10 Female-Fronted Britpop Bands

The term ‘britpop’ is often overshadowed by male band dominance – the likes of Oasis, Blur, Pulp (with the exception of Candida Doyle), Suede, Supergrass… the list goes on. People are quick to forget and undermine the array of wonderful female-fronted bands around at the time.

Well, here’s ten of my favourite female Britpop bands you may not have heard of, but should check out regardless.

Elastica:

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I should probably start this off with Elastica; they are, after all, the seemingly ‘definitive’ Britpop girl band always remembered by critics and music journalists. But was that because of their music? Or the fact that lead singer Justine Frischmann (ex-Suede band member) was in possibly the biggest love triangle of the early 90’s with the two Britpop ‘it-boys’ of the time: Damon Albarn and Brett Anderson? Who knows. However, that’s not to take away from Elastica’s worthiness as a band; their self-titled release in 1995 is easily one of the best Britpop records ever released.

My favourite songs: Connection, Waking Up, All-Nighter

Sleeper:

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Fronted by Louise Wener, Sleeper were one of the more well-known female-fronted Britpop groups. Their sound is quite reminiscent of Blondie and even makes one draws comparisons with their peers at the time in Elastica. It wouldn’t surprise me if Louise Wener was inspired by Justine Frischmann in more than just a penchant for creating catchy pop songs and similar lyrical context (see her haircut for details) – but that doesn’t matter, because I for one much prefer Sleeper over Elastica.

My favourite songs: Inbetweener, Sale of the Century, What Do I Do Now?, Statuesque

Echobelly:

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Like Sleeper, another band that enjoyed moderate success but were often overshadowed by Elastica’s popularity and comparison – were Echobelly. In my opinion, the influence of Morrissey, The Smiths, and jangle pop is much more apparent in the music and lyrics. And after all, Morrissey was an Echobelly fan, which means they must be good.

My favourite songs: King of the Kerb, Great Things, Insomniac, I Can’t Imagine The World Without Me

Lush:

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Originally more of a shoegazing band, Lush’s sound eventually progressed towards uplifting Britpop with feminist undertones and anti-misogyny/anti-sexist lyrical themes. Perhaps their most famous song, Ladykillers, is a feminist anthem embracing fierce female independence. Their most successful album, Lushlife, released in 1996, is considered a 90’s masterpiece (and even features a duet with lead singer Miki Berenyi and Jarvis Cocker). Lushlife would’ve no doubt launched them into Britpop superstardom if not for the shock suicide of their drummer shortly after the release – which ultimately caused them to disband later that year.

My favourite songs: Ladykillers, Single Girl, De-Luxe, Ciao! (duet with Jarvis Cocker)

Catatonia:
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In the days of post-Britpop, Catatonia were one of the biggest – and best – rock bands to come out of Wales. With front-woman Cerys Matthews’ instantly recognisable brash vocal style and sometimes-odd lyrical subtext, they enjoyed quite large success – especially with the 1998 release of their album International Velvet. They even did a duet with Welsh legend Tom Jones.

My favourite songs: Mulder and Scully, I Am The Mob, Road Rage, Strange Glue

Kenickie:
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Fronted by Lauren Laverne and hailing from Newcastle, Kenickie (named after their favourite character from Grease), gained mild popularity with the release of their debut At The Club in 1998 – which, I can vouch for, is a great, upbeat staple to the Britpop genre. Although Kenickie never achieved major success, they were the epitomy of a 90’s pop band — lots of fun and never took things too seriously.

My favourite songs: In Your Car, Punka, Nightlife, Stay In The Sun

The Sundays:
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Okay, probably technically not Britpop and perhaps leaning more towards indie – but it doesn’t really matter – because The Sundays were a really great band and deserve some love and appreciation. Formed in the late 80’s and continuing throughout the 90’s, they achieved almost unprecedented success within their genre for their debut Reading, Writing, And Arithmetic which features songs about living in England, finding a pound coin in the underground, and kicking boys until they cry. They are one of my favourite bands and a nice mellow listen. Highly recommended.

