Something interesting has happened with my music taste lately, and although I’m not quite sure how I got there, I have to say that I’m 100% down with it. Undoubtedly as a result of a series of Spotify radio rabbit holes, I’ve found myself on a new listening binge: female singers.
By this I don’t mean Adele; nothing against the woman (who admittedly has a beautiful voice), but I can’t stand to hear anymore about her failed relationship and subsequent rebirth. I’m talking more of alternative bands who have a woman as the lead vocalist — like Haim, Cults, and CHVRCHES, just to name a few.
Now, as an open-minded, 23-year-old male, I have to admit I’ve flirted briefly with thoughts of what this recent musical transformation means for my perceived machismo. [Disclaimer: I’m not entirely sure what machismo I appear to boast, if any, but I’ll be damned if I don’t love using that word in a sentence]. Is it questionable that my tastes are extremely heavy on vocals provided by the fairer gender right now? Or is it actually somehow “sexier” that I’m branching out? Why am I suddenly into female singers in the first place?
Somewhere in the transformative turned-21-and-traveled-abroad-for-a-semester year that was 2011, I started listening to a lot of the electro/pop/alt rock genre best defined in my eyes by groups like Starfucker (STRFKR) and Holy Ghost! In their sounds, I was drawn to the beats and synth added by keyboards and greater electronic influence than I’d really ever tampered with before. Plus, the enduring presence of musical talent was still strongly apparent—it wasn’t all bass and bullshit, so I rested easy after initially just dipping my toe into the water.
This progressive genre felt right to me in so many ways, and I actually still listen to Reptilians and the self-titled Holy Ghost! to this day.
It’s not too surprising, then, that in discovering groups like STRFKR and Holy Ghost! I eventually ran into the Phantograms and Class Actresses of the world. There’s a similar sound in these bands -– a healthy amount of pop influence and synth, but also strong instrumental talent and layering charging the band’s style.
Beyond all that, the female voices quickly clicked with me, adding a new perspective to the kind of music I was falling deeper into. Like never before, I started appreciating the unique and still real lyrics and emotion that their voices added to the respective bands’ sound — and vice versa.
Instead of identifying myself solely with the voice of a dude singing about life, death, love, the pursuit of a good time, and everything in between, I began getting a whole new plane of the same, yet different feel, running in parallel with everything I had previously limited myself to.
The Spotify algorithms that have led me to this point in my music tastes constitute an interesting beast, one that I’m fully embracing. And to be clear, it’s not like I’ve never listened to a female artist before. I’m not saying the aughts are the first time passionate, talented female singers have graced the stage. Far from it. I’m just finally getting a fuller picture of the sound and style of music I like, and it’s turning out to be more gender agnostic than I’m used to. I see that as a good thing.
This year I’ve enjoyed the hell out of live shows like YACHT and Yeah Yeah Yeahs that proved the trend I’ve been seeing in my own tastes is no fluke. It’s not the gender of the voice that defines music I like. It’s the talent, emotion and message behind it.