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.)
Black Velvet Band
Darling Buds, The
East of Eden
Flying Lizards, The
4 Non Blondes
Frampton, Dia (added August 19, 2012)
Heart Throbs, The
Hope Blister, The
Innocence Mission, The
Letters to Cleo
Meg & Dia (added August 19, 2012)
Moonpools and Caterpillars
One 2 Many
River City People
Shai no Shai
Siberry, Jane (added August 19, 2012)
Siouxsie and the Banshees
Sister Crayon (added August 19, 2012)
Sixpence None the Richer
Sky Cries Mary
Sonic Dream Collective
Xenia (added August 19, 2012)
I’ve added more since.
Borderline cases I’m tempted to include but have reservations about:
Ace of Base
Bow Wow Wow
Reinhart, Haley (added August 19, 2012)
Tony! Toni! Tone!
Noteworthy non-gloomy chick singers in my collection:
* 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.