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Male vs. Female Bands

It's been mentioned to me from time to time that different bands are "male" acts or "female" acts. I don't mean in the literal sense like Heart is a female band...I mean, bands that seem to attract a certain demographic.

This one is tricky because we have to remember that gender is constructed. Taking into account what we know about men and women, I suppose it is possible to have "male" and "female" bands but there will always be a larger fan base that crosses over of course.

The other day, I was talking to Christian about my love for Def Leppard. I was going on and on as I do and then he said "Well, it makes sense. They are a girl band." That statement took me aback a little. I figured Def Lep have just as many male fans as female...then I got to thinking back to all those Def Lep concerts I've attended...and the crowd is usually heavily female. Sure, in the beginning when Def Lep was just starting as part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, the audience skewed male. Then came Pyromania and a bunch of MTV hits...and well, the women like the Leps! (I mean, I still want to sit in Rick Savage's lap!)

You already know my other big bands are Aerosmith, Poison and Motley Crue. Those acts, along with Def Leppard, basically make up the core of my music passion. I have other bands I love of course, but none come close to these four acts. Poison, many have argued in the past, are not metal or rock (to which I disagree of course). Others have said their fan base is largely female. Maybe it is the music, or it could be the band's looks - I mean, the guys in Poison sure did look good in the 80s. 

But what about the men? What is it about a male group that gets male fans going? Twisted Sister is probably a male act. Metallica and Anthrax are as well. So is Accept. Others would say new Rock n' Roll Hall of Famer Alice Cooper is a man's man sort of metal band - but everyone knows I love Alice and I am woman (hear me roar).

I don't buy into gender stereotypes. A woman can do anything a man does and vice versa and therefore I think the argument of gender bias as related to metal bands is weak. Still, I cannot ignore crowds and album sales...and if more males are at an Accept show...well, then, maybe Christian was on to something after all.

What do you think?

Reader Comments (26)

Interesting discussion. I do think of Def Leppard as a girl's band as I do Poison. They marketed themselves towards female fans and catered to them somewhat; Poison a lot more agressively than Leppard. That's why I will always love Roth-era Van Halen; there was something for everybody; both genders and all ages were invited to the party. You had Dave for the ladies and Ed and the gang for all the guitar-obsessed boys. Today that is changing and more girls are playing guitar and other instruments; a good thing..:) I'd love to see a straight forward, balls-out band with females in it. An AC/DC-esque band with girls in it would be awesome.

Let's face it; girls like cute musican boys; they always have, they always will. It's why many men grow up wanting to be in a band...;) Women fainted for violin virtuoso Niccolo Paganini back in the day as they did for Robert Plant in the early 70s, Bret Micheals and Jon Bon Jovi in the 80s and Justin Timberlake in the 90s and beyond. Boys like more 'boy' things...things like cars and loud guitars and freedom. The Who was typically a blokes band as are Metallica and Rage Against the Machine. Bands that want to 'stick it to the man' (Watch Jack Black's speech in the movie 'School of Rock') This doesn't mean that girls can't enjoy stuff like that or that they shouldn't; only that more boys seem to be attracted to this kind of music and certain kinds of bands.

Gene Simmons remarked on this in an interview. He said that you didn't want to market to just female fans, they are not as loyal as male fans and are fickle. He said that bands that cater to female fans fail. I think he's (mostly) right. But again, this doesn't mean that girls can't appreciate hard music. I have known many girls that can and do.
March 16, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteri'mtheone
Okay, my taste in Metal must be UNISEX, because I'm all over the lot...

But I'll take a stab since I'm comfortable with my feminine side, hahaha!!!

Here are some cliche Metal classifications off the top of my head for ya, though I'm just scratchin' the surface...

Chick Bands:

Pretty Boy Floyd
Faster Pussycat
Bon Jovi

Dude Bands:


Unisex Bands (Bands that transcend the Chick/Dude classifications and loved by Gals and Guys alike):

Def Leppard

NOTE: I like all of the bands above to varying degrees, less so Maiden, Metallica and particularly, Slayer, who I really don't like much at all, sorry, boyz. I do, however, like a song or two by those bands, as unbelievable as it may sound, but they're mostly covers, and only one, really, from Slayer -- a cover they claim to despise themselves, supposedly, which must be why I like it, hahaha!!! -- the Rick Rubin produced "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" from 1987's stellar "Less Than Zero" soundtrack and originally recorded by Iron Butterfly. More, inevitably to come...
March 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Oh, and I grossly omitted Van Halen (and many others, for sure). I agree with One, Van Halen transcends the divisionary cliches and goes into my UNISEX column.
March 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
Metalboy, Van Halen lives in all our hearts because they rule...;) What was it that Dave used to say? "There's a little Van Halen in everybody".

