February 17, 2008

10 Bands That Defy Normativity

Sometimes I want to take a break from the theoretical aspects of representation and look at actual forms of pop culture. Music is a popular medium and highly accessible for people of all ages. Instead of being my usual cynical self, I'm presenting 10 bands (in no particular order) that have defied normativity in regards to race, gender, and/or sexuality.

I am aware that there are plenty of other bands out there that have addressed these issues. The ones I am mentioning have received a little bit of attention, whether from a music magazine or on an international level. It would be great if you added in some links of your favourite bands that defy norms as well.

1) Queen Latifah. Ladies First not only shows Queen Latifah's strong feminist ties, but is also clearly afrocentric. A truly powerful song that combats racism and sexism.

2) Antony and the Johnsons. Hauntingly beautiful voice from a band with a transgender theme.

3) The Gossip. Beth Ditto, singer, is an out-spoken lesbian who uses The Gossip as a means of fighting negative views on women, lesbians, and notions of the appropriate body.

4) Le Tigre is a feminist rock band which explores themes of sex/violence in women's lives, alternative femininities, issues of race, etc. Unfortunately, I could not find the actual video to this song, but here is a fan-created one that I found.

5)Yoko Ono is an avant-garde artist who tackled many issues in various mediums. Widely unpopular in the 70's, her music is finally starting to receive proper attention thanks to a re-release. This activist video is an audio clip promoting woman power back in the 70's.

6) M.I.A. Known for her political stance in her rap, M.I.A transcends traditional hip hop boundaries and explores race, violence, and other political issues that are left out of Western mainstream music. Again, another fan video.

7) Xiu Xiu, an indie-darling, isn't the most accessible to all, but again, speaks of issues pertaining to sexuality, war, violence, and society.

8) CocoRosie provides unconventional, and sometimes controversial, lyrics and sounds. CocoRosie is poignant in their lyrics as they address women's roles, race issues, and addresses white privilege.

9)Final Fantasy rocks out the electronic violin. Challenges traditional masculinity, gay male stereotypes of (hyper)sexuality, and is just awesome.

10) Purrbott. Indie activist who addresses homosexuality, how it is received, and throws in his own angst. No videos out there, so check out the link for more info and to hear some songs.

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