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Top Five Favorite Female Icons: Music

February 18, 2010

So, over the next few weeks I plan on throwing together a few top five lists of my favorite female icons in various entertainment fields.  First up: music.  Bet you thought I was going to start with the movies, huh?  Wrong!

5.) Chrissie Hynde

The Pretenders are clasic old-school rock and roll and Hynde can jam with the best of the boys.  Although the band is primarily known for their one 80s pop hit, “Brass in Pocket” and their 90s power ballad “I’ll Stand By You” (recently covered by Cory Monteith on Glee), my favorite song in their repertoire happens to be “Back on the Chain Gang”, a throwback ode to the good ol’ days.  

Signature Tunes:

Pretenders (1980) – “Brass in Pocket”, “Kid”
Pretenders II (1981) – “I Go to Sleep”, “Day After Day”
Learning to Crawl (1984) – “Back on the Chain Gang”, “I Hurt You”, “200o Miles”
Get Close (1986)- “Don’t Get Me Wrong”
Packed! (1990) – “Criminal”, “Never Do That”
Last of the Independents (1992) – “I’ll Stand By You”, “Revolution”, “Night in My Veins”

4.) Shirley Manson

Garbage is a band that manages to have a hard sound without alienating indie rock.  Their masterpiece was 1998’s Version 2.0, which contains the hits  “Push It”, “Special” and “When I Grow Up”, along with my personal favorite, the haunting “You Look So Fine” – the ultimate stalker girls’ guide to love.  Manson’s Scottish lass ways would be ideally suited to a solo career, but unfortunately her debut solo album has been trapped in establishment limbo for almost a decade.  Here’s hoping it gets back on track soon.

Signature Tunes:

Garbage (1995) – “Stupid Girl”, “Milk”, “Only Happy When It Rains”, “Queer”
Version 2.0 (1998) – “Special”, “Push It”, “Hammering in My Head”,  “You Look So Fine”
Beautiful Garbage (2001) – “Cup of Coffee”, “Cherry Lips”, “Nobody Loves You”
Bleed Like Me (2005) – “Bad Boyfriend”, “Bleed Like Me”

3.) Stevie Nicks

Say what you will about her wardrobe choices, Stevie is one of the industry’s most consistently on-target songwriters.  Her gravelly, unusual voice has driven some of Fleetwood Mac’s most successful and unique songs (“Rhiannon”, “Gypsy”, “Silver Springs”), and her solo material has catapulted her forever into legend status.  It’s too bad her recent Grammy performance with idol of the moment Taylor Swift was a dud.  Poor Swift simply didn’t have the pipes to step up with a lady legend.

Signature Tunes:

With Fleetwood Mac – “Silver Springs”, “Gypsy”, “Rhiannon”, “Dreams”
Bella Donna (1981) – “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”, “Edge of Seventeen”, “Leather and Lace”
The Wild Heart (1983) – “If Anyone Falls”, “Stand Back”
Rock a Little (1985) – “Talk to Me”, “Has Anyone Ever Written Anything for You?”
The Other Side of the Mirror (1989) – “Rooms on Fire”
Trouble in Shangri-La (2002) – “Planets of the Universe”

2.) Kate Bush

Bush is somewhat of a mystery, often called the “J.D. Salinger” of the British music scene.  A protege of Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, she burst onto the British pop scene in the 1970s, and consistently released great albums until 1992’s The Red Shoes.  Then she fell off the face of the earth, only to release the double album Aerial in the early 00s.  She has the reputation for “kookiness”, but in reality she disappeared in the 90s to get married and raise a family out of the spotlight (shocking)!   Her early work on such songs as “Breathing”, “Wuthering Heights” and “Babooshka” matured into the dreamy musings on later albums which focused more on mood than theme.  For me, her crowning achievement will always be the powerful show-stopper “Running Up That Hill”, whose release was delayed in the U.S. based on record execs concerns about the religious implications of the song.  In fact, Bush states that she, “was trying to say that, really, a man and a woman, can’t understand each other because we are a man and a woman. And if we could actually swap each other’s roles, if we could actually be in each other’s place for a while, I think we’d both be very surprised.”  Indeed.

Signature Tunes:

The Kick Inside (1978) – “Wuthering Heights”, “The Man with the Child in His Eyes”
Lionheart (1978) – “Wow”, “Hammer Horror”
Never Forever (1980) – “Breathing”, “Army Dreamers”, “Babooshka”
The Dreaming (1982) – “Suspended in Gaffa”
Hounds of Love (1985) – “Cloudbusting”, “Running Up That Hill”, “Hounds of Love”
The Sensual World (1989) – “This Woman’s Work”, “Never Be Mine”, “Walk Straight Down the Middle”
The Red Shoes (1993) – “The Red Shoes”, “And So Is Love”, “Constellation of the Heart”

1.) Tori Amos

Tori has never had a mainstream chart hit in the United States, something even elusive Brit Kate Bush can claim.  Still, she has a hardcore group of fans (“toriphiles”) who support her incredible, mostly concept-driven work.  I’ve been a fan ever since her breakthrough debut, Little Earthquakes.  She was a singer/songwriter who burst through during the “Lilith Fair” years, but definitely didn’t fit that mold.

Tori manages to release a new album every two years, touring for each.  She’s at her best when it is just her and her incredible range of pianos, belting out tunes for her fans and critics alike.

Signature Tunes:

Little Earthquakes (1992) – “Precious Things”, “Mother”, “Winter”, “Silent All These Years”
Under the Pink (1994) – “Pretty Good Year”, “God”, “The Waitress”, “Space Dog”
Boys for Pele (1996) – “Talula”, “Little Amsterdam”, “Professional Widow”
From the Choirgirl Hotel (1998) – “Cruel”, “Raspberry Swirl”, “Playboy Mommy”, “Ieee”
To Venus and Back (1999) – “Bliss”, “Glory of the 80s”, “Concertina”
Scarlet’s Walk (2002) – “A Sorta Fairytale”, “Gold Dust”, “Virginia”
The Beekeeper (2005) – “Jamaica Inn”, “Mother Revolution”, “Cars and Guitars”, “Marys of the Sea”
American Doll Posse (2007) – “Big Wheel”, “Body and Soul”, “Code Red”, “Dragon”
Abnormally Attracted to Sin (2009) -“Give”, “Flavor”, “Maybe California”, “Fast Horse”
B-Sides – “Cooling”, “Frog on My Toe”, “Flying Dutchman”, “Sugar”, “Upside Down”, “Take to the Sky”


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