There are plenty of reasons to be impressed by members of the U.S. Air Force, and now you can add this to the list: Their ability to pull off a cover of Adele's "Rolling In The Deep" even better than the kids on Glee.
While that was clearly awesome and amazing, I can't help but think about the gender politics of band make-up. Why is it that we so often see a female singer backed by male instrumentalists? Why not a male singer backed by female instrumentalists? I've see men backed my men, women backed by women, but not men backed by women. I get why that's the case here (gender disparity in the air force being obvious), and I say this as a female singer who doesn't care to practice her instruments well enough to play them in public. It's not something I've ever really thought much about - where women have been historically excluded from political and economic spheres, they've been encouraged to play instruments, at least in European countries.
I'm not sure what my question is, but it's something I've wondered about a lot. In big Bands, the instruments were all played by men, but they'll happily have a kickass female vocalist. I remember being totally struck at a dance event this year because of how many awesome young women Glenn Cryzter had in his band - soloists even! On the sax, on the trumpet, on the trombone... it was really exciting, because big bands still are almost 100% male. Men who sing usually are also instrumentalists in the band, where as the female singer is like a prize pony trotted out for a few songs, and treated like a queen - which makes sense, as singing incurs more emotional risk, more exposure, more visibility, a bit of a harder job staying in tune and rhythm depending on the quality of the monitors, more direct strain on her "instrument", etc.
Taking this into account - is the issue that less men want to be singers, and thus those with musical ability flood the ranks of the instrumentalists? Singing/fronting a band is a lot more competitive, so really, it's a lot more practical to be a non-glory seeking rhythm player or bassist. Are men conditioned to prefer the relative "safety" of being an instrumentalist (even singing from this vantage point is more casual, gruffer, typically)? Or does it have more to do with how we view women as show pieces rather than functioning members of the band?