Interesting that you place Judas Priest (they are awesome in concert; seen 'em four times!) in the Unisex list. I always thought of them of more of a boy's band; never met too many chicks that like them. That's cool if they do though, Priest is awesome and Rob Halford has one of the best if not the best metal voices there ever was.

On a humorous note..since Halford's come out..and kudos to him for doing that; is anyone else waiting for 'United' to become a gay anthem? Because that'd be pretty cool. The gays need to step away from Madonna and Lady GaGa sometime!
March 16, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteri'mtheone
This IS a really interesting discussion. While I'll agree that a lot of women get into particular bands because they want to nail certain band members, I don't know that that means that "pretty" bands automatically appeal to women more than men. I actually know more women who swoon over James Hetfield than swoon over Bret Michaels (even though I still totally think that Bret is hot). His looks aren't going to appeal to everybody. Nobody appeals to everybody.

I'll add one observation: if you were to do a direct comparison, then Poison have written a whole lot more songs about sex than, say, Metallica ever did. Women DO tend to like bands that write songs about getting it on (in a nice way)... and who also throw in an occasional sensitive ballad so that we can feel like the singer is all vulnerable and we'd like to mother him. Bands like Slayer, Metallica, Megadeth... there's not much sexy talk going on there, and any vulnerability tends to be of the angry and dangerous type (as in, "my feelings are all hurt because my father was a jerk and so now I want to kill things").

At least where I'm from, Def Leppard is pretty unisex.

It's an easy thing to test: just go to a concert. As a female at Metallica, I was probably outnumbered 50-1. As a female at Poison, the odds were more like 1-5 in favor of the women. At Iron Maiden and AC/DC: definitely more men. At Bon Jovi: more women. Last time I saw Lamb of God headlining... I was one of about three women in the whole damn venue!

It all goes some way towards disproving Gene Simmons' whole theory that female fans are more fickle. Bon Jovi was something like the 3rd biggest grossing international tour last year.

It's not that women don't get angry, and can't relate to angry music (nor that men can't relate to sexy music), I think it's just that we find it more socially acceptable for men to express anger in their musical tastes... and for women to express lust that way. Apart from rock concerts, how many other situations are there where a bunch of females can display such open sexual desire? Crowds give everyone the protection of anonymity.

And for what it's worth, I never found Def Leppard sexy.
March 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKiki Chrome
And Steven Tyler has totally been beaten with the ugly stick.. but he's still sexy as hell.

Looks aren't everything.
March 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKiki Chrome
If we must label, I'd only choose Bon Jovi and Def Lepard as chick bands. Meaning, they've souled-out their root material and now cater to women. As a huge Van Halen fan, I'd add Sammy ere VH to this list (note how many titles in that era have 'love' in the song title). Really, how many mid-tempo love songs do we need? There's enough out there already - IMO. I would surely not put RATT or Faster in the chick band category (and it hurts me to say Poison too). They may have an appeal to women, but they don't cater to them in their songwriting like Bon Jovi and Def. Note: Dave version VH certainly does not fall in this category - thank goodness. Rather listen to Joan Jett and Pat Benatar anyday over Bon Jovi or Def Lepard.
March 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMEWIZEMGIC
Interesting topic! I look at it this way: if a band's popularity is due in large part to ballads, they are a girl band. Most of the big hair bands from the 80's therefore fall into that category, while bands like Metallica, Accept, Maiden & Priest fall into the 'guys band' category.

As Metalboy mentioned, there are definitely some crossovers like Motley Crue, Def Leppard & GNR, and I would probably throw Skid Row into the crossover category as well.
March 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBryon
Great comments!

Kiki! Great points! Chicks obviously go for the "Hot" singer.

Me Wise! You bring up an interesting conundrum -- Roth era VH vs. Hagar era VH. I was thinkin' about this last night after I threw up those columns above.

I would actually keep David Lee Roth era Van Halen in the Unisex category but I'm afraid Sammy Hagar era Van Halen should go in the Chick Band category. Sorry, boyz, but the latter really was more AOR than Glam Metal.

I could confidently stand by my claim that Hagar era VH are more of a chick band based solely on a certain female's undying love for Hagar. She frequents this site -- one of the usual suspects -- on a consistent basis, freely expressing her unconditional passion for Sammy here so often, it actually makes me jealous of Hagar!

Roth era Van Halen were one of the pioneers of the genre, even tho there are others who contend they are Classic Rock or Hard Rock. But I say they're all of those. But once Dave ixnayed and Sammy got on board, they became more AOR and thus, a chick band. Wimp Rock! Sorry, K***.

