Ever wonder how singles are chosen? All of these female or female-led artists have found success... but not, strangely, with these songs. This week on BitchTapes, listen to the hits that should have been.
Track list and space for your own faves after the jump!
I think there's a great comic book to be made about Shonen Knife. The story would start in an Osaka office building in 1981, where twenty-somethings Michie Nakatani, Atsuko Yamano, and Naoko Yamano decided to start a band as an antidote to their dull clerkships. They started a power-chord pop band, but kept it mostly secret from their family and co-workers until 1982, when they played their first show and released their first album on cassette-only. Their American cross-over first really took hold when they were included on a 1986 Sub Pop compilation, and Olympia's K Records released a new version of their debut album Burning Farm to underground and alternative rock fans in the US. The major-label pique was with Capitol, with one of their best-known albums, Let's Knife, were on MTV rotation, and toured with Nirvana right before their release of Nevermind (Kurt Cobain said seeing Shonen Knife live transformed him "into a hysterical nine-year-old girl at a Beatles concert.")
So, can I ask what the obsession with Ke$ha is? I only ask, because I too am completely enamored with her while simultaneously holding back the urge to be violently ill. The 'party girl' aesthetic and persona is certainly nothing new. From Paris to Lindsay to every other brand of this celebrity girl whose name is synonymous with blackouts and so-called 'bad behavior" – we've seen/heard/and stomached it all. Yet is there something special about this Nashville-bred DIY artist (I, too, wear cowboy boots and rock gaudy gold when the mood strikes me)? The simple answer is ..
Born and raised in Copenhagen, and influenced by reggae, disco, rock, R&B, and then some! No news of an album release in the US, but if you're in Denmark look for it in February. Til then you'll have to tide over with her first single, "Deep Sleep" about staying in bed, which is ironic, cause it's a song that makes you want to get up and dance! It's a got a boppy sort of teenage feel but there is a really great interlude that incorporates a Malian lullabye.
Elly Jackson is half of this duo who've established themselves in England but have yet to make it big in the States. Between her lungs and Ben Langmaid's synth they are makings some impressively infectious electronic pop! (And she's cited David Bowie, Madonna, Annie Lennox, and Molly Ringwald as influences.) When I heard "Bulletproof" it reminded me of the Gossip(!) at first, but and then it made me think of Ace of Base (!!), and then and by the time it over I realized that La Roux is awesome on their own was and striking out to make their own sick version of synthpop.
This trio started out punk, but bassist Shingai Shoniwa had too powerful a voice to play London's warehouse-squat scene forever (so I'm told by the New York Times. Also check out Venus Zine's 2007 interview with them!). You might recognize the dance-y "Don't Upset the Rhythm" but they've got a whole album of pop-electro-punk that just got released in the US last week (which hopefully means they'll be heading back here soon for a tour!).
Most of us have that album in our lives, the one that's the instant open doorway to our core. (Mine is Joni Mitchell's Hejira…or is it P.J. Harvey's Dry? Never mind—what's that album for you, Bitch readers?)
Our ardent devotion to that watershed CD is the theme of the new anthology Heavy Rotation: Twenty Writers on the Albums That Changed Their Lives, edited by Peter Terzian. The collection includes fine essays by Sheila Heti (on the Annie soundtrack), Stacey D'Erasmo (on Kate Bush's The Sensual World), Asali Solomon (on Gloria Estefan's Mi Terra), and Colm Tóibín (on Joni Mitchell's Blue).
It also includes Alice Elliott Dark's stunning essay, "The Quiet One," which chronicles her obsession with the Beatles' Meet the Beatles! and George Harrison that intensified at a pivotal, tragic point in her girlhood. Page Turner interviewed Dark about writing "The Quiet One"; truth-telling in fiction versus nonfiction; sexism and the boy bands; Beatle wives; and why she abandoned her belief in pop culture.
That journalist Sheila Weller's NYT Bestseller, "Girls Like Us" also features Carole King and Carly Simon is a nice extra, of course. I haven't even finished this book yet, but I just have to gush about it. It's music history, it's women's history, it's American pop culture history...what's not to love?