What’s on your iPod?

Maggie Bond

Here are a bunch of songs I like by bands with front women. The term “front woman” does not appear in Merriam-Webster. Clearly, this is a significant oversight.
1. Wanda Jackson, “Funnel of Love”
Wanda Jackson got screwed. An aggressive, rebellious, integrationist rockabilly singer in the mid 1950s, she just couldn’t beat anyone into listening to her. I adore “Funnel of Love,” which took on a whole new meaning for me after hearing it in “But I’m A Cheerleader.”
2. The Supremes, “Can’t Hurry Love”
I have a huge crush on Motown Records, a label that, among its many other accomplishments, played a significant role in ushering in the age of the girl band. This tune teaches us that when it comes to love, a definition of the relationship between the song’s sections and its absconding chorus, you just have to wait.
3. The Slits, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”
The Slits opened for The Clash and The Sex Pistols and were post punk before anyone knew precisely what punk was. The Slits didn’t follow what they perceived as male rhythms and structures and consequently their early recordings are majestically awkward and without any sense of metronomic rhythm. Their punky-reggae sound is at its height of accessibility in “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.” If they had listened to their label and made the tune their A-side, perhaps The Slits would not be wallowing in obscurity today.
4. X, “I’m Coming Over”
X are an L.A. punk band that got started in 1977. Exene Cervenka, the lead singer and only woman in the group, began her musical career as one of those girlfriends who has never been involved in music but whose boyfriend wants her to join your band and you’re like “ah, man,” but then she blows you away and you need to keep putting on amazing shows with her for the next 30 years.
5. Gravy Train!!!!, “Sippin’ 40s”
Hailing from Oakland, Calif., Gravy Train!!!! represents the lack of self-restraint and common decency I love about the girls in the Bay Area. With lyrics that might stand up to the connoisseurship of the sultan of sleaze himself, John Waters, there was no way I was getting a single line into this paper.
6. Nouvelle Vague, “Too Drunk to Fuck”
This French bossa nova cover of the Dead Kennedys single conveys a sense of luxury and decadence in absolute hedonism, completely reinterpreting Jello Biafra’s satiric, depressing message. This makes it way more fun to listen to before a party. However, the band’s members/producers created this effect by choosing French female vocalists with no prior knowledge of the songs, arguably using women’s voices as instruments just as Yves Klein used women’s bodies as paintbrushes.
7. Screaming Females, “Buried in the Nude”
In truth, Screaming Females consists of two awkward, curmudgeonly guys and one teeny-tiny, screaming female. Maybe five feet tall in her stocking feet, Marissa Paternoster wails, moans, shrieks and howls with this hypnotic, perfectly controlled passion that dominates entire venues of sweaty, moshing men.
8. Madeline Ava, “Cheer Up, Buttercup”
Madeline Ava generally utilizes the natural didacticism of folk punk and instructional quality of the ukulele for good, and has a calming affect similar to that of the great Mr. Rogers. In “Cheer Up, Buttercup,” she assures us that “you are braver and stronger and more charming than I think you ever knew,” and gently reminds us that “being sad and being scared are no good way to be self-aware.

Top