Dubai Diaries: Shine bright like a diamond, girls

On International Women's Day, I look at women in the world of music who have inspired me most.


Enid Grace Parker

Published: Tue 8 Mar 2022, 7:29 AM

Whether it was Whitney Houston belting out her transformative self-affirming tune One Moment In Time (from the soundtrack of the 1988 Olympic Games) or Mariah Carey revealing — through an impressive five-octave vocal range — that “a hero lies in you” (Hero, 1993), women in music have always had the ability to pick me up when I’m feeling down, give me a boost when my self-esteem most needed it, or just make me feel ridiculously awesome and dance on air, for no particular reason at all.

Back in the 80s and early 90s, way before the Spice Girls became a phenomenon, feisty girl bands (or girl-fronted bands) like Bananarama, The Bangles and En Vogue were vying for our attention; they created a musical tapestry that became the soundtrack of my childhood, with unforgettable hits like I Heard A Rumour, Hazy Shade of Winter, and My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It).

We can also never forget pop-punk outfit Transvision Vamp, whose lead singer Wendy James with her bleached blond hair, pale pink lipstick and husky voice seemed to define the mood (and fashion goals) of a brooding teen fanbase when she rebelliously declared “Baby I Don’t Care” in 1989, the band’s highest charting single.

It’s not always easy to pinpoint a particular aspect of a female musician/band that leaves an impact on you. It could be their devil-may-care attitude — which mixed with some wicked tunes, is what drew me to Madonna in the late 80s.

She seemed to reinvent herself with every musical release. And while she wasn’t high on any of our parents’ lists of inspirational role models and had a knack for raking up controversy, I would listen to her songs on my walkman late into the night, and wonder what it was like to be that bold and fearless in a world that seemed to judge you even more harshly if you were a woman.

There are female singers and bands for every mood, and I remember being at my perkiest best when singing along to Kylie Minogue. The petite Australian who went from being a young star on long-running soap opera Neighbours in the 80s, to pop princess with peppy tunes like I Should Be So Lucky, Locomotion and Better The Devil You Know, has always wielded the ability to make me smile through her music.

A contemporary singer who inspires me is Rihanna — the Barbadian beauty who recently made her pregnancy public by flaunting a revealing outfit in sensational RiRi style has not only a string of chart-topping hits to her credit, but also a $4 billion beauty brand, Fenty, that is changing the cosmetics industry according to a report last year on Bloomberg. She is also someone who survived an abusive relationship and moved on, a step that surely commands respect.

Paraphrasing one of her most famous songs on this special occasion, I would like to say (or sing) to all the women out there — “shine bright like a diamond”. Never let anyone or anything dim your light, and keep spreading it everywhere you go. Happy International Women’s Day!

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