Back-up Singer Blues? May 15, 2007Posted by rachaelg in Destiny's Child, Dixie Chix, Dreamgirls, En Vogue, female relationships, Girl Power, Pussycat Dolls, Shut up and Sing, Spice Girls, the Supremes.
Though it’s peripheral to the main plot, one comment struck me while I was watching Shut Up and Sing. They’re all in the recording studio and Martie brings up the common phenomenon of a band-mate’s envy of the lead singer. She talks about how bandmembers will feel unappreciated and angry, but how the lead singer can threaten to go solo. After a while, Natalie (the Dixie Chicks’ lead singer) jumps in jokingly, but a tad defensively. Martie then quickly clarifies that she is only talking about male bands.
I found this interesting because there are clearly examples of this phenomenon among women’s groups. It happened to the Supremes, Destiny’s Child, and has even been fictionally re-created in the musical Dreamgirls. Was Martie just trying to soothe Natalie’s fears by reassuring her that she was happy with their arrangement? She seemed sincere about what she was saying, but the generalization seemed forced since it is obviously false that only male groups experience that problem.
Nevertheless, I think the Dixie Chicks are in the minority of content girl groups with a clear lead. The Pussycat Dolls might also fit into that category; everyone seems to know their place with Nicole up front. And then there are also the girl groups with no obvious lead: TLC, Salt N Peppa, Spice Girls, En Vogue, etc. The Dixie Chicks seem to accomplish a “girlpower” unity that is rare among groups with a strong lead singer.