If ever there was a time for women to get their rock on, it was Britpop!
Men loved them, women wanted to be them and they held their own alongside a genre of some of the greatest male fronted guitar bands. For every Blur there was an Elastica, for every Pulp there was a Sleeper, so here’s my (not so) definitive list of the top 10 women in Britpop!
Joint 1 – Louise Wener (sleeper) / Justine Frischman (Elastica).
How can I chose between these 2? I had my hair cut like both of them, I dressed like both of them, I wanted to be both of them. Wener with her doe eyes and short skirts, Frischman with her husky drawl and Doc Martens, they were THE poster girls for Britpop. Wener producing some of the best girl pop with anthems like Inbetweener and Sale Of The Century and Frishcman with Britpop staples such as Stutter and Connection, these 2 ladies simultaneously paved the way for women in the 90’s to stand up and be noticed!
3 – Sonya Madan – Whilst other Britpop girls were flaunting their wares and generally being all up in peoples faces, Echobelly achieved huge fame for doing the complete opposite. Although the content of some of their songs had sexual connotations the manner in which they (Sonya Madan) delivered them was much more subtle. Madans sultry looks and unique, haunting vocals on tracks such as Bellyache and Insomniac took the band to a different level musically, and achieved great success doing so.
4 – Shirley Manson – Although musically Garbage weren’t stereotypically ‘Britpop’, Garbage hit the peak of their fame in the mid 90’s. Manson was a force to be reckoned with. With hits like Only Happy When It Rains and Stupid Girl delivered on stage with such power and aggression, all wrapped up in huge amounts of leather and eye liner, Manson quickly earned herself credit in the industry for her songwriting and voice in equal measure.
5 – Miki Berenyi – Aah, Lush. The band that time forgot. Three top 20 singles under their belt and yet they are one of those bands where, when mentioned, people will scratch their heads and mumble “Lush? Eh? The bird with the pink hair?”. That was her, Miki Berenyi, stunning. So stunning that I spent the entirety of my first teen romance sharing my boyfriend with her. She never quite had the ‘oomf’ that Wener and Frischman delivered though, but Single Girl and Ladykillers were great Britpop anthems.
6 – P J Harvey – It took me a while to get into Polly Jean, I first fell in love with her after seeing her perform Meet Ze Monsta live, I just didn’t get her which is why I did, and still do, love her so much. Her unpredictability and yet flawless live act is a sight to behold, and a bona fide musician to boot. She never really tapped into the stereotypical Britpop scene, she was always on the cusp but she was definitely there in the heart of it for me. In a genre where female acts were churning out single after single of bouncy pop, Harvey, like Manson, balanced it all out with some actual credit worthy songwriting.
7 – Lauren Laverne – Kenickie were very much of the same ilk as Lush to me, but with slightly less ‘oomf’, somewhat overshadowed by their musical counterparts Kenickie rose to fame with club fillers such as Punka, and went on to release two albums before they disbanded in 1998. Laverne has since gone on to be a well respected radio DJ and TV presenter, I kind of prefer her wielding her guitar and thrashing around on stage personally.
8 – Tanya Donnelly – Not British but very much there in the mêlée of Britpop. Ex Breeders and Throwing Muses founder Donnelly oozed all the sultry goodness and girlishness of her Brit band sisters, and deserves a mention for her band back catalogue if nothing else. Feed The Tree is still a regular repeat on my i-pod today, her soft, almost childlike vocals were unmatched by anyone around at the time.
9 – Marijne Van Der Vlugt – Salad. Anyone remember Salad? *stoney silence*……
Well I urge you to go and listen to Drink The Elixir and Motorbike To Heaven. Salad may well have had more singles but I am yet to hear them, and to be honest, I don’t care as I am more than happy with these 2. Marijne was an ex Dutch model and MTV VJ before she broke into the music scene in the Mid 90’s. With all the youthful beauty of a 70’s hippy and the quirkiness of Bjork, Van Der Vlugt was a side step from the Britpop stereotype, and boy did she do it well!
10) – Pearl Lowe – Powder. Now, ideally I would have put Pearl Lowe higher if I could justify it musically, but I cant really. Pearl Lowe fronted Powder for a mere 3 years, in which they were only really active for about a year, in which time they only produced 3 singles. One of which is still one of the most underrated singles of its time, Afrodisiac. Looking like how I imagine Siouxie Sioux would have looked in the 1920’s, Pearl Lowe rocked it, big time.