Note: This series originally appeared on Facebook in a slightly different form, Aug-Sept 16.
This is the seventh and final female leading voice to appear. I liked plenty of music sung by women in my high school and college days, but my interest in female vocalists greatly escalated while in grad school: it was then that I discovered Suzanne Vega, Kate Bush, Toni Childs, Tracy Chapman, Jane Siberry, Sinead O’Connor, Elizabeth Fraser of Cocteau Twins, Natalie Merchant, Basia, Marti Jones, Indigo Girls, Tori Amos, Carlene Carter, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Lucinda Williams, and Kirsty MacColl, among others. (This has continued to a reasonable extent, with relatively recent interest in female singers such as Regina Spektor, Neko Case, and the sisters Söderberg in First Aid Kit.) I even made a mix tape solely with songs by female artists/singers around 88-89 (still have it, James?).
In many ways, though, I wonder if Aimee Mann might be the best of them all. Even though I liked this song very much in real time, the vocals now sound thin and not entirely in tune. Her growth as a songwriter and singer was noticeable on the second and third ‘Til Tuesday albums, and she kept right on through the next 20+ years in her solo work. I would have been plenty surprised if in 1985 you’d told me that she was the one whose new releases I was still buying 30 years later.