October 11 marks International Day of the Girl, a day created by the United Nations (UN) that highlights the challenges girls face all over the world. The day “focuses attention on the need to address the challenges girls face and to promote girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.” Events are held all over the world by humanitarian organizations, nonprofits, and governments. Here at UDOU PH we commemorate the day by listening to the girls of music who grew up to be strong women.
From being a founding member of all-girl rock band the Runaways, to being a solo artist, and to finally fronting the Blackhearts, Joan Jett’s title as the “Godmother of Punk” suits her perfectly. She’s also considered as the “Original Riot Grrrl,” an underground feminist punk movement that combines feminist consciousness and punk style and politics. A true feminist icon, Joan Jett is living proof that women can (and will) rock just as hard as men do.
Blondie frontwoman Debbie Harry quickly became a punk icon thanks to her particular physical features and two-tone bleached-blonde hair. Even though they named the band after the term of address men often called Harry, they went as far as creating a button campaign with the slogan “Blondie is a group” after they realized a majority of the fans thought Harry’s name was actually Blondie. However, her persona of cool, sexy, and smart reminds us that you can have all three qualities at the same time. Dumb isn’t cute!
Smith’s debut album “Horses” opens with one of the era’s most memorable lines: “Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine.” Her weaving of rock and poetry garnered her the title “punk poet laureate,” a song with Bruce Springsteen, and a slot in the 2007 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Her memoir “Just Kids” won the National Book Award and is currently under production for a television series. She’s been laying low as the years pass but she’s turned into one of music’s most appreciated artists, with The Smiths, Sonic Youth, and U2 citing her as inspiration.
The best word we would use to describe Karen O is unconventional. Her crazy on-stage antics mixed with bizarrely wonderful outfits has made her one of modern rock’s best frontwomen. Her talents move beyond music; she’s directed a handful of music videos for bands like the Liars, Tiny Masters of Today, and Foetus. Karen O isn’t scared to bare her bones while performing, even if that means being called pretentious by a few unnamed critics.
Even if she became a member of the notorious 27 Club, every frontwoman that came after has to thank Janis Joplin for her dedication to putting women on the map. She rose to fame after her psychedelic rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company performed at Monterey Pop Festival. After leaving the band, her success as a solo artist continued and her electric stage presence became untouchable. Her untimely death turned the music scene upside down and tore down the idea of rock being a boys club.
Girls in music are just as powerful as boys—don’t let anyone tell you any different. Happy International Day of the Girl, everybody!