Girly Rock


Music has gotten very girly, said Bono.

What exactly does the aging tax dodger mean by this?

I've been trying to unpack that, and have ended up with several questions.

  1. What did Bono mean by "Girly"?
  2. What is the actual state of current music?
  3. Who the fuck made bono an authority on the subject?

Let's start...

[1:What did Bono mean by "Girly"]

It's hard not to read that as a pejorative. It's clearly something he sees as a negative change and something he dislikes. So, what is girly...

Are we talking about music aimed at women, or women of a particular age? Teenagers?

It's a strange term. It's infantilising. It's exactly what Bono isn't. Is he saying that music has gotten very "not Bono"? It's not aging and male. Bono is aging and male. Bono is not girly.

I could take a detour here and give him the benefit of the doubt and explore the idea that perhaps he's talking about a music industry that spends a higher percentage of marketing budget targeting teenagers than any other demographic, despite the over 45s being the biggest market force. But he didn't really say that. He said that music has gotten girly.

Because it was manly before. If you look at footage of the Beatles, the audience is full of hundreds of screaming men ripping their shirts off and offering each other outside for a fight to settle who fancies George the most.

What Bono means is indistinct, atavistic at best, but you can only conclude that it has something to do with women in the music industry.

[2:What is the actual state of current music?]

Bono listens to all music. Not a single record is pressed or CD burned or MP3... Rendered? Without him listening to it. His finger is so firmly on that pulse it has become his own pulse.

He's aware that there is no hard rocking music by women or for women. Or by men, for that matter, because men are making girly music too.

[I was tempted to start listing bands and performers with serious credentials here. From St Vincent through to the Acid Kings, but I'm pretty sure that everyone except Bono knows at least one current act that totally undermines his argument]

I wonder if he's talking about mainstream music or all music. If he's including hardcore, the various guises of metal and rock, rap, soul, electronics, dance, jazz... All of those clearly gendered forms of music...

Or maybe, just maybe, he's talking about the only music he listens to... His own.

Perhaps, in a deluded state of egotism, Bono has suffered the revelation that his own brand of luke-warm, inoffensive, middle of the road ear-toss is "girly" and he's mad as hell about it.

[3:Who the fuck made Bono an authority on the subject?]

Bono did.

He sees it so clearly on his 100-inch Sony Bravia (through tinted shades that throw the colour balance right off) and hears it so clearly on his three grand Bang and Oulafsen stereo CD player.

He clearly sees himself as the last angry rock musician alive. He's angry because he's a rich white male, part of the establishment he wanted to take down in his youth. His band has turned into a second rate covers band of U2. He knows it, deep down and he's hurting and furious.

But he can't be the one at fault, it must be absolutely everyone else. Particularly those that aren't anything like Bono. Particularly young women. Girls. Yes, they must be to blame for his disappointing music and towering lack of relevance.

[4:Bono's Manly lyrics]

"You know some places are like your auntie/But there’s no place like Miami -- Miami

"I didn’t give anyone else a choice/An intellectual tortoise" -- All Because of You

as Adam_Y on mastodon