Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

One of the unfortunate realities when it comes to women in the music industry is that people–and it is unclear exactly who is responsible for this–are keen on pitting these women against each other, as if there is only room for one woman in any given niche. The recent death of two notable female artists, both of whom offered very different sorts of places within the world of popular music, but both of whom I greatly enjoyed, offers a chance to see the artificiality of the sort of rivalries that often exist within fans of artists who tend to think of popularity and fame as being a scarce resource, rather than something that offers the chance for many people to be remembered and to be immensely successful.

From childhood I have been a fan of Christine McVie, largely through her role as a vital figure in Fleetwood Mac. The classic lineup of Mick Fleetwood and John McVie on the drums and bass, with Christine on vocals and piano/keyboard, Lindsey Buckingham on guitars and vocals, and Stevie Nicks also on vocals was one that had immense and lasting global success as a group, but with three main vocalists and songwriters, there was always a competition for spots on their albums for songs, which ended up encouraging the prolific Stevie Nicks to have a successful solo career, and also led to some immense tensions over such songs as Silver Springs. Christine McVie herself only had three solo albums that I am aware of, with the only successful one commercially among them being 1984’s self-titled album, an underrated masterpiece, but within the confines of the group she provided an excellent set of songs that were frequently hit singles for the group and that also pushed the other songwriters of the group to match her excellent level and bring in their own contributions. It could not have been easy for her to try to keep the peace in her own family while performing with her ex-husband and also trying to smooth over the frequent tensions between her other two songwriters, a task that appears to have been ultimately unsuccessful, but if adults in the room are sometimes few and far between, the effort of making peace is a worthwhile one.

Christine McVie’s place within Fleetwood Mac is demonstrative of the way that there can be room for more than one strong and talented woman in the same group, so long as people are interested in what is best for the group and are not trying to hog all the attention for themselves. When Christine McVie was missing in the Fleetwood Mac template, as in the Say You Will sessions, there was a clear lack of quality in the deeper album tracks without having McVie’s contribution to get rid of the album filler that resulted from two prolific songwriters who insisted on having equal songs on a project. It requires a certain degree of selflessness to make peace between talented people who all want to contribute and want to shine. This is not an easy task, but we can cheer on those who do it and especially those who do it well.

There are other roads to fame, though, than being part of a massive and complicated rock band, though, and Irene Cara demonstrated that she had the tools to be remembered as a solo artist who nonetheless came up to fame through a combination of singing, dancing, and acting, a triple threat that led to her best-regarded songs being soundtrack cuts, namely “Fame” and “Flashdance (What A Feeling).” There are stories about the drama that hindered her career from the heights it could have attained, but those two songs are enough for her to be remembered as a pop songstress who openly acknowledged her immense ambition to be remembered. Her career is certainly one that I think is worthy of a deeper retrospective and I am curious to see how easy it will be to find her body of work in the streaming age given that the biggest hits of her career come from the early 1980’s when she was a very young artist.

There is not only room enough at the pinnacle of fame for more than one woman within a rock group as was the case with Fleetwood Mac but also more than one way for a female artist to reach and maintain fame. Even in cases where women as artists are in the same lane, there is room for multiple big-voiced women, more than one pop princess, more than one women who specializes in guest vocalists on dance tracks, more than one female-led rock bands, rappers, or any other number of genres. One of the underrated secrets to success for many people throughout their careers in any field has been the ability to collaborate with other talented people and to do more together than one could do on one’s own. Unnecessary drama and beefs keep this from happening and pit people who should be able to work together against each other in ways that are ultimately self-sabotaging and harmful to the best interests of those who enjoy art, and who have enough time and attention to celebrate a variety of artists, whether or not they are still alive and making music.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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