In this day and age, it’s very difficult to find quality music being played on over the radio, aside from “Classics” stations. Most of the music we’re subjected to is over-produced, and overtly sexual. That aspect isn’t new, but now it’s just blatant. Now, I’m certainly no prude, but it got me thinking: This is how MTV is portraying female artists, what kind of image does that set for the next generation?
With people like Nicki Minaj on screen wearing next to nothing and “singing” about their butts, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for genuine female musicians to get any sort of attention. Plus, it kind of portrays a poor image for the next generation of musicians. So, not wanting to go on a preaching rant, I decided I would take the time to highlight some of my favorite women in music. Those that are truly talented, and putting out really good music.
First up is Kimbra.
I’ve mentioned her in my previous post about essential albums, so it comes to no surprise that she’s first up on this list. The New Zealand native caught our attention with her collaborative work on Gotye’s dominating tune “Somebody That I Use To Know,” but her album “Vows” holds its own. She is an excellent singer, and she writes some pretty catchy songs. Her track “Cameo Lover” even has a Supremes-esq feel to it. Kimbra, in my opinion, is a prime example of a positive role model for aspiring pop artists.
Next, we have Karen O.
Many of us know her from the band Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the fantastic work she’s done with them, but last year she launched her debut solo album titled “Crush Songs.” Karen O is a true artist, she’s been known to wear colorful, Bowie or early Elton John-esq outfits, she writes her own songs, and she’s an excellent vocalist. She dipped her toe into solo waters awhile back on the “Where the Wild Things Are” soundtrack, and even collaborated with Trent Reznor on a rather interesting take on Led Zeppelin’s classic “Immigrant Song.” After listening through “Crush Songs” a few times, as well as being a long-time Yeah Yeah Yeahs fan, I’m excited to see what the future holds for Ms. O.
Moving on, we have Santi White, a.k.a Santigold.
I first heard Santigold (formally known as Santogold) while I was in a cell phone store. Her song “Disparate Youth” came on over the store’s Muzak, and I immediately went for my Shazam app. After my business was concluded at the store, I made for my computer the second I got home to look up as much of her music as I possibly could. I quickly became a fan of her music, and her vocal style. She even did a collaborative song with Pharrell and Julian Casablancas (of The Strokes) as part of a series of musical advertisements for Converse. If you’re unfamiliar with her, I definitely recommend checking her stuff out.
This list would be lacking if I didn’t mention the lovely Annie Clark, a.k.a St. Vincent.
Now here’s a real talent. A soothing vocal style, artistic visuals for album covers, and she’s even a mulch-instrumentalist. Former member of the Indie conglomerate The Polyphonic Spree, Annie Clark branched into the Singer-Songwriter genre under the guise of St. Vincent, which has proven to be a very successful step for her career. She even released an album with David Byrne (of Talking Heads) which quickly became my favorite collaborative album. Her album “Strange Mercy” has been a regular on my playlist.
Next is the up-and-coming Sharon von Etten.
Probably the very definition of the term “Female Crooner,” von Etten’s career has been on the rise since her 2009 debut “Because I Was in Love,” and has been entrancing fans of Indie and Folk genres alike ever since. When you can sway an established musician like Kyp Malone (of TV on the Radio) you know your future is bright. After downloading her song “Save Yourself” from iTunes’ free Indie download, I’ve greatly enjoyed her work, and am looking forward to seeing what lies in store for her.
Now, for time’s sake, I’ll end this post here, but I could definitely keep going. Instead, I leave you with some honorable mentions like Regina Spektor, Joan Wasser (a.k.a Joan as Policewoman), and Olivia Broadfield. I’d also like to mention the greats that paved the way like Nina Simone, Patsy Cline, Etta James, The Runaways (Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Cherie Curie, and Sandy West), and even Alanis Morissette.
Who is your favorite female vocalist? Let me know in the comments below!