“She has been a hermit, as far as performing is concerned, for 35 years; she’s a one-off, a prodigy, a creative heatball, an experiment of the species – dazzlingly successful but unreplicable. Her lyrical romanticism is questing and ambivalent, rather than needy and predictable […] Taking her as a creative ideal, I realise I’ve been having the wrong conversation about female pop stars. I spend a lot of time wondering about female creativity as it’s represented in music. What does it actually mean when Miley Cyrus leaps around faux-masturbating all the time? Could that ever be called a genuine expression of her sexuality? When Lady Gaga makes a video with R Kelly that looks like a slickly produced advertisement for date-rape drugs, is that collusion with the patriarchy or a subversion of it? Can Beyoncé, through sheer force of will, emancipate herself from the craven re-domestication agenda of her lyric: “If you liked it then you should have put a ring on it”?
The pattern with mainstream music is that a young woman is fashioned into an image of sexual desire concocted by some sleazy 50-year-old guy (or, more likely, a focus group full of them). She is then rounded on by feminists from the left and social conservatives from the right for being naked or (this is worse) naked and too thin. […] But then you think about Kate Bush, or Janis Joplin, or Nico, and realise that it doesn’t matter whether or not Miley Cyrus is a feminist or whose fault Taylor Swift is. What matters is what the culture loses, as a whole, when mainstream music is comprised almost entirely of a male version of female creativity, women funnelled through male objectification, women’s self-expression totally subjugated, essentially absent. It loses its Kate Bushes. It loses, at a conservative estimate, half its genius.”
(via The genius of Kate Bush in an age of subjugation | Zoe Williams | Comment is free | The Guardian)