Stop calling boygenius a girl group

Boygenius is a queer feminist group, with all three women identifying as LGBTQ+


Courtesy of Rolling Stone

The members of boygenius mimic Nirvana.

Melina Traiforos, Staff Writer

When Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker formed boygenius in 2018, they laughed in the face of the rock artist stereotype of four men huddled in a garage putting their genius to the tune of an electric guitar. 

Boygenius is a queer feminist group, with all three women identifying as LGBTQ+. Sound City Studio, where the band recorded its first album, has a “no-boys-allowed” policy during recording and female instrumentalists and sound engineers dominate production. There is something distinctly “girl power” about it, similar to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez nicknaming her and her three girlfriends in Congress “The Squad.” The band’s very name ironically subverts a culture of male glorification.

As Bridgers stated it in a Vogue interview, “Men are taught to be entitled to space and that their ideas should be heard because they’re great ideas, and women are taught the opposite.”

Hearing queer, feminine struggles expressed in a genre previously reserved for men is a leap forward for the music industry. Instead of being dismissed as the wailing of an emotional woman, their feelings receive the same respect as classic rock’s existential lamenting. “$20” features this rageful feminine screaming that echoes classic rock screaming solos, yet the intonation is melancholy instead of irate. Boygenius’ recording studio feels like a metaphysical safe space for new voices to be profound. So, why is “girl group” an ill-fitting title for this group of girls? 

Because the fact that they are women is the least interesting thing about them. 

The fact that they are women is the least interesting thing about them. 

These artists strive to put their names next to those like Bridgers’ idol Paul McCartney. Yet, if I open my Spotify app and scroll to boygenius’ related artists, the list is exclusively women. This is not inherently degrading as female artists are putting out some of the best new music, but it also implies that “women’s music” is separate from “music.” Why does the register of a singer’s voice suddenly alter the authority of his or her words?

When I was 12 years old and in the backseat of my dad’s car, he played “Sympathy For The Devil” by The Rolling Stones and said, “Melina, listen to the words.” It was the first rock song I ever heard, and my pigtails or the fact that I wore a dress did not make me understand the lyrics less or fall in love more.  

Boygenius’ beats lay in places like the steady lifeline of Dacus’ voice over the electric guitar of “True Blue.” But a strong beat is more than technical music vocabulary — it is an emotional beat, too. Rock is serious and exploratory and hits you in the gut when you least expect it. I can’t breathe when Dacus sings, “I can’t hide from you like I hide from myself.”

Boygenius’ angelic harmonies and emotional core should earn at least a listen by fans of classic bands, free from the arbitrary, gendered box in which we have placed them. The indie rock group has now announced that their debut LP, titled “the record,” is scheduled for release on March 31. I look forward to enjoying this LP, not as a feminist anthem album, but as a musical achievement in its own right.