When I made my list of my favourite albums of 2014, I remarked that there was a distinct lack of female artists. I’ll have some thoughts on that after the jump.
Only four albums by female artists (or bands with female members) made my top 20 for 2014: Kimbra at #20; Field Mouse at #17; K.Flay at #15; and Wye Oak at #10. That’s a worse count than 2013, when there were 6 female artists on the list, with The Naked and Famous at #1. I tried to listen to even more female artists in 2014 than in years past. What gives?
Looking at the full list of 114 albums that I listened to in 2014, there are a bunch of female artists occupying slots #21 through #30: Little Big League at #21; Honeyblood at #24; and Katie Kate at #26. If you go down to #31 through #40, there’s Sea Wolf, Makthaverskan, Warpaint, and Lykke Li. Overall, about 29% of the list is female artists (or bands with female members).
No matter how you cut it, 29% is kind of low. I tried to listen to more women in 2014, and I failed. That’s on me. But even if try to seek out more female musicians, I may not succeed. The fact of the matter is that I like rock music, and there just aren’t that many women in rock. Even rock bands with female members typically have them in one of two roles: singer or keyboardist.
Moreover, sexism is a big problem in the punk scene – a bit ironic, considering its progressive, anti-establishment roots – but it’s there nonetheless. It doesn’t help that girls are often shooed away from heavier music towards poppier stuff, which is considered more “girlish.”
So in the end – yes, I’m at fault. I need to try harder when it comes to seeking out more diverse voices in the music I listen to. But to an extent, I’m limited by the music industry, which is content to churn out four-piece dude band after four-piece dude band, signing only the occasional group of women. When The Menzingers took Lemuria and Cayetana out with them on the headlining tour they did last summer, that was a step in the right direction. Promoting female artists is the way to go if we want to take steps to curbing the implicit sexism that plagues rock music, and it will open the ears of people like me to new music from unique points of view.