FKA Twigs

Wannabe Spice Girls once squealed about “Girl Power”, but that was about as credible as Helen Reddy singing, “I Am Woman”, wasn’t it?

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But look at the charts today, look at the artists being booked for world tours, endorsement deals and concert gigs, and they are all females- Beyoncé, Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift, Adele, Jessie J, Lorde, Charli XCX, Jenny Lewis, Izzy Azalea, Iona Pop, Ariana Grande and the incredible FKA Twigs.

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Forget Orianthi, a brilliant guitarist who the powers that be tried to turn into another plastic fantastic angst-ridden Avril Lavinge.

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Where, how and when did it happen and where, today, Lady Gaga and her meat dress seem older than Cher and Lady Madonna put together. At least, they’re high kitsch, but Gaga has, almost overnight, become totally irrelevant along with the old time divas- Mariah Carey, J-Lo, Tom Cruise. Well, you get the picture.

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So whose success started this trend? Adele? But didn’t Amy Winehouse happen before Adele and didn’t that one success of “Rehab” give birth to Duffy with every music company wanting their own Winehouse?

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Jeez, music companies have some fucking original thinkers on their payroll. It’s why they’re all down the crapper without an oar. And being such original thinkers, today, it’s all about having their own Adele, or younger Taylor Swift. But, there’s more to this new wave of Girl Power, which has grown up to be Female Power.

At its prime, the most number of votes on all those television karaoke contests came from housewives and the female prepubescent set who seem to have morphed into the most important, influential and rabid music fan: teenage girls. But this time around, many of these girls are older and wiser- much wiser- and not under the spell of boy bands except for One Direction, today’s Take That and Boyzone.

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These female music fans are not as easily led as those who blindly bought into false “idols”, the image of the Jonas Brothers, and, long before that, the Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, Take That, 98 Degrees etc- and before them, the Idi Amin-like Big Daddies of all boy bands- the Beatles.

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What does all this mean to new Rock bands and solo male artists? If the latter, unless Bruno Mars or Pharrell, nothing much, and for Rock bands, a pretty bleak future as there really isn’t a big enough market for them.

2012 Concert For The Rainforest Fund - Show

Where today are Killers, Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party, Fleet Foxes, Placebo etc? They’re MIA whereas Coldplay and U2 are on their last legs while the hugely boring Bon Jovi should have packed it in after “It’s My Life”.

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God bless Paul McCartney and the Rolling Stones. The fans gathered over decades and their incredible repertoire of hits won’t allow them to quit.

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Look at the Foo Fighters, one of the most overrated bands only given any oxygen because Dave Grohl was once the drummer for Nirvana. But heard their new record- “Sonic Highways”? It’s a piece of rubbish- ambitious, pompous and self-indulgent- with its concept of writing songs inspired by the cities they toured in the US. But Grohl’s songs are absolute waffle and weak. The only reason it’s getting talked about is because David Grohl is seen as some musical visionary. He’s not. He’s an overrated musician- the white man’s will i am with Foo Fighters being as tedious and bland as Black Eye Peas. Bring on the haters.

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Bridgestone Super Bowl XLV Halftime Show

Meanwhile, there is that last Adele record where every song remains a gem and continues to sell. One doubts most girls dream of growing up to be Adele- though they might love her music- but many wish to be Rihanna, Katy Perry or Taylor Swift and, maybe, Miley, whereas Mum and Auntie Flo wish they could look and twerk like Beyoncé for the Jay-Z in their lives.

Eminem and Rihanna perform The Monster on stage during the 2014 MTV Movie Awards in Los Angeles

Katy Perry

Taylor Swift Live In Shanghai

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But what makes this version of Girl Power truly powerful and not a cheesy advertising slogan is that these are all strong women with something relevant to say through their music about life, love, sex, equal rights, honesty, feminism, frustration, and the whole damn thing. Nicki Minaj is downright scary in the use and control of her music. It makes that time when she was a judge on American Idol with Mariah Carey seem daft or a moment of brilliance where new and old divas clashed with Minaj walking away victorious. Remember Carey saying she feared for her life after an altercation with Minaj? Now, that’s power.

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Of course, all this new Girl and Female Power has affected one of the few areas of business available to musicians- male musicians- and called gigs where needed are acts to cover the latest hits. And with almost every recognisable hit being by a female artist, the casting call has gone out to booking agents for female cover singer who can “Roar”, whose “Hips Don’t Lie” and are able to go “Rolling In The Deep”.

In a city like Hong Kong with its abundance of bars down the Wanchai area, each has a covers band fronted by a female singer doing note-perfect copycat versions of Top Forty hits- cover bands inexpensively exported from the Philippines and given work visas.

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These bands “have their place” in Wanchai, but would never be “accepted” anywhere else in the city as Hong Kong’s racist tendencies have all Filipinos seen as domestic helpers. And domestic helpers have no right being onstage- except in a girlie bar in Wanchai.

So, if gigging doing covers in the UK, the US, Europe, Singapore, Sydney, Melbourne- and finding it tough going, a long-term contract in Hong Kong could be a very lucrative answer.

There certainly are the opportunities here as the Western talent available are either sparse, mediocre, or way past their Use By Date for whom The Fat Lady has sung so many times she’s lost her voice.

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Hans Ebert
Chairman and CEO
We-Enhance Inc and Fast Track Global Ltd
www.fasttrack.hk