Girl Bands are Important
An essay on the importance of recognizing female rock-n-roll and music, in general
by: Jessie Harris
The very first physical copy of music I ever purchased (with my mother’s money, of course) was a cassette tape from an up and coming Australian Contemporary Christian artist named Rebecca St. James. I was 9 and I felt like an independent, grown ass teenager, purchasing music to listen to through my headphones at loud volumes in my bedroom. Growing up having listened to mainly Christian radio and artists, aside from the core musical gods and goddesses a la The Beatles and Fleetwood Mac, this Aussie chick was a new sound to me. She was different and aggressive, not like the other ladies in the Christian music world. She sounded a lot like what was on Top 40 radio in 1996, among the likes of Alanis Morissette and her grungy girl rock type. I loved it and remember vividly parading that cassette around with me wherever I went like a damn fool. I’m pretty sure none of my girlfriends were impressed, but I knew I was cool and that’s all that mattered.
This girl was cool, this girl was unconventional, and I needed to be just like her. No Doubt’s music shaped me into a dramatic little wannabe diva and solidified in my mind that it was okay to be a tomgirl in a world full of prissy girls. The female presence in the music industry was alive and well and favorites of my mine were Sheryl Crow, Jewel, and Sarah McLachlan. I lived for their CDs and dissected every word and melody, none of which had any relevance to my young middle school life of zero boys and zero drama. But these songs and albums became the soundtrack to my life and these women were goddesses in my eyes. They shaped the way I viewed myself and my outlook on the world. I knew that being a girl was a very special gift and confidence and beauty came in all shapes and sizes.
Nevertheless, it was known to everyone around me that I refused to give female rockers a chance. The 90’s had ruined me, or should I say, the 00’s female pop artists had ruined me, and I quickly turned away from any and all music that featured females. I know this sounds dramatic, but I vividly remember telling my college roommate that “I hate girl bands.” She just kind of looked at me strange, then proceeded to hit play on Fergie’s new single, “Fergalicious.” Girl bands, in my eyes, were just pop machines, backed up by dancers, singing to the auto-tune karaoke machine. Don’t get me wrong, I loved this decade of pop music and still do, but it wasn’t the same as what I had grown up with and I didn’t have that song-writing awe and respect for these artists as I had in previous years.
It was somewhere in the mid-2000’s that my mindset towards female artists began to shift again. There were a couple of singer-songwriters who began to get recognition, like Michelle Branch and Vanessa Carlton, and their songs found a way into my little heart. I also began listening to smaller, indie bands like Eisley out of Texas who were basically a 3-piece sister act with a couple of brothers included. It doesn’t get much more female-led than that and I loved them. I loved their alternative sound. I loved that the sisters were grungy beauties, donning dresses and Chuck Taylors and heavily winged eye makeup. This is what I had been needing and searching for and they wrote their own music and played their own instruments. Finally, I had some good music led by women in my hands again. Other alternative bands, like Paramore, began to also get national coverage on rock radio and the tides seemed to be changing for the good.
They aim to raise funding for the services that’ll aid doctors in training and promote overall LGBTQ support in our communities. Powerful women singer-songwriters make up a growing music industry and bands like St. Vincent, Arcade Fire, Emily Warren (total babe), Lucius, and hell, even Taylor Swift, have taken over most every type of musical genre. These bands are shaping the minds of our female generation to come and setting out to do good in the meantime. It’s an exciting time to be alive when little girls can idolize bands and singers again without fear. Girl bands are important and girl bands are good. Take it from me, a reformed girl band hater turned lover.