Monday, January 26, 2009
The opening track on the self-titled April 1993 Bikini Kill seven inch features a pre-Le Tigre twenty-something Kathleen Hanna. With a shrill, high-pitched, and distinctly yet deliberately girly screech, she exclaims “this is new radio!” This radio show takes its name from this particular moment and aims to interpret what Kathleen proposed and functionally apply it. From here, I call attention to an academic discourse that calls itself “girl studies,” a sort of sub-genre of feminism, which Gayle Wald (1998) asserts, “constructs girlhood as a separate, exceptional, and/or pivotal phase in female identity formation” (Wald 1998: 587). I am concerned with the way girldom is constructed within musical genres, using a diachronic approach to highlight various expressions of girlness. By playing music, which has creatively involved females, and specifically exhibits “girl” attributes, many musical moments which have come to occupy the mainstream musical consciousness may be interpreted with a new understanding of musical and cultural history. Highlighting a different genre and/or theme each show, I will produce a sonic experience that forces us to rethink the way we interpret “girl” music and what it actually means to embrace girldom through a musical paradigm. I emphasize the fact that re-contextualizing historical musical consciousness will allow us to read the history of popular twentieth century music to include women as huge creative forces which affect the current musical trends today. I will draw from various regions locally, domestically, and internationally, and choose a different genre, region, and time period to share music that involved females and emphasized an adherence to a specifically girl identity. By showcasing music as diverse as all-girl swing bands from the 1940s, to 90s female hip-hop artists, to sixties French yeh-yeh girl pop, we can investigate the way race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and class affect various constructions of the “girl” in music and produce a dynamic and appreciative understanding of a specifically girl identity. Following Kathleen’s lead, "This is New Radio" showcases music that has creatively involved girls, allowing for a new kind of radio that embraces female, and specifically, girl musical artistry juxtapose the majority of musical discourse which constantly points out an inauthenticity and artificial-ness of women involved in the music-making process.