Women make the world go round; so said the prophets, and the profiteers. With equal opportunities for the sexes in most avenues now, this isn’t about coy smiles and blushes anymore. They are making their mark and marking out territories.
In the world of rock too, what was once a male dominion, has seen more and more women making the big time. It’s been tougher, because society seems to condemn female misdemeanours harder. But they’ve stayed true, worn their femininity on their blouses, and made it an excuse, not a hindrance.
And no, this isn’t about gospel singers, like Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox, or women simply tuned to do the ‘female parts’. This is about women strutting it in leather and daring to fling their pantyhose in the audience’s face.
To liven up these slow weekdays, we profile 5 of rock’s top femme fatales;
Next to the hot springs that dot the semi-Arctic environs of Iceland, Bjork is probably the most significant phenomenon to have emerged from the country. A singing-songwriting career, that professionally got underway at the age of 11, has taken Bjork’s outlandish musical expressions to all corners of the globe.
The keyword here is outlandish; a description Bjork has made her own within the music universe. While we try to recognize her tunes and appropriate it within a particular genre, elements of jazz, folk, rock, house and electronica render it largely futile. She’s just her own.
Blondie, the band, was named for the sobriquet Deborah Harry was given by men who didn’t know her name. She was a gorgeous blonde woman – still is, at age 66. But her immortality is of another kind, one garnered on the back of the pathbreaking music she helped pioneer, throughout the ‘70s and the ‘80s.
You may not know – or remember, if you’re old enough – but Blondie’s debut album in 1976 was the first time rap achieved commercial breakthrough. It wasn’t NWA or Tupac. It was a blonde white girl from New Jersey and her guitarist boyfriend, who slowly started turning over the pages of music history.
Stevie Nicks, for symbolism’s sake, was all that the world envisaged as a ‘flower child’. Her voice seems to contradict its own innocence with the words that it sung. Even that silly little tambourine she flicked, which I don’t believe ever made much of a difference, has transcended into rock quintessence.
Fleetwood Mac was her heyday, back in the ‘70s. She wrote and sang Dreams, the band’s one and only US No.1 ever. Even the heavy doses of cocaine and the tranquilizers couldn’t stem that flow of intricate pain we recognize in her songs. Rolling Stones Magazine were right; she is the Queen of Rock ‘N’ Roll.
Tina Turner’s superpower is clearly her live performances, delivered from on high up those iconic stilettos.
Who would’ve thought, especially after the awful marriage she had to endure with Ike Turner, and her sudden disappearance from the scene post its break-up?
But you can’t keep a hot mamma like Tina down, and by the time Private Dancers came along in 1985, she was hipper, stronger, and more fabulous than any other performer around. But the biggest sparkle was that smile and that voice.
You could’ve avoided Madonna and plumped for someone more hardcore, like Gwen Stefani, or Courtney Love; that great big hallelujah to rock’s high profile groupies. But Madge bulldozes her way through into your conscience, for the sheer span and consistency of her career.
Like A Virgin she sang, dressed in a gut busting wedding corset nobody in their wildest imagination would’ve thought of performing in. But Madonna did, in front of millions watching that telecast of MTV Video Awards in 1984. They’d said she was wrong, and here she was, sticking up a finger riding a giant wedding cake.