One thing is for sure: 2010 was an interesting year for pop music and gender. We saw Lady Gaga’s vulva, heard Eminem threaten to set someone on fire, and watched Kesha top the charts with a song about pedicures, parties and brushing her teeth with hard alcohol. So did the top songs of 2010 break boundaries, challenge norms and advance the cause of gender equality? Or have Eminem’s threats and Kesha’s tik-toking set feminism back?
Admittedly, the goal of most pop musicians, first and foremost, is to advance the cause of pop music, and that means selling an image and selling records. But musicians like Lady Gaga and Eminem have purported to stand for something beyond money-making. And more than one blogger has cast Kesha as a feminist icon. So what do you think of Billboard’s top songs of 2010? One NPR blogger’s says 2010 was the year of synth-driven songs about drinking and dancing, often done in conjunction. Well, yeah. But what do last year’s top ten songs say about women, beyond that some of them can rock the fishnet tights?
1. Kesha – Tik Tok
2. Lady Antebellum – Need You Now
3. Train – Hey, Soul Sister
4. Katy Perry feat. Snoop Dogg – California Gurls
5. Usher feat. will.i.am – OMG
6. B.o.B feat. Hayley Williams – Airplanes
7. Eminem feat. Rihanna – Love the Way You Lie
8. Lady Gaga – Bad Romance
9. Taio Cruz – Dynamite
10. Taio Cruz feat. Ludacris – Break Your Heart
By the way, artists of color and white artists seem to share the top 10 pretty evenly, with artists of color occupying four slots, plus a couple appearances on other songs, and white artists as the primary musicians on six of the top ten. Then again, Taio Cruz gets counted twice, and the chart looks pretty white until you get down to Snoop Dogg’s appearance at number four and Usher at number five. And women claim their own fair share of top ten spots. So what, if anything, do the pop music charts have to do with race, gender and equality?