A curious symmetry took over the British charts recently. In at the top was Amy Winehouse, followed by Adele, then Beyonce, then Adele’s other album, and then, at the fifth spot was Winehouse again, with her other album too, of course due to a surge of interest after her death. The thing about the top five albums is that they were all made by women with a bloody-minded determination and bigger balls than their male counterparts. “Men haven’t got a clue how to do pop anymore,” says a music industry expert.
Women have been taking over British pop for some time. Lily Allen’s already had enough years in the game to have gone into semi-retirement. Winehouse died horribly young. Their descendants, such as Jessie J, Florence, La Roux, Laura Marling, the CocknBullKid, and of course Adele, are already there.
Beyonce is the only big pop star who is heterosexual, married, mainstream and yet brings most of her songs back to gender bending.
Adele got signed in her teens and promptly began to argue with her record label about the pricing structure of her singles, because she already knew all about sales margins.
Winehouse wrote and performed songs like nobody else, all sex and poetry and pain and fire and dirt. While this aspect of her personality may have been the undoing of her in the end, it was that same fire that made people want to buy her records.
And then there’s Lady Gaga, who investigates her own ugliness and brokenness as much as beauty.
What all these female stars have in common, is a deep awareness of the business side of the industry. These top women have raised the bar so high that the usual pop fare from both males and females now struggles to cut it.