Taylor Swift V Ryan Adams: Who Wore It Better?
Okay, Ryan didn’t merely copy her. He did bring his own style to her music and lyrics.
But really? Maybe he deserves ALL the credit for his album’s profundity?
Gender ranking masculinity over femininity
Gender ranking strikes again.
Whatever you think of the two albums, the instinct to dismiss Swift’s album as “just pop” and Adams’ version as “artistic” is likely tied to the powerful ways in which the music industry, and our own experience of music, has a thumb on the scale in favor of men and masculine genres.
So says Prof. Lisa Wade over at Sociological Images.
Jacqui Frost over at There’s Research on That! says male musicians typically get more critical recognition and are seen as more legitimate artists.
When evaluating identical resumes, scientists may be significantly less likely to agree to mentor, offer jobs, or recommend equal salaries to a candidate if the name at the top of the resume is Jennifer, rather than John.
Men and masculinity are taken more seriously
Frost notes that those musical genres that are more associated with women are taken less seriously.
Reminds me of a 2002 Details Magazine cover asking (amidst other sexist things):
Can we ever forgive Justin Timberlake for all that (NSYNC) sissy music?
Girls like it. It can’t be any good.
I suspect that my own preference for Bruce Springsteen arose from listening to too many music critics who think that masculine music is just better.
So I was struck by how Adams’ critically acclaimed cover was described as Springsteen-ish.
And it’s interesting that we stereotype women as having more emotional depth — until it comes to male music reviewers reviewing male versus female music.
Is that because we are so shocked when men reveal emotion that the experience feels more gripping?
Valuing patriarchal suffering?
Or do critics value suffering over joy because patriarchy does? Riane Eisler (The Chalice and the Blade) points out that art in “dominance cultures” tend toward celebrating death and suffering (Jesus on the Cross; Taliban banning dancing, music and joy), whereas pre-patriarchal paleolithic and neolithic art celebrates life and joy (the Goddess giving birth — and plenty of dancing and music).
Love Springsteen, but he can be morose. And Adam’s cover has been described as:
(Holding) an underlying sadness… dripping with regret… lamenting lost opportunities… melancholic.
Full of excitement and joy … provided a mistakes-I-learned-from-and-grew-from hopeful reflection… celebrating her strengths and admitting her weaknesses and ultimately making them positive things.
Swift and Adams have both produced outstanding albums. Both have landed on Billboard’s Top 10, and some expect to see the two competing for a Grammy.
But how does it make sense to question whether Adam’s work deserves ALL the credit for his album’s profundity and all around excellency? When Swift created the original — and originally thoughtful and thought-provoking — work?
Posted on October 16, 2015, in feminism, psychology, sexism, women and tagged 1989, feminism, pop music, psychology, rock music, Ryan Adams, sexism, Taylor Swift, women. Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.