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Not A Pop Music Gender Gap – It’s Rock And Roll With The Problem

The Press Association has put its collective mind to counting up the number of weeks that male and female artists spent in the charts. The end result being that there is, for this year past at least, pretty much no pop gender gap. There’re two things – well, OK, three – to say about this. The fourth of these is what the heck? Seriously?

The third is that it’s a really very small sample. As they themselves point out when Ed Sheeran has an album out and people buy every track as a download – that now counting as a single these days – then there’s a gap. When he doesn’t then there isn’t. When our statistic is purportedly about the whole country and or population and yet the activities of one individual person radically change it then, well, no, this isn’t a good statistic. It might be perfectly fine counting of something but it’s not a useful measure of the population of anything.

The second is that this isn’t a measure of anything to do with pop at all. Who decides what gets into the charts? We do through our individual purchasing. Thus any gap that has been observed is a result of our decisions, isn’t it? To blame it on the boogie is logically wrong.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] The gender gap in pop music charts has nearly disappeared after string of hits by female singers, new data shows. British female artists such as Dua Lipa and Jess Glynne helped the biggest female artists of 2018 spend almost exactly the same amount of time in the top 40 as their male counterparts. The 10 biggest acts of 2018 spent a combined total of 638 weeks in the top 40 – 310 of which were songs by, or featuring, female artists. This made up 49 per cent of all songs in the charts, up from 35 per cent in 2017. [/perfectpullquote]

But the real point here is that pop music has never really had a gender gap. This was a pretty big hit for example:

But that’s pop music. Rock and roll – and by extension most of the forms that have come out of it, metal and so on – has always had a large gender gap. That’s because the musical form is essentially the tortured scream of testosterone.

OK, there’s a bit of adolescent angst here but it’s the male type:


Sure, written for a woman (Big Mama Thornton) and the lyrics work that way. But what’s Elvis doing other than giving us the purest distillation of maleness possible?

Pop music has really never had a gender gap nor problem. But certain subsets of popular music most definitely have, rock and roll being only the most obvious. The reason being that it’s an essentially male form of music. It’s more about the manner in which even the bitter tears of teenage males, their sweat, heck, their socks, are loaded with the male sex hormone. And that’s pretty much it really.

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