“Crazy on You”


Still in the mood to rock.  And women can rock just as hard as men.  Ask the Wilson sisters.

Because Rock music is such a male-dominated genre, it’s sometimes easy to forget that there are a lot of rockin’ women out there.  Heart’s Ann and Nancy Wilson have sometimes been pushed into styles–both musical and fashion–that they weren’t comfortable with.  (Most of their mid to late 80s output was pretty much forced on them by the record company.  Which is kind of sad for me, because I like a lot of that stuff, and I feel weird about enjoying music they’ve pretty much disavowed.)  I think the same thing has happened to male artists, but it feels more insidious when it happens to women.

There’s an underlying tension of sexism/misogyny that colors the way female musicians get presented to  (mostly male) audiences.  The Wilsons got pressured into recording more radio-friendly, Pop-style music during the 80s: ballads and love songs and such.  Because videos had become so popular, there was even more pressure on them to look pretty and sexy to attract that oh so popular male 18-35 demographic.  Ann had put on some weight during that time, so the suits naturally focused on Nancy to be the sexpot of the band.  (Because goodness knows, big girls can’t be beautiful.  Except when they look and sing like Annie Wilson, of course.)  It was all pretty demeaning, especially since these women already had a string of successful albums and tours behind them.  Why mess with a formula that clearly worked?

The bottom line was always how much money the record company could squeeze from them.  Eventually, Ann and Nancy got sick of it and quit acquiescing to the demands being made on them.  I don’t know all the details of their exit from the mainstream industry (I’m sure the label will say they got dropped because they didn’t sell enough albums anymore).  But these days, Heart records the music they want when they want to, and they do it looking however they damn well please.  That’s what I like about them.