My favourite songs: I Kicked A Boy, My Finest Hour, Here’s Where The Story Ends, Can’t Be Sure

Dubstar:
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Dubstar were a trio from Newcastle lead by Sarah Blackwood. Their acclaimed 1995 debut, Disgraceful (amazing record) is full of catchy dreampop and indie melodies which gained them a lot of success early on in their career. They had a real knack for writing bright pop melodies which were then underpinned by quite somber, depressing lyrics (see: Just A Girl She Said for example). Often forgot about nowadays, but definitely worth checking out.

My favourite songs: Just A Girl She Said, Not So Manic Now, Popdorian, Stars

The Popguns:
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Formed in the late 80’s, The Popguns never made much of an impact and I have no idea why. Led by frontwoman Wendy Morgan, and with Shaun Charman (ex-Wedding Present) in the line-up, The Popguns’ sound is upbeat jangle pop at it’s best. Despite their lack of mainstream success, they were, however, championed by the late great John Peel – someone who always knew a great band when he heard them. They are seriously good and seriously underrated.

My favourite songs: Waiting For The Winter, Landslide, Someone You Love, Still A World Away

Salad:
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Despite their first album Drink Me being quite well received, Salad never really took off, which is a shame because they were a cool band and wrote some really good songs: one of my favourite lyric of theirs being “I am winter solstice waiting / Like a granite statue”

My favourite songs: Drink The Elixir, Motorbike To Heaven, Granite Statue, Machine of Menace

So there you have it. Ten female-fronted Britpop bands I like, complete with Spotify links for you to enjoy and hopefully discover some new music. Let me know what you think.

xo, c

what i noticed about (some) pop music

My friend Bekah wrote this very relatable article about sexism and misogyny in pop music. You should go read it.

what i noticed about (some) pop music.

I’d like to add that just a few weeks ago I was trying to explain to my mother why I was so appalled that she set ‘Scream’ by Usher as her ringtone. “Now relax and get on your back” he shouts, as an undoubtedly catchy chorus kicks in… but whilst the majority of listeners seem to be oblivious to the implications of the lyrics; I’m trying not to barf.

Well said Bekah, I couldn’t agree more.

Abercrombie & Bitch

I never liked Abercrombie & Fitch.

Come to think of it, I never liked any of those preppy, sorority-like clothes designers like Jack Wills, Abercrombie, or Hollister. Yuck.

For me, it conjures up memories of the popular girls at my high school donning their Jack Wills gilets and Juicy Couture handbags. I went to private school all my life, too, so as you can imagine – brands like these were pretty much every day gear for the majority of idiots at my school.

My sister was quite a big Jack Wills fan and she used to drag me into the store with her – something that physically made me cringe – the people behind the counter are everything that people like me despise. Especially the girls; with their judging eyes and overly-exaggerated helium voices. Ugh. If there’s ever any females who need lessons on “how to be nice to other girls” – it’s them. I should give them a Sylvia Plath book and lend them a few Bikini Kill CD’s. Their priorities and superiority-illusions are totally fucked. You aren’t better than anyone else just because you’re wearing a shirt with a dumb embroided pheasant wearing an overcoat and a walking stick on it. Going into that shop was never a comfortable – or pleasant – experience. But back to A&F…

I remember going into the Abercrombie & Fitch store with my mum and sister during a trip to London a few years ago. As you enter the shop, aside from being tempted to shout at one of the staff to “turn the effing lights on!” (it’s horrednously dim-litted), you even have the opportunity to get your photo taken with a topless male model as a souvenir. Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous? I remember trying to suppress my laughter and thinking “What the fuck am I doing here? It’s 9am and I had to get up early for this? P.S., ‘hot’ male model who thinks he’s so clearly above everyone else just because he’s working in Abercrombie & Fitch, you aren’t even slightly attractive, and your breath smells like shit.”

Now. As if my displeasure for these popular (dumb) brands wasn’t solidified enough – I just came across this picture via a friend’s Facebook and, whilst I’m not at all surprised, it’s still absolutely mind-numblingly gross… The mindset these people have… Who the fuck would want to advocate this message?:
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If being an exclusionary, hateful asshole is what “being cool” is all about to Abercrombie & Fitch, I am so evertly glad that I never have – and never will – fit that category; because, to be perfectly honest, I can’t think of anything worse than adopting and maintaining a mindset so warped, cruel, and vile as the one above.

