Triple J’s Hottest 100 caused a bit of stink when it was released because of the noticeable absence of female artists. I’m not sure I buy all the sociological conspiracy theories about why woman were so under-represented, but it does strike me as a musical tragedy that it panned out the way it did (interesting discussion here).
Anyway, as regular reader Ingrid pointed out to me in an email the other day, Naomi Eve has responded in the best way possible by starting up her own Facebook group and Twitter page (@Hottest100Women) devoted to filling the gap. So far she has accumulated over 4000 votes and will be announcing winners at the end of the week.
So go over and add your vote while there is still time. The rules are simple:
1. Songs must be performed by:
– a female artist
– a band with a female lead singer, or
– a band with at least 2 female members (ie neither of whom are the lead singer).
2. You can vote for as many songs as you’d like.
3. I can tell if you vote more than once for the same song, so don’t do it. 🙂
4. Results will be published on Twitter and Facebook.
OF course, I can’t resist listing my top five, so here they are:
Lucinda Williams: Fruits of My Labor
I’m a bit loathe to put these five in any sort of order, implying one is better than the other, but in terms of personal importance, this track (and the album it is from) rate right up there. I heard it at a time when I’d lost interest in contemporary music (more or less) and this knocked me back into sanity. The song itself is the sort of measured, languid, middle-eightless sort of track that I love (as previously explained), but that only tells a part of the story. Williams is simply one of the best singers of any era and her songs are not only singable, danceable and memorable on all levels but provide an encyclopedic account of how men can bugger nearly any sort of relationship in any number of ways. Take note. The song was recorded with arguably her best band and in arguably the best studio circumstances — almost live in a living room in LA — that give it the perfect mix of control and spontaneity. Doug Pettibone’s guitar licks are simple yet mind-blowing and the whole piece just transports me.
Gillian Welch: Revelator
Speaking of being transported, when David Rawlings hits the opening dischordant chord of this song you might as well as right me off for the next six minutes and twenty seconds. This may actually be the greatest album since Blood on the Tracks, if not ever, and this track, the opener, is pretty close to as good as it gets. Welch’s vocals are sublime and the song itself just about resets the standards for all music that follows. Okay, I’m getting a bit carried away, but honestly, I really like it. Unpretentious music from the heart and from the heartland, steeped in tradition but not beholden to it, played with such skill and depth of feeling as to be to totally captivating. Pretty close to my ultimate desert island disc, if I had to narrow it to one.
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Joni Mitchell: Amelia
Before the two above and, in some ways, before all others and better than any of them, there is Joni Mitchell. There isn’t a better lyricist, a better tunesmith, a better singer, a more innovative player; there just isn’t. ‘Amelia’ was originally recorded on the Hejira album, but I have to say, the sparser, slower and longer version that shows up on the live album, Shadows and Light, is my favourite rendition. The fact that it is combined with perhaps the perfect guitar solo (by Pat Metheny) on that version is really just an added bonus. This is Joni Mitchell at her best.
Patti Smith: Horses
Smith eats most other rock chicks for breakfast. When thinking about which song to choose here I was a bit torn. My preferred album is Easter, an album loaded with classic songs that highlight Smith’s strengths as a singer and songwriter, but if you have to narrow it to a single song, then ‘Horses’ has to be it, from the album of the same name. It wins on the grounds of sheer iconic status. It’s got it all really, from the driving power-chord riff that harks back to classics like ‘Wild Thing’ and,yes, ‘Gloria’, to the killer vocal where the voice replaces the guitar as the soloing instrument with its spoken word interventions. Classic.
Christina Amphlett: Boys in Town
What boy of a certain doesn’t remember exactly where he was the first time he saw the clip for this particular song? Excuse while I collect myself. The song, the EP from which came, the band, the singer all came along at a time when Australian music’s perennial lack of faith in itself and its cringey concerns about whether it could compete on a world stage were particularly acute, and in one fell swoop Chrissie Amphlett and the Divinyls blew all such concerns out of the water. This is a great song performed by one of the best rock vocalists and live performers ever. Suck on that, world.
ELSEWHERE: Dark Cafe Daze adds his list to the mix, and a fine line-up it is.