Gender Equality in Music
glamglare newsletter #27: we have come a long way, but we're still not there
In 2019, we went to a fabulous music festival called Welcome Campers. The organizers, The Wild Honey Pie, managed to have an 80% majority of female-fronted acts on the lineup. But it was striking that there was not a single woman on stage who was not also the lead vocalist.
This is symptomatic. While over the last decade, we have moved closer to gender equality regarding female-fronted bands or solo acts, the majority of the music industry is still controlled by men. For most female artists we feature on glamglare, you don’t have to dig deep to find a man as producer and/or co-writer.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with collaborations in music, and most artists supplement their own talents with those of others. One day, gender may not matter anymore, but the imbalance, particularly behind the front lines, is currently disturbing. If we value gender diversity in music, we must ensure enough women work in all creative aspects of a production.
The situation is even worse in electronic dance music, where the DJs and producers are the stars, and the – primarily female – singers are merely another instrument in the mix. Sophie Bress wrote “Heard but Not Seen: Dance Music's Uncredited Vocalists “for the electronic dance music magazine Resident Advisor about how topline singers need to fight for credit and compensation. The article follows the uphill battle of several accomplished singers and/or producers like dolltr!ck and HALIENE in the male-dominated dance music industry.
At glamglare, we support better gender diversity in the music industry by featuring at least 50% female artists and pointing out those who work in roles beyond singing and songwriting. Grimes – a hard-working indie artist before becoming a regular in the tabloids – was one of the early inspirations for what led us to start a music blog. Seeing her raw talent and energy on stage in 2011 made clear that something new in music was happening, and we wanted to be a part of it.
To learn more about amazing female producers, check our non-exhaustive list here. Or continue reading on for our latest seven song picks, which include one of our favorite producers, Berlin-based Anastave.
Song Picks of the Day
Listen to all our daily song picks on our playlists on Spotify and Apple Music.
Bethan Lloyd – Cutting Circuits
Bethan Lloyd is a musician from Wales who fuses gritty danceable pop music with a deeper meaning. Her latest song, “Cutting Circuits,” is “a celebration of relinquishing control, both internally and externally,” and its heavy-hitting beats and rich vocals invite you to do just that.
Listen to “Cutting Circuits,” our Song Pick of the Day, below on YouTube:
Mary Middlefield – Two Thousand One
“Two Thousand One” is only the second single by Switzerland-based musician, singer, and songwriter Marry Middlefield, but I am already looking forward to hearing more from the incredibly talented artist. The song delights with a compelling melody and song structure, brought to life via Mary’s enchanting vocals and some absolutely beautiful guitar work. A broken toxic relationship sparked “Two Thousand One,” and Mary says:
“The process of finishing the track happened so quickly, it was recorded two weeks after it was written, but it’s definitely one of my favorites to date. I love how the song offers emotions from the head and heart which people often get during difficult moments within a relationship. It’s a fun, sad Folk song.”
Listen to “Two Thousand One,” our Song Pick of the Day, and check out the lyric video too:
Ella Rosa – Not Cute
Ella Rosa is a singer/songwriter who moved from London to LA. Her new song, “Not Cute,” is a slow-burning, immersive R&B about finding her own musical style. Ella explains:
“I wrote ‘Not Cute’ at the peak of a very formative turning point for me in my life and career. I was moving out of my house in LA (hence the first line ‘packing all these boxes’) and going into hibernation mode, which led me to spend a lot more time with my music. This pivot sparked a realization that my passion for R&B and pop had to be moved closer in the work I was releasing. This song, while it leans more towards the R&B side of things in pace, was my gateway towards the rest of the music of the EP; from smooth to bouncy and fun.”
Ella Rosa is working on an EP to be released early next year. Watch the video for our Song Pick of the Day below:
Blak Emoji – Mainstay
We know Blak Emoji since the early glamglare days and couldn’t be more excited to see Kelsey Warren (Blak Emoji) release new music but also his back catalog via ECR Music Group. Today, the New York City producer, singer-songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist offers “Mainstay,” the first single from the forthcoming deluxe edition of his new, remastered album Electro, out in early 2023. “Mainstay” elegantly picks and chooses from different styles and genres, mixes a bit of funk here, a little bit of rock there, and sprinkles of glittering pop, and the result is utterly captivating and simply irresistible!
