“Anacondas and Blank Spaces”—on women in the music business

By Lisanne Cheizoo (Editor in Chief)

In September and October, something unique happened in the Billboard top 100: for the first time in the 56 year history of the Billboard chart, the top 5 slots of the world famous chart were dominated by women, and women alone.

In the week of October 17th, the chart looked as followed: Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Base” on #1, Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” coming in second place, followed by “Black Widow” by Iggy Azalea (featuring Rita Ora) , “Habits (Stay High)” by Tove Lo and “Bang Bang” by Jessie J, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj. 2014’s top grossing albums are Disney’s Frozen (featuring the #1 it ‘Let it Go’, sung by Adele Dazeem, also known as Idina Menzel), Lorde’s Pure Heroine, and Beyoncé’s self-titled album—all women.

I know some of you might be thinking right now “this is great”, and I agree, at least partly, with you. Yes, it is great that women are dominating the charts; all of the women above have deserved it. Yet a part of me cannot resist thinking: only now? The Billboard Hot 100 chart has existed since 1958—“combining single sales, radio airplay, digital downloads, and streaming activity (including data from YouTube and other video sites)” (Wikipedia.com), but only now, in 2014, has an all-female top five been achieved. Which makes me wonder what took them so long—and more importantly, what this might hold in store for us.

Ever since Emma Watson’s speech about feminism at the UN on September 20th in New York, the word feminism seems to be hip again. Before that, people suffered from post-feminism, or backlash, which basically meant that anything related to feminism had been dubbed ‘uncool’ by men and women, because people did not want to be associated with bra-burning, angry feminists. Now, there seems to be a turning point, and this seems to be reflected by not only the music business, but also the movie industry: recent movies like Maleficent and Frozen (both produced by Disney) have passed the Bechdel test, and with Jennifer Lawrence’s continuing goofiness, it seems like feminism, and women in general, are actually seen as empowering again. In the music industry, the women in the top five are not the only women who are successful: Lorde’s recently released song for the Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I, soundtrack, “Yellow Flicker Beat”, has already gained wonderful critiques, Taylor Swift’s new album 1989 has had the highest sales week since 2002, and 2014 seems to be going into history as the year of the booty, with tracks like “All About That Base”, “Anaconda”, and “Booty”.

Yet, the latter is exactly my problem. If we do decide to make feminism hip again, and to fight for equality for women and men, like Emma Watson advocated, then we should make music that does not depict women (or any ‘assets’) as objects. How are we supposed to change our perception of women if artists like Nicki Minaj can only make video clips featuring booties? Right now, the Billboard Hot 100 features Taylor Swift on #1 and #3, Meghan Trainor on #2, Maroon 5 on #4 and Tove Lo on #5, and perhaps, this will be a sight that will occur more often in the future—let us hope with a little more than just booties, though.

Lisanne Cheizoo, class of 2015, is a literature, journalism and linguistics major from Uden, The Netherlands.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Website Protected by Spam Master

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

Social profiles