There were no female artists in Triple J’s Hottest 100 of All Time

As in, none.

There were lots of oldies (presented here in some freaking awesome graphs) like the Pixies, a few lines sung by women, and even a girl bassist — but as this FasterLouder thread points out, we’re really clutching straws here people.

I am genuinely perplexed. Madonna, anyone? Bjork? Kate Bush?

Anyway, my hazy conclusion has been a) the music industry is probably a bit of a boys club and b) Triple J listeners were growing up and most influenced by a certain generation of all-male acts. Also, are mens voices more pleasant? Maybe that’s it… I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND.

16 Comments

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16 responses to “There were no female artists in Triple J’s Hottest 100 of All Time

  1. Simon Lilburn

    It is not only notable, but almost unbelievable. For 100 songs to not have a single one sung by a female begs for an explanation. A few theories:

    1. Do men’s voices sound better? I would argue, subjectively, the opposite is true. It seems unlikely that there is a single objective criterion for what is good in a voice. The dissimiliarity of most of the voices on the list is enough evidence for that.

    2. Are women less talented? There’s no reason to believe that, either subjectively or objectively. There is no evidence, to my mind, that suggests that women are any different than men in musical ability. My own experience wholly agrees with that.

    3. Is the music industry a boys’ club? This seems much more likely. There’s a male dominance in industry generally, so it seems likely that there would be an underrepresentation of women in the industry. This may partially explain the results (some top-down influence from management to the level of the artist), but it’s hard to understand why listeners would give fewer votes to women.

    4. Is Triple J’s catalogue dominated by men? I would say this is most likely. Rock music, and its indie/altern kin, is traditionally seen as the domain of adolescent and slightly post-adolescent boys, usually for the express purpose of eliciting circumstances congruent with having sexual congress with the womenfolk. This doesn’t seem wholly explanatory for me, though.

    Women most likely to be on the list (in my limited opinion, at least) are Tori Amos (heart), Siouxsie and the Banshees (double heart), Björk (triple heart), Kate Bush (a billion hearts). In the case of Madonna, I’m a little sceptical that her music is particularly suited for what I suppose the Triple J crowd is. Björk, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Kate Bush all may not have one distinct song to be voted on (sans the incredible Running Up That Hill, which may not be all that well-known). Tori Amos seems most likely, as Cornflake Girl and Professional Widow were both recent singles, playing to an altern/college rock crowd.

    Still, it doesn’t really make sense at all. I am at a loss. Stupid popularity. There is a lot else wrong with the Hottest 100 besides.

  2. stubbornmule

    I agree entirely. Some glaring omissions:
    Wuthering Heighs – Kate Bush
    Cannonball – The Breeders
    Rapture – Blondie (or Atomic)
    O Superman – Laurie Anderson
    Admittedly I’m showing my age there.

    P.S. Thanks for the link to my charts!

  3. I am dumbstruck as to how Bjork did not make it in there..

  4. Benjamin

    There are definitely some glaring omissions (many of the ones I can think of have already been mentioned) but I think this also has a lot to do with the fact that Triple J’s listenership is entrenched in the idea of an indie “canon” that is rooted mostly in the retrospectively well-known indie acts of the eighties, and then the grunge scene of the early nineties, and everything that these scenes went on to influence. Prior to that we of course have The Beatles, The Stones, Beach Boys etc., but where are the jazz and blues greats of the fifties and sixties (Billie Holiday? Ella Fitzgerald?) who were ENORMOUSLY influential on contemporary popular music, but who make up a canon outside the realms of the current indie music archetype. I also think that the idea of such a canon is one that is heavily promoted by the “in-crowd” mentality of Triple J. People say that the station has changed, but maybe it’s just that as you get older, it’s harder to accept the idea of someone telling you what to like and what not to like.

    While Kate Bush in particular I am amazed is absent, it’s only ‘Wuthering Heights’ that I think would even come close to making this list. Bush, like Bjork, hasn’t ever been huge on Triple J. If you look at the artists that have songs consistently on high rotation, it’s the grungy, indie rock bands. Even indie pop was fairly unrepresented in the list. That’s where the industry bias comes in a bit more, I think; most high selling, high-rotation female artists out there are marketed as “singer-songwriters”, as though this somehow makes them more palatable.

    Triple J must of course be aware that it has a HUGE influence not only on the industry, but on what people like. Bottom line: if you hear it more on the radio, you’re going to like it, and buy it. Perhaps it’s not enough then for them to be commenting on this, when they are in a position to make real changes to how women in the music industry are perceived in Australia. Here, it seems clear that while they may be listened to, they are not taken to be hugely influential, or possessing whatever criteris it takes to make one “great” in the eyes of a Triple J listener, or content programmer.

  5. stubbornmule

    Interesting thoughts there Benjamin. I can’t help thinking that even now Triple J’s influence is starting to wane as their traditional listener base turns increasingly to the internet (downloads, internet radio and sites like MySpace, last.fm, blip.fm, etc) for their music listening.

  6. Not one?
    Hello? Did anyone listen to ‘Teardrop’ by Massive Attack?

    • Bhakthi

      Surely vocals on one track doesn’t count!

    • stubbornmule

      If we include guest vocalists, then Elizabeth Fraser certainly counts as a women (even if it’s rarely possible to understand her). It still means that there were no solo female artists, no all female bands or even any bands with a prominent, permanent female member (e.g. lead singer). Were there any tracks with men meeting those criteria? A few!

  7. Pingback: The Triple J Hottest 100 « Mike Pickard’s Blog

  8. Captain Nick

    A quick glance at Wikipedia’s list of best selling aritists globally:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_music_artists

    It seems that by about 7 out of 10 artists are indeed male, or male dominated bands.

    So music by men produced is more popular with the public by the definition which counts most for “popularity”: where people put their money.

    And if you look at that list the majority of male artists are also critically acclaimed (New Kids on the Block aside).

    The females on the list seem much closer to 50/50 in the critically acclaimed:pap ratio (or the Dolly Parton:Celine Dion ratio)

    So the women make a smaller slice, and of that slice the objective “quality” is considerably lower.

    And thus the magic of statistics tells us women are terrible musicians, everyone hates their music, and by association you are a terrible person for liking female musicians.

  9. Ben

    Also, take a look at the gender of the annual winners over the years. Seems consistent with your arguments.

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