PJ Harvey and Adele lead the way for the year of the woman

Just to confirm what an inspirational year the female species is having within the realms of the music industry, PJ Harvey wins the prestigious Mercury Music prize, becoming the first person to win it twice, the same week that Adele has stormed past 10 million album sales for her sophomore album, 21, becoming the first artist to reach those stratospheric global album sales since Norah Jones, nearly 10 years ago.

Adele’s success has been staggering, number one in 19 countries and tipped to sell over 13 million albums of 21 by the end of the year.  Combined with her debut album, 19, she will probably smash the 20 million barrier by christmas.  Not bad, considering most of those sales will be in one calendar year and the age of buying music is supposedly dead.

PJ Harvey’s success is based less on breaking records and more on confounding expectations.  Her artistic drive to be in a constant flux of recreation is admirable, while her infinite ability to provoke and astound, in equal measure, is inspirational.  Even more so considering she’s now in the age of artistic inertia, supposedly? Admittedly older artists are more than capable of compelling and innovative work but very few reach or surpass the heights of their firebrand youth.  Harvey has, without doubt, created her best work, a masterpiece and a true artistic statement.

Just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to female supremacy.  While Lady Gaga has dominated the headlines there has been a myriad of other chanteuse arousing the music press and captivating festival crowds.  From surprise Brit winner, Laura Marling to the heavily blogged experimentalist, Zola Jesus, the ladies have been at the forefront of everything that matters in music in the year 2011.  Not forgetting Bjork, still the vanguard for sonic pioneering and technological integration, with her new album Biophilia boldly going where no album has gone before, into the realm of digital composition regarding the celestial body.

Without doubt, the most unforgettable female artist this year will be Amy Winehouse and the tragic death of a wonderfully gifted but mentally tortured and physiologically addicted soul, whose sudden end will leave us the most potent reminder of the fragility of human life.

It may only be September, but surely this has already become the year of the woman.


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