Five Reasons Why Kathleen Hanna is Wrong About Female Musicians Today
CNN Entertainment

Five Reasons Why Kathleen Hanna is Wrong About Female Musicians Today

CNN Entertainment published an interview on Tuesday with iconic '90s riot grrl Kathleen Hanna. For those out of the loop, Hanna was a member of the seminal punk band Bikini Kill.

A documentary co-produced by Hanna titled Who Took the Bomp? about her days touring with electro-punk group Le Tigre was released on DVD Tuesday. The '90s was a fertile time in rock music for bands beating the drum for various causes including global warming, concert ticket prices and a large spectrum of human rights issues from the LGBT community to women's equality.

In her interview with CNN, Hanna, a victim of childhood sexual abuse, talks about how the happy sound of Le Tigre's music juxtaposes with the message of the songs, which is often "fuck men, fuck rapists." She added it was the band's mission to talk to a broader group than just clueless straight white men.

Hanna then goes on to rip current female artists from Lady Gaga to Katy Perry for not wearing pants adding that, "Just because you're wearing a goofy hat doesn't make it performance art."

She finishes her critique of modern female artists by saying women don't even tend to play instruments anymore in the American Idol era.

Really? Because I kind of thought that the last few years have seen some of the best female rock instrumentalists around.

Here's a quick list of some female face-melters most male rock stars just can't hold a candle to. We're pretty sure Hanna has heard of most if not all of them; if she's got a problem with their musical bona fides, well, we beg to differ.

5. Screaming Females

Not an all-female band. Just fronted by one. And quite the shredder at that. With an imposing voice and spewing a wonky vibrato, lead singer/guitarist Marisa Paternoster plays with an aggressive style best described as Dinosaur Jr.'s J. Mascis meets Slayer's Kerry King. Dig this video for their 2009 song "Bell." Wait for 1:13.

4. Stella Mogzawa of Warpaint

This Aussie drummer from psychedelic-hipster band Warpaint plays drums with an unnerving deftness and scary precision. Listen to the band's eponymous song from their 2010 release The Fool, at about the 1:30 mark, Mogzawa comes in with a stop watch meets Morse code drum break that is every bit as groovy as it is surgical.

3. Leslie Feist 

A total package: A songwriter with a gorgeous, soulful voice, magnetic stage presence and chops 'til Tuesday. This Canuck, who once counted herself among the ranks of indie super group Broken Social Scene has toured solo for nearly a decade. In this clip we see her playing the song "Secret Heart" off her 2005 album Let it Die. No mere strummer, Feist accompanies her raspy, whimsical voice with a complex, picked-and-slapped guitar melody.  At about 2:52, she favors us with a dirty little lead.

2. Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley

The reigning queen of heartfelt indie rock, Lewis has proven herself a musical magnate both as a solo artist and with her band Rilo Kiley. Like Feist, she's a total package with a beautiful cooing voice, and shreds at an array of instruments from keyboard and guitar to melodica. Anyone who's seen her play live has undoubtedly witnessed her helm multiple instruments--often times during a single song. Enjoy a live clip of her playing the jam "Close Call" off Under the Blacklight. Her brassy howl on the chorus while deftly strumming away reminds us of the all the good that can come out.

1. Lady Gaga 
The queen of funny hats. A pop icon. Therefore easy to dismiss? We think not. Gaga is an accomplished pianist as she demonstrated when she performe
d on SNL in 2009. The fact that she had an elaborate set of rings affixed to her head only made things more complicated. She managed to show her playfulness when the costume interfered with her microphone. But with cool confidence she handled it in stride, and proceeded with a love song about New York City.


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >