As awesome female-fueled band Renminbi noted on Twitter today, women musicians have been (sadly + unsurprisingly) absent from the Top Albums/Artists of the Decade lists that have been flying around. For kicks (and statistics), I thought I’d round up some major list makers and see what their female to male ratios were.
There’s lots of dude-centric wading through this list to find the female contenders. Of the top ten, just two women are included (M.I.A.’s Arular and Gillian Welch’s Time (the Revelator)). They’re joined by four other females’ contributions to the aughts: Bjork’s Vepsertine, Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose, Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black, and Patty Griffin’s 1,000 Kisses. Female-drummer inclusive The White Stripes’ Elephant also makes the list, although Paste’s accompanying blurb mostly pays accolades to all of Jack White’s projects. Final totals (Meg White included): 7/50. Ouch.
Okay, okay, okay. This is a) Billboard, and b) a reader’s poll. It’s totally female-heavy (6/10 albums are by leading ladies), but it’s also pop-heavy, so not very meaningful as far as women-who-play-their-own-instruments-and-write-their-own-music. But they’re still females, eh? The list reads like an MTV award show line up, with Lady Gaga, two Britney Spears releases (Blackout and Circus), two Taylor Swift’s (her self-titled and Fearless), and Ashley Tisdale [sidenote: who the hell is Ashley Tisdale?] ‘s Guilty Pleasure. Now, lemme go back to looking for female musicians.
So let’s hop across the pond and see how ladies are faring over there, huh? I’m relieved to see Polly Jean Harvey on here (DUH, ANYONE WHO’S OWNED A CD PLAYER THE LAST TEN YEARS), but alas, she’s one of only three solo females on the list (Amy Winehouse and M.I.A being the others), with two Karen O.-fronted Yeah Yeah Yeah albums (Fever to Tell and Show Your Bones) making the cut. Thrown in half-female The Knife, and you’ve got a Paste Magazine-similar ratio of 6/50.
Finally, let’s check in with music jouranlism giant Rolling Stone and take a tally. Apparently, if you look at the best 100 albums of the decade, you let a lot more ladies onto the list. Sure, seven of the fourteen female-inclusive albums are in the bottom 50, but look! There’s Cat Power! And Alicia Keys! Missy Elliott! Sleater Kinney! Shame on anyone who can imagine a decade without these artists. I’m also pleased to see a list that not only includes M.I.A.’s sophomore album Kala, but puts it high up there (9 out of 100). Other girls on the roster: Bjork’s Vespertine, Gillian Welsh’s Time (the Revelator), Norah Jones, Fiona Apple’s Extraordinary Machine, PJ Harvey, The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Fever to Tell, and Amy Winehouse again. M.I.A.’s debut album made the cut, too, along with Amadou + Mariam, an apparently blind couple from Mali, and The New Pornographers, who often have some women in their rambling multi-piece band. All told? 15/100. Math majors, reduce that radio to 7.5 out of 50, or 3 out of 20. Yikes.
Some women musicians who populated my cd discman-turned-iPod/iPhone this decade that I would’ve loved to see on these lists: The Gossip, Le Tigre, Erin McKeown, Feist, Kimya Dawson, Yelle, Kaki King, Santigold, Little Boots, Regina Spektor, Beyonce [How could no one include Beyonce?!? B-Day?!? C’mon!], Eryka Badu, St. Vincent, Juana Molina, Peaches, Grouper, and more I’m sure I’m forgetting.
And how about the lack of queer artist representation on these lists? Oof. Don’t even get me started. xo, c