Thursday, December 13, 2007

Church of Girl

The stated aim of Church of Girl is "Airing the Female Voice".

Internet radio owes a lot to the female voice. Well, one voice in particular: Suzanne Vega's. As many of you may know, Internet radio really got its kick-start from Nullsoft's Shoutcast server technology, which made it easy for amateurs to set up a station streaming in mp3. The mp3 standard was in turn developed by the Fraunhofer Society in Germany. As legend has it, the good folks at Fraunhofer thought they had developed a half-decent lossy audio compression format. Instead, they were "disillusioned" upon hearing their audio format butcher a recording of the a capella version of Suzanne Vega's Tom's Diner. Diner was then used to effectively callibrate the mp3 format. This is why Suzanne Vega is sometimes referred to as the "mother or mp3".

But it gets more interesting. There really is something to the female voice that really interacts with people's psyche even when it's just part of some computer. Some people argue that it's more comforting. I've heard others argue that the male voice is considered more authoritative, and likely to be followed. From what I can tell, the female voice is just less irritating. Case in point: It seems like every IVR and voice-mail system out there uses a female voice. At Bell Canada, they've even taken it one step further and when you call for customer service, you're greeted by an IVR computer voice that brands herself as "Emily". Back in the day, when I worked for Northern Telecom (before they were called Nortel), I worked in the Meridian Mail division which was the first enterprise voicemail system. The highest paid employee was none other than "Meridian Mary" who recorded all the voice prompts. All the foreign voice prompts were also using a female voice.

I have no idea exactly what point I was trying to make in the last paragraph, except to say that there is something very distinct about the female voice that I find [dare I say] seductive? But what this translates to is that I'm much more apt to listen to the more indie stuff on Church of Girl. Let's face it, there's a lot of really good really cutting edge music out there, but some of it can be challenging. The female voice brings a great deal of accessibility to pretty much any genre it touches.

I would say that this is where Church of Girl excels. CoG is not about playing Celine Dion or Whitney Houston. If you want that, just listen to your local adult contemporary station. No, CoG is more rooted in the following artists from the 60s and 70s:

  • Janis Joplin
  • Nico (from The Velvet Underground, who also had a woman drummer: Moe Tucker)
  • Joni Mitchell
  • The Runaways
  • The Bangles
  • Lydia Lunch
  • Exene Cervanka
  • Siouxsie and the Banshees
  • Kate Bush
  • Michelle Shocked
  • KD Lang
  • Laurie Anderson
I'm looking at this list now, and while these are all legends, it doesn't really do justice to the variety on the station. Right now I'm listening to "The Dark Hour" which has a nice goth mix going. Later the next morning... I'm now listening to some hip hop ("Apani B-fly Emcee"). So the music is quite eclectic, which IMO makes for the best Internet radio stations.

Before signing off, I'd like to bring up one last thing. As far as censorship is concerned, at TUN3R we only have one rule: We don't list stations that have a clearly racist, sexist, or homophobic agenda. But some may argue that Church of Girl is sexist because it discriminates against the male voice. First off, CoG does have an hour dedicated to the boys... But more to the point, and more importantly, it is clear to me from listening to CoG that the station does NOT have a misandric (anti-male) agenda. This is a key distinction. However, it's certainly possible that a song has been played that may be considered a bit misandric (or perhaps the artists holds those opinions). But a station cannot be held to account for the lyrics of each and every song it plays, or the opinions of the artists it plays, and we must take the time to look at the bigger picture and take into account all songs that are being played.

Overall, there is no doubt in my mind that CoG has a positive karma score. They also play great music to boot!

Stay TUN3D.

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