Saturday, April 24, 2010

Privilege, Prettiness, and Rock Voices

Pardon me if this is a little disjointed, but the response to Silvana's post on privilege and rock music been making my head spin a little. As a veteran of many a fanboard, and more often than not, one of few female members, this has been a godsend. (Also, I'm the nerdy sort of rock fan who loves this stuff.) Riffing off the original post, Amanda from Pandagon asked her readers to come up with playlists featuring music made by women who subvert the whole "prettiness imperative":

"Today’s Genius Ten is based off the comments, which immediately went to Yoko Ono as one of history’s greatest monsters, i.e. woman who broke the prettiness rule in flagrant ways, and somehow still managed to get the love and admiration of John Lennon. Yoko is a real hero to me, because she really knows how to handle the haters."

Out of curiosity, I made a Pandora station using four women whom I think fit the bill as the artist seeds: Yoko (as previously mentioned), Grace Jones, Nina Hagan, and Diamanda Galas. These are not the end-all, be-all of women unafraid to sound ugly, but they are the four whose music I'm most familiar with. What I ended up with was damn fine radio station chockablock of artists who really defy what it means to make "good" music. I've been listening to it on an off all day. So far I've I heard music by Siouxsie Sioux, Marianne Faithfull, Betty Blowtorch, The Nuns, The Sugarcubes, and Jarboe, who really blew me away.

One final question: what do you consider an "unusual" singing voice, or "un-pretty" one? I keep seeing Joanna Newsom's name being tossed around, and while I'd say her voice is unique, I actually think it's quite pretty. Or maybe I should say feminine. Even hyper-feminine.

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