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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Rock goddesses before social media       

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With Taylor Swift at the height of her power as a global phenomenon, it’s a good time to give a nod to those who laid the pathway for her and her generation of female stars to walk on en route to the stardom they, presumably deservingly, enjoy.

It’s difficult to compare artists coming from different eras without being subjective, so it’s fair to just give the hats off to those who’ve done it way ahead before the reigning queens of rock – or that lady singing with a guitar or even without it for as long as she rocks it in her own right. Besides, the young ones, whether they admit it or not, sure had something to be thankful for musicians who have significantly influenced them.

Let’s take a look at some ladies who have proven themselves in empowering women by way of their musical talents whether as a singer, songwriter, frontwoman, or all of these. Yes, we’re talking about women who made it in the years prior to the advent of social media, digital recording, or reality TV sensations. I mean these women had no choice but to go through the traditional route of becoming famous or keeping the tunes in their heads probably by sheer memory as they may have no voice recorders at hand when some inspiration came over. 

Without devaluing the sacrifices that today’s successful recording artists had to endure themselves, may I say the icons from the yesteryears were truly tough acts to follow. Here are 10 of them opposite a song that can be classified as their signature piece.

Pat Benatar’s hit song ‘Love Is a Battlefield’ charted at number 3 on Billboard’s Top Rock Tracks

Stevie Nicks – Edge of Seventeen: We call it respect once we realize that the chugging guitar on this single from her debut solo 1981 album Bella Donna is sampled on Destiny’s Child’s “Bootylicious.” Curiously, the song’s lyrics had to do with the same week-deaths of the singer’s uncle Jonathan and Beatle John Lennon. So far, she is the only woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, as a solo artist and as a member of Fleetwood Mac.

Gwen Stefani – Don’t Speak: The song put her band No Doubt on the map without a doubt. It’s a melancholically hard-hitting ballad rock with lyrics she penned after her breakup with bandmate and bass player Tony Kanal. Last year Gwen received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Pat Benatar – We Belong: The four-time Grammy Award winner hit us with her best shot with “Love Is a Battlefield” which became her biggest song in a lot of countries. But this anthemic track that reached number 3 on Billboard’s Top Rock Tracks chart is poised to be pulled out by future generations when feeling “we belong to the light” and thunder.

Dolores O’Riordan – Zombie: The lead single from her band The CranberriesNo Need To Argue album is without argument their signature hit. As the writer of the song, she wanted her bandmates to play it louder and harder than usual. She died in 2018 and was named The Top Female Artist of All Time on BIllboard’s Alternative Songs chart.

Suzanne Vega – Luka: While her song “Left of Center” from the film Pretty In Pink is an absolute 80s gem, this one dealing with child abuse cuts deep beyond her era. She was inspired to write it after noticing a boy named Luka from a group of playing kids. She came up with a fictitious storyline that in reality so many can relate to.

Alanis Morissette – Ironic: Her 1995 album Jagged Little Pill topped the charts in 13 countries and made her become the first Canadian artist to hit double diamond sales mark. In case you wonder why this album had to be singled out, “Ironic” is just one of its singles that included “You Oughta Know,” “Hand In My Pocket,” and “Head Over Feet.” You ought to know.

Joan Jett – I Love Rock ‘ Roll: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts’ cover of “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” topped the US Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks in the early ‘80s. Previously, she was a member of The Runaways and co-wrote their hit “Cherry Bomb.”

Deborah Harry – Call Me: The frontwoman of the band Blondie wrote the lyrics to this theme song from American Gigolo composed by Giorgio Moroder.

Tina Turner – What’s Love Got to Do With It: The Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll as she had been dubbed, scored Record and Song of the Year honors at the Grammys with this 1984 hit from her fifth studio album Private Dancer.

Patti Smith – Because The Night: The lady who fused rock and poetry co-wrote this song with Bruce Springsteen. To further appreciate the piece, listen to its movingly raw MTV Unplugged version by 10,000 Maniacs.


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