I was flipping through the new issue of Entertainment Weekly over the weekend when I was suddenly startled and alert. I went back, reread, recounted and realized that EW had published a “10 best” music list that featured more women than men! Of “The 10 Most Exciting Artists Now” (or “… Right Now” in the online edition), four are female solo artists, two are bands fronted by women and one has a woman in a prominent, albeit not central, role. The times, they are a-changing.
Now, I don’t have anything against male recording artists. My CD collection is full of them. I’m going to buy the new Springsteen album the day it’s released. And I like exciting new artist No. 5, Josh Ritter. But I get tired of music lists that overwhelmingly recognize the boys, so I’m going to be excited by this list and highlight the many women featured.
Let’s take a look at them. (And by the way, you can listen to the full-length sample tracks by clicking the link to each song and using the player at the bottom of the EW.com page.) I’m preserving EW‘s numbering below.
1. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
I love a band that hyphenates.
I had never heard of Sharon Jones (with or without the Dap-Kings), but I listened to the track “It Hurts to Be Alone” and thoroughly enjoyed the classic Motown sound. And from what I read about them, Jones is a woman to be reckoned with. She’s 51, grew up in the segregated south and worked as a prison guard at Riker’s Island.
2. The DEY
EW says they’re exciting because they’re “[t]he Black Eyed Peas with a Latin twist.” After listening to their song, “No Looking Back,” I pretty much agree with that assessment. The sound is certainly similar. But female vocalist Elan Luz Rivera loses major points for her dumb-ass quote in the article. “Spanish is a Romance language. Who doesn’t understand romance?” Um, who doesn’t understand that “Romance” in this context means “derived from Latin,” not “the language of love”?
4. Alice Smith
Alice Smith is described as “a seductive mix of Nina Simone and Alicia Keys.” Listen to the track “Dream” and you can see why she warrants that description. Smith’s debut album For Lovers, Dreamers & Me (Kermit the Frog, anyone?) will be rereleased shortly on Epic Records. (The original release on an indie label didn’t generate many sales. Alas.)
7. New Buffalo
A word to the wise: If you’re ever looking for pictures of “New Buffalo,” expect to find a lot of maps of Michigan in addition to pictures of Sally Seltmann.
Seltmann, aka New Buffalo, has created a body of work merging “the folk and the electronic worlds.” Listen to “Versary” to get a sense of how interesting and different she is.
8. Lil Mama
I recall reading about Lil Mama (Niatia Kirkland) in The New York Times last spring when her single “Lip Gloss” became an unexpected hit. (The song didn’t do much for me, but I’m not a tween. And I don’t wear a lot of lip gloss.) Now her debut album, Voice of the Young People, is about to be released, and EW has dubbed her Best New Female Rapper at the tender age of 17. Check out “Brooklyn” for a sample of her rhymes.
Well, Robyn is back, and she’s all grown up. (She was a teenager back in 1997.) She does, however, sound a bit like a 12-year-old in “Handle Me.” The lyrics are interesting, though. I was particularly struck by, “You’re a selfish, narcissistic, psycho, freaking boot-licking [something inarticulate] creep, and you can’t handle me.” She does not mince words. (I just looked up the lyrics, and the inarticulate word is Nazi. EW.com must have censored it.)
And is it just me, or does Robyn kind of look like Martha Plimpton in Parenthood?
I listened to the song “Decoy” and liked what I heard. I love when a song begins with a loud guitar riff followed by a girl singing. (And I can call her a girl. She’s only 18!) Apparently, they’ve created a lot of Internet buzz and had a successful run with the Warped Tour this summer. EW has them pegged as a band to watch.
What do you think? Are these the most exciting artists out there right now? Did Entertainment Weekly miss any?