Let’s keep it 100–I’ve been unfair to female vocalists. I spent most of my life steering clear of ladies on the mic. But in recent years I’ve heard ‘em sing songs that ripped my heart out and they showed me how to be gentle aiiight?
Elizabeth Fraser of Cocteau Twins was the first to show me the fire. I heard Massive Attack‘s “Teardrop” and I had no idea what was coming. I’ll never forget how connected I felt to a new level of energy in the air when I heard her voice. Fiona Apple‘s “First Taste” made me believe that there were ladies as weird and hyper-aware as me out there. She was giving young men some valuable information, letting us see into a certain corner of the female mind and her voice came powerful as a prophet.
More recently, Katy B blew up the UK dance and indie charts with her remake of “Man On A Mission” with Benga, becoming “Katy On a Mission” and peaking at number 5 on the UK Singles Chart. I was already dandy with Benga’s “Man on a Mission VIP” for close to a year before hearing the newer one.
Benga’s original was a go-to tune for moshing in my Honda, but when I saw the video for Katy B’s version it made me rethink my loyalties to the idea of the clean instrumental track. As charming and necessary as the naked beat can be, I was wondering if something might be missing.
It should have been obvious to me that women bring a unique power to electronic music. They’ve been the choice vocalists for dance tracks since the days of disco brought the tribal vibe back to nightlife. Since then we’ve seen ladies become the most widely chosen oracles of house, trance, garage and dubstep lyrics. As you read this, female vocalists are infusing new heights of emotion into bass music that hasn’t even broken to the street yet.
Ellie Goulding‘s “Starry Eyed” is remixed by top shelf Bristol bass producer Joker, and it’s rushing adrenaline through me the same way Benga and Katy B did only two years ago. The further back I go, it becomes harder for new music to rub me so correctly as Elizabeth Fraser in “Teardrop,” Alison Goldfrapp in “Pumpkin” or Fiona Apple in “First Taste.” Joker and Ellie Goulding got me doing that same headbob, though.
There’s nothing like your first ladies.
(Free download courtesy of Joker)