History of the female vibrator

I love history. Specifically the Victorian era. Yes, even the outrageous sexist propaganda! Back then, women were viewed as ‘less evolved’ compared to their male counterparts, and therefore incapable of doing virtually anything independently. Another delightful stereotype of women in the late 19th century was that they were mental (yay!) — if you were female and suffering with anything from severe depression (often post-natal) to mere stress or fatigue, you’d have almost certainly been carted away to a mental asylum and that would be that.

One of the most common and stereotypical ‘female illnesses’ at the time was called Female hysteriathe symptoms were pretty wide-ranging and included faintness, nervousness, sexual desire, insomnia, muscle spasm, shortness of breath, irritability, loss of appetite in food or sex, and – my personal favourite- : “a tendency to cause trouble” (hahaha).

Anyway, since this was quite a prevalent illness (duh, look at the symptom list), Doctors would carry out a treatment known as ‘Hysterical Paroxysm’ (a fancy word for ‘orgasm’) (do you see where this is going?) which consisted of ‘pelvic massages’ given to the patient, and – as you can guess – this treatment was very popular and successful.

As the demand for such services grew, combined with the fact every woman was different and for some it took hours to reach hysterical paroxysm; poor male Doctors were no longer able to satisfy the ever-increasing population of mentally ill women, and had to come up with an alternative way of treating the illness. A solution was the invention of massage devices (which shortened treatment from hours to minutes!) and by 1870, the first clockwork-driven vibrator was available for physicians. In 1873, the first electromechanical vibrator was developed.

By the 20th century, the spread of home electricity brought the vibrator to the consumer market and was available for women to buy for cheap, and in the comfort and privacy of their own home.

Vibration is Life! Vibrate your body and make it well! You have NO right to be sick!
Vibration is Life! Vibrate your body and make it well! You have NO right to be sick!

And that’s why the vibrator was invented.

Who said nothing good ever came from sexism? Thank God for old-fashioned, stereotypical, women’s mental illness!!

I want to live in a world where straight boys aren’t afraid to cry

The 21st century media stereotype of “masculinity” is seriously fucked. Society instantly places us into a category; “male” and “female”, “masculine” and “feminine”, and thereby we must abide to those categories rules otherwise we are considered to be some sort of abhorrent subspecies who doesn’t follow the rules of what is right or wrong depending on our biological sex.

WORDS COMMONLY USED TO DESCRIBE FEMININITY:

  • Dependant 
  • Emotional
  • Passive
  • Sensitive
  • Quiet
  • Graceful
  • Innocent
  • Weak
  • Sexually Submissive

WORDS COMMONLY USED TO DESCRIBE MASCULINITY:

  • Independent
  • Emotionless
  • Aggressive
  • Tough-skinned
  • Competitive
  • Experienced
  • Strong
  • Active
  • Self-Confident
  • Sexually dominant

Can the masculine/feminine stereotype please be broken? Somehow? I know these things have been around since the dawn of time but I feel they’re becoming less and less relevant – especially with trans and androgynous acceptance being seen more than ever before.

Let me draw your attention to one particular ‘rule’ above which, when thought of in a different context, turns my stomach; the “sexually dominant/submissive” stereotype. There are some human beings in this world who assume that being masculine (“dominant”) would mean they’re entitled to act violently, disrespectfully, aggressively, etc, towards the feminine (“submissive”) – that includes domestic abuse, rape, domestic rape, sexually objectifying, harassment, or just plain disrespectful behaviour towards others in general. 

THIS IS NOT OKAY.

RAPING SOMEONE DOES NOT MAKE YOU “MASCULINE”. PUNCHING A GIRL IN THE FACE DOES NOT MAKE YOU A MAN. SHOUTING HUMILIATING AND DISRESPECTFUL SLURS TO A WOMAN IN THE STREET DOES NOT MEAN YOU AREN’T A PIECE OF SHIT.

More than anything I wish for a culture where violence, sexual violence, disrespect, harassment, and humiliating others is seen as the furthest thing from “masculine” behaviour.