She Bop II is an encyclopedic work on the history of women in blues, country, folk, pop, rock, soul and world music. This 2nd edition updates the story until 2001 with major new interviews and an additional chapter on millennial trends like Girlpower, Alanis Morissette and Lilith Fair, soul singers like Erykah Badu and Lauren Hill, plus pop singers like Mariah Carey and Britney Spears.
In the Prologue the author tells of her own introduction to the music world in a girl group in Southampton, England in 1979. They were called The Catholic Girls. Following this, in the Introduction O'Brien details some key changes for women in music since the publication of the first edition of She Bop in 1995.
Based on more than 250 interviews conducted between 1984 and 2001 plus many secondary sources, She Bop is not a simple chronological history but rather an exploration of themes, trends and genres. It looks at how women have negotiated their place in the music industry, the importance of role models and even the internecine rivalry.
It examines the issues that have challenged women from the blues through 1940s swing to MTV at various stages in the development of pop, for example how they deal with stardom, how they negotiate everything from contracts to image, the genres in which women predominate and women on the business side: managers, executives, publicists, journalists, producers and A&R people. In addition, the author discusses women as consumers of music.
The chapters are as follows:
Riffin' The Scotch: From Blues To The Jazz Age
Stupid Cupid: Dream Babes In 1950s Pop
The Real Thing: Motown, Spector And 1960s Svengalis
Can The Can: Whatever Happened To The Rock Chick?
Final Girls: Punk, Performance Art And PMT Pop
Ladies Of The Canyon: Female Singer/Songwriters Of The Grand Hotel
Lipstick Traces: Madonna, Manipulation And MTV
She Wears The Trousers: Artistry, Androgyny And The Lesbian Question
I Wanna Dance With Somebody: Deconstructing The Disco Diva
In Search Of Our Mothers' Gardens: The True Story Of Women In Rap And Reggae
Oye Mi Canto: Hear My Voice - Women In World Music
Talkin' Tough: The Enemy Within - Women And Protest Pop
Talkin' Business: Nuts `N' Bolts And All The Necessaries
Girlpower: The New Generation
The book concludes with 15pp of Notes, a Selected Discography, Selected Bibliography, Index Of Names and Index Of Albums and Singles. There is one color plate with photographs of Madonna, Mary J Blige, Debbie Harry, Billie Holiday, Alanis Morissette, Lauren Hill, Janis Joplin, Britney Spears and Diana Ross, plus many black & white photographs throughout the text.
Because of its length, this is quite a daunting tome but it soon enough becomes an engaging read. There are some factual errors, probably because of sloppy editing (the 6-day War took place in 1967 not 1957) and a few other contradictions often on the same page. Also, O'Brien's feminist theorizing can become tiresome at times, but her knowledge and enthusiasm for the music ultimately make She Bop II a gripping read. It is also a superb reference work.
Angry Women in Rock: Volume One
She's a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock and Roll
We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The True, Tough Story of Women in Rock