I am a man, I love Best Coast.
Let’s start this off with some background: I’m a straight, white male (the privileged part is yet to be determined considering the $30,000 of college debt that have limited all my employment and living options). I’m 27, have a fair amount of experience under my belt and I consider myself pretty knowledgeable. I’m a typical dude but I realized growing up that a part of me identified with girls and women more than men. No Caitlyn Jenner, I don’t like acting or dressing like a girl, but I emotionally identify and align with the girls in pop culture that I was exposed to growing up more than the men.
Being a child of the late 80s (which as far as I’m concerned means I’m a child of the 90s), there was a ton of feminist movements going on. Think about it: when grunge stepped up, there was a HUGE feminist movement going on. Kurt Cobain considered himself a feminist, the Riot Grrrl music scene started to pick up, and stronger women were coming to the forefront of rock and popular music. Courtney Love, Kathleen Hannah, Carrie Brownstein, and Kim Deal were (for my generation) the leading women of rock and roll. As the 90s progressed, the R&B and hip-hop scenes had a lot of women in the spotlight, and pop began to do the same. I vividly remember growing up and listening to the Spice Girls and loving their music. It was catchy and fun…it was actually kind of progressive. Women in power, acting like dudes and not caring. If a guy could get a bunch of girls to scream and get wet over him, the Spice Girls acted like they were able to do the same and they DID.
Maybe it’s just a factor of growing up, something we learn as we mature, but I honestly have no knowledge of there ever being a time where women and men weren’t equal to me. It just seemed normal to me that if you have the experience and know-how, it doesn’t matter if you have a penis between your legs or a vagina. Maybe the 90s were a better time? Doubtful. If anything it’s just that we’ve brought these issues into the forefront more now because anyone can make the news with a few taps and swipes on their phone. Clearly these women, these Riot Grrrls and Pop Princesses, brought the attention forward at that time. So where are we today? Same place, different time. The exposure is stronger and more easily accessed, while strong women still have a presence in rock and pop with an even stronger movement in alternative music, starring such songstresses as Lana Del Ray and Annie Clark (of St. Vincent) and my unexpected favorite, Best Coast.
I was first exposed to Best Coast through Rocksmith, a video game that teaches you how to play a real guitar or bass (I highly recommend checking it out if you’re looking to learn how to play and can’t afford lessons, or are really self-conscious like myself). Bethany Cosentino is like my spirit animal-musician-person-thing and someone I deeply identify with. How could I as a dude, identify so well with this woman? Look no further than the first song on their first album, “Boyfriend” which laments, “I wish he was my boyfriend.” I was that dreamy-eyed youth that yearned for affection from a significant other. I didn’t commit to my first girlfriend until I was 22 who was my first kiss and more…if you get my drift. I was intimated by all the girls I knew and didn’t know how to approach women I was interested in without looking like a jackass. When I see Bethany, there’s a relateable quality to those vulnerable feelings. So what if a girl or a guy wants to be lovelorn and dreamy-eyed about someone? When you deal with anxiety, as most of us do, the dreamy desire and fear comes with the territory. Sonically the songs are upbeat and atmospheric, you feel like you’re cruising through Venice Beach, with the sun shining down and ocean breeze blowing through your hair. Feelin’ it.
Bands like Best Coast remind me that although I sometimes feel weird about identifying so closely with these women I was exposed to growing up, they helped define where my generation was going to go with equality. Rock on sexy women, kick out the jams and fight the power – I’m right here fighting the good fight with you.