A coworker recently told me about an article about applying the Bechdel Test to music. For those of you unfamiliar with the Bechdel Test, it's a basic test about gender bias in a film. A film passes the test if 1) There are at least two women 2) They have a conversation 3) They talk about something other than a man. Sadly, most films fail this test.
Pitchfork came up with an alternative version of the test. Instead of movies, one applies it to a playlist of music. The rules are below:
- "Have at least one female-identifying lead performer, performing as themselves or a female-identifying likeness
- Involve the female self, another woman, other women or otherwise an implied female audience in the song’s lyrics
- Have a central lyrical topic or theme that’s something or someone besides a man."
It's a low threshold but it's quite hard. I've been trying to put together a playlist of ten songs for the past 45 minutes. I've come up with the following list. It's not a perfect list nor the necessarily best songs by the artists. But I think there is something to this test.
Carolina Chocolate Drops - "Leaving Eden"
Ani De Franco - "Jukebox"
Neko Case - "Margaret v. Pauline"
Heart - "Dreamboat Annie"
My Brightest Diamond - "She Does Not Brave the War."
Nellie McKay - "Mama and Me"
Ditty Bobs - "Sister Kate"
Anna & Elizabeth - "When I was a Young Girl"
Nina Simone - "Four Women"
Erin McKeown - "The Lions"
Try it yourself and see how you do. Here's the original article: http://pitchfork.com/thepitch/699-a-bechdel-test-for-music/