Kelsey is an artist who is almost (!) too good to be true because not only is he a fantastic vocalist and guitarist (think Lenny Kravitz) but also a great songwriter and lyricist and tops it all off with a charismatic stage presence. (Go see Blak Emoji live!) Asked about “Mainstay,” Kelsey says:
“‘Mainstay’ is simply about being a friend for someone in the end; expressing that you’re “on-call” for a person if they’re down or in a situation. This also relates to how you feel about yourself. Do you need or want to lift yourself up; do you have the tools? Will you be there for yourself like you are for others?”
Listen to “Mainstay,” our Song Pick of the Day:
Jackie Mendoza – Pedacitos
San Diego-based singer/songwriter Jackie Mendoza somehow manages to bring ukulele and electro dance beats together. She has already done that with excellence on her debut EP LuvHz in 2019 and is now about to release a full-length, Galaxia de Emociones, next spring. The first single, “Pedacitos,” gives you a preview of what to expect: the uke, the groove, and Jackie’s voice form a catchy but edgy pop song.
She says about the song:
“This song reflects on how depression and addiction have affected my friends and family, some of which have died by suicide, and how it is a mirror to my own struggles with mental health.”
Watch the animated video by Jo Shaffer here:
Lust For Youth – Accidental Win
It’s the time of year when musicians release – but wait! “Accidental Win” by Danish electronic duo Lust For Youth is not your reflective or sweet and cheerful holiday song but a synth-pop pearl that makes you want to dance and sing along. The single marks their first new release since their 2019’s self-titled album, when they changed their formation from a three- to a two-piece. If anything, the saying “less is more” has been proven right again because “Accidental Win” is irresistibly brilliant. Out now via Sacred Bones Records.
Listen to “Accidental Win,” our Song Pick of the Day:
Anastave – Fake Smile
We’re happy that we don’t have to close out 2022 without some new music from the upcoming second album by Berlin-based singer, songwriter, and producer Anne Genberg, aka Anastave. Two songs, actually, because she released a double-A side with a couple of interconnected tracks, “Better” and “Fake Smile.” Our Song Pick of the Day is the latter as it shows Anne’s range with its Warpaint-like dream pop vibes. There is no release date for the new album yet, but it is starting to shape into one of the highlights of 2023.
Anastave says about the songs:
“Better is about the yearning to be someone you’re not — to try to change when you’re not ready, and Fake Smile is about the regret in feeling like you’ve lost your opportunity to change, like you’re destined to be the person you don’t want to be anymore.”
Listen to “Fake Smile” below on YouTube or Spotify:
Albums That Stick: Rock Christmas Volume 1
Rock Christmas was a multi-volume sampler CD in Germany in the 90s, meant to mix up the predominantly traditional Christmas music in Germany. The first volume came out in 1991, and while the word “Rock” is used very loosely, it has been our go-to record for the holidays, and many of the tracks stir pleasant memories. Here are a few of them:
Wham! – Last Christmas: This song gets me into a celebratory mood, mostly thanks to its video that shows a bunch of young, pretty people, including George Michael in his best 80s style, celebrating Christmas in a snowed-in cabin in the mountains. Wouldn’t we all like to celebrate the holidays like this, of course, minus the broken heart?
Jona Lewie – Stop The Cavalry: I remember well when this song came out in 1980, and back then, I didn’t even register it as a Christmas song (and it actually wasn’t meant as one). I simply loved it because of how its structures and Jona Lewie’s voice, and I was happy to find it again on the sampler.
Alexander O’Neal – The Christmas Song: For Americans, this song, in its many versions, has been a holiday staple for many years, but I heard it the first time on Rock Christmas. Alexander O’Neal’s interpretation is still my favorite – I closed my eyes and felt transported to Christmas in New York City, something that felt magical to me.
Bing Crosby – White Christmas: Of course, this song was well known in Germany too – I heard it the first time in the 80s when we were driving to my grandparents to celebrate Christmas, and it was stuck in my mind for a long time.
Chris Rea – Driving Home For Christmas: This is one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs. Chris Rea sings about the joyful, anticipatory feeling during his drive to his family on Christmas Eve. Having done this for many years as a kid, this resonates with me.
Ella Fitzgerald – Santa Claus is Coming To Town: Everybody has heard this song a million times, but wait until you hear Ella Fitzgerald singing it full of joy and swing.
This article was first published on glamglare Thanksgiving Day, 2014.