The voice of a woman is a force to be reckoned with. Even in 2017, the music industry is heavily dominated by men and their often misogynistic platform. In this month’s group feature, our staff constructed a soundtrack created by non-binary persons and women alike that articulate the importance of their presence both in and outside of music. These folks have an agenda, and we’re hearing it loud and clear.
Eli Shively, General Manager: Tancred – “Pens”
The mid-2010s have played host to an explosion of women in kickass indie-rock bands, and more specifically women in kickass indie-rock bands that kind of sound like Weezer. Tancred is definitely the latter. The side project of Now, Now’s Jess Abbot, Tancred’s radio-friendly hooks and sharp punk rock edge have the potential to invite a whole host of lazy (and slightly misogynistic) comparisons — *cough* Paramore *cough* — but Abbot’s vulnerable lyricism, knack for penning gigantic choruses and ingenious sense of pacing scream 90’s Cuomo. “Pens” has all three in spades, and is markedly better than anything on The White Album. Trust me.
Jon Fuchs, Music Director: Best Coast – “Our Deal”
Best Coast’s debut record Crazy For You is kind of a mind-boggler. It should have been seen as a generic throwaway indie record but ended up being one of the most memorable examples of sunny, reverb-drowned indie rock in the beginning of the 21st century. Arguably the best track on the record is the breakup slow jam “Our Deal,” which takes the listener on a nostalgic trip through young heartbreak and coping with sadness through drugs. Frontwoman Bethany Cosentino’s wonderful singing about heartbreak and depression and the solid production and instrumentation from Bobb Bruno mesh together perfectly to create a warm, beachy atmosphere that feels both completely game-changing and all too familiar. Cosentino’s repetitive lyrics “I wish you could tell me how you really feel / But you’ll never tell me, cause that’s not our deal” will break any listener’s heart in seconds. At just over two minutes, “Our Deal” knows just how to toy with your emotions, and without Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno’s beautiful, groundbreaking debut record, who knows what quirky Californian teenage girls would’ve cried to in 2010.
Arguably the best track on the record is the breakup slow jam “Our Deal,” which takes the listener on a nostalgic trip through young heartbreak and coping with sadness through drugs. Frontwoman Bethany Cosentino’s wonderful singing about heartbreak and depression and the solid production and instrumentation from Bobb Bruno mesh together perfectly to create a warm, beachy atmosphere that feels both completely game-changing and all too familiar. Cosentino’s repetitive lyrics “I wish you could tell me how you really feel / But you’ll never tell me, cause that’s not our deal” will break any listener’s heart in seconds. At just over two minutes, “Our Deal” knows just how to toy with your emotions, and without Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno’s beautiful, groundbreaking debut record, who knows what quirky Californian teenage girls would’ve cried to in 2010.
Sam Tornow, Editorial Director – G.L.O.S.S. – “G.L.O.S.S. (We’re From The Future)”
“THEY TOLD US WE WERE GIRLS / HOW WE TALK, DRESS, LOOK, AND CRY / THEY TOLD US WE WERE GIRLS / SO WE CLAIMED OUR FEMALE LIVES / NOW THEY TELL US WE AREN’T GIRLS / OUR FEMININITY DOESN’T FIT / WE’RE FUCKING FUTURE GIRLS LIVING OUTSIDE SOCIETY’S SHIT!”
G.L.O.S.S. came and went with their fame. They turned down a 50,000 dollar contract with Epitaph for the sake of independence. By the end of the intro to their first demo, G.L.O.S.S. had summed up the dire frustration of so many women. Not only could vocalist Sadie Switchblade write, but the whole band was brutally talented. Aggressive vocals, pounding drums, and guitars that cut apart the threads of fragile masculinity like scissors, they were unstoppable. . .
. . .and that’s why they stopped. In a highly circulated break-up letter, the band confessed to the mental toll the visibility of being an icon can be, and how punk is about challenging ourselves, not gaining fame. True punks, true people.
So, long live G.L.O.S.S. Long live empowering women. Long live Riot Grrrls. Long live badgirlcore. Long live treating each other like human beings. Long live future girls living outside society’s shit.
Devon Hannan, Features Editor: Joni Mitchell – “California”
The best folk artists are and have always been women. Overshadowed by other male identifying musicians such as Bob Dylan, Donovan and Leonard Cohen, women rarely get the recognition they deserve and it’s about time we give them credit where credit is due. One of the biggest pioneers of folk music is the one and only, Joni Mitchell. While influencing other big dogs such as Björk, Bonnie Raitt and even Prince, Mitchell’s sheer talent and badass “take no man, take no shit” attitude has given women around the world a place in the industry beyond the basic (and annoying) “singer-songwriter” mold.
In a time when women relied heavily on male producers, and approbation from men in general, Joni Mitchell actually made it on her own. Giving us timeless classics such as Blue and Court and Spark, Joni’s killer vocal range and composition radiate far beyond the 70s. “California” is an absolute bop that unhinges Mitchell’s quest for freedom.
Maybe it’s because I have such fond memories of this singing this song with my dearest friends – some of the most empowering women I know – or the fact that it inspires me to go outside, discover the world, and write folk music of my own. Despite her SUPER disheartening rejection of feminism, it’s hard to deny that without her voice in the first place, many other women may have never had the opportunity to shout theirs; I know I wouldn’t, and at the very least, I’m grateful. All hail the queen.
