Essential Oldies Playlist: Joan Jett, Janis Joplin, Grace Slick, Merry Clayton, Stevie Nicks
In the rock category, women are under-appreciated and overall under-represented. The VMAs this year are blatant proof of this unfortunate fact; although we celebrated the first female winner in the rock category, the winner, Lorde, is not really a rock artist. Here is an oldies playlist full of bonafide female rockers:
1. Joan Jett – “Bad Reputation”
This fierce female rock anthem earns a top spot on our essential oldies playlist. Joan Jett rocks harder than 90 percent of males in the business and kicks ass 100 percent of the time. This amazingly intense rock song debuted first on her 1981 album “Bad Reputation.” Jett is one of our favorite female rockers because although she has collaborated and stood out among some of the best male rockers, her solo work is a force in itself. This song also appears as the rebellious theme song for the great 90s high-school show, “Freaks and Geeks.”
2. Janis Joplin – “Move Over”
Janis Joplin is another legendary female rocker who deserves a top spot on our favorite female rockers. Not only did Joplin have one of the most rugged, edgy, and distinctive voices of all time, her electric energy on stage inspired crowds at every performance and earned her the legendary rocker reputation she has earned through her historic lifespan. Joplin is an icon, and the song “Move Over,” off of her 1972 album, “In Concert,” is a showcase of her true talent as an artist.
3. Grace Slick – “Somebody to Love”
Grace Slick has the perfect dose of grungy folk rock vibes and musical versatility needed to convey her message in every song. The soulful rock ballad “Somebody to Love” was released originally as a single in 1966, and is a perfect example of the classic 60s style of production. Her voice cuts across the steady electric guitar, creating a signature 60s psychedelic-folk-Halloween-esque vibe. If you listen to the musical stylings of Slick on her earlier albums, you will receive a true appreciation for her versatility musically and her full breadth of folk rock talent.
4. The Rolling Stones – “Gimme Shelter”
“Gimme Shelter” earns a spot for the top female rockers. Now, we know none of the Rolling Stones are female, but if you listen to the song, there is a female voice that tops all others, reaching heights that even Mick Jagger himself could not. The backup singer behind this voice is Merry Clayton, the powerhouse black female rocker who was the Rolling Stones go-to voice for all their gritty house-shaking numbers when they needed a truly powerful voice. Clayton and these other unsung (or sung) heroes in the backup singer arena often go under-appreciated, but their skill and soulfulness adds something irreplaceable to every rock track they appear on. Watch the documentary “20 Feet From Stardom” to fully understand the role of backup singers throughout the ages and on this particular track, which appeared on their 1969 album, “Let it Bleed.”
5. Stevie Nicks – “Edge of Seventeen”
This sultry rock ballad from iconic female rock singer Stevie Nicks is a must-add on any rock playlist. Nicks has a very unique sound vocally; her voice is feminine and pretty but still gritty and powerful at times as well. This makes her songs very multi-faceted. They are feminine and light at times, yet they never fail to convey that hard rock edge of revenge and Nicks in essence: a woman on a mission. Check out her 1981 album “Bella Donna” for more iconic songs from this tough female rocker.
Who are your favorite female rockers? Leave a comment below or shoot me a tweet @JenksUOhMeASoda