mon 15/07/2024

Noughty Girls: Britney, Amy, Beyoncé, Kylie and Kaija | reviews, news & interviews

Noughty Girls: Britney, Amy, Beyoncé, Kylie... and Kaija

Noughty Girls: Britney, Amy, Beyoncé, Kylie... and Kaija

Females take over a male world

Kylie Minogue and her gold hotpants: the Noughtiest of the girls

Last night I was thinking, as I often do, of Britney, Kylie, Beyoncé, and less of Shakira, mainly because her name doesn’t end in y or e. The reason that my thoughts turned to Britney et al (incidentally we are delighted to have britneyspearsfans @BritneySpears4u site following theartsdesk on Twitter) was a list published this Saturday in the Telegraph of the best 100 songs of the Noughties.

As it’s the end of the decade, so cash-poor media types can fill up acres of space not only with year best-of lists, but decade best-of lists. The Noughty Girls will, quite rightly, be all over them.

It may not yet be October, but the Oxford Street Christmas lights will be coming on early, and in media-land they will be compiling more lists than Britney has had nervous breakdowns and number ones combined. Kylie will be on plenty of lists, and her perfectly shaped behind will be declared the icon of the decade, followed by Obama’s smile and much lower down the list the poor folk being chucked out of Lehman Brothers and the even poorer folk in Abu Ghraib.

But Kylie’s bum will - and who could seriously argue that this is unfair? - get more coverage as one of the acknowledged wonders of the world. She has been covering it up for the second half of the decade, but as these are whole decade lists, what a great excuse to start featuring it again. We have all missed it, and the tonic it brought to the nation. Kylie’s bum should probably be on a list of the all-time wonders somewhere between the Pyramids and the Hanging Gardens Of Babylon.

Anyway, the point of this was to point out that the girls have produced the best pop of the Noughties: Kylie’s “Can’t get you out of my Head”, Missy Elliot's “Get Ur Freak On”, Beyoncé’s “Crazy In Love”, Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab”, Duffy’s “Warwick Avenue” were just way better, more innovative,  pop music than the legion of blokey indie types. This is without even mentioning M.I.A. whose "Paper Planes" was the sound of a whole new pop sensibility being born and triggered an extraordinary viral copycat video cult on Youtube. This is the first decade when the females decisively won at pop since the dawn of rock and roll, while in the Noughties, pretty much everything the male bands did was forgettable and retrogressive – Oasis, U2 and Radiohead were past it, while Snow Patrol and their dirgy ilk were never were there in the first place, while only bits of hip-hop like Eminem and Kanye West were pushing new ground.

If you think of the decades since the dawn of rock and roll, the very first names you think of are probably men.  Elvis in the Fifties, the Beatles and Stones in the Sixties (although in the Sixties girls ran a close second) Led Zeppelin, the Bee Gees and possibly various punk blokes in the Seventies, the Eighties saw Michael Jackson trouncing everyone - even Madonna, while the Nineties  brought us Blur, Oasis, Take That and Robbie, with a burst of The Spice Girls at the end bringing in the decade of girl pop, the Noughties. Admittedly much of the music was made or produced by men, so they weren't completly without their uses.

In other areas of music the girls came up trumps in the Noughties too – from world music stars like Cesaria Evora, to lesser known but brilliant albums by Lhasa, Mayra Andrade, Susheela Rahman and Camille. In jazz Melody Gardot, Nora Jones, Diana Krall and Madeleine Peyroux cleaned up, while in folk music the likes of The Unthanks, Julie Fowlis were managing to fuse tradtion and the modern world in a new way.  Even in that most male bastion of classical composers, the likes of Kaija Saariaho and Jocelyn Pook made a significant dent. So, last night, I raised a toast to the Noughty Girls as the champions of the decade.

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