In December 2012 Holly wrote about Bristol synth pop act Gaptooth and her explicitly feminist single ‘Ladykillers’, a song that was so strongly worded that some radio stations wouldn’t play it. That the song was released mere weeks before Lucy O’Brien’s She Bop was re-published in a new, updated edition seems oddly appropriate.
Hayley Foster da Silva has reviewed She Bop, and although wishing at times for a more personal touch, is impressed by the breadth of this history of women and the music industry, and is pleased to come away from the book with lots of new information.
As she writes in her review, the book details
“the history of female artists across a broad range of musical genres, from the parlour singers of the forties, to the inevitable chapters discussing riot grrrl and The Spice Girls and everything in-between, including rap and world music. Each chapter explores a different genre, meaning that the writer goes into a lot of detail, not favouring one genre over another like some similar books tend to do.”
(Can’t see this video? Click here)
She Bop begins with blues in the early 1900s, and goes all the way through to the digital age and women such as Lady Gaga and Beyoncé.
As Hayley points out:
“In She Bop‘s digital chapter, O’Brien gives mention to shows such as X Factor and websites like MySpace which at the height of its popularity did help to give female singers such as Lily Allen the exposure they needed to be turned into superstars almost overnight. The chapter examines the positive side of the digital age as well as the negative, also mentioning how many bands now can take more control of their music if they so chose, many choosing to self release their own music”
Video commentary: Memphis Minnie, ‘Ma Rainey’. This video is sound only, and is the celebrated blues guitarist’s tribute to singer Ma Rainey. You can read the lyrics here.