Eli Schoop, Copy Editor: Vektroid – “Mango/Fuji”
The internet has been presumed a male space ever since its beginnings. This can be construed as a patriarchal product representative of the reality we inhabit, or as an alternative through male conquest. Whatever the pathway, Ramona Xavier sensed the feminine energy by which the internet is a gentle nurturer and forged her destiny.
MACINTOSH PLUS, Laserdisc Visions, 情報デスクVIRTUAL, projects like these come from a knowledge of a self in relation to their surroundings whether it be cultural, technological, or psychological. Her best song, “Mango/Fuji”, off of Color Ocean Road, keeps this conscience flowing vis à vis shimmering textures and pastel patterns. Xavier theorizes her music standing in between the cruelness of the corporeal earth and the overwhelming masculinity pervading underground scenes, paving the way for a more sensory experience. Let’s hope Ramona can keep providing new aural flavors the likes of which we haven’t seen in the digital media age.
Tanner Bidish, Staff Writer: ABBA – “Dancing Queen”
First of all, how could you not love this song? Maybe you’d hate it if you didn’t have a soul – and I would understand that – but this track is seriously a banger. THE banger. Whenever Agnetha and Anni-Frid jam the heck out, singing, “You can dance / You can jive / Having the time of your life,” the whole room freaking loses it! The theme screams to let go of your inhibitions, be feminine, and own it because it is amazing and beautiful. No matter who you are, this song will free you and spur you into shamelessness.
Nothing can compare to late nights in my best friend’s living room, blaring this hit. I rarely see her more uplifted and untethered than when she gets down to this sweet ABBA tune. She’s always feeling it – ready to go, young sweet, only seventeen. Nothing makes me happier than seeing her thrive at 2 a.m., boogieing in the kitchen, belting, “See that girl / Watch that scene / Dig in the Dancing Queen.”
Justin Cudahy, Staff Writer: Alanis Morissette – “You Oughta Know”
Dubbed by Rolling Stone as the “Queen of alt-rock angst,” Alanis Morissette is a force to be reckoned with. The musician took over the 90s in her own way with the release of Jagged Little Pill in 1995, featuring tracks such as “Hand in My Pocket” and “Head Over Feet” that still hold up today. Almost every 11th grade English class today listens to “Ironic” in a lesson at some point too, so she’s clearly doing something right.
If you thought Taylor Swift’s breakup songs were cruel, you obviously haven’t listened to “You Oughta Know”. With its raw, sarcastic, in-your-face lyrics, Morissette has no problem detailing one of her past relationships, (who we can neither confirm nor deny it to be with Dave Coulier…but it probably is) in a brazen fashion. Merge that with Morissette’s strong, guttural vocals, a heavy bass-driven melody and some dissonant guitar riffs and you got yourself two Grammies: one for Best Rock Song and the other for Best Female Rock Performance.
As of today, Alanis Morissette has won eight Grammy Awards, 12 Juno Awards, and been nominated (twice) for a Golden Globe. Even 20 years later, she is still seen as a figurehead for strong-minded, independent women. Just don’t break up with her.
Marvin Dotiyal, Staff Writer: Paramore – “Misery Business”
Let’s be real, this list would be incomplete without mentioning Paramore. To me, Hayley Williams is the pop-punk princess. I know Paramore isn’t the most talented band, but there are so many female-fronted bands out there that cannot outshine the fame of this redheaded frontwoman.
I remember making my first ever record purchase, Panic! At the Disco’s A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out and receiving a free Fueled By Ramen sampler that surprised me with “Misery Business” (I guess the nostalgic factor weighs in here).
In all seriousness, though, Paramore’s older works are total bangers. I agree that “Misery Business” is a pretty overrated song in their discography, but Williams’ soaring vocals in the chorus is what takes the cake. Her voice sounds so full and satisfying, along with her edgy, rebellious lyrics.
It really is self-explanatory; just go listen to it and you’ll feel your silly 12-year-old angst rise from the dead – It’s that empowering.
Maria Lubanovic, Staff Writer: Heart – “Crazy on You”
If I have to pick a favorite nonmale track, “Crazy on You” from Heart’s first album has got to be it. My parents introduced me to Heart at a very young age. Ever since I have appreciated the impact Ann and Nancy Wilson have made on the music industry, as they were some of the first women to front a rock band and become famous for it. That being said, they paved the way for hundreds of other women.
“Crazy on You” begins with one of the most famously difficult acoustic riffs in rock history. Nancy Wilson plays it differently every time she performs with the purpose of proving her skill as a musician… Point taken. This riff was one of the reasons I decided to learn guitar, and while I have played for three years, I’m still not even remotely close to being able to play this thing.
Before you know it, Ann Wilson comes in softly before pitch-perfectly wailing about wanting to go crazy on her lover, slowly letting herself take over. Wilson’s vocal range is legendary, and so are her songwriting skills, as she not only wrote this timeless song, but many of Heart’s other chart toppers. The sisters have gone on to have 40 years of success and have supported many feminist causes.
I love you, Heart. Never change.