Interestingly, Hagar's solo material has way more b*lls (sorry, ladies) than his Van Halen stint's stuff. "Only One Way To Rock", "Three Lock Box" (Ugh!) and "I Can't Drive 55" (Hurl) are all evidence of his solo stuff is more of a guy thing. Check out "Bad Motor Scooter" from his Montrose days on YouTube, if you want to see BADA*S on full display!

I've also rethought Iron Maiden. As many chicks as I know who pretend or portend to love 'em, they really are more of a Dude Band. I think Kiki's observations at shows bear that out.

Kiki also brings up Tyler and Aerosmith. Tyler does look like an old drag queen now but there's no denying his brilliance and wisdom, the former in concert and the latter on full display on American Idol, much to many folk's chagrin.

I think Aerosmith transcend and go into the UNISEX category but lean CHICK BAND because they went so pop in the 80's. It was all over for me after "Done With Mirrors". They didn't "Let The Music Do The Talking" after that except for maybe "Shut Up And Dance" and "Jaded" of all things, sorry, Al. "Crazy", "Amazing" and "Don't Want To Miss A Thing" really are Chick Band evidence. "Dude Looks Like A Lady" and "Love In An Elevator" are just horrible tripe to me, though clever conceptually from a songwriting aspect, bloody awful, musically, IMHO.

Whitesnake -- The original Whitesnake were more of a Dude Band. Once they came out with the "Still Of The Night" album, with AORish ditties "Here I Go Again" and "Is This Love", followed by "Slip of The Tongue"'s "Now You're Gone" and "The Deeper The Love", they could be pegged as a Chick Band.

Still, they always managed to mix it up with b*lls out (sorry, again, girls) rockers like "Still Of The Night" and "Children Of The Night", etc. That combined with Coverdale's Classic Rock cred puts 'em firmly in the UNISEX category.

More to come...

p.s. Excellent observations, Bry. And great add with Skid Row now firmly ensconced in the UNSEX column, even tho Bach looked like a chick (and thus snagged tons), back in his prime.
March 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
I would slightly disagree on the Hagar stuff. 5150, Get Up and Good Enough alone can match his solo stuff is rockness. Ditto on Source of Infection from OU812. I will admit there were a lot of love songs from that era though. Van Hagar needed a Fair Warning Style Album and the only thing i feel came close to that in sound (5150 rocked but was a way more polished mix) was the 3 songs from the best of both worlds greatest hits set.

Here's one were would Boston fit into all of this? food for thought.
March 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShadow
Two interesting and discussion-worthy topics in a row! Just one of many reasons I love BBG.

My $.02:

I definitely agree with many of the comments above: although I've seen all of these bands live (some several times), I would definitely move Bon Jovi and Def Lep towards the chick category, and Slayer and Megadeth towards the dude category. Can all of these bands be unisex? Of course. But I saw a lot more women at Def Lep in 1988 than I saw at Slayer in 1991. I do think Metallica, Ratt, Skid Row, and even Posion (believe it or not) skew more unisex. I do see a lot of dudes rocking out during a Poison show, not to mention a lot of couples.

Then again, I saw the Anthrax, Megadeth, and Slayer show in Miami last fall, and there was a young lady behind me in the 5th row who was into Slayer more than just about every other damn guy in our section!

Agree with the wisdom of Metalboy on Hagar (solo = more dudes, Van Hagar = more chicks), Aerosmith, and Whitesnake. I have a female friend who is trying to talk me into going to M3 primarily to see Whitesnake, whereas most of my male friends couldn't be bothered... I'm contemplating it!
March 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGator
People tend to tell me I listen to bands that would be considered "chick bands" Mainly Def Leppard Bon Jovi, Poison, ya know so on. But I've been to 2 Def Leppard shows, there were more females than males BUT, it seemed that most of the females I saw were alone and had no wedding ring, so I guess that means Def Leppard is a single female band more? I dont know, I did see a lot of younger people too. Sometimes I wonder how many women like a band only cause they think the musicians in it are hot? I know a few women who grew up during the 80s who think the guys in Bon Jovi are hot and such, thats fine just dont say you like a band unless you, ya know, actually like the music.

Teenage girls these days think if the musicians are hot, the band is good -_- This isnt the 80s anymore where that was possible.

I dont know what would be a chick band and a dude band. I think Iron Maiden would definently be a male band. While the hair bands are either chick bands or bands that could go either way.
March 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike
Listed as chick bands:

Pretty Boy Floyd
Faster Pussycat
Bon Jovi

.... I must be losing my masculinity, as I love that list and spin them all on a regular basis.

