She Got The Beat

Next week I’ll be heading to Cleveland with the Kitchen Sisters to cover the opening of the new “Women Who Rock” exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum! Designed to pay tribute to the essential role of women in rock and roll history, the exhibit will “spotlight more than 70 artists and fill two entire floors of the museum.” Rock and roll has long held the reputation of being a man’s world, meaning women are often left out of the narrative. This exhibit will help correct the all-male image of rock and roll by highlighting the important role that women have played in the development of rock music, from it’s roots in the early 20th century with Bessie Smith and Mother Maybelle Carter, through the development of rockabilly, R&B, blues rock and punk, to the modern sounds of everyone from the White Stripes to Lady Gaga.

Photo Credit: Anastasia Pantsios, whose exhibit "Girls On Film" is now on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum

I’m a big advocate of ‘women in rock’, and I spent 3 years in an all-female rock band,  so getting to participate in and celebrate the opening of “Women Who Rock” is really exciting for me. To get in the mood for the event and prepare for my departure, I’ve put together a playlist of songs that I’m calling a survey of women in rock.

You better believe how hard it was to find a photo of Wendy O. Williams that wasn't NSFW

Putting together the playlist was obviously tremendous fun, although slightly frustrating, because I literally wanted to include EVERYONE. Of course, this would result in a playlist that lasts for days/years – which would be awesome – but I think a sample of music would be  more accessible to those less familiar with the history. I’ve tried to include at least one musician to represent each sub-genre of the major genres that appeared in the decades of the 20th century. Because this is a timeline of rock music, I’ve included less pop, country, hip-hop, and folk (although these do make appearances in the playlist) and focused more on alternative, punk and new wave musicians. Because there are so many amazing bands and female solo artists, choosing the final songs ultimately came down to my own personal preferences. Finally, I mostly just included the BIG names of the genres, but you should know there are countless amazing female rock bands that didn’t make this list.

Here it is! You can also view the playlist on iTunes and buy the music if you like!

  1.  Bessie Smith – Gulf Coast Blues (1923)
  2. Ma Rainey – Jealous Hearted Blues (1925)
  3. Big Mama Thorton – Hound Dog (1952)
  4. Kitty Wells – It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels (1952)
  5. Ruth Brown – (Mama) He Treats Your Daughter Mean (1953)
  6. The Staple Singers – This May Be The Last Time (1955)
  7. Wanda Jackson – Fujiyama Mama (1957)
  8. The Shirelles – Mama Said (1961)
  9. The Ronettes – Baby, I Love You (1963)
  10.  Irma Thomas – Breakaway (1964)
  11.  Goldie and the Gingerbreads – Headlines (1966)
  12. Aretha Franklin – Dr. Feelgood (Love Is A Serious Business) (1967)
  13. Jefferson Airplane – Somebody to Love (1967)
  14. Janis Joplin – Flower in the Sun (1968)
  15. Mavis Staples – Chained (1970)
  16. Carole King – I Feel the Earth Move (1971)
  17. Suzi Quatro – Can the Can (1973)
  18. Ike & Tina Turner – Too Hot To Hold (1974)
  19. Bonnie Raitt – Angel From Montgomery (1974)
  20. Loretta Lynn – The Pill (1975)
  21. Heart – Crazy On You (1976)
  22. Fleetwood Mac – Gold Dust Woman (1977)
  23. The Runaways – California Paradise (1977)
  24. X-Ray Spex – Oh Bondage Up Yours! (1977)
  25. Patti Smith – Rock n Roll N****r (1978)
  26. Donna Summer – Bad Girls (1979)
  27. The Pretenders – Precious (1980)
  28. Blondie – Call Me (1980)
  29. Joan Jett – Bad Reputation (1980)
  30. The Go Go’s – We Got The Beat (1980)
  31. X – You’re Phone’s Off The Hook, But You’re Not (1980)
  32. The Plasmatics – Butcher Baby (1980)
  33. Cyndi Lauper – All Through the Night (1984)
  34. Eurythmics – Missionary Man (1986)
  35. Janet Jackson – Rhythm Nation (1989)
  36. Madonna – Express Yourself (1989)
  37. The Pixies – Debaser (1989)
  38. Thee Headcoatees – Have Love Will Travel (1992)
  39. Bikini Kill – Rebel Girl (1993)
  40. Salt N Peppa – Shoop (1993)
  41. Sheryl Crow – Strong Enough (1994)
  42. No Doubt – Just a Girl (1995)
  43. Alanis Morissette – You Outta Know (1995)
  44. Lauryn Hill – Doo Wop (That Thing) (1998)
  45. Fiona Apple – Paper Bag (1999)
  46. Gossip – Hott Date (2001)
  47. Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya, Pink – Lady Marmalade (2002)
  48. The Donnas – Take It Off (2002)
  49. The White Stripes – Black Math (2003)
  50. The Kills – Cat Claw (2003)
  51. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Cheated Hearts (2006)
  52. Lady Gaga – Bad Romance (2009)
  53. Adele – Rolling In the Deep (2010)
  54. Shannon and the Clams – Sleep Talk (2011) <— BEST FEMALE FRONTED BAND RIGHT NOW!

I’m sure everyone will find one of their favorite musicians missing, so please tell me in the comments who you would have included in your timeline of women rockers playlist!

Thee Headcoatees

P.S. when I return from Cleveland I’ll post all kinds of little nuggets from the event!

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  1. Pingback: west side story | Projects and Musings by Rachel Ariel Scott

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