You only need to watch Bill Grundy’s December 1976 interview of the Sex Pistols to see the boozy, drunken, aggressive and masculine world of punk rock in fully swing.
The presenter leers at a young woman, almost as drunk as the guests, and Steve Jones’ tirade of mad swearing in response to his horrible sleazy flirting, are moments which reveal the soul of punk rock, more than any other. The ‘Bromley Contingent’ the Pistols entourage, stand, and there at the centre is Siouxsie Sioux. From this clip, you’d never know she was so important.
Siouxsie’s story is atypical of many of the punk rockers, torn between deeply sad and sordid. Sexually assaulted at nine and ignored by the police and her family, orphaned at 14, she ended up dotting around the gay scene in bondage attire, and became involved with the Pistols. The late-1970s world of punk rock was nasty, especially for women. Not Siouxsie. She went on to continue leading her post-punk outfit, Siouxsie and the Banshees. While the Banshees might not be a household name, the they had a massive impact on post-punk, influencing bands like Radiohead, the Cure, the Smiths, and the Joy Division. Siouxsie has been described as “one of the most influential British singers of the rock era”, being covered by Jeff Buckley.
That’s not why I love Siouxsie though. It’s not because I love Hong Kong Gardens or Spellbound either, although I do. Punk rockers tend to meet bad ends, either going out in a blaze of depressing glory, like Sid and Nancy, or drifting off into strange, pathetic, reputation obsessed madness, like Rotten. I love Siouxsie kept her mind on the music, not the commercially constructed image, the aesthetics, and she was amazing. She is the true revolutionary of punk music, carrying the whole genre on her leather-bound back.
“She’s been running as fast as she can, but could she have got there quicker if she was a man?” Taylor Swift has been grafting since her first album was released in 2006, despite much resistance.
Listen, I know it’s cool to hate Taylor Swift. Her music appeals to young girls and women and society tends to treat those things as a bit of a joke, but her success is impossible to ignore. The AMAs artist of the decade has earned six Billboard Number Ones and a cheeky UK number one, on top of that. The country-turned-pop star has faced some high-profile challenges along the road, though.
In 2009, she had the notorious clash with Kanye West, in which she (a 19 year old) was upstaged in her greatest hour, and humiliated in front of the entire world. In 2019, she faced issues when her old record label, who had the rights to all of her earlier music, was bought by a man who she had previously accused of bullying her, meaning he was now profiting from her success. This almost led to her being refused permission to perform her old tracks at the AMAs in 2019, when she was awarded Artist of the Decade.
Frankly, her music isn’t what many make it out to be. If you define Taylor Swift by the “Shake It Offs” and the “Bad Bloods”, you’re missing a lot. “All Too Well” is one of the most critically acclaimed deep cuts of any album ever, her albums “Red” and “1989” appeared on many best of the decade lists.
To keep going under all this pressure and scrutiny, while constantly in the public eye – is inspirational.
Anna of the North
Upbeat, synth, indie-pop is how i’d describe Norwegian singer Anna Lotterud’s music. Her debut album, Dream Girl, was released only in October. One of the reasons I love Anna so much is her social media presence, she is completely herself on all platforms and really interacts with her fans, despite growing in fame.
Anna has been discovered through ‘Lovers’ being featured on To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before soundtrack, and also features on Tyler, the creator’s ‘Boredom’.
My favourite song by Anna is ‘The Dreamer’ from 2016 which I first discovered on the playlist my old workplace used to put on. Her vocals in this song are beautiful and the layering on tone and beat is something special. This song is also a very empowering post-breakup song about finding your own feet and creativity.
Anna is inspirational because her music is not only unique but extremely personal and relatable, and in her upcoming rise I think she will be very popular in the coming years as she gets more exposure and releases more music.
“The Most Inspirational Women in Music”, what a big and scary label that people could argue over forever. But that’s the good thing about music though, isn’t it? We are all human beings with the same general ways of hearing and interpreting sounds; however, not one of us will hear a song the same way or interpret the lyrics in the same capacity. Maybe we should simplify “The Most Inspirational Women in Music” to just the female performer who has been the most inspirational to me personally, that way you don’t have to agree with me.
The person who has had the most influence on me is an American singer and songwriter by the name of Chrissy Costanza. She is most known as the lead vocalist for the pop- punk band Against the Current. True to the name of her band, this 24 year old loves to go against the norm of today’s culture and to stand out.
I have been following Chrissy and Against the Current for almost the entirety of their time as a band, and I cannot begin to articulate how much their music means to me. Being the primary songwriter for the band, a lot of the songs that I was connecting with were based on the thoughts and feelings of Chrissy herself. And I had never related with music before as much as I had with Chrissy. That is why I truly believe she is deserving of the singer who had the most impact of my life and I am sure plenty of others, because though she is a complete stranger to me, she, in my eyes at least, reached back and told me that no matter what I was going through, I wouldn’t have to go through it alone.
If there is one woman you absolutely need to know about it is Tash Sultana. Australian born and bred, the 24-year old started by playing in the streets of Melbourne before her single ‘Jungle’ went viral on Facebook in 2016. Difficult to classify, her musical style falls somewhere between psychedelic rock, indie pop, and reggae; and her personal style is hard to forget: dreadlocks, tattoos, laid-back style, caps, she has an impressive collection of guitars and she performs barefoot. In short, she is cool.
However, what makes Tash Sultana stand out is her ridiculous talent. She is a multi instrumentalist that not only plays 20 instruments including guitar, bass, drums, trumpet, flute, and saxophone, and piano, but she also has a heartfelt voice and outstanding beat-boxing skills. The fluidity and passion with which she plays each instrument is impressive, especially her guitars, managing to combine all sounds at once with the use of loop and distortion pedals.
Her debut, Flow State, was released in 2018 and it showcases her unique musical aura and skills, as well as taking the listener on a deeply personal emotional journey. Her 2016 EP Notion is worth mentioning as well, as it includes some of her best works yet, such as ‘Jungle’ and ‘Notion’.
I would highly recommend watching her NPR Tiny Desk concert, were she performed a brutal extended version of her song ‘Blackbird’ from Flow State, which she wrote when she got stuck in a cave in New Zealand (crazy, I know) with ‘just’ her voice and a 12-string acoustic guitar. She has released collaborations with Milky Chance and Matt Corby, and she is currently working on her new album. Tash definitely should not be missed: she is not only the embodiment of her own flow state, but of music as a whole.
The iconic Icelandic artist launched all the way back in the year 1982, as a 16-year-old. Those last four decades, Björk has defied gender stereotypes and repeatedly transformed herself. Despite that, she rejected the women’s. She just have fully embrace it at 48, in her most recent album – Utopia.
No one, even the artist herself, can deny that her music have always been feminist. The themes of liberation and feminity are apparent. Moreover, she has always talked about her lifelong love of female artists and her desire to stand up for them.
Björk’s insistent avoidance of the ‘f’ word, most probably stems from her Icelandic upbringing:
“I was lucky enough to grow up in a society that is not so racist or sexist or all these things”.
Both the art and the story of Björk are deeply inspirational. Throughout her career, the fans have observed her continuous transformation and growth. We have seen her broken and rise from extreme pain while celebrating vulnerability and kindness. In the end, she embraced her power as a woman, a producer, and an artist.
Last modified: 10th March 2020