Sunday, July 12, 2009

the times are changing?

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Kate Bush, Neneh Cherry, The Supremes, Cat Power, Sinead O'Connor, Madonna, Grace Jones, Vashti Bunyan, PJ Harvey, Chrissie Hynde, Sonic Youth (Kim Gordon), The Knife, Nina Simone, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Bjork, Dusty Springfield, Nancy Sinatra, Laurie Anderson, Tori Amos, Elastica, Mazzy Star, Sleater Kinney, Salt n Pepper...

Triple J have spent the last week broadcasting the Top 100 Songs Of All Time as voted by their listeners and today announced the final 10 songs. Remarkably, of the entire 100 tracks, one featured a female vocalist (Massive Attack 'teardrop') and only a further three songs featured female members in the band lineups: Pixies, The Dandy Warhols and The Smashing Pumpkins.

I was sent the press release for the list a few hours ago and since the final song was announced the web has been full of discussions about where songs were placed and who was and wasn't included.

As Australia's premiere national youth broadcaster, Triple J is supposed to be representative of the youth and their tastes. But looking at the list (top 10 listed below) urges the question: how many of those youths actually voted in the poll?

Top 10:
1. Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit
2. Rage Against the Machine - Killing In The Name
3. Jeff Buckley - Hallelujah
4. Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart
5. Radiohead - Paranoid Android
6. Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody
7. Jeff Buckley - Last Goodbye
8. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Under The Bridge
9. Foo Fighters - Everlong
10. Led Zeppelin - Stairway to Heaven

Click here for the full 100

Rock songs released in the 70s and the 90s took precedence. I like listening to white girls singing pop and folk music most of the time so I'm possibly not the best judge for deciding what songs are relevant to the Triple J audience. But I do listen to the station, and at 24 do fall within their target demographic, and was disappointed that none of the females listed above (and those not listed who are more than deserving) made the poll. I should have voted more than once!

Looking at the list, I have three questions:

Do young Australians favour guys with guitars?
Are men better songwriters?
Does the list expose the sexism of contemporary music appreciation?

Most music journalists are men, most of the influential music blogs are edited by and owned by men, and most record labels I can recall are run by men. I've never met a female record producer, and I know of one female who has the Music Director position at a radio station. However, many of the songs listed in Triple J's list would be also among my favourite songs of all time.

Perhaps those Triple J listeners who voted love women, but just like angsty guitar rock with male vocals better?

7 comments:

leetranlam said...

To be devil's advocate, I wonder if it's the demographic of their listeners or the demographic of the people more likely to vote online or be super-nerdy enough to compile a list of fave songs of all time?
That said, it is extremely disappointing that is a flannel-buried snapshot of 90s male angst rock.

PS. Where was MIA's Paper Planes?! Or anything vaguely electronic, besides Daft Punk and the few other non-guitar bands that scraped in ...

Amelia said...

i think this reflects the changing nature of the triple J audience... it's not what it was 10 years ago. triple J is more like triple M - for men.

Anonymous said...

I agree amelia

darkcafedaze said...

I think there are significant music journalists (read: Bernard Zuel) who are very supportive of female musicians - and bloggers such as myself who have a very non-subtle preference for them.

A large part of me hopes it was purely demographic based. I'd also like to think if this list was compiled by RRR or FBI we'd have a very different outcome.

Michaella said...

I agree that community radio would have generated a much different list. However, as music on Triple J is cleverly and strategically programed, you can imagine that a listener survey would generate a much more sturdy poll. Triple J listeners must prefer listening to music that is familiar and hand chosen for them, rather than the adhoc and highly personalised programming of community stations.

Perhaps this poll just suggests that listeners of Triple J have less experimental tastes than those who prefer the community options available to them?

Recently Triple J's music programming seems to have been pushing itself down more indie routes (Passion Pit, Yuksek, Grand Salvo) so perhaps this poll will see them moving back towards their more classic rock roots, as it's obviously what their audience wants to hear.

Also, I totally agree with Lee-Tran - I do think its more exemplary of the demographic of people nerdy enough to compile a list of their favourite songs - but aren't we those nerds?!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post - excellent! The women weren't just not thought of, they were left out. I do think it says a great deal about tripple j and their audience, and they should be really worried. Honestly, no comercial station would have left Madonna off the list. I don't think you would have seen the women this ignored on any other station in the country.
It's quite shocking.
Barbra

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to point out the main reason a lot of the ladies didn't make it into the top 100 is largely due to the amount of awesome songs they had that split the vote. ie: I read that Bjork had over 25 different songs people tended to vote for. Not just one or two anthemic songs.

Also, obviously there's a tendency for people who don't listen to the station to vote in that kind of poll. And the people who do listen day to day also vote for the older tunes. By definition it's a poll OF ALL TIME.

On top of that, the list isn't representative of what triple j plays. Obviously, if anyone posting here listened to triple j, they'd be across that.

And finally, some people don't seem to get this is not a triple j curated list - it's a P O L L people. I'm sure there's a lot of things triple j can be criticized for, as can any station. But this, it aint one of them.