Artists like Britney, Rihanna and Katy Perry are known for singing, and putting on a show, but not for doing heaps of actual songwriting. Brit singer Kate Nash wishes we could change that. Nash, whose snarky pop hit "Foundations" went to number 2 on the charts in the U.K., is a fan of a clever turn of phrase. In "Foundations," she sings:
Thursday night, everything's fine
Except you've got that look in your eye
When I'm tellin' a story and you find it boring
You're thinking of something to say
You'll go along with it, then drop it
And humiliate me in front of our friends
And in "Dickhead," she warbles:
Shiny floor, slippery feet/Lights are dim my eyes can't meet
The reflection that turns my images upside down so I can't see
Think you know everything
You really dont know nothing
I wish that you were more intelligent
So you could see that what you doing is so shitty
But when it comes right down to it, although there are plenty of women on the pop charts, the music business — and the songwriting world — is completely male-dominated. Right now, Billboard's top ten includes Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Pink, Britney Spears and Ke$ha. Rihanna and Lopez didn't write their songs; Britney's song was written by a few people, including Ke$ha; Gaga, Perry and Pink are listed among the writers for their songs. Most of the hit songs today are by guys like Dr. Luke, Max Martin and Red One.
It's similar in the UK, according to The Independent:
Despite the prominence of Nash and other female British singers such as Lily Allen, Jessie J and Florence Welch, currently only 14 per cent of the 75,000 members of the Performing Rights Society (PRS), which collects and pays songwriting royalties in Britain, is female.
Speaking with the Independent, Nash puts it this way: "A lot of women in pop aren't writing their own songs and there is this preconception that women are meant mainly as performers… A lot of people still ask me whether I write my own material, as if women are not capable of doing it. That is damaging to people's reputation."
That's why Nash is spearheading the Rock and Roll After-School Music Club initiative — to nurture young talent. "It's about showing people a path and saying: 'You can totally do this.' It can be as simple as talking about what I've done. People need to be told they can be themselves; a little bit of encouragement; to be told that they are worth something." Earlier this month Nash held a workshop in New York; a few days from now she'll visit her alma mater in Bournemouth, south England. It's a small start, but it's a start. Pop music is lucrative and global in scope, but what does it say about our culture if we're only listening to young women when they're giving their voices to someone else's words?
Kate Nash Launches Scheme To Get Girls Into Songwriting [Independent]