Women and Popular Music explores the changing role of women musicians and the ways in which their songs resonate in popular culture. Sheila Whiteley begins by examining the counter-culture's reactionary attitudes to women through the lyrics of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. She explores the ways in which artists like Joplin and Joni Mitchell confronted issues of sexuality and freedom, redefining women's participation in the industry, and assesses the personal cost of their achievements. She considers how stars such as Annie Lennox, Madonna and k.d. lang have confronted issues of gender stereotyping and sexuality, through pop videos for 'Justify My Love' and 'Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)', and looks at the enduring importance of the singer-songwriter through artists such as Tracey Chapman. Lastly, she assesses the contribution of contemporary artists including Tori Amos, P.J. Harvey and Courtney Love, and asks whether the Spice Girls are just a 'cartoon feminist pop group' or if they provide positive role models for teenage girls.
Sheila Whiteley is Reader in Popular Music at the University of Salford. She is the author of The Space Between the Notes (Routledge 1992) and editor of Sexing the Groove (Routledge 1997).