Men In Music
I'm writing this article because, I was putting together my end of year list, like all of us music critics start to do around the beginning of November (even though it will make us miss all the pop albums released in mid December to capitalise on Xmas sales) and oh, I've been having so much fun getting out all the records I've been loving all year long, rediscovering some that came out earlier this year that I'd almost forgotten about (Subeena! Deniz Kurtel! Barbara Panther!) and shuffling the consensus critical darlings to try and figure out what order my top 3 should go (Katy B over PJ Harvey? Or St Vincent above both?) and what underrated gems I should personally stake my critical reputation on stanning for (Drugstore? Planningtorock? Zavoloka?)
And then it struck me! My list! That is nine ladies already!
I don't want people to think that I am some kind of biased! (Even though I totally do listen to almost exclusively female artists because: PERSONAL TASTE! Sacrosanct! Even when "personal taste" is just code for "I only like artists that look like me.") I'd better find a male artist to stick at the bottom of my top 10 to prove that I am totally not a misandrist at all, ever. (And, of course, ~only~ 1, because to include more than 10% total males in any cultural evaluation would totally be patronising tokenism. Of the absolutely worst kind.)
Men! They have actually made some music this year! Unlike all those other years! In fact, I might even suggest that 2011 might indeed be called The Year Of The Man in rock music, because I have found not one, but THREE examples of records, made by men, that I might want to include in my top ten.
THE RADIOHEADS - King of Limbs
The Radioheads are massive in the Man community. This is like their 8 millionth album or something! Dudes just cannot get enough of this band, they are apparently fucking huge. Of course, I can't really be bothered to sift through all that shit so I just flicked through the Best Of compilation, because, what with the whole "always singing about Man Issues" business I can't really relate to or even bring myself to care about and all, but I am reliably informed that this band are the go-to boys when you want representation of the issues affecting young, heterosexual, cis, white men in the Western Hemisphere today.
AZARI & iii - s/t
It took me literally about six months to discover that their name isn't pronounced "Azari and Ai Ai Ai" it's pronounced "Azari and Third." That is fucking clever. So clever, in fact, I cannot believe that an actual man came up with it. But, you know, those men, they are so good with words because I read in a book once that men are the more verbal gender, as Proven By Science, so of course we should always talk about their name, and their lyrics and you know, man-friendly stuff like that, because we know that technical stuff is hard for them and I don't like to think about them doing it because it makes me feel bad. And also their clothes! (check out those shorts! so hott and totally intended for the benefit my Gaze and no other reason at all ever)
Active Child - You Are All I See
Dude plays a HARP! Look at that! I mean, how many dudes do you know that play the harp? Everybody knows that the Harp is a Lady Instrument, but this dude, he is SO GOOD, he totally plays harp LIKE A LADY. And that is the highest compliment I can pay a man.
So this is the Man Scene in music today. Dudes! Totally making music, all by themselves and everything. They were all delighted to be included and talk about their roles in The Man Scene for this article because they sensibly realised that if they don't go along with these gunnysacking male roundup articles, they won't get coverage on their own, or included with other artists closer to their genres. Because genre and gender? They are totally the same thing, look they even have the same letters. Genre/Gender. Do you see what I did there? Anyway, I interviewed all these man-bands for my Men In Music article, and we talked about how much they have in common! Coz they all do kinda sound alike to me, because their singers (never mind the music, I'm going to concentrate on the singing because I'm threatened to think of men doing technical stuff like producing music) - get this - they all sing in a totally new and exciting man-way - that's right! All three artists are really well known for their use of the male falsetto. And this makes them totally non-threatening to us ladies! And relate to them with their lady-sounding voices and their lady-friendly style. It's totally cool, it's officially OK for ladies to like these bands without compromising our Femininity.
And just to show you that I know something about the history of man-music, I'm going to compare them to the only other man who I've ever bothered listening to, because he was admitted to the canon back in the 60s and I don't have to put too much effort into finding any other icons of masculinity in rock. (Despite the previous 20 years worth of one magazine article every year about "Men In Rock" and things like Man Fest and all those organisations dedicated to promoting meninrock.org) Anyway, to me, they TOTALLY SOUND LIKE HIM, in every way, but especially the singing real high bit. That's right, all these Man Bands of 2011, they all owe SO MUCH to this singular icon, who's cast such a long shadow that I cannot conceive of male artists being influenced by anyone else. (Because we all know it is completely impossible for artists to ever be influenced by someone of another gender, ever, so we can never ever compare across the gender boundaries.)
That's right, it's the Kate Bush of Man-Rock
So there you have it, ladies and the rare gentleman reader who I know doesn't really care about music or blogging or ~real~ culture, but I'm hoping to impress with how much I understand and relate to your sex's music making abilities. The Man Scene of 2011, the children of Roy Orbison's long shadow. The Radioheads, Azari and III, and Active Child. I hope that men everywhere can continue to be inspired by their groundbreaking work, so I can write one of these articles every few years.
Anyway, so I now have to decide which of these worthy men to include in my Best of 2011 list. The safe choice would be The Radioheads, but like... you know, all the other ladies keep talking about how hott their lead singer is. Because that is the single most important thing when you are talking about male artists, how conventionally attractive they are, whether they make a good sex object for the female gaze. And I just don't see it. He's done something really tragic to his hair, and I cannot actually conceive of appreciating a man for his musical ability, rather than thinking about how much I want to sleep with him. Or not. This socially awkward and rather unattractive blogger does not want to fuck you, ergo, you are no good at all.
Next up would be Azari and III, but looking at that photo - OMG, I have just noticed there are black people in that band. And I already have a black woman in my top 10 list! It would totally be patronising tokenism to include more than one black artist in my Best Of, and since they have the double whammy of being both male and black, well, Azari just have to go. Intersectionality is just way too big a word, let alone concept for my poor little blogging head to grasp. Also, I have just been informed that they might be, you know, gay? And although I have nothing against homosexual men, especially when they are hot and snogging for my titillation in my porn, I'm sorry but the idea of ~actual~ gay men? Taking them seriously? Come on, they don't really exist. I call Unicorns!
So that was easy! That leaves Active Child to take over the coveted last spot in my Top 10.
And I have now adequately covered the ENTIRE spectrum of Men In Music so thoroughly that I can go back to covering only women for the next 51 weeks of the year - next week, we'll be putting Kate Bush on the cover for the third time this year, not because she has a record out, but just because SHE. IS. AWESOME. Also, you know, it's just... my blog's stats just do so poorly whenever I put a man on the cover - see, it's not me refusing to cover men, it's just the demographic target market of my ~audience~ just can't handle being exposed to them.
So there you have it. Remember. Men In Rock. It might just be the future.