Sunday, March 8, 2009

Where's the Meg White love?

If you're not familiar with the White Stripes, they're a kick ass rock group made up of Jack White and Meg White. Jack plays guitar and sings; Meg plays drums. The White Stripes have released six albums with a seventh supposedly on the way. Three of their albums have won a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album (Elephant, Icky Thump, Get Behind Me Satan).

However while Jack White is heaped (well deserved) praises for his guitar playing, Meg White receives a ton of criticism for her drumming, or is just ignored.

Here's an excerpt from an iTunes review:
"I don't know that America has encountered as much talent as Jack White.... I believe this album is the finest expression of Jack's artistic freedom and it shows you the many facets of his abilities. True to their form The White Stripes take the listener on a journey through different types of expression, no two songs are quite the same... Jack White is to be considered a prophet on some levels and inspired in the very least." - review by hofmary for Get Behind Me Satan
Although Jack White certainly plays like none other and deserves much praise, the focus on Jack White alone seems to miss the point of their collaboration. Not all of the iTunes reviews are this way, but the fawning over Jack White and dismissal of Meg White is a common motif in reviews and general public opinion.

Jack's spoken out on criticisms of Meg's drumming before. From a 2005 Rolling Stones article, Jack said, "I never thought 'God, I wish Neil Peart was in this band.' It's kind of funny: When people critique hip hop, they're scared to open up, for fear of being called racist. But they're not scared to open up on female musicians, out of pure sexism. Meg is the best part of this band. It never would have worked with anybody else, because it would have been too complicated... It was my doorway to playing the blues."

I've had this discussion with my roommate - he loves the White Stripes, thinks Jack is great, but says Meg is horrible. I asked why he thought she was so bad and he said she didn't match Jack's talent. While he is amazing, that doesn't mean she's terrible. I questioned him on why he thought the band was so great if half of the members were just crap. It just doesn't add up, in my opinion. Meg White's talented and her contribution to the White Stripes helps make up their unique sound - The White Stripes couldn't be the White Stripes without Meg White.

So here's my appreciation for Meg White - she's awesome and rocks out in her own style. I salute you, Meg White. Keep up the good fight.


Amelia said...

Wow. How insulting. I have never really thought of the White Stripes in term of the band's individual members. I love their music, and therefore all the parts that make it up.

Meg White is a strong woman to deal with those kinds of horrible, nonsensical insults.

I hope she keeps on rocking, because without her, one of my favorite bands would not exist. I wish some other people would realize that.

Lauren O said...

Meg White is my goddamn hero and the reason I started playing the drums. Okay, she doesn't, maybe can't, execute complex technical moves. But so what? She keeps time perfectly, and it's not always simple (try to read the drum tabs for Seven Nation Army, it's actually quite a strange little rhythm she has going on in that song). Some of the best and most celebrated songs in rock history have very simple guitar-playing, or chord progression, or, yes, drums. "Take a Walk on the Wild Side" by Lou Reed comes to mind. Just because something is relatively simple doesn't mean it's not good.

the opoponax said...

I don't really understand how you can "love" a band if you think half the membership is "horrible". I don't think anyone in any band I really like is a crappy musician.

Amelia said...

EDITOR'S NOTE: I originally deleted this comment, but when I sent it to Lindsay for review, she asked me to copy/paste it so she could respond. -Amelia

From Anonymous:

So, wait. You're basically advocating a world where criticism of a woman is not allowed?

How's that work?

So it's "horrible" and "nonsensical" and "sexist" to give critique to her drum playing?

There are many drummers out there that are much better and more skilled than she is, and that's not sexist to point out.

That said, I still think the White Stripes suck, and that means both of them.

(And don't quote me Grammy nonsense, as rap wins those too, but it doesn't mean it's good.)

Modern alt-rock all sounds the same.

I can't help but wonder if you're so supportive of them more because of Jack having taken his former wife's surname, than because of any actual talent.

lindsay said...


Where did I ever say that critiques against any woman were not allowed? I'm saying that in this case, Meg White is at best, ignored and at worse, unfairly ripped on.

It doesn't seem logical to have people praise the band as a whole, love Jack's amazing playing, but just dismiss Meg's drumming as terrible. While there are drummers out there who may play more complexly, that's how they play. Just like how Meg plays more simplistically. No reason to rip her to shreds in reviews and discussions just because of her style.

Also, I never said anything about their marriage or him taking her last name. It didn't have to do with what I was writing about, so I didn't mention it. Not all feminists are as one dimensional as you seem to think - I'm not going to praise someone just because they took the woman's last name.

@Lauren O
I completely agree. Simple =/ bad.

Jennifer said...

Does she stay on beat? Yes? Then the haters can eat a dick. Lurve me some Meg!

Anonymous said...

I think there music is cool but I don't go out of my way to listen to it. And the interviews I've seen of meg and jack, meg looks painfully shy.
Yeah, meg has made it clear she is not down for discussing her public image. So ppl take that as license to say stuff on her. The band is unusual. Only Two ppl, one female, doing rock/blues-y stuff. I don't know if she has gone out of her way to train like Sheila e or Cindy Blackmon, it sounds like ppl are trying to say "damn, if only she did".

Anonymous said...

She does her only job: to keep the beat.

Are there better and more flashy drummers available? Sure, but the minimalism works.