Recently, while debating the state of music these days with my cousin, and how much I  seriously loathe, detest and okay HATE the song “Single Ladies,” and most of Beyonce’s music as a whole, my cousin snarked at me with “oh please, you just don’t like any female musicians.”

Not true.

First of all, you can’t call Beyonce a musician. I’m not even all that sure she can really sing (when I hear her sans auto-tone, I’ll believe it, until then, the jury’s still out). A musician is a person who can PLAY A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT – and I’m not talking being able to play ‘Chopsticks’ on the piano, okay?  (For example, Alycia Keys is a Musician. I appreciate her talent and her vocal skills, even if I don’t like her entire musical repertoire).

Granted, most of the women on the radio don’t suck. The problem is, well, they’re so busy pandering to the masses that they just don’t appeal to me. What can I say? I like my female musicians much the same way I like my male ones – sans extraneous crap. Basically, if they can’t do it without auto-tune, if they can’t sing/perform live without a back up tape (and back up dancers), they’re not for me.

The other night I went to see two of my favorite female singer/songwriters, Aslyn and Toby Lightman, who in a stroke of brilliance, are touring together.

I first heard of Toby Lightman when she was on tour with Taylor Hicks (don’t judge – listen to his pre-American Idol music, or better yet, go see him live, then we can talk).  I immediately bought both of her CDs and have been a fan ever since.  I was introduced to Aslyn’s music on The Rock Boat. (There is no real way to explain The Rock Boat. Simply calling it a music festival on a Carnival Cruise is not even scratching the surface but, it’ll have to do for now). Again, I loved her songs, related to some of them all too well, and of course bought her CDs immediately.

What sets these two apart, from say, Taylor Swift (who’s song writing I genuinely admire, but who’s live performances just don’t cut it for me), or Lady Gaga, or Beyonce, or well, just about any female you’ll see on an awards show these days, is , in my opinion, they are the real deal.  When it comes to music, at least for me, it’s about sincerity, it’s about the live performance, it’s about being relatable.  I know it’s different for everyone, but really,  if you a) can’t sing in tune live, b) need to shock people in to giving you recognition (so much so that your ‘shock value’ overshadows your actual talent- Lady Gaga? Very VERY talented, but who the fuck could tell under all that schtick?) or c) need auto-tune, and super vocal enhancement during your live performances, you’re really not impressing me.  Which really won’t matter to any of the ladies I’m referring to because they’re billionaire superstars by now, so what does it matter what I think, right?

It’s just sad to me that female singer/songwriters, more so than their male counterparts need to up the ante somehow just to get ahead or to make it big at all. Seriously, how many truly talented women are out there singing their hearts out and still struggling to be noticed just because they refuse to get up on a stage and shake their asses like some overpriced pole dancer while lipsynching songs about some dude who lost his chance because he didn’t ‘put a ring’ on it? (okay, so in a nut shell – Guys, if you feel you need to ‘put a ring on it’ so she won’t go off with some other dude, then you’re fooling yourself. Ladies, if you NEED a ring from the guy as a sign that he loves you then you’re not looking for love, you’re looking for a ring. You love a guy? You’ll wait.  He loves you? You’ll get the ring without having to threaten him with losing you. Seriously, as a woman, this is the DUMBEST most insipid and INSULTING song I’ve ever heard).

So back to Aslyn and Toby Lightman –   Both of these women are super talented. Their songs are relatable, and beautiful and their voices are spectacular. When you see them live, it’s them, not some fucking circus made to sell to the masses who need the flashing lights and half-naked dancing men  and women because their ADD-ridled brains can’t muster the necessary focus one would need to appreciate real music (or real lyrics, you know, the kind that don’t make all single women seem desperate for a leash.. umm.. ring).  Don’t get me wrong, sometimes a little flash is okay, especially when you have the talent to back it up (Pink, I love) – but when flash becomes a necessity just to get attention? In the words of my first major live performance disappointment, ‘that don’t impress me much.’

This? Yeah.. Impresses me EVERY. SINGLE. TIME: