The Forgotten Art of Girl Bands. In Praise of: Elastica…

In a time where the music industry is so heavily dominated by solo female singers and teen-oriented boy bands; now seems an appropriate time to say, “Hey Britian, where did all our girl bands go?” I’m calling on society to collectively take a step back, look out over the habitually auto-tuned horrors is has created, and conduct a solemn minute of silence  to mourn the death of the glorious, timeless genre of ‘Girl Band’.

Now, let’s get this clear: When I say girl band, I do not mean your standard Pussycat Dolls, Girls Aloud or Little Mix. To me, a real girl band is not an all-singing, all-dancing, giggly, manicured mess. I’m calling for the return of grungy, guitar-playing, intelligent women with something to say. As a Doc Marten-wearing teenage girl, I want a band who I can look up to. I want to see the unfamiliar sight of a woman wearing no make up, thrashing away on a bass guitar when I flick through my TV’s music stations on a Saturday morning. You might say that my ideals of a Riot Grrrl-esque underground music scene are outdated, and yes, I agree that my previous description of my perfect band would probably not get a record contract with any money-obsessed music companies nowadays…but wouldn’t it just be nice? Music for the sake of…just…music!

This is why I couldn’t believe my luck when I first discovered Elastica, browsing through YouTube on a rainy afternoon around six months ago. The first video I saw was ‘Waking Up’ and I instantly thought “So THIS is where all the cool girls are!” This three-quarter female 90s band epitomise everything missing from modern music, and make me eternally jealous not to have been a teenager in the nineties.

Formed in 1992 by ex-Suede band members Justine Frischmann and Justin Welch, and later completed with the addition of Donna Matthews and Annie Holland, Elastica are, in my opinion, one of the most over-looked and underrated band of the last twenty years. Although initially very successful in their own right, Justine Frischmann became undervalued in the media as simply ‘Damon Albarn’s girlfriend’. This must have become endlessly frustrating for such a talented, independent songwriter as herself, who came up with such brilliant songs as Stutter, Waking Up, Connection, Never Here and, my personal favourite, the cheekily suggestive, Vaseline. 

 I am proud to say that Justine Frischmann is my number one role model, but ask any other teenage girl now if they think Elastica are still culturally relevant, and you’re certain to receive the reply “Who are Elastica?”. I believe that her image, unapologetically boyish, confident and cool – the original tomboy, never really made an impact on as many girls as it should have done. This could have been due to the unrelenting aesthetic criticism she received from the tabloids, along the lines of ”she’s too boyish to be dating music’s biggest heart-throb”. But one day, when everyone finally gets round to not judging people on how they look, they’ll realise that her words are more important than her clothes.

The single thing that makes me appreciate her the most is not the fact that her music gives me hope for humanity; the cool, punky vibe she exudes; or the way only she could pull off that hairstyle, but it’s this quote:

  “The girl who chooses to look boyish; it’s the intelligent boy’s choice”.

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