[Feature] Where Are The Female Cover Stars?
As a teenager, I strived to be different. I wanted to be diverse from my chart music following classmates. I longed for role models outside of the Top 40 realm, of scantily-clad dressed girls, singing about how hot they were and poppy-pricks in boy bands. I discovered the NME and followed its word as if it were scriptural. It provided an alternative escape. Yet, as my music knowledge increased, I began to question NME’s reliability. I noted their coverage to be inherently male.
NME continually splurge male rock bands on their covers. My music taste became dominated by masculinity. From Oasis and The Stone Roses, to Kasabian and Arctic Monkeys, the male gender has monopolized the magazine’s covers. As young as fifteen, I began to ask “why is there so little coverage of the alternative female artist in the music press?”
The likes of Laura Marling more than qualify for cover-story status. Why was this such a rarity? Without female artists being given the platform they deserve, I feel a severe lack in the voices of female role models.
In a recent interview on US radio station Sirius XM, Jack White declared, “When you have female acts…there’s a different perception. It’s sort of a real shame that if a woman goes onstage with an instrument…that it’s almost a novelty to people.” Why have female artists become such a novelty, when their talent is just as justified as males?
The last sole female cover star of NME was MIA, way back in November 2013. I could not identify with this bolshie character, sporting a crude middle finger to the camera. Though ‘Paper Planes’ held political significance and a bouncing beat, I was unable to empathise with her striking attitude. NME only plonked her on the cover due to her alarming controversy as a woman, not as an artist.
Out of the last 107 issues of NME, only a mere two featured solely female cover stars. The second was the mediocre Haim. NME glorified the girl group, on the simple fact that they could play guitar. Goodness, who the fuck knew it?! Girls can play guitar too! NME whack females on the cover again, due to their supposed ‘controversy’, in a world of male musicians.
MOJO have been known to feature the likes of Blondie on their cover. And last month’s Kate Bush cover was claimed to be ‘one of Mojo’s biggest selling issues’ by Reviews Editor Jenny Bully. Yet, Mojo appear to be nostalgic. Who is brave enough to cover the female stars of the moment?
DIY certainly adhere to this gap in the market. They succeeded in several female cover stars over the past year. With artists stretching from Charlie XCX, Wolf Alice, Sky Ferreira, Warpaint and Chloe Howl, they prove modern female artists are just as cover worthy as the male. Why is this not consistent throughout the music press?
ARE THESE ALTERNATIVE FEMALES NOT AS WIDLEY RECOGNISED BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT SKINNY, BARLEY CLOTHED, MANUFACTURED CHART-POP?
It’s time to make room for the innovative female. Rock and alternative music should not be intrinsically male. Let us scrap this ‘lad-band’ culture. With a sea of undiscovered female artists to be found, journalists need to break the male trend. Because guess what? Girls CAN play guitar too. Get over it.
By Emily Schofield