By Chelsea Haith
My third favourite thing about blues-rock outfit Alabama Shakes is the fact that front woman, Brittany Howard, is so incredibly sexy. My first and second favourite things are the way she plays the guitar and the band’s single ‘Don’t Wanna Fight’.
A plus-size woman of colour with a tattoo of Texas on her bicep and a new side-cut curly hairdo, Howard destroys the norms that dictate who gets to be famous and why. And that’s just a different kind of sexy to Nicki Minaj’s arse.
I don’t want to get into the empowering and important feminism of Nicki, about which there is much to be said. Rather, I want to talk about the music industry and about market demands. I want to be angry about the pressure those demands place on female lead singers and solo artists (Avril Lavigne post-‘Girlfriend’, anyone?).
In Brittany Howard we have a front woman that rejects Euro-centric beauty standards and by all normative conceptions of beauty and what sells, should not have become famous. And yet she did and still the world turns. See, it’s not so hard to chip away at the patriarchy.
Colbie Caillat attempted an empowering white feminist critique of the standards of beauty in her music video for her single ‘Try’ but it does not at all address the problem of sexualisation of female artists. Caillat is white, slender and wholesome looking without make-up on. Even Miley Cyrus challenges those standards of feminine beauty better than Caillat does (now that Miley’s not so wholesome looking anymore anyway).
But Brittany Howard takes it to a whole new level, giving zero f**ks about what anyone else thinks and playing the hell out her guitar. And that makes me happy. I am so glad that Alabama Shakes have broken through the dirty, smog-filled clouds of music industry commercialisation and objectification of frontwomen into the sunlight wonderland of appreciation for musical genius. That is as it should be. Happy, thank you, more please, music industry?