I'll be honest. Every time I see a new Rihanna single shoot effortlessly to the top of every chart, hurdling over dozens of often far worthier songs that have struggled to make whatever impact they've managed far more than their merit ought to require, it upsets me. "We Found Love" is a fine song, possibly even a good one, but in no infinitesimal way is it superior to at least a dozen other singles currently out that I could name on demand from the top of my head, and a couple dozen more of which I might need to be reminded a bit. I've made known my strong disagreement with the current practices of mainstream radio stations, the vast majority of which are owned by Clear Channel Communications, and I won't detail them here, but I'm getting awfully close to the "mad as hell/not going to take it anymore" platform and Rihanna and Calvin Harris aren't helping things.
Now, I have also stated my belief that popular music is not a limited industry wherein one act's success by definition reduces that of the rest. In general, I stand firmly by this view, but I wish to amend it slightly from this point forward. While the music industry in general is in theory an industry of limitless potential for success, mainstream radio is operated in such a way that space is in fact limited - and, I would argue, tremendously and excessively limited - by the policies and practices of Clear Channel et. al. (to be fair, airtime is technically limited by the laws of nature, but those limits don't come close to affecting anything in the current practice). Therefore insofar as mainstream pop radio is concerned, any one single's success limits that of any others, or in layman's terms, when Rihanna, Adele, Katy Perry or Lil Wayne releases a single that is actively promoted by radio stations, people like Robyn, Kylie Minogue, and, often, even Britney Spears get told to take a hike and the public gets to be bombarded with an endless deluge of the same four or five songs ad nauseum and also a fairy dies. "We found love in a hopeless place?" Rihanna hasn't seen a hopeless place in years and wouldn't know one if it bit her in the behind.
The latest Rihanna riddle got me thinking about all of the good female pop and dance artists out there right now who have gotten a fraction of the attention and opportunity they deserve, if that at all. Then I remembered that unlike Clear Channel subsidiary stations, or corporation-owned music media outlets, or supposedly "independent" producers of entertainment journalism whose objectivity is compromised by the for-profit conglomerate to which they belong (cough cough),* I don't have to play along if I don't want to because...well, lots of reasons, but the point is I do have this platform of my creation, however modest, from which I can (and doth) protest as much as methinks necessary. That all sounds really annoying and Lyndon LaRouche-y, I know, but what it all boils down to (my friends) is that even if everyone else and their mother's hamster is talking about Rihanna and Adele and...that's kind of it, really, I get to talk about whoever and whatever songs I damn well please. So I started making a list of these underrated women of pop, and my original idea of ten grew to the countdown that will be rolled out over the next few weeks and revised annually henceforth.
Ladies and gentlemen, I hereby present the inaugural Underrated Women of Pop countdown, featuring 25 ladies who ought to be much bigger than they are. Comment, argue, suggest your own, and most importantly, spread the word!!