I want to sing and dance and not argue with the lyrics
September 4, 2016 11:14 PM   Subscribe

I need more music that I can sing along to without cringing at patriarchal, car-centric, or otherwise ideologically questionable lyrics.

Features I would like in music include:
- non-male singers
- lyrics that don't privilege my straight white cis male perspective
- songs that aren't about love/sex/romance
- bicycles and boats (not cars and airplanes)

I tend to like music that is upbeat. The Female Sad Americana Music thread would have been right up my alley, except for the "sad" part. Sad lyrics are fine, but most of the time I want a happy, bouncy, or driving feel to the music.

Genre-wise, I often enjoy things that are a little bit folk, jazz, soundtrack, or contemporary pop.

Obligatory list of favored artists:
- Joni Mitchell
- Marian Call
- Regina Spektor
- Dar Williams
- Cloud Cult
- Boban Marković Orkestar (a Serbian brass band)
- The Spanish Harlem Orchestra
- Belle and Sebastian (sort of, sometimes)
posted by sibilatorix to Media & Arts (24 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Queen: Bicycle Race
posted by Michele in California at 11:27 PM on September 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

You may very well like The Beautiful South. Upbeat melodies, cynical lyrics, and non-patriarchal.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:38 PM on September 4, 2016 [4 favorites]

Janelle Monae. Especially Tightrope and QUEEN.
posted by azalea_chant at 11:42 PM on September 4, 2016 [13 favorites]

Aimee Mann
Ani DiFranco
Best Coast
Beth Orton
Concrete Blonde
Eleni Mandell
God Help the Girl
Jenny Lewis
Jonatha Brooke
Natalie Merchant
Rilo Kiley
posted by willnot at 11:45 PM on September 4, 2016

Sloop John B (male singer, but otherwise fits)
posted by SisterHavana at 11:57 PM on September 4, 2016

posted by Mizu at 2:43 AM on September 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

HOW has this thread got this far without Kate Bush being in it yet?

Ok don't worry my friend, we will fix this now. Prepare yourself for a healthy dose of weird, but be ready for the fact that Kate Bush is better than ALL your faves.

Here she is singing about being like a rubber band

Here's one about enjoying fireworks so much you become one (note blistering David Gilmour solo)

And here singing about how good music is like delicious fruit

This is one about the sky

Here's one about dancing with a man and you might think it's about romance HA NOPE

This is JUST A TASTE. I will admit that many of her best songs are about love/sex/romance, but even those are often distinctly non-male-gazey.

Dive in. If you want other special treats, check out her other collaborations with Trio Bulgarka, as well as ones with Prince and David Gilmour, and Michael Nyman popping in to do a cheeky string arrangement.
posted by greenish at 3:21 AM on September 5, 2016 [7 favorites]

Indigo Girls
posted by gt2 at 6:02 AM on September 5, 2016

posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:12 AM on September 5, 2016

Joan Armatrading!!!

She does write and perform songs about love and sex, but most of them are not "sad, sad, poor me" type songs. Instead, the narrator of the song is strong and independent (e.g., Drop the Pilot).

Another example that hits all your requirements except the last one: Rosie.

So many more, can't think of specific examples right now (need my second morning coffee), but give her a try!
posted by merejane at 7:12 AM on September 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

You really do want Janelle Monaé. She sings about robots! Cheerfully!
posted by chainsofreedom at 7:32 AM on September 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


They feature breezy melodies with a retro beat you can dance to, and hilarious quasi-Marxist lyrics that are about as far from conventional pop musings as is imaginable.
posted by ovvl at 7:48 AM on September 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Indigo Girls! Some of their stuff is about love/romance but definitely not all. Lyrics are always fantastic!
posted by snorkmaiden at 9:38 AM on September 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Like strong, bicycle-loving, socially conscious funny female vocalists? You need to check out Coco Love Alcorn here and also here. Those are the two bicycle-related songs that spring to mind, but she's got a fantastic voice and stage presence and lots of positive lyrics.
posted by kate4914 at 11:51 AM on September 5, 2016

Jimmy Buffet is a boat guy.
posted by SemiSalt at 4:05 PM on September 5, 2016

Oh, how could I forget Orinoco Flow by Enya?
posted by SisterHavana at 6:24 PM on September 5, 2016

To clarify, music recommendations need not hit every point on the list! That would not cover much music, I think. (But I REALLY enjoyed that first Coco Love Alcorn video. Thanks, kate4914!)

Many other good suggestions so far, based on the snippets I've had time to listen to. I'm looking forward to more good listening - and more suggestions, if y'all have them. Thank you!
posted by sibilatorix at 6:37 PM on September 5, 2016

Tegan and Sara - indie pop twins & LGBTQ activists
Plumtree - 90's all-girl upbeat indie pop best known for the comic/movie Scott Pilgrim being named for one of their songs
Courtney Barnett - indie rock, kinda grungy?

All meet your first two points; Tegan and Sara doesn't always meet the third one about not being about love/romance, but theirs is at least a lesbian perspective on it?

