Women and Popular Music: Sexuality, Identity and Subjectivity

Women and Popular Music: Sexuality, Identity and Subjectivity

Sheila Whiteley

Language: English

Pages: 261


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Women and Popular Music explores the changing role of women musicians and the ways in which their songs resonate in popular culture. Sheila Whiteley begins by examining the counter-culture's reactionary attitudes to women through the lyrics of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. She explores the ways in which artists like Joplin and Joni Mitchell confronted issues of sexuality and freedom, redefining women's participation in the industry, and assesses the personal cost of their achievements. She considers how stars such as Annie Lennox, Madonna and k.d. lang have confronted issues of gender stereotyping and sexuality, through pop videos for 'Justify My Love' and 'Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)', and looks at the enduring importance of the singer-songwriter through artists such as Tracey Chapman. Lastly, she assesses the contribution of contemporary artists including Tori Amos, P.J. Harvey and Courtney Love, and asks whether the Spice Girls are just a 'cartoon feminist pop group' or if they provide positive role models for teenage girls.

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environment without contact with men', 8 with the inference that lesbian feminism was the only viable route forward. The identification of 'separatism as an empowering base and the belief in establishing and transmitting traditions, histories and ideologies that are women centred' 9 was significant in its challenge to patriachal definitions of art and culture. Grass-root discussion and consciousness-raising groups identified a broad range of concerns, including sexual relationships, motherhood

warmth to the sparseness of the solo guitar line) and which continues into the second and third verses, is also indicative of Joplin's ability to control and shape musical effect. In this instance, they enhance the sense of compassion and empathy inherent in the lyrics, My unhappy, my unlucky and my little, oooh, girl blue I know you're unhappy ooooooooh, Oh honey, oh baby I know just how you feel I would suggest that 'Little Girl Blue' evidences a new maturity in Joplin's exploration of the

alternative charts were 7 INTRODUCTION all held by men – with Nick Drake, Tom Waits, the Band, Gene Clark, Nick Drake (again) and the Beatles notching up the first seven. Nor is it so surprising that there were so few female artists, or that the albums achieving highest acclaim were from the 1960s and early 1970s. It is, however, depressingly sad. Over the last ten years women have had an increasing presence as performers. In Britain the Spice Girls are consistently in the charts and each week

'mittageisen/mechanistic', the music has a strong symbolic coding. Morris's heavy torn tom establishes a repetitive march-like rhythm which is emphasised by the metallic sound of McKay's guitar. The lyrics are equally tight and 'mechanical' as they follow the metric four-in-abar pulse, emphasising the syllabic construction of the words: Metal is tough Metal will sheen Metal won't rust when Oiled and cleaned. The regimented character of the words is emphasised by word-painting and inflection, the

celebration of technological modernity and 'its eroticism allows us to rediscover our bodies as part of this experience'.24 What nudity as beautiful as this Obedient monster purring at its toil; Those naked iron muscles dripping oil, And the sure-fingered rods that never miss? As Louis Untermeyer's nineteenth-century poem 'Portrait of a Machine' shows, the play on the sexual connotations of machinery is, itself, historical and cultural. Express Yourself plays with similar imagery as the machinery

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