And here we are, dear readers – the second and final chapter of our journey through Australia’s recent popular music history. We’ll meet women who’ve altered perceptions of the feminine, from sultry pop starlet to the kickass lead of rock bands. Now more than ever, we’re seeing them take charge in the industry and harness a new and captivating energy.
Ambition combined with a diversity of looks have come to shape a performance industry ready to embrace the gritty, the sexy, the strong and the wily. We finish our look at some of our favourite leading ladies in Australian music by highlighting some gals at the forefront of a wave. Doing their own thing … and doing it well.
The Preatures’ frontwoman is, without a doubt, one of the most transfixing figures in Australian music today. Evolving from her early days onstage draped in black, Manfredi has become a bit of a fashion magnet, sporting some incredible looks on stage, in front of the camera and off stage as well. As the band has become well known around the world, so has Manfredi and her position as fashionista. She’s been compared to the likes of Chrissie Amphlett and her vintage, classic sound and look has seen Manfredi (with the rest of the band) become hot tickets on the live circuit, seeing them land a coveted support slot with The Rolling Stones, and heading up sold out shows around the country.
Jessica Mauboy remains one of the brightest stars to leave Australian Idol relatively unaffected by the reality TV show curse. Her down to earth personality has propelled the young Darwin singer to national fame along with those powerful vocals. Mauboy’s time on Idol also brought controversy regarding the way female performers were perceived, when she was critiqued for her weight and fashion. It was a jarring moment for the then-teenage contestant, who was a strong favourite with the large majority of Idol fans.
Still, Mauboy’s career surged forward after her loss to eventual Idol winner Damien Leith, forming a successful pop career in the Australian industry. Mauboy, with her wide smile, wholesome image and unwavering warm personality, cracked the large demographic of music fans on commercial radio. Some had followed her from the TV show and others switched on through duets with Snoop Dogg and a move towards R&B and a sultry pop sound.
Tkay Maidza has proven that she can hold her own with the boys in the Australian hip hop and electro scenes with an electrifying live show and an accumulating body of stellar work to her name. Still yet to drop her debut album, the Adelaide based rapper has conjured thousands of fans with her blend of hip hop matched with glitchy and penetrating beats. She’s attracting crowds to festival set, linking up with incredible producers such as BAUUER and Paces, and touring with Rita Ora and Years & Years.
As her international profile grows, Tkay remains the excited and energetic person we met off the back of the success of “Brontosaurus” – jumping and dancing around on stage in trademark platform boots to boost her pint-size frame, long black locks whipping around, Maidza’s stage presence as much of a pull factor for fans as her club-ready aesthetic.
Melbourne’s Ecca Vandal broke into the scene in 2015, with her single “White Flag” making people seize up and look around to see where such levels of in-your-face attitude was coming from. Her music has been described as a fusion of punk, rock and rap while her stage presence adds to her overall appeal. When she throws herself around at live shows, Ecca evokes the likes of Gwen Stefani, M.I.A and Karen O but in her spitfire delivery of lyrics, Ecca stands as an artist all her own.
The High Tension frontwoman is easily one of the most indomitable forces within the industry right now. The Indonesian-born vocalist harnesses a raw and brutal stage presence that has seen her be thrown around on stage and scream in the faces of the punk fans who dare get within inches of her while she’s performing in full force. She’s made no qualms about the challenges she’s faced as a woman leading a hardcore act, in Australia especially, but such challenges haven’t stopped her broadcasting her talents.