Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Girls Who Can Rock

So, a while back I wrote a blog post about "Dudes Who Can Rock" and I'd been meaning to do a follow-up post for a while now, on chicks who can rock. Since there was some confusion and criticism last time about my definition of "rock", let me just clarify again.

The following is a list of my top 10 favorite female lead singers. I think they represent a wide range of rock and roll styles and subgenres and are also very representative of my music collection. "Rock" has become a very subjective term, with a zillion subgenres such as power-pop, progressive rock, alternative, you name it. I'll ask you now to ease up on whether or not these ladies "rock" - all I know is they can belt out the notes and they've got rock and roll stage presence by the bucket-loads.

1. Shirley Manson from Garbage
She's a fierce Scott who sings from the very tips of her flame-red hair to the very bottom of her Doc Martens, whether she's belting out an alternative power-pop tune or singing a breathy sultry ballad. After seeing the band live, I don't think their recorded music does her voice or her energy/stage presence justice. Her voice takes no prisoners. One of these days, I will tell you, Loyal Readers, of the Smashing Pumpkins concert we went to, where Garbage was the opening act. All I can say is, it's really sad when the opening act totally out-performs the main act...
Listen to Vow, the single that started it all, or check out I Think I'm Paranoid, just because it's fun.

2. Johnette Napolitano from Concrete Blonde
Concrete Blonde was, to most, an obscure alternative band that only had a couple of charted minor hits... but Johnette's voice is legendary in my books. My favorite songs are when her voice starts out so soft and low and haunting and as the song gains momentum, her voice escalates into that rock roar. She has an amazing range and control...and plays the bass - how cool is that? Too bad the band is long gone... And like Shirley Manson, the recorded music just doesn't do Johnette's voicejustice. Hearing her voice live in concert made me cry... it was that amazing.
It's hard to pick a song from You Tube for you to listen to. Caroline and Joey were their two successful singles, but God is a Bullet is my husband's favorite, while Walking in London is my favorite.

3. Tori Amos
What kind of music does Tori sing? Hmm. Hard to explain. She's just a girl and her piano, but her voice is definitely unique and captivating. I read a music review once, where the collumnist said he wouldn't want to meet Tori's voice in a dark alley. I think it's beautiful and strange and original. Although I do know of one friend of mine, who cannot stand her voice. Perhaps it is an acquired taste?
Ugh... I'm having such a hard time picking songs for you to listen to. How do you pick just one Tori song when they are all so different? Try Winter, Spark or Precious Things.

4. Janis Joplin
Do I even have to explain this choice? She is the original woman of rock! All other female rock leads have to follow in her shoes. If you don't know who she is, then you need to go back to rock and roll school and take some notes.
Listen to Piece of My Heart and bask in the awesome bluesy-ness of her voice.

5. Anne and Nancy Wilson from Heart
Heart songs sound fairly simple... until you see someone try to sing one on American Idol. They have amazing range and know how to rock.
Listen to Alone, but try not to laugh at all the 80's rock hair going on in this video.

6. Annie Lenox
Annie is the third redhead on this list (after Shirley and Tori). I wonder if there's something to that? She's Scottish like Shirley too... I guess they grow good female rock stars in Scottland. Annie started out as lead singer for the Eurythmics, but went on to have a successful solo career. Her voice is unmistakeable.
Listen to Walking on Broken Glass or No More I Love Yous.

7. Lacey Mosley from Flyleaf
Proof that big things come in little packages... this girl can rock it out! Her voice is so heavy, I was surprised when I finally saw her in person... she's so little! I never get tired of listening to this band and her voice.
Listen to I Am So Sick or All Around Me.

Selections 8 through 10, you might as well all group together as my progressive rock ladies. They all come from bands with similar sounds, where operatic signing is combined with heavy progressive rock. I love this type of music. It makes my goth little heart happy. At first listen, they may all sound the same, but I think they all have distinct voices and styles. Check it out...

8. Cristina Scabbia from Lacuna Coil
Something else I forgot to mention is that most of these bands are from overseas. I guess there's more of a market for this type of music over there than in the States. Lacuna Coil is an Italian goth metal band. I think out of these three picks, I like her voice the best.
Listen to Heaven's A Lie... you'll probably remember hearing it on the radio...