I personally don't buy into the gender thing. Yes, I agree that some bands demographics are more skewed, but if you like it, listen to it. Good tunes are good tunes.
March 16, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterspence
@ Gator - I need to find myself a girl who would try and talk me into seeing Whitesnake. They are scarce up North in Canada.
March 16, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterspence
@Metalboy, ROTFL! However, you are correct. I was too young when VH first came out and even when Sammy first joined to really know what was going on. I have had more guys tell me they prefer SOLO Hagar over Van Hagar. Most ppl just never got over the change I guess. DLR was the ultimate front man (Hagar even gives him credit for that). Dudes wanted to be him and all chicks wanted to be WITH him. I will defend both VH era's being two different bands with different sounds till I die. I love them both!

JOvi is the biggest chick band in the world! Hell, who cares, they are also one of the richest and most successful bands in the history of the game too. Gotta give em credit! What did Dee Snider say, Bon Jovi started the birth of Happy Metal? haha

I think Def Leppard falls under the unisex category as well b/c of the early years. they didn't hit "chick" band until Hysteria, right?

Interesting topic indeed.

HAGAR above all others! haha
March 16, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkari
I would move Faster Pussycat out of the chick band list.

While they certainly were one of the 'make-up' bands back in the day (and Tamie still is today), they were more gritty and sleazy. Songs about bondage, lyrics like "rock my missle, blow me little dove" aren't in the same category as Def Leppard (that would definately be a chick band). Content alone should take FP out of that category...
March 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrian C.
Respectfully disagree about Faster Pussycat; most people I've known that like them are chicks despite the graphic lyrics. Lots of girls today like rap too and it's the same thing; very graphic and sometimes downright degrading lyrics. Faster Pussycat have always seem to market themselves to girls. Just an observation.

Have to agree about VH. When I talk about them I am referring to the classic lineup with Dave. Like I've said before, I like VH with Hagar but I love them with Roth. I think with Hagar they still appealed to both sexes but I do think they attracted even more female fans. When I was a kid at a Dave-era VH show there were mostly men in the audience with some females scattered in while there was quite a few more girls in the audience with Hagar fronting them when I went to see them again. Still far more dudes but girls were more prevalent. On a personal level I liked Sammy best with his original band Montrose.

In the end Eddie Van Halen is correct; "Music is personal and subjective; if you like it, then it's good." Regardless of who it's marketed to.
March 16, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteri'mtheone

What about Cinderella?

Love to think they go in the UNISEX category but, gotta say, they are leaning heavily into the Chick Band arena...

p.s. Spence, I'm with ya. I got tons of stuff by the bands I maybe a little unfairly lumped into the Chick Bands category, with the exception of Bon Jov., My Japanese press of "Slippery When Wet" will suffice in my collection, as far as I'm concerned, tho I do also like their cover of Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back In Town". But, really, that's all I need as far as those clowns are concerned and the stuff I do have of theirs is mainly just for archival purposes. I don't make a conscious effort to listen to 'em. They just never cranked the guitars enuff for me and never will. UNROCK! A "Chick Band" that DOES Rock for me, tho, is Pretty Boy Floyd. "Leather Boys With Electric Toys" is on my TOP FIVE FAVE METAL BAND OF ALL TIME list, in fact, coming in at #2 right behind ACCEPT! So, yeah, go figure, in terms of Chick vs. Dude, I'm not really in support of classifying the bands as such, which is why I through in the whole UNISEX aspect to the discussion. Nevertheless, it's still an interesting topic because, just as Christian and Allyson arrived at it, the tendancy to classify Metal Bands is constantly debated, for guys, particularly, dividing the bands into 2 main camps such as we've done here. Whether a band transcends such classification and can exist in both worlds, thus deemed UNISEX, for lack of a better term, is another fascinating aspect of the discussion.
March 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMetalboy!
@ Brian C: I think that's a good point, but (at least in my experience) chicks will still go nutty over a band that sings about sex in a sleazy way. It goes back to my point about lust and how few other social forums there are for women to express that lust. It doesn't always have to be about love and romance in order to pull a lot of female fans.

Case in point: look at early G'n'R. Very sleazy lyrics (to the point where they're a bit disturbing... "turn around b*tch, I've got a use for you") but they certainly pulled a lot of females. Back when anybody cared about G'n'R, I knew a lot more female fans than male fans.
March 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKiki Chrome
At the end of the day, it's kind of an academic debate anyway, isn't it? I suspect that most people here like most of the bands mentioned, without any real regard for whether they're "chick bands" or "guy bands". It doesn't mean you can't dig their music.
March 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKiki Chrome

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