Gloomy Chick Singers

From four newsgroup posts, dated April 12, 2008; May 5, 2008; and (two of them) August 19, 2012:

On Sat, 12 Apr 2008 12:49:53 -0400, Lawrence Watt-Evans wrote:

It’s been a running gag for, oh, maybe fifteen or twenty years now that my preferred genre of music isn’t rock or country or classical, but gloomy chick singers. There is much truth to this — but one must understand how I define this, and that I do include some cross-genre stuff.

“Singer,” okay, that’s a fixed requirement. Rappers and screamers and narrators and instrumentals don’t make the cut, but one need not be a solo act; bands with gloomy chicks singing lead count.

“Chick” — yes, for the most part they must be female, but I’m willing to include bands with a female lead singer even if they may also have a male singer or two (e.g., Dead Can Dance, Transvision Vamp). There are also certain male singers who I consider cross-genre — they’d be gloomy chick singers if they were female (e.g., Meat Loaf or Peter Gabriel).

Ah, but “gloomy” — there’s the tricky part. Yes, sometimes I really mean slit-your-wrists depressing, like Portishead, but there are plenty who are only gloomy occasionally, and some who are downright cheerful but still scratch the appropriate itch for me. I can’t really explain how this works, I just know it when I hear it. Heart, while being indisputably chick singers (and quite good), does not qualify, while Sixpence None the Richer, a Christian rock band, does. Berlin is borderline. Britney Spears does not qualify, no matter how messed up she may be.

Added August 19, 2012:

I’ve just bought a couple of MP3 albums off Amazon — I had a voucher to use up — that have added new artists to my list of gloomy chick singers, so I thought I’d repost the above as a reminder of my definitions.

The new ones are Sister Crayon and Jane Siberry — not that either is actually new at all, but I didn’t have them in the collection before.

Below is a list, originally compiled May 5, 2008 and updated August 19, 2012:

As of May 5, 2008: This now includes everyone I have an entire album on CD by; I haven’t included LPs, and there may be some tracks on compilation albums I missed. (All of them from the 1980s.)

Amos, Tori
Baez, Joan
Bel Canto
Black Velvet Band
Bonham, Traci
Branch, Michelle
Breeders, The
Brennan, Maire
Brightman, Sarah
Bush, Kate
Cardigans, The
Cassidy, Eva
Cline, Patsy
Cole, Paula
Colvin, Shawn
Concrete Blonde
Cowboy Junkies
Cranberries, The
Darling Buds, The
East of Eden
Etheridge, Melissa
Fahl, Mary
Fairport Convention
Fleetwood Mac
Flying Lizards, The
Fordham, Julia*
4 Non Blondes
Frampton, Dia (added August 19, 2012)
Gerrard, Lisa
Ghost, Amanda
Grace Pool
Gryner, Emm
Harris, Emmylou
Heart Throbs, The
Hickman, Sara
Hope Blister, The
Ian, Janis
Imbruglia, Natalie
Indians, The
Innocence Mission, The
Joplin, Janis
Keineg, Katell
K’s Choice
La Bouche
Lacuna Coil
Laing, Shona
Lauper, Cyndi
Lennox, Annie
Letters to Cleo
Lone Justice
Lovich, Lene
Maharry, Wendy
McCall, Jana
McKee, Maria
McKennit, Loreena
McLachlan, Sarah
Meg & Dia (added August 19, 2012)
Merchant, Natalie
Minogue, Kylie
Mitchell, Joni
Moonpools and Caterpillars
Motels, The
Myles, Alannah
Nicks, Stevie
O’Connor, Sinead
October Project
One Dove
One 2 Many
Paris, Anika
Private Life
Rhodes, Happy
River City People
Romeo Void
Rusby, Kate
Schmidt, Claudia
Shai no Shai
Shakespear’s Sister
Sharam, Max
Siberry, Jane (added August 19, 2012)
Siouxsie and the Banshees
Sister Crayon (added August 19, 2012)
Sixpence None the Richer
Sky Cries Mary
Smyth, Patty
Sneaker Pimps
Sonic Dream Collective
Sundays, The
10,000 Maniacs
Tikaram, Tanita
‘Til Tuesday
Tosun, Sylvia
Transvision Vamp
Trynin, Jen
Tunstall, K.T.
Tyler, Bonnie
Vega, Suzanne
Velvet Chain
Wilson Phillips
Winehouse, Amy
Xenia (added August 19, 2012)

I’ve added more since.


Borderline cases I’m tempted to include but have reservations about:
Ace of Base
Benatar, Pat
Bow Wow Wow
En Vogue
Franklin, Aretha
Jackson, Wanda
Jett, Joan
Reinhart, Haley (added August 19, 2012)
Tony! Toni! Tone!


Noteworthy non-gloomy chick singers in my collection:
Bangles, The
Carey, Mariah
Chiffons, The
Go-Gos, The
Jackson, Janet
Shirelles, The
Shore, Dinah


* I don’t actually like Julia Fordham’s music, but I have three of her albums — gifts from one of my fans — and she definitely qualifies as a gloomy chick singer under my definitions, just a bad one.

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