9. Whoever is the lead singer of Nightwish
Nightwish hails from Finland and seems to have a problem keeping lead singers. First it was soprano Tarja Turunen and now it's Anette Olzon. Either way, I love their stuff. Tarja looks a little bit like Morticia Addams to me... what do you think?
Listen to I Wish I Had An Angel or Nemo (and no, it is not about the Disney fish...)

10. Amy Lee from Evanescence
I actually think Amy Lee's voice is a little on the thin side... the times I've heard her sing live, it didn't seem like she had any power behind it. I guess what I'm saying is I wonder how much of her voice is "studio magic" and how much is talent. I don't want to knock the girl though; she's on a short list of girls who rock. They are few in number. I will also admit, I wore out Evanescence's first album... I didn't know you could wear out a CD... did you?
Listen to Going Under or My Immortal.

Honorable Mention: Drain STH
Drain STH was a short-lived all-female heavy metal band from Sweden. (Again with the overseas thing...) I love their album "Freaks of Nature". Every song rocks. I listed them as an Honorable Mention because, frankly, you can't really tell the lead singer is a girl. I suspect it's because they are running her voice through some distortion filters. She sounds like Axl Rose's cousin or something.
Listen to Enter My Mind.

Unfortunately, there are not that many female lead singers in rock bands. Not sure why that is. Mind you, I did not intend for this to be the list to end all lists. These are just the singers that I never get tired of listening to. Leave me a comment and let me know who I missed.


Jessie said...

Love Heart. And Evanescence. Fun post. I just listened to "Alone" two times. Love that song. The pipes are amazing.

Laura said...

Although I'm not a fan, Pat Benatar has an amazing rock voice.

Anonymous said...

This has been the soundtrack of my day. Thanks for making my workday more fun. I thought this post was interesting because stupid yahoo music recently came out with the top rock "voices" and elvis was third - Aretha Franklin was Number 1! Ummm, I didn't quite know what to do with that. Again, great voice but she doesn't jump to mind when I hear the word "rock." Regarding your list, I remember that Tori interview! I didn't love the finnish band - their melodies reminded me strangely of a sometimes minor key theme song for some anime series. (I've been watching these on instant netflix so I know that of which I speak!) My only addition, but I don't think you're a fan, is Fiona Apple. I think her voice is astonishing and colored. May I suggest the song "Window" Thanks again. - Chad

Anonymous said...

Oh and one more fiona song:

D.L. White said...

@ Laura - I'm not a fan either, but I agree Pat Benatar should be on the list. :)

@ Chad - so glad I could provide a little musical distraction for you today! :) And you'll be happy to know I'm slowly coming around to appreciating Fiona... :)

D.L. White said...

Other singers that were recommended to me IRL are Hayley Williams, lead singer of the band Paramore, and Aimee Mann. I love Aimee Man, but don't know anything about Paramore. I'll have to check them out...

The Trousered Ape said...

I would add Pamela Moore for the work she did on Queensryche's Operation:Mindcrime album - she played Sister Mary. :)

I LOVE Shakespear's Sister - those girls can sing...

Oh - and one cannot forgot to mention Gretchen Wilson (country singer) when she decides to do rock. HOLY COW she kills any other female singer I've heard - she is AMAZING.

D.L. White said...

How in the world did I manage to forget "Sister Mary"?!?!?!

Anonymous said...

Z-man here. I know I'm a little late to this partay, but here it goes anyway. Doro Pesch of Warlock = pipes aplenty, Joan Jett and Dawn Crosby (RIP) of Detente. I've never heard a woman sing like her. She'll only appeal to those who like old school metal.

I have to agree with the Ape's assessment of Gretchen Wilson. Amazin'

D.L. White said...

@ Z-man - You're welcome to stop by and post anytime! :) Thanks for the tip on the other female lead singers... Niiice. I like it! :)

monkeyboticus said...

I would also like to add Darby Mills of Headpins. Very gravelly, powerful rocker voice. Think Bonnie Tyler, but more power and a rocker.

Also Deborah Dyer (AKA Skin) of Skunk Anansie. This woman has some pipes, but I wouldn't want to meet her in a dark alley.

D.L. White said...

Shawn and I listened to the Headpins on your mix CD this past weekend. Good stuff!