Music paste up: Angry women

// 26 November 2011

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Angry closeup from flickr davidex.jpg

I was struck in compiling this music paste up by the way that the two videos I’d like to introduce you to, Eleanor Friedberger’s ‘Roosevelt Island’ and Thomas Tantrum’s ‘Sleep’ are both essentially angry in sentiment but in different ways. Friedberger being quietly scathing, Thomas Tantrum noisily unrepentent.

It’s also made me think about a very interesting article I encountered on Pitchfork last weekend, about the post riot grrrl generation of female musicians, and about those musicians being angry but not necessarily feeling that connected to riot grrrl, twenty years on. A really interesting read…

On a related theme, couldn’t help also thinking about the different ways in which the ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’ song has been handled over the years. What follows is the defining example by Carly Simon, and a more recent (and much more explicit) example by the Dresden Dolls…

Last year when I was busily working on my Punk Women series for the F-Word, I was interviewed by Jude Rogers of The Guardian on the theme of where have all the angry women in rock gone? I found it a very interesting, albeit terrifying, interview.

For one thing, there is the basic assumption that angry women only exist, music wise, in the area of rock music – we presumably don’t have angry pop stars because there is a credibility issue that goes with being mainstream and angry (ie people would assume you aren’t really meaning it, see Alanis Morrisette as a case in point) but also people don’t talk of angry dance music, angry urban music, angry folk music… Why is that? Why must anger be equated with an electric guitar? I can think of a number of quietly scathing, not to mention incandescent at times folk or country ish songs (Laura Cantrell’s ‘Conquerer’s Song’, Laura Veirs’ ‘Cannon Fodder’, Laura Marling ‘Your only doll’… Is it something about being called Laura?) not to mention the oblique Iraq war references in Broadcast’s weird electronica in ‘America’s Boy’, and I have to confess to being perhaps oddly attached to the scathing black humour of Nerina Pallot’s ‘Everybody’s going to war’, however pop it is.

One of the points I raised at the time, in a somewhat nervy garbled way, was that anger had gone into areas like folk, and that whilst someone like Laura Marling isn’t screaming in your face, she does display aspects of being angry. Just perhaps not noisily angry.

On the flipside, Florence + the machine’s ‘Kiss with a fist’ was incredibly noisy and violent, but was it an angry song?

Angry face image by Davide Tarasconi, used via a flickr creative commons licence.

Comments From You

djmoonlight // Posted 27 November 2011 at 12:14 pm

excellent post Cazz, totally agree with you, there’s plenty of angry women out there but not all of them necessarily fit under the rock umbrella and there are still plenty of angry rock women too- but not all of them are in the mainstream- Sleater Kinney have now evolved into Wild Flag, Kathleen Hanna is bringing back Julie Ruin, Amanda Palmer writes some pretty angry songs (as backstabber shows) Skunk Anansie and Garbage are both making come backs..the list goes on. I also know of some awesome angry unsigned bands- Death of the Elephant and Le Monnier

and yes I think ‘Kiss with a Fist’ is an angry song!

Alasdair // Posted 27 November 2011 at 5:41 pm

“we presumably don’t have angry pop stars because there is a credibility issue that goes with being mainstream and angry”

I’m not so sure – the success of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” suggests otherwise. Now that’s an angry song if ever I heard one.

Besides the artists already mentioned, there’s a singer called Emilie Autumn who does great angry songs, like this one:

Cazz Blase // Posted 28 November 2011 at 8:14 pm

Good points, I had forgotten about ‘Rolling in the deep’. She is practically screaming in rage at one point, and as a track it’s probably a qualifier for ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’ as well.

Emilie Autumn is O.K, but I just feel like she’s a bit of a one trick pony sometimes. That’s a personal opinion obviously though and I love ‘Thank God I’m Pretty’.

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