Leading Ladies

I’m not 100% sure why, but I never was a big fan of female singers.  Something about female-fronted bands didn’t appeal to me, and I didn’t enjoy them, for the most part.  Growing up in the 90’s, there were a few that broke through on radio stations I listened to such as Hole, Holly McNarland, Bif Naked, The Pretenders, to name a few.  Nevertheless, I never purchased any of their albums, although found myself quietly enjoying the odd tune (Hole’s Malibu, Holly McNarland’s Elmo, Chain Gang by the Pretenders, Cannonball by the Breeders).

But there was still something about female-fronted bands that didn’t resonate with me.  Yes, I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’m just being honest.  Maybe I didn’t allow myself to enjoy any of their music due to the fear that my peers would embarrass me and make fun of me for liking any of their music, who knows.

By this point, I’m sure many are simply writing me off as sexist, and that’s fair to assume.  I’m not, mind you.  It was purely a matter of taste: female-led bands were not my bag; I can’t help what I like, right?

As much as I didn’t mind a few songs from the aforementioned female singers, I didn’t enjoy them on the same level as male-fronted bands.  In all fairness, there weren’t nearly as many female-fronted bands being played on the airwaves back in the 90’s, or at least from the radio stations I was listening to.

For those of you (if any) who are now disappointed/upset/off-put/insulted by my former lack of love for the female-led group, I’m happy to have you know that my music catalogue is growing exponentially with female voices!  Over the last year, I have been enjoying the leading ladies, as well as co-leading ladies all that much more.  I know I have a few sources to thank, one being 100.5 the Peak FM in Vancouver, the others being a few friends and family who have introduced me to some amazing female vocalists and bands I likely would not have discovered on my own.  Also, many of the last few years of free iTunes’ “Single of the Week” introduced me to some great female voices, leading and co-leading: Land of Talk, Jets Overhead, The Ghost Is Dancing, the XX, to name only a few.

With relatively unknown acts like Florence + The Machine and Lady Antebellum making it big in the last year or so, it’s difficult to go anywhere without hearing the majesty of the female presence in the global rock music scene.  Now obviously there are, and have always been huge pop starlets, but I’m talking more along the lines of indie, rock, acoustic and alt-country genres which have been typically male-dominated.  Especially on rock radio.

I’ll be the first to admit that I was a little leery of these new acts, due to my former misguided tastes, but I’m oh-so-glad to have not only been exposed, but open enough to give these artists a chance.  Unfortunately in the past, I would have likely written off most female vocalists or female-led bands, but now I embrace them and am very open to what they have to offer.

Of course, as usual, I’ve created a post-related list.  These are my current 10 favourite songs (in no particular order) by bands/artists with leading and/or co-leading female vocalists: (thanks again to those of you who exposed me to these great songs and artists!)

As usual, click on the titles for Youtube links to the listed tunes.

  1. Land of Talk – Quarry Hymns This is the second time Land of Talk have been featured on the iTunes “Single of the Week”, and both times they have not disappointed (the first song was called Some Are Lakes)
  2. Great Northern – Just A Dream A lengthy, yet riveting song I was introduced to a few weeks ago, a good listen!
  3. Tegan & Sara – The Con Probably my favourite song from the twin sisters, and one of my favourites in general, right now (click here for a cool acoustic version)
  4. Imogen Heap – Hide and Seek Decided to learn this song on guitar (since the album version features zero instruments except voice and a vocoder) and realized why I like the song: the chord progression throughout most of the song is the same as Bush’s Glycerine, Green Day’s When I Come Around, U2’s With or Without You, etc. Recipe for success.
  5. Mother Mother – Burning Pile I know there’s a heavy male co-lead, but this band would be nowhere near as good without the two co-lead female vocals of former member Debra Jean Creelman and current member Molly Guldemond harmonizing perfectly (Debra Jean will be missed)
  6. Jets Overhead – I Should Be Born Great song by the Victoria-based band!
  7. Hannah Georgas – The Deep End Although I’ve heard it many times now, I still enjoy it, especially the live version with the Malahat Revue!
  8. The Ghost is Dancing – Battles Off Beautiful harmonizing and great instrumentation from this canadian band
  9. Metric – Help I’m Alive I’m not a huge Metric fan, but this tune and Stadium Love are both excellent! Plus, Emily Haines ain’t hard on the eyes.
  10. Kathryn Calder – Slip Away A slow start with a great wordless chorus not repeated often enough, this tune along with All It Is both build nicely and are almost teasingly short; Calder is also co-lead vocalist/keys for a little canadian band, The New Pornographers.

EDIT NOTE: I just recently, like a week after writing this blog post, realized I had not included Leslie Feist, or simply Feist. I feel bad about the omission because I really quite enjoy a few of her songs. At the honourary number 11 spot on my chart:

11. Feist – I Feel It All


~ by DR on October 16, 2010.

4 Responses to “Leading Ladies”

  1. Very well said, I too was not a huge fan of female fronted rock until quite recently. I remember liking Elastica in the 90’s and Malibu is a great song but that’s because Billy Corgan wrote the entire album, although I’m pretty sure Courtney Love would punch me right in the face if I ever said that to her…she seems to have a “truth” problem if you know what I mean. Love Metric, Tegan & Sarah and The New Pornographers. Neko Case did a great duet with Fran Healy called Sing Me To Sleep on his new solo album Wreckorder, her voice is haunting. Great stuff man, keep it coming!!

    • Thanks for the trivia, Scott! Didn’t know that Hole’s Celebrity Skin was co-written by Billy Corgan. I will have to check out that Neko-Fran duet, been loving the duet thing recently too! Thanks for reading and for the kind words!

  2. Only female band I liked in the 90’s was the Eurythmics; wait that was the 80s.

  3. Shaun, Annie Lennox is the all time best female singer in the rock genre and has done so much more. Unfortunately only Imogen Heap does anything for me. Too bad She can’t get a bit more bad attitude like Melissa Mossahart

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