I... don't remember any songs from any of them about any kind of transportation? Not off the top of my head? The Plumtree song I linked is titled Racing Gloves but I'm pretty sure it's not about driving at all, unless it's a really, really obscure metaphor I'm missing.
posted by elsilnora at 8:04 PM on September 5, 2016

Poe's album Haunted is not all about romance and v satisfying to sing along with I think. Kimya Dawson has lots of fun songs to sing along with that aren't romancey, and also I just really, really love Erin McKeown in all her incarnations. She has a lot of extremely fun upbeat songs and some great covers, like everything on Sing You Sinners.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 8:14 PM on September 5, 2016


Check out Afrobeat. It's my favorite genre because a great deal of it is [political dance music]. How can you improve upon that??? A great primer is Africa 100.

The best primer, though, is Zombie by Fela Kuti. Absolute perfection. No wasted beat.

Another great one - Better Change Your Mind, William Onyeabor. Slow burn, but my god, what a wicked bass line.

1) Dance songs without lyrics/in a different language
Folk I Farta, Diskjokke
The Pulse, Digitalism
South of Dashur, Anubian Lights
Utopia and Chase, Giorgio Moroder (my dude!!! Italo Disco forever!!!)
Helix Nebula and Dawn Metropolis, Anamanaguchi
Do the Astral Plane, Parisian Goldfish, and Be Spin, Flying Lotus
La Ninya (Afrodub remix), John Talabot
Alors on Danse, Stromae
Ce Jeu, Yelle
Jounetsu no Daishou (Shinichi Osawa remix), Girl Next Door (starts @ 0:09, becomes transcendent @ 3:34)
The Girl in Byakkoya, Susumu Hirasawa
~~ALSO definitely check out K-Pop!
I Am The Best, 2NE1
Honey Funny Bunny, TVXQ (What, this isn't the best of Justin Timberlake or Ne-Yo?)
Abracadabra, Brown Eyed Girls
Whistle, Blackpink (Every sound wave is crafted at the atomic level to dig itself into your brain and light up the synapses for foot-tapping. Cool music video too.)

2) Dance songs without love/sex/romance lyrics
Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition is In), White Denim
Us v. Them (live at Madison Square Garden), LCD Soundsystem
Everybody's Got Something to Hide (Except Me and My Monkey), The Feelies
Dancing in the Dark, and Motion Sickness, Hot Chip
Common People
, Pulp
Jumbo, Underworld ("My thumb's on a tetris keyring...")
Odessa, Caribou (Um, romance not working?)
Distant Past, Everything Everything
Too Many Dicks on the Dancefloor, Flight of the Conchords (does hilarious parody count?)

3) Dance songs not about love/sex/romance + non-white and/or -male singers
Boyz, MIA (#1 song to get me to start bumpin'. Jimmy and World Town are fantastic non-romantic bangers too)
On the Regular, Shamir ("Don't try me, I'm not a free sample" - also, adorable music video!)
Help, Xenia Rubinos
Standing in the Way of Control (Soulwax Nite Remix), The Gossip
Lofticries, Purity Ring
Pro Nails, Kid Sister
Wicked, Gabin
Bra, Cymande
Great DJ, The Ting Tings
Bang, Rye Rye
Deceptacon, Le Tigre ("Let me hear you depoliticize my rhyme / ONE-TWO-THREE-FOUR")
Stand on the World (Larry Levan mix), Joubert Singers
Nightmusic, Grimes
A Place Called Space, The Juan Maclean (Halfway in, Ms. Nancy Whang introduces herself as the disco queen Daria - she's also fantastic in A Simple Design)
Knock 'Em Out, Lily Allen (definitely doesn't privilege your straight white cis male perspective)
Feelin' So Good, Jennifer Lopez (the rap parts are cringey, but the rest of the song is so rare for a Top 40 hit - she sings about how it's a good day because she's prioritized self-care and that therefore she has the potential to do great things! We need more people to be singing "I'm feeling so good/I knew that I would/Been taking care of myself like I should" as they're walking down the street)
My Country and Killa, Tune-Yards (doesn't privilege your straight white cis male perspective, part 2)
Gifted, N.A.S.A (Kanye West has surprising restraint here)
Dancer, Gino Soccio (Italo Disco!!!)
Chase The Tear, Portishead
Difficult, Uffie

3) Dance songs with female vocalists
Right Here, Right Now ft. Kylie Minogue, Giorgio Moroder (my girl Kylie and my dude Giorgio!!!)
Operator (DJ Koze remix), Låpsley
90s Music (M-Phazes remix), Kimbra (stah-ning opening to a song)

...why yes, I am a millennial.
posted by facehugger at 12:03 AM on September 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

I think you'll like Sarah Harmer.
posted by easternblot at 2:00 AM on September 6, 2016

Magyar folk diva Márta Sebestyén: with electronics, or without

Mostly rather cheerful while lyrically complex americanista Shawn Colvin; but steer clear of her melancholy album Whole New You. Start with Steady On, or Fat City
posted by bertran at 2:24 AM on September 6, 2016

Possibly you will enjoy St. Vincent. This is from her most recent tour, but her style (visual and musical) has shifted over the course of her (as yet somewhat short) career. I think it's all wonderful, though.
posted by curiousgene at 1:55 PM on September 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

« Older Did I imagine this lyric?   |   Room door hinges that will open to 270 degrees? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.