Ladies of the ‘80s still fighting on


unsplash In the 1980’s, the jukebox was revived with the invention of CDs, and updated accordingly.

Ali Smith, Arts & Leisure Editor

At times, finding a light, even the smallest of glimmers, during a dark period can feel defeating and impossible.
Music is such a therapeutic outlet for many, especially myself, and sometimes diving into a genre, album, artist or era can provide a temporary escape from daily stressors we face, especially during the last year.
The past week or two, I have really been studying, admiring and jamming to ‘80s music, which my father has put me onto since I was a kid. After all, the ‘80s were his prime.
In the midst of National Women’s History Month, I only saw it fitting to celebrate the female rock artists of the ‘80s. The ‘80s was an era that I wish I grew up in due to the culture, fashion, music, entertainment and lifestyle.
The music is certainly iconic, so take a moment, kick back, relax, put on some Aquanet and apply a thick layer of neon blue eyeliner and let’s rediscover the ladies of the ‘80s who pushed the limits of their genre, broke barriers for women inside and outside of the industry and all the while created timeless music still cherished today, 40 years later.
1. Pat Benatar
Benatar’s music is most admirable because of her vocal diversity and her fresh perspective on the female roles in relationships. Like the modern rock star Miley Cyrus, Benatar can be soft and gentle with her tone and also rip high notes to shreds by expressing her emotions and her pain through her music.
Her most popular songs are “Love is a Battlefield,” featured in the movie “13 Going on 30,” starring Jennifer Garner, which is set in the ‘80s, and “We Belong,” which was released in 1984.
After studying her tracks, however, a highly underrated song is her “Hell is For Children.” The lyrics don’t carry much weight with the general public, but even so her delivery is filled with passion and emotion.
The most notable aspect of the song are the instrumentals, however. I was floored by the artistry behind the vocals in this track and for this reason was shocked that the song was not more popular.
Although she was accepted to Julliard for singing, it was not the path she was envisioning for herself, and instead she chose to embody the forward-thinking, spandex-wearing persona we see rocking out on stage even 40 years later, which was a shock to her too, as she did not expect her music to endure the passage of time.
A quote that captures her attitude and style wholly is, “Most chick singers say ‘If you hurt me, I’ll die’…I say, ‘If you hurt me, I’ll kick your ass.”
2. Joan Jett
You cannot even consider studying 1980s music and women’s history without including rock ‘n’ roll icon Joan Jett.
Not only has her music prevailed during the four decades that have passed since her peak popularity, it has displayed her disdain for the gender inequalities within the music industry, and she does not stand idly by.
She is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and she played guitar, sang lead and wrote music for her band “The Runaways.”
Her most acclaimed hits are “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Bad Reputation,” which plainly demonstrate her demeanor and her feminist power as an artist and a woman.
It is evident by her dark, divergent style and her untamed, untraditional haircut, which has also stuck with her since the ‘80s, that Jett is an outlier, a rule breaker and a fighter. Her strength alone, not to mention her musical accomplishments and tough sound, is inspirational and empowering to say the least.
Her sound is a unique and rugged one not fashioned by many women, especially for her time. In this manner, she also pushed boundaries and successfully proved she can do whatever the men can do in the genre, and probably even better.
What makes an artist most unique, and moreover iconic, is his or her ability to create timeless music, lyrics and impacts that stick with listeners for life and are passed down from generation to generation. Jett certainly fits the ticket.
3. Stevie Nicks
Last but not least, my personal idol, which has to be apparent now through the trend of my reviews and articles, Stevie Nicks.
Nicks, also a Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, is the only woman who has ever been inducted twice. She has been recognized for her vocal contributions to the timeless rock band Fleetwood Mac and her legacy as a solo songwriter and incredibly dedicated and emotional performer.
The “Landslide” singer has long been labeled the “Gold Dust Woman” after her hit song from the 1977 “Rumours” album revealed to those unfamiliar with Nicks that she indeed holds some sort of magic within her. She believes in witches and powers, and many of these beliefs can be hidden in lyrics, especially in Fleetwood Mac’s hit track “Rhiannon.”
Fleetwood Mac was famous for its love triangles and scandals, which contributes to Nicks’ role as a feminist icon. My father once said that what made her special was that unlike Taylor Swift, who infamously writes breakup songs, Nicks stood across the stage and sang to her ex-boyfriend about what a jerk he was in front of thousands of fans.
Nicks is the most conservative of the three female icons listed, and she says this is due to her drive toward graciousness and feminine mystery.
To her, being an artist is about so much more than image. It is about creating a sound and the soul of a song people can connect to. She argues that she in some ways is permanently tied to her fantasy life, because without it, she cannot write.
Her greatest solo hits include “Edge of Seventeen” and her collaboration with Don Henley, “Leather and Lace.” This year, she even released a remix mashup of “Edge of Seventeen” and “Midnight Sky” with Miley Cyrus titled “Edge of Midnight,” which was a fan favorite for sure, especially amongst the feminists.
“I was not going to be a stupid girl singer. I was going to be way more than that,” is a famous quote from Nicks, which I believe speaks volumes about her character and her perspective within the industry. She has even argued that every band should be as diverse in gender as Fleetwood Mac was, because women can bring something magical to the table that a “bunch of boring men” cannot. And I would have to agree.
Like Nicks, I believe every band could use alternative perspectives, especially when it comes to appealing to the widest range of listeners. Each gender, and each person really, bring something special to the table, and like they say, it is so important to hear both sides of the story.
This is why it is so special that the relationships in Fleetwood Mac, although seemingly catastrophic, occurred. Because without them, they would have never created the appropriately named album “Rumours” or any of the other hit heartbreak songs so creatively written by Nicks and bandmate Christine McVie.
What makes Nicks most memorable for me is her songwriting ability, which has clearly carried her hits into popularity even after decades.
At 72, Nicks is still touring, writing and creating, which according to her is the only true love she will ever need, or be content with for that matter.