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Volume 68, Issue 136, April 18, 2003

Arts & Entertainment

Women musicians that really rock 

By Jason Gagnon
The Daily Cougar

With women plastering the charts consistently for the last few years, it would seem that things have balanced out in the music world. Thatis just not the case. Hell, youid even figure we might get something deserving besides Tori Amos on the radio. Instead of artists that write clever songs with depth, weire flooded with dumb, trashy pop stars, hypocritical songwriters and those that put out some boring music.

Take Sheryl Crow for instance. She has been known to publicly deplore the way women are depicted in magazines. Then she went and posed for Stuff in some pretty skimpy clothing looking like trailer trash from the WWE. Or how about Brittany Spears? She displayed her vast musical knowledge by crediting "I Love Rock n Roll" to Pat Benatar not Joan Jett.

Of course, the one exception to these pitfalls has already been named so now Iid like to focus on two female artists who actually deserve recognition.

Kathleen Hannah: This is the goddess who jumpstarted the riot girl movement with the band Bikini Kill. The band combined in your face politics with a musical fury that made them one of the high points of punk rock. But with Hannahis latest group, Le Tigre, is more accessible and probably appealing to those that loathed Bikini Kill. 

Many would like to pass Hannah off as nothing more than a man-hating feminazi, but theyid be completely wrong. The politics that fuel her lyrics havenit taken a backseat, though. 

Listen to "Hot Topic" off of Le Tigreis debut and go research all the positive heroinis Hannah lists, that youire not familiar with. Instead of assaulting you with her politics, Hannahis grown to point where her lyrics are deceptively cute, but still powerful. The music is a big shift as well, which is a fusion of new wave, hip-hop and punk that is as great to dance to as it is to learn from.

Liz Phair: Lizis debut album, Exile in Guyville, is one of the most critically hailed debuts of all time. Despite two other albums and a moderately successful single ("Supernova") much of the world is still unaware of her presence. Most female artists in the 90is and beyond have been influenced by her work. VH1 even had the good sense to include Exile in their top 100 rock albums of all time list. 

The album is pretty much a track by track response to Rolling Stones Exile on Main St.. *(leave in!-jg) Phair creates disarming and simple rock songs that explore sex, relationships and the horrible things men can do to women. While most artists struggle to find their voice in a couple of albums, Phairis was painfully clear on Exile, which is why her subsequent albums received lesser praise. 

Phairis emotional depth simultaneously empowers women while forcing male listeners (if they have a soul) to examine their own romantic actions. The self-loathing displayed by the artist on songs like "Fuck and Run" (either put track 10 off of Exile or {Expletive}in for the f-bomb BB) should infect men as well. Yet, suffering from stage fright and taking time off to be a mom, Phair hasnit released an album in almost five years. Fear not, though. Her self-titled comeback will be released on Capitol Records in June. 

If more female artists like these were as exposed as Christina Aguilara, the radio might suck less.

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