Sure, there are iconic bands that came out of the 90’s: Soundgarden, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Blink-182 and of course, Nirvana, but it was not all a decade run amok with long-haired dudes wearing Doc Marten’s or preppy punks wielding dick jokes.
No, it was a time that women more than helped hold up the pillars of the 90’s temple of rock music. These women defined new sounds, styles and attitudes that your current playlist may have forgotten. Lorde, Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches, Florence Welch and even The Dead Weather and The Kills’ Alison Mosshart tread roads established while leaving their original mark…but that’s another article entirely.
So, as I sit here scrolling through my playlists, iTunes library and various pages on the interwebs to narrow it down to a solid, but selective list of women whose music made a decade and influence the music we enjoy today.
Courtney Love of Hole
It had to be you. It had to be you, whose music would be filled with less cont-ro-ver-sey…than everything else going on with yoooooooou. Face it, Hole kicked ass and say what you will about Ms. Love, but she has managed to stay more relevant than most any guy from that decade.
Oh, ’twas the Heroin Sheik or the harrowing vocals that would cause future artists to find no better a passive way to sound like they don’t care than the likes of Lana Del Rey? Fionaaaa! “Shadow Boxer” is a song that can bring you to your knees once that chorus hits. Fiona is a devious player working in slightly masochistic symphony. I saw her perform in Seattle in 2013 and she sound better and was more engaging than ever.
Elyse Rogers & Karina Deniké aka Dance Hall Crashers
Oh, the ska. Let us not forget the ska. These two, hell, even their cover album was great. I remember seeing them in the basement of Club DV8 (God rest its soul). It’s one thing to write songs telling guys they are full of shit, but it’s another to do with backed by trumpets, convincing the guys to sing along with you.
Donita Sparks of L7
I mean, in 1992, when things on stage weren’t going technically well, she reached down (for some of you guys who may not yet know where to reach for this object), removed her tampon and threw it at a rowdy audience. Sure, today that would be the performance art of Buzzfeed status, but then, well, back then it was pretty damn punk rock.
Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth
Nico, but improved. Not that Nico came off as some passive somebody, but maybe petite in the style. Kim seemed, well, like a rocker, but not angry, but aggressive, but not a show-off, but could show off. That’s the 90’s all around it seems. Also, I don’t think I have ever seen her smile in a picture and I don’t hate that.
Zia McCabe of The Dandy Warhols
Okay, okay, Zia isn’t exactly a front person of the Dandies, but there was something about her that was intriguing. Hell, the whole damn band was something to see during their high times, but it wouldn’t have been the same without Zia on vocals, keys and that tambourine and nose ring.
I remember getting into fights under the category of “corporate, not corporate” with one of my college professors over this. It didn’t really matter, though. If you got past what some people needed to get past that decade (basically Lilith Fair-phobia) and correct pronunciation of her name, Ani’s music stands alone and superseded rock, folk, alt. It’s just great music.
Shirley Manson of Garbage
I just listened to Shirley Manson on The Bret Easton Ellis Podcast (yes, the guy who wrote “American Psycho” and “Rules of Attraction”) and she is still amazing. She didn’t care what you thought of what she said. From what I could tell of that podcast, which I highly recommend you listen to, she hasn’t changed. Shirley is 48 and still one of the biggest rock icons, at least in my mind.
Mea Fisher aka DJ Mea of Lords of Acid
What can I really say about Mea? Maybe too dirty for strip clubs, but tailored for whatever it is that people do when they are home and no one’s looking. Do you remember when X96 used to play “I Sit On Acid”? Do you? I have to think that Peaches, Lady Gaga even down to Ms. Cyrus have rubbed against and tasted the fallen fruit from DJ Mea. Sevrin would have been a happy camper with a collection of Lords of Acid records (bonus points if you know that reference).