The music scene has become “girly” in Bono’s opinion. The U2 frontman bemoans the lack of “rage” in rock in this month’s Rolling Stone cover story:
“I think music has gotten very girly. And there are some good things about that, but hip-hop is the only place for young male anger at the moment – and that’s not good. When I was 16, I had a lot of anger in me. You need to find a place for it and for guitars, whether it is with a drum machine – I don’t care. In the end, what is rock & roll? Rage is at the heart of it.”
Bono needs to broaden his horizons.
The man should look to the neon lights of stages where fierce female-led bands like Savages, Wolf Alice, Screaming Females, False Advertising, Estrons, Ramonda Hammer, and Desperate Journalist perform. He should surrender himself to the brooding fury of Chelsea Wolfe, Austra, Zola Jesus, and Holy Wars. He needs to rejoice in the bluesy southern soul of Alabama Shakes, Seratones, The Suffers, and Hurray For the Riff Raff.
He should breathe in the harmonies of Lucius and First Aid Kit, then cry over the emotional intimacy from Julien Baker, Sharon Van Etten, Agnes Obel, and Julia Holter. Then Bono should witness the electrical storm of a St. Vincent, Ninet Tayeb, or Phantogram show and feel the fire of Neko Case, Courtney Barnett, M.I.A., or Noga Erez – artists whose passions and political convictions eclipse his own. Then there are the all-female rock bands who are changing the status quo in rock, such as Warpaint, Death Valley Girls, Deap Vally, Nelson Can, Pussy Riot, Camp Cope, and a host of others.
Bikini Kill, Bully, Chastity Belt, Cherry Glazerr, Daddy Issues, Lisa Prank, Mitski, Speedy Ortiz, Vagabon, Waxahatchee: these are just some of the artists he has been looking for. If he would take one step closer to these talents, the ground beneath his feet would quake with the vertigo-inducing sonic intensity they produce.
These women from all across the globe have rage. They have been pouring their frustrations into their music since the day they learned their first chord. Every female musician has endured a certain level of machismo and sexism from the “boys” in their chosen field. This only fuels their righteous fire. These women are magnificent talents, so think about that the next time you wonder where the rage in music has gone. No, it is not limited to hip-hop. It’s been right under your nose the whole time. Tomorrow is another day to discover their voices, heed their call, and shine a deserved light on their talents. You can start by listening more and talking less. And as we’ve been saying for years:
Women are making the best, most innovative, and most challenging music at the moment.
We made a playlist just for you and for anyone else who doesn’t realize that “girly rock” is simply a bad-ass compliment.
Bono, perhaps it’s time to step aside and let the next generation of rockers take the reins.
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