British invasion: girl power in modern music

By Jamie Primeau
Features Editor

Girl power didn’t go out with the Spice Girls in the ’90s: modern British songstresses like Adele and Ellie Goulding are carrying on the tradition. (Illustration by Kelly Primeau)

Dresses made from trash bags and bras attached to whipped cream canisters aren’t exactly the epitome of elegance.

No offense to the crew at the top of pop in America, but some singers overseas surpass them in classiness.

In light of my adoration of Adele and recent obsession with Ellie Goulding, I felt the need to reflect on why these Brits are more than a gimmick.

Their music is actually empowering and has that feel-good, “girl power” punch behind it.

There’s no need for them to refer to themselves as “monsters” or “Barbie” to capture attention, and they don’t encourage the general public to “get sleazy.”

Sure, I like Gaga, Nicki Minaj and Ke$ha as much as the next 20-year-old, but when someone has a voice as strong as Adele’s, simplicity is key.

I entirely understand the hesitation to hop on the “Rolling in the Deep” bandwagon — to say the song was overplayed this summer would be an understatement.

However, there’s a reason everyone seems to love her — the girl is good.

Adele is essentially the Taylor Swift of 2011, in the sense that her lyrics frequently appear on females’ Facebook statuses, where each swears the words were written just to describe her love life.

Not only is she relatable — she has an admirable attitude as well.

She speaks out against society’s obsession with weight in the October issue of British Vogue, saying, “I’ve seen people where it rules their lives, who want to be thinner or have bigger boobs, and how it wears them down. And I don’t want that in my life. I have insecurities, of course, but I don’t hang out with anyone who points them out to me.”

Though a majority of Adele’s songs are about men, she doesn’t necessarily need one in her life to be happy. In the same Vogue issue, she said, “I do get massively distracted when I’ve got someone in my life, which I can’t afford to do right now. Besides, no one treats me as well as I do.”

Voicing her vexations at an ex in the song “I Found a Boy,” she sings: “Look how you want me now that I don’t need you / I ain’t yours for no taking / You must be mistaken.”

Just like Adele, Goulding has no filter when it comes to letting loose her feelings and inspiring other women to do the same.

In her song “Little Dreams,” she sings, “You can break everything / but so what? / I can take anything.”

On elliegoulding.com, she says, “I wear my heart on my sleeve and am aware of how I’m feeling all the time, so it’s impossible for me to write words that are contrived or meaningless.”

Though Adele and Goulding are finally receiving recognition in America, they’ve been champions of the charts overseas for a while now, and rightfully so.

Another strong songstress deserving acknowledgment passed away this August.

Say what you will about her personal life, but Amy Winehouse’s talent was unforgettable, and it’d be a shame to exclude her from a list of England’s elite. She knew how to say “no” (even when it may have not been the best decision), and her sassiness made for memorable music.

Speaking of memories, certain infectious songs from the U.K. were my favorite even as a child.

Thanks to S Club 7 and the Spice Girls, I was convinced “there ain’t no party like an S Club party” as I pondered whether I really did “wanna zig-ah-zig-ah.”

Plus, the Spice Girls played a major role in popularizing the phrase “Girl Power” during the ’90s — so who cares if they classified all females into five categories?

In a way, these personas — Baby, Sporty, Posh, Scary and Ginger — shattered stereotypes, showing that there is no cookie-cutter image of a woman.

Whether a girl is athletic, adorable or slightly spooky, she can still be a superstar.