Monday, August 22, 2011

And now for something completely different...10 women musicians you should listen to instead of Adele

For those of you who read my blog for emerging technology applications for learning, or for my reflections on being a female entrepreneur, be warned: this is a post from my inner (and not so secret) music snob.

I'm not a fan of Adele. She has a beautiful voice, to be sure. Her music is deeply emotional and soulful, absolutely. But I cannot stand the whiney, sometimes vindictive, passive aggressive lyrics that reinforce women as victims. I'll even give Adele herself a pass, I mean, she's only 23 and how much do you know about relationships, yourself, or anything really, at that age? 

So its not really Adele I don't like. Its the cult of Adele, the masses who are buying into the negative stereotypes of the roles of women in relationships. Frankly, I find it depressing. And then yesterday, the last straw that prompted me to write all of this down...I heard Adele's cover of The Cure's Love Song. Oh. Hell. No. For me, The Cure is the essence of my formative years of musical taste and my emotional development...along with New Order and The Smiths, they form the "holy trinity" of my musical identity. The Cure have a reputation for being "depressing" but with the exception of their Disintegration album, the rumors of their music being broody and melancholy have been greatly exaggerated. But hearing Adele singing Love Song? THAT was depressing. 

In recent years, I've become a much bigger fan of female musicians and have felt a stronger connection to their music. In the interest of not just complaining about how Adele fans are perpetuating negative stereotypes of women, I'd like to offer some alternative female artists to consider if you're seeking a soundtrack to your break up, your anger at the man who's done you wrong, or just some straight up girl power. 
  • Amanda Palmer: I'm going to start with my absolute favorite, the artist who I'm fangirl crazy for, and who grounds me whenever I need a kick in the pants. Her solo work is amazing, but go ahead and listen to the Dresden Dolls stuff as well. Oh, and of course, Evelyn Evelyn. There's no one who can rock the ukelele like AFP. For a start, try Astronaut. Then watch In My Mind. And then maybe a little Map of Tasmania (if you're not easily offended).
  • Bitter Ruin: I "discovered" this band at an Amanda Palmer late night cabaret show last fall. Their music is so good, and Georgia's voice is so hauntingly beautiful, that they've made it into heavy rotation on my personal playlists. Plus Ben is adorable in the best possible way. Their new video, Trust, is a good place to start.
  • Feist: You probably heard 1234 on the radio, but listen to more of Feist and you get the sense that you're in the company of your best girlfriend who understands just how you feel. My favorite is How My Heart Behaves. And she's got a new album coming get that too.
  • Florence + the Machine: Soulful voice, amazing lyrics, and the ability to capture the essence of complex but hopeful emotion. Cosmic Love makes me happy happy happy.
  • Regina Spektor: Probably the most underappreciated musician on this list, Regina's voice is phenominal and makes you feel her lyrics deeply. Start with Fidelity then keep going.
  • Neko Case: To be honest, I need to listen to Neko Case more than I do. Correction: I need to listen to more Neko Case songs than I do. I'm stuck on This Tornado Loves You
  • Amy Winehouse: I'm so sad she's gone. Her songs represented themes as tragic as her life. Move beyond Rehab and listen to Tears Dry On Their Own.
  • Zee Avi: If you haven't heard of Zee Avi, you're welcome. She's a powerhouse in a tiny package. Listen to Monte for a sample.
  • Colbie Caillat: I had to include my guilty pleasure on this list. Seriously, she's mushy, chick pop wallowing goodness. My inner music snob is embarrassed to include her, but include her I must. I Won't will get Colbie added to your guilty pleasure list too.
  • Patsy Cline: If you haven't listened to a Patsy Cline album, what is wrong with you? :) Seriously...this woman paved the way for heartbreak songs from the woman's point of view. No one does it better. No one. Listen to She's Got You right now. Do it. 
Honorable Mentions, individual songs:
10,000 Maniacs, Verdi Cries
Kirsty MacColl, In These Shoes

Am I missing anyone? 


  1. Thanks - I made a pandora station using these artists / songs - I love Adele but variety is great to have! ~ (@icepoeta on twitter)

  2. I admit a bias in recommending Jordan Reyne (I work with her) but *my* inner music snob compels me. New album is gonna be a knockout! :)

  3. @icepoeta - that's awesome and I think I need to do the same!

    Shane - will definitely check her out!

    Off-blog recommendations in addition to my list yesterday also included: TuneYards, Amy LaVere, Eleanor Friedberger, EMA, Elie Goulding, Maria Taylor, Kelly Rowland, Grace Potter, and of course Joan As Police Woman.

    I also found on a friend's Spotify playlist Jessica Lea digging her A LOT.

  4. Some other Honorable Mentions for your individual songs list:

    Carly Simon : Touched by the Sun (She has a huge library of music but I find this newer song to be one of my favorites).
    Loreena McKennitt : The Highway Man (One of my absolute favorite songs ever .. i still get chills listening to it .. one of those songs you have to really listen to .. hear every word)