khan
    Teena Marie
    Amy Lee (Evanescence)
    Foxy Brown
    L’il Kim
    Gladys Knight
    Janet Jackson
    Liz Phair
    Luscious Jackson
    Michelle Branch
    Sheila E.
    Siouxsie Sioux
    Wendy & Lisa

  51. says

    This. If anything, popular female singers tend to sound “grating” because they’re forced into a higher register — but, that’s male privilege thinking that the lower register is a no-women zone. ANYONE who attempts to force themselves into a higher or lower register than they normally sing at is likely going to sound horrible at it.

    Of course, I’d say that these days popular singers tend to sound horrible not because they are forcing a register, but the sound editors are through the use of that horrible horrible contrivance known as “auto-tune”, which makes actually singing optional and adds horrible-sounding compression artifacts to boot. I would rather listen to a Microsoft Sam song than an auto-tuned one. /getoffmylawn

  52. mnb0 says

    I am a fan of hardrock and heavy metal. Do a search on YouTube on Barracuda and be impressed. That bass player from A Perfect Circle also is awesome.

  53. mnb0 says

    An area where women indeed are vastly are underrepresented is classical composing. From memory: Rebecca Clarke (not considered top and hardly known, but a beautiful piece for viola and piano), Gubaidulina (I don’t like her) and Ustvolskaya (the most radical composer ever).

  54. mnb0 says

    Nina Hagen. Try Naturtränen and Unbeschreiblich Weiblich.
    Maggie Bell – the bluesy hardrock singer Robbie Plant only was in 1969. Recorded a solo album with Jimmy Page in 1975; better than anything Led Zep did after 1971. Better than Janis Joplin as well.

  55. petria says

    and how about,
    the Breeders, Sleater Kinney, Belly, Elastica, Goldfrapp, Blondie, Bjork, Camera Obscura, Feist, Florence and the Machine, the Go Team, God help the Girl, le Tigre, MIA, Peaches, Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth),L7, The Cranberries, The Sundays and because I’m Australian I will add the likes of Sarah Blasko, Claire Bowditch and Shelley Segel(An Atheist Album)(that’s what her album is called)

  56. Dalillama says

    Yeas, Setar, that’s exactly what I said above, is it not?

    The reason (for me) is that higher vocal registers tend to grate on my ears, and there are a lot of female singers who’ve been trained to artificially force their register, plus a few whose natural voices are a bit too high for my tastes.

    That was entirely uncalled for. As it happens, you’re wrong in this case, and I feel that I was fully clear in my post what I meant.

  57. Nichole says

    Unless you happen to be in the SF Bay Area you have little chance of hearing me play– I’m a student at San Jose State University, where I’m studying jazz piano. And honestly, I don’t perform much outside of school.

    But thanks to the magic of the internet, you can still hear me play if you’d like to:

    I know the jazz “scene” is different everywhere. In the Bay Area, there’s a definite gender imbalance…but at the same time, I know quite a few women who play jazz–not just singers, but instrumentalists, on basically every instrument I can think of. And I’ve never seen anyone react with surprise or negativity to women playing jazz (or any other type of music). But I know this experience is far from universal.

  58. Paul says

    Actually this list is much more “men vs men” than it seems. Almost all of the songs in the “extremely disappointing” category were written by men. As far as I can tell, only Barbara Streisand, Shania Twain and Katy Perry (in some cases) write their own songs.

    Modern popular music is at least as male dominated as the rest of music.

  59. Kim says

    She’s making a guess about him based on the fact that the rest of his article has told a particular story about this man’s opinions on women.

    Tell me a guy doesn’t like Justin Beiber, and I just shrug, because I’m not a huge fan either. Put it into a context like the article she linked to – and yeah, his motivations start to become apparent.

    At the risk of offending the Jazz enthusiasts on the board I don’t much like Ella Fitzgerald. I’m not afraid that that makes me sexist, or racist, it just makes me not a jazz fan.

    Say I started claiming that I like (insert all-white list of jazz artists here) that’s when you might be able to read motivation, beyond love of music, from my list.

    Own your musical preference and don’t let Jen’s comment make you feel ashamed of NOT liking Beiber – but don’t take the action out of its contex.

  60. F says

    Bwahahahaha! Nailed it. (Never mind that infringement apparently increases music sales, movie sales, etc. And that music has many more outlets than the traditional gatekeepers these days.)

  61. F says

    Thank you both. I was hoping someone would mention the incredibly diverse Kanno before the end of the thread.

  62. gnome says

    Doesn’t anyone know the tune-yards?
    One of the most original and interesting artists to emerge in recent years. Fronted by Merrill Garbus.

