Saturday, 12 September 2009

It's the Spice Girls All Over Again...

Dear reader, you must be wondering why on earth I would make a reference to The Spice Girls on what is supposed to a reputable music blog. Well I have good reason. I am referring to the female singer/songwriter snowstorm that we have had of late. You can't turn a corner without being hit in the face by the Little Boots' 'New In Town', an awful song and stupid video featuring dancing homeless people considering we're in the middle of a recession, La Roux's 'In For The Kill', actually a good song if you don't mind that she's singing about 10 notes out of her range, and any of Florence and the Machine's over the top warbling, you're not Mariah Carey Florence.

Now technically this is what female artists have wanted for decades. For their work to be commercially and critically accepted along with everything else out there.

This has certainly been the case for all three of our girls. La Roux's third single 'Bulletproof' entered the charts at number one and was nominated for the prestigious Mercury prize. Everyone from the NME to Esquire magazine have heaped praise on the Blackpool born Little Boots who scored a top 20 hit with 'New in Town'.
Florence comes last in my list but by no means least. Flo has been used as shorthand for every eccentric hippy girl out there by the music press. Along with La Roux, Flo was nominated for Mercury Prize and has been highly rated by every critic out there.

This all sounds like a good thing, an amazing thing, a breakthrough for women in music but my pessimistic side is telling me to beware the heavenly glow of this recent movement and look to what is festering at the heart of it.

It all reminds me of how well the spice girls were marketed in the 90s as a girl friendly band, like they were the fourth wave of the feminist movement reborn in platform heels and glittery dresses. Of course they were nothing of the sort. It was all a carefully marketed plan to sell female culture back to girls, with interest.

A recent conversation with a friend had us reminiscing on just how well marketed the Spice Girls actually were. Every tweenage girl had some sort of Spice Girls memorabilia and if they didn't there was always a helpful little guide included in their albums to help you choose what to buy. The Spice Girls leggings or the Spice Girls sandwich maker it's such a hard choice.
Kathleen Hanna talks about the exploitation of female culture for big business in the video for her song Aerobicide.

I wish Flo, La Roux and Little Boots well but it's hard for me to imagine they will do anything spectacular with their time in the spotlight, such is the problem of being signed to a major label. You have to make money for the man which all involves selling your souls to consumerism.


  1. Have to say I really agree with a lot of what you've said there.
    It's great to see female artists getting a high profile, but the downside to this is they are in the press because they are signed to big labels, who will do their best to get them great coverage.
    But this also means that because they are signed to major labels, they have to abide by their rules - they lack any real autonomy or independence. I'm sure to a certain degree they have a say over their careers, but if you want to be truly independent, you probably shouldn't sign to a label that will try to market you in a certain way.
    Because everyone knows that to market female musicians in the mainstream press you have to use their looks as their selling point...

  2. Thanks for your comment sweetoblivion... I was worried I was rambling a little with my point. It seems that female musicians are kinda stuck at the moment. To successful and recognised is what we are aiming for but that usually ends up with the artist losing a part of themselves. What are we to do?