As growing girls (and boys) we were rarely exposed to anything that didn’t come from mainstream television or radio, so the Top 40 and the pre-watershed TV shows with musical guests formed the majority of our first visual encounters with popular music. Whether this was an early 1970s brush with Suzi Quatro or Rock Follies, or a mid 1990s MTV exposure to someone like Avril Lavigne, they were often the first glimmers of something that we recognised as resonating within ourselves. After a million boys it was a revolution to see girls playing in bands.
Within the dirge of major chart bound sounds, these nuggets lodged in our brains and played an important role in who we were and what we might become. Without Quatro, many of us would never seen a girl in a band until Gaye Advert, Poly Styrene, The Slits or Joan Jett. But what if those girls had never seen Quatro? Would we have even had The Runaways or The Adverts? And the girls that followed, in bands like Delta 5, Dolly Mixture, or The Gymslips grabbed that baton and ran even further with it in the wake of these punk forerunners.
And so it goes on. Children of the nineties found their Quatro in Avril Lavigne. It was a trick possibly lost on those of us old enough to be swanning around the Good Mixer and debating whether to form a Britpop band, but to the younger mainstream audience, it was Avril who was life changing.
Some of us may be too old and too jaded to see today’s nuggets, but for younger minds these first glimpses of a potential future selves are as important as ever. Today’s trends put less emphasis on the obvious business of grit or rock and roll, and more on appearance, virtue signalling and status embellishments, but lets hope that today’s young minds can still see through the mud, to find their gold.
This post is an excerpt from an article originally written for Blogzine 8. It got spiked at the last minute because there was no more space. The printed version Blogzine 8 is absolutely jam packed with even more interesting things and features exclusive interviews with Cynthia Sley & Pat Place of Bush Tetras, Peaness, Michelle Brigandage, Karen Yarnell of the Gymslips, and Rock School’s Deirdre Cartwright. Available to pre-order now and officially published on November 16th 2021. Available from our store page HERE
5 thoughts on “Why The Mainstream (sometimes) Matters”
My friend Paula took up the bass because of seeing Suzi Quatro on TOTP. Seeing a woman playing an instrument, dressed all in black leather instead of the usual frock, made a massive impact on her.
Thanks Michael, yes the impact of Quatro was massive and in ways that she probably still doesn’t quite realise! Lene
Did Paula go on to be in a band? Does she still play?
No, she doesn’t play anymore. This reminds me I haven’t been in touch with her for ages.
When you get in touch, tell her to dust off that bass from us!