There are many fields that men continue to dominate, even after years of progress for feminism and equal pay for women. The popular music scene is not one of them. Female artists constantly top the charts, sharing the spotlight with their male counterparts on radio stations and DJ booths, around campus and the country. Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe” owned Penn’s St. Patrick’s Day festivities last year––let’s not talk about this year––and Madonna had the highest grossing concert tour of 2012. Of course, personal tastes and genre preferences may cause one’s iPod to stray towards a specific gender, but it is undeniable that ladies have a huge place in the music world.
This is why it’s a huge relief to me that SPEC has chosen Janelle Monaé, a female singer, as one of three performers at this year’s Spring Fling concert. As a feminist but also as a fan of music in general, I was shocked to learn the last ladies to take the Fling stage were Cat Power and Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon in 2005. And in the few years before that, female artists were the usual––The Donnas joined Busta Rhymes in 2003 and The Black Eyed Peas, of course featuring Fergie, rocked the stage in 2001, along with Ben Harper.
So why the eight–year drought? I don’t think SPEC consciously gravitated towards male artists, but there has been a trend towards rappers. These genres are mostly controlled by men, so it’s no surprise we’ve seen Lupe, Kid Cudi, Snoop Dogg, Flo Rida, Ludacris and Shwayze in recent concerts. Increasingly popular house music, helmed by male DJs, brought us Tiesto last year and rumored artists this year like Calvin Harris and Swedish House Mafia. All of the aforementioned performers are great to dance to––but so are the girls! When Ke$ha or Katy Perry comes on at a downtown, don’t act like people don’t love it. In fact, the percentage of attendees dancing has been known to go up when Britney Spears and will.i.am’s “Scream & Shout” comes on, or even a dupstepped Taylor Swift song. (I’ve been known to thrash wildly on the cold, hard ground a la Tay in the “Trouble” video.)
Some female singers are known for less danceable ballads and might not be suited to Fling, such as Adele (although put a beat behind “Someone Like You” and everyone will be dancing/crying together). But there are dozens of female superstars whose songs would bring the house down. Think Robyn or even Rihanna, if we could afford her. Janelle Monaé has a cool, jazzy sound that will make for a fun, unique opening act. So let’s hear it for the girls and for SPEC, for finally bringing back a woman’s voice to Fling. And how about Beyoncé next year?