EVER BEEN TO a junior school disco? It’s basically World War III with Barbie accessories.
I was doing my deejay thing the other day. I put on High School Musical: hundreds of girls squealed, running to the dance floor.
I put on Taylor Swift: they shrieked and jumped up and down.
I put on Justin Bieber: they screamed, became hysterical and fell over, frothing at the mouth.
Man, this was SO easy, I said to myself, lining up more guaranteed crowd-pleasers like Katy Perry and Lady Gaga.
Then I saw that a group of Very Angry Faces had appeared at the side of the deejay both.
“This is all GIRL music,” said the spokesman for the gang of boys, his tone of voice making it clear that “girl” was synonymous with sick, evil and disgusting. (I thought guys had to be married before getting to that stage.) The other young men nodded gravely.
I spun my screen around to show them the names of the current chart-toppers. “Sorry guys, but all the most popular music recently has been either BY girls or FOR girls,” I explained, pointing to Ke$ha, Rihanna and the rest.
To mollify the boys, I found a track in which the “melody” was some guy shouting all on one note: Low by Flo Rida.
They approved and were soon jumping up and down and punching the air.
Then teenagers from the nearby high school crashed the party and demanded music for their generation.
So I segued to a song that both sexes of all ages loved: I’ve Got a Feeling by the Black-Eyed Peas. This alternates a tuneful melody with out-of-tune shouting about smashing things up. Yeah--perfect for girls and guys. I played it six times.
On the way home that night, with 120 beats-per-minute music ringing in my ears, I pondered on the Rise of The Female Rocker.
Guys have dominated pop music for its entire 48-year history (the Beatles entered the charts on October 11, 1962). Remember that tingly, summery, great-to-be-alive feeling you got when you first heard Penny Lane by the Beatles? You get the same feeling today from Who’d Have Known by Lily Allen.
The next morning, I phoned a musician to talk about this change. He disagreed, and said it was a total myth: “Nothing’s changed. Ninety per cent of people in the music business are guys.”
Behind every great girl singer is a guy who produces the music, and sometimes even writes the songs, he explained. “Amy Winehouse has Mark Ronson and Duffy has Steve Booker,” he said.
Lily Allen’s song Who’d Have Known, he continued, was partly written by her producer Greg Kurstin, and partly stolen from the all-male band Take That.
She’d first posted the song on her myspace web page (mis-spelt as Who’d Of Known), with a note saying: "I ripped off the chorus from Take That.”
(Here’s the link to the Take That song, if you feel like comparing the two choruses.)
He was pretty convincing. It IS still a guy’s game, although women may be dominating the top of the charts. But why are males so dominant in rock music?
The heart of the business is touring, my musician friend explained.
“A small amplifier can weigh 50 kilos. The main skills you need are weightlifting, obsessiveness, the capacity to drink huge amounts of beer, the ability to wear the same clothes for weeks, and most of all, extreme arrogance. These are all male specialties.”
At last: something we GUYS can be proud of.
QUICK GUIDE TO “OK” MODERN DANCE MUSIC
(If you’ve never understood the appeal of rap music, this piece above may give you an opening to achieving that. I Gotta Feeling by the Black Eyed Peas: alternates between a recognizable melody and a really catchy rap)
(Here’s an example of modern music –below- which shows just how little things have changed in the past 48 years. Hey Soul Sister by Train is considered a “happening” sound. But the ingredients are exactly the same as pop hits have been for decades: A guy singing an appealing love song against a guitar background.)
(If you’re wondering why there is so much in the news about Lady Gaga, here’s a video to introduce you to her. I think a lot of the affection for her comes from the fact that she is a totally normal woman – she is short and not very pretty and has a plain name, Stefani Germanotta, yet somehow manages to live the dream of being considered the most glamorous rock star of the present day. Here’s a picture of her in real life, and below is what she looks like when she’s performing.)
Stefani Germanotta in real life (above) and as Lady Gaga (below)
Unconvinced? Still think modern music is crap? Or are you a convert, believing that there really is some great music out there? I’d love to hear your opinions.