Ada, MMM-Bop is totally on my ipod! So is Party in the USA, which I saw Miley perform live. She was so bad. But so fun!
As you note, so were a lot of performers in the 90s. Like Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer who, by the way, I saw in concert–TOGETHER–my freshman year of high school. Not to brag or anything.
Okay, now, let’s talk about Ke$ha. I just saw that “Tik Tok” is the number one song on itunes right now. Which is cool, because I like Ke$ha. Partly because I am in my 30s and so I find a party anthem with the lines “Ain’t got a care in the world, but got plenty of beer” and “Before I leave, brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack” to be hilarious. HOWEVER. This song would have made me cry when I was 15, significantly more earnest, and dreaming of getting away from girls who just wanted to party and drink. (In NY, I imagined, rightly, I would be able to party and drink…while discussing feminist theory. We’ll bring the whiskey on the 13th!)
Anyway, looking at this list from the 90s, it still seems super-radical to me. I mean, we had Madonna! (#7 on this list and #1 in 1990.) We had Sinead O’Connor (#12), who sang complicated songs about love and politics, shaved her head, and blasphemed the pope! We had Liz Phair, who sang one of the best songs about sex and sexism ever! (True, at #91, she is not Gaga/Swift/Beyonce popular, but she still made it onto a mainstream list, above Public Enemy and Prince). We even had Alanis (#14), who was always considered sort of a lightweight—and yet, what does it mean that, in the 90s, hearing a girl so brazenly confronting a guy who had dumped her actually seemed not quite riot grrrl enough to some of us?
One of the things I like about 90s music is that it seemed like women were singing about their actual, complicated experiences. I mean, Salt ‘n’ Pepa are on the list for “Whatta Man,” which congratulates a guy not just for being good in bed and respectful, but for spending time with his kids.
The feministy triumverate of today—Lady Gaga, Beyonce (who got her start in the 90s with Destiny’s Child), and Taylor Swift—seem more invested in celebrating both romance culture (putting a ring on it, romeo and white dresses) and hookup culture (poker faces, video phones). In the 90s, it seems like women had a kind of bravado that was about confronting men about the emotional fallout of hookup culture or romance culture. But for Gaga, B, Taylor, and Ke$sha, it seems like a different kind of bravado: more about rejecting that fallout altogether or about transcending it. (This might be the time to bring up “Blah, Blah, Blah.”)
I can (mostly) enjoy the New Bravado, but I also like 90s-style wallowing.
Anyway, I have more to say about the feminist evolution of Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears; the awesome (NOT FEMINIST) rap songs of the 90s; and #1 90s band Nirvana, which was fronted by a boy in a dress before all the boys wore dresses. And about the potential stealthiness of the aforementioned oos women. But for now, I’ll just say that I am glad we are talking about this today, before tonight’s Grammy’s, which are all about the ladies. I can’t wait for the liveblogging to begin.