To celebrate International Women’s Day, we collaborated to bring you some of the most impressive female artists about right now.
Halsey has carved out a prominent space for herself in alternative-pop, with albums that grow only more and more technically innovative and interesting. Sampling movies in Manic, she proves she has the taste necessary to cut each at exactly the right length, and accompanies them with song-writing that shows a development from the internalised-misogyny some accused her of with earlier tracks. She isn’t afraid to be difficult, loud, and explicitly talk about her experiences of femininity and womanhood in a manner that might make audiences uncomfortable.
Doja Cat has been bringing us candy-coated, relentlessly energetic tracks since ‘So High’ in 2014. The absolutely brilliant video for ‘Mooo!’ has now been followed by the visuals for ‘Say So’, in which the L.A. artist recreates the tik-tok dance that made cemented her song as a hit. Doja Cat has proven she has a sense of humour within her music that most artists can only dream of naturally possessing, and shows no signs of slowing down.
Though she cemented herself as an icon with the release of ‘Not Fair’ in 2009, it’s Lily Allen’s latest material which has proven why women’s voices in music are so essential. No Shame continues Allen’s lack-of-filter approach, but in a sophisticated manner that is more truthful than ever. She talks about the pressures placed on her as a new mother and wife by the media and public, and feeling constantly under attack. There’s raw pain and difficult decisions being shared with her audience, and yet the album remains beautiful and at many moments, upbeat. Having been scrutinised since an incredibly young age, Allen has taken the pressure both comedically and destructively, but has produced truthful, original tracks throughout her career.
Internet sweetheart Clairo went viral in 2017 with the release of ‘Pretty Girl’ – a sardonic offering of bedroom-pop that paved the way for her rising success over the past few years. 2019 saw the release of her debut album Immunity, a stunning selection of soft-rock grappling with sexuality, adulthood and reflection. It moves from achingly-heartfelt, intimate ballads such as ‘Bags’ to breezy, synth-filled tracks like ‘Sofia’; each song is carried by her stunning vocals and earnest, confessional lyrics. At just 21, Clairo has many more years of heart-wrenching releases to come, and we can’t wait.
Multi-talented and arguably the love of everyone’s lives, Jorja Smith has the absolute voice of an angel, and her debut album Lost & Found, released in 2018, testifies to that completely. The product of five years of writing, the album’s jazz-tinged R&B and vocals sweeter than honey are completely seminal. Her usually quite earnest tracks were deeply contrasted with last year’s release of ‘Be Honest’ with Burna Boy: a definitive release for everyone’s Hot Girl Summer, it saw Smith’s charm take on a new strain. Self-assured and slick, Jorja Smith is completely unparalleled.
Despite hip-hop being an overtly male-dominated genre in Latin America and Spain, Nathy Peluso is able to stand out from all other artists through a uniquely authentic fusion of urban rhythms, soul, jazz, trap and R&B. A proud Latina woman, Nathy Peluso is for Spanish music what Lizzo is for the USA. Throughout her musical career she has proved her ability to reinvent her sounds, supported by some truly outstanding vocals. Songs such as “Natikillah” and the most recent “Business Woman” are statements not only of character, but also interesting insights into her own view of the world. However, “Hot Butter” is the track I would truly recommend. If you’re looking for new BAME women in music, Nathy Peluso is one to watch.
Spanish singer Rosalía has managed to make herself into a true diva in less than two years. Although she has recently turned to more urban genres – a rather controversial move for some – there is no doubting her musical talent at this point. Her album El Mal Querer has been widely praised and regarded as one of the best Spanish records in years. It has made history as both a feminist fantasy and as a fresh take on flamenco. By managing to relate to her Spanish audience while offering English and American audiences an attractive Flamenco brand, Rosalía has become one of the most interesting women in music nowadays.
Despite Amy Winehouse’s untimely death at the tender age of 27, her deep, yet ultra-smooth-sounding, jazz vocals continue to live on. Her unique, soulful voice resonates in tracks such as, ‘You Know I’m No Good’ and ‘Rehab’, both of which dazzlingly conjure the character of a defiant, ambitious, artist who wished to make music on her own terms. However, Winehouse’s powerfully poetic words and tenacious attitude belied a more vulnerable, sensitive edge, which can be heard most vividly in tracks, such as ‘Wake up Alone’ and ‘Love is a Losing Game’. Winehouse’s oeuvre was distinctively eclectic. Winehouse’s prowess at combining sounds of rhythm and blues, jazz, and soul meant that she was in a league of her own, and this is why her music remains irreplaceable.
Puerto Rican-American rapper, Princess Nokia, has not stepped onto the music scene falteringly: their braggadocios raps express their effortless, thrifty, style in ‘Balenciaga’, which speaks to the politics of unnecessary consumerism, and lively defiance of feminine ideals in ‘Tomboy’ (Nokia identifies as gender non-conforming). The energetic, self-assured rapper also refuses to be defined by the “scars” left behind from their fractured childhood, which they rap openly about in ‘Just a Kid’. Princess Nokia is a refreshing entrance into the male-dominated rap game. Nothing seems to deter them from continuing to experiment creatively with music; neither their tumultuous past, nor the fact that they are a minority in the hip-hop scene as a gender non-conforming musician. We can only hope that Princess Nokia’s empowering, feminist-driven music will inspire a generation of gender fluid artists to take up their rightful space within hip-hop/rap scenes.