Rock radio isn’t always the most welcoming environment for female artists.
Women, as both solo artists or leads/co-leads of bands, have had ups and downs. Some periods are better for women in rock. Some stations make more of an effort.
The Classic Rock format has been one that’s consistently done well in attracting audiences in recent years. But it can often feel like a complete sausage party. Male artists dominate.
The Classic Rock outlet in Boston has made some strides recently. A year or so ago, listeners might only find two or three songs a day with a prominent female voice. That’s improved. Not every day, but there are times when female artists feature on as many as a dozen songs during a day. It’s a good upward trend, generally.
But the station doesn’t necessarily hit that mark every day. And it’s not unusual to find female artists clustered in the early morning hours, when fewer people are listening. One can tune in for hours during prime broadcast periods and hear only men. And even when stations play a decent number of songs, they tend to rely heavily on only a handful of artists: Heart, Joan Jett, Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac, Pat Benatar, Big Brother/Janis Joplin and the Pretenders. All of whom are great and deserve the exposure. But they’re not the only female stars who made great rock music in the past.
Maybe some fans don’t want female voices on Classic Rock. But the fact is, that as the format has grown and embraced the ’80s, ’90s and early ’00s, it’s been slow to bring aboard female-sung hits from those eras. And while some stations have gone further than others, in terms of embracing different rock sounds and styles as they’ve added new decades, there is room for improvement across the board.
No one’s asking stations to engineer a radical overhaul. But would it be too much to suggest that they play at least one song per hour featuring a female lead or co-lead? For most stations, that would amount to barely ten percent of the daily play list.
Following is a list of suggestions that Classic Rock stations could peruse in terms of adding some more women to the mix. All of these artists had big rock hits, either at Mainstream Rock or Alternative, during the periods covered by most Classic Rock stations, suggestions that fit most stations’ stylistic mix. It’s something to think about. Presented alphabetically by artist.
Alanis Morissette: “You Oughta Know;” “Uninvited”
Alannah Myles: “Black Velvet”
Belly: “Feed the Tree”
The B-52s: “Rock Lobster;” “Channel Z”
Blondie: “Call Me;” “One Way or Another”
Bonnie Raitt: “Something To Talk About;” “Thing Called Love”
The Breeders: “Cannonball”
Concrete Blonde: “Joey”
Cranberries: “Zombie;” “Salvation”
Eurythmics: “Missionary Man;” “Would I Lie To You”
Evanescence: “Bring Me To Life”
Garbage: “Stupid Girl;” “Only Happy When It Rains”
Hole: “Miss World”
Indigo Girls: “Tried To Be True,” “Kid Fears”
Jefferson Airplane: “Somebody To Love;” “White Rabbit”
Kate Bush: “Running Up That Hill”
K’s Choice: “Not An Addict”
Lita Ford: “Kiss Me Deadly,” “Shot of Poison”
Melissa Etheridge: “Ain’t It Heavy;” “Bring Me Some Water”
Meredith Brooks: “Bitch”
The Motels: “Only the Lonely;” “Suddenly Last Summer”
No Doubt: “Just A Girl;” “Spiderwebs”
Patti Smith: “Because the Night;” “Up There, Down There”
Quarterflash: “Harden My Heart”
Sass Jordan: “High Road Easy”
Scandal: “Goodbye To You;” “The Warrior”
Sheryl Crow: “All I Wanna Do;” “If It Makes You Happy”
Sinead O’Connor: “The Emperor’s New Clothes”
Suzanne Vega: “Luka;” “Blood Makes Noise”
’Til Tuesday: “Voices Carry”
Tina Turner: “Show Some Respect;” “Better Be Good To Me”
Tori Amos: “Crucify;” “God”
Tracy Bonham: “Mother, Mother”
Tracy Chapman: “Fast Car”; “Give Me One Reason”
Veruca Salt: “Seether;” “Volcano Girls”
4 Non-Blondes: “What’s Up”