  63. says

    Let me bring back an observation I’ve made from time to time which really pisses a lot of people off, even though it is just an observation, not any sort of judgement. What is the reason for the lack of female rock musicians who a) are not singers, b) are not romantically involved with a man in the band and c) are not part of something marketed as an all-girl band? Not that there is anything wrong with any of these three things, and indeed there are many female singers I appreciate as well as some women musicians who are romantically involved with one of the men in the band, even some all-girl bands. The reason I mention these three things is that most male rock musicians are a) not singers, b) not romantically involved with anyone in the band and c) not part of something marketed as a boy band. Sure, one can find some examples, but not among well known rock bands. (The closest I can come—extra points if you can guess whom I’m thinking about—is odd for a different reason.) Other types of music—though of course on the whole not as popular as rock music—don’t have this imbalance. Female musicians who are not in any of the three categories mentioned above are not uncommon in folk music, in baroque music, in medieval music, in renaissance music.

    Where is that woman playing bass and not singing in a well known rock band?

  64. Desert Son, OM says

    Many good mentions in this thread. I didn’t see her named, but maybe in one of the longer lists someone mentioned: KT Tunstall

    Physioprof duly pointed out two that are particular favorites of mine: Hynde and Jett. So good they’re worth mentioning again. Jett’s bandmate in The Runaways was Lita Ford, no mean guitarist, even if hair metal isn’t your thing.

    Not rock, per se, but definitely rocking, in my estimation: Evelyn Glennie

    Jill Sobule

    Nina Simone. Hello?! Nina Simone! Piano, voice, songwriter, awesomeness of magnificent caliber. Not rock ‘n’ roll, but, seriously . . . Nina Simone!

    Gabriella Quintero, of Rodrigo Y Gabriella

    Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth

    Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads

    I’m off to drive by the Stop ‘n’ Shop
    With the radio on . . .

    Still learning,


  65. bcoppola says

    Didn’t see Regina Carter (jazz violin) mentioned yet.

    Also from jazz, the late Blossom Dearie and “Bebop” Betty Carter.

    Desert Son beat me to Nina Simone, dammit.

    And we haven’t even touched upon the female classical artists (though I was skimming the thread so could be wrong)

  66. Kevin says

    Female jazz vocalists:
    Karrin Allyson
    Janis Siegel
    Nancy Wilson
    Diana Krall
    Madeleine Peyroux

  67. Musical Atheist says

    You’re right, composing and conducting are areas of classical music in which women are definitely under-represented. But I can give you a few more female composers, long-dead, well-established, and up-and-coming, that are worth looking into! If you don’t know her work, try this by Barbara Strozzi, from her opus 7 (1659).

    Kaija Saariaho
    Anne le Baron
    Kerry Andrew
    Stef Conner
    Judith Weir
    Nicola Lefanu
    Fanny Hensel
    Elizabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre (first woman to publish an opera in France)
    Barbara Strozzi (crucial in the development of the cantata)
    Francesca Caccini (first woman to write an opera in Italy, and for a time the highest paid musician at the Medici court)

    (And among the many, many amazing female classical performers, Mitsuko Uchida and Claron McFadden rock my world.)

  68. vremevents says

    @ Amanda Marcotte – Even including the great artists you mentioned, there were still a lot more male than female singers. I don’t know where to find such a statistic, but if you check out the billboard archives from the 60s and just count how many male acts were in the top 100 vs female acts, i think you’ll see what I’m talking about.

    @ Icarus – you’re right about an explosion of indie & underground music acts, due to the very low cost of self-publishing, gear and so on. But democratization of music production, while apparently a good thing, hasn’t done anything for quality. Anyone can download the software equivalent of a 50000 $ studio, but learning how to use it is a different matter entirely. Not to mention learning music theory, sound engineering, sampling, synthesis etc. Because of the breakdown of traditional music publishing channels the quality control has also gone down. The issue is very complex, but the thing is we’re being drowned in a deluge of new music, and most of it is bad, as it’s always been and it’s natural to be. We’re going to have to find some form of quality control, and do it fast.

  69. This Is A Turing Test says

    Ann and Nancy Wilson. As a guitar player who has seen Nancy live several times, I can tell you- awesomeness personified.

  70. JSC_ltd says

    I’ve been thinking about your question for a month now, and, quite frankly, I don’t have a good answer for why that is. I tried to come up with some musicians that fit all five categories (genre = rock, not singers, not romantically involved w/ male bandmate, not marketed as all-girl band, and well known) in my other responses. People like Jennifer Batten (tour guitarist with Michael Jackson), Catherine Popper (bassist formerly of Ryan Adams & the Cardinals), and Cindy Cashdollar (steel guitar, also formerly with the Cardinals) were the only ones I could come up with. I think the “romantically involved with” factor is dismissible, though; if she’s talented enough to be in a well-known group, she didn’t get there just by shagging the frontman. Removing that factor opens our consideration to Tina Weymouth (Talking Heads, married to drummer Chris Frantz), Christine MacVie (Fleetwood Mac, married to bassist John MacVie), Meg White (White Stripes, married to Jack White at one point), Nancy Wilson (Heart, dating guitarist Roger Fischer), Janet Weiss (Quasi, married to guitarist Sam Cooms), Bonnie Bramlett (DeLaney & Bonnie, married to DeLaney), etc. For varying degrees of “well known,” we see other results: Kirsten Ballweg (bass, The Black Crabs, The Donettes), Faustine Hudson (drums, Whalebones, The Young Evils).

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