Feminisms & music: pop from Madonna to the present day | Feminine and musical pluralities (and contradictions)

You would have to have spent the last few months on the planet Mars not to have heard about the new albums from Beyoncé and Taylor Swift. The media hype around these releases is proof that the two singers have become social phenomena that go far beyond the strict musical domain.

Feminist icons? Certainly. But in what way and to what extent? These are the kinds of questions asked by French journalist Morgane Giuliani in her book Feminisms & music: pop from Madonna to the present day.

As its plural title indicates, this essay does not address a single feminism and not a single artist. Starting from Madonna, going to Beyoncé and Taylor Swift, passing through the Spice Girls or other contemporary figures like Björk, Lana Del Rey, Mariah Carey or Christine & the Queens, the author demonstrates that feminist discourse varies according to the times and according to the artists, in a political gradient ranging from authentic demands to opportunist posture.

The content oscillates between analysis and factual information. Supporting examples, the journalist highlights the numerous contradictions experienced by these powerful female models, who attempt to combine in the same breath their quest for independence, their desire for sexualization, their artistic accomplishment and their commercial success, in an industry disc which remains essentially dominated by men.

She also looks at the role of the LGBTQ+ movement and the impact of the #metoo movement on an increasingly complex feminist movement, which itself sometimes has a tendency to tear each other apart. We regret, for our part, that Morgane Giuliani so quickly dismisses those who paved the way. Of course, we can’t cover everything.

But devoting more than three words to the blues singer Ma Rainey, the folk singer Joni Mitchell, the poet Patti Smith or the radical Yoko Ono would have provided a better perspective. Useful book, moreover, to better understand our time and those who shape it.

Feminisms & music: pop from Madonna to the present day

Feminisms & music: pop from Madonna to the present day

The word and the rest

300 pages


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