A couple months back, my little sister made an offhand comment that struck me as sad. She lamented the lack of titanic female figures in rock & alternative pop that existed in the 90s. She was convinced that there wasn't a modern day Gwen Stefani (from her good, No Doubt years) or Shirley Manson or even a Courtney Love (from peak-Hole years). And I get why she thinks that. Top 40 features very few female rock artists. The few that occasionally break through (Of Monsters and Men or Florence + the Machine, etc.) don't get the radio play that female pop stars do. But, there's absolutely no shortage of exceptional female talent in pop & rock today. And before I continue, all of the women that I'm about to talk about are exceptional artists period; they aren't just exceptional female artists. But I figured my sister could use a primer on all of the great female-fronted (or at the bare minimum that feature a major and consistent female vocalist) acts out there today. So, sis, this one is for you. Your big bub tries to look out for you when he can.
As always, you can find a complete Spotify playlist of the mixtape below.
CHVRCHES -- "Recover"
There are few acts today blurring the lines between pop, rock, and electronic music as efficiently as Scottish trio CHVRCHES, and Lauren Mayberry's ethereal voice is the anchor rooting it all together.
Solange -- "Some Things Never Seem To Fucking Work"
I know I'm in the minority here, but I think Beyonce's little sister is a more exciting musician than her big sister has ever been (and I love Beyonce). Solange hangs out with Grizzly Bear. I wish I hung out with Grizzly Bear.
Courtney Barnett -- "Dead Fox"
No list of women kicking ass in rock today would be complete without Courtney Barnett whose debut studio LP has become one of the genuine zeitgeist moments in music this year.
Delta Rae -- "Run"
Delta Rae has not one but two female lead singers (as well as a male lead singer) and since I already used "Chasing Twisters" on last week's Mixtape Wednesday, I think I can get away with using "Run" today.
Milo Greene -- "White Lies"
Milo Greene is another band with several lead singers, but Control
stand out "White Lies" features some of Marlana Sheetz' best vocal work.
St. Vincent -- "Cruel"
We all wish we are as effortlessly bad-ass as St. Vincent but we aren't. And so a throwback classic track like "Cruel" will have to do.
Janelle Monae feat. Miguel -- "Primetime"
I thought about going with a different Janelle Monae track here cause Miguel is so present but also, this track is still one of my top 20 of the 2010s so it stays.
Bully -- "Trying"
"Trying" is one of the true breakthrough acts of the year (alongside Courtney Barnett) and "Trying" off of their excellent Feels Like
is pure, unfiltered brilliant feminist grunge rock.
Fiona Apple -- "Werewolf"
Has it really been 19 years since "Criminal" came out? Jesus, I'm getting old. But Fiona Apple's 2012 record The Idler Wheel
was maybe her best yet, and "Werewolf" was the standout single.
Of Monsters and Men -- "Crystals"
I didn't care too much for "Crystals" the first time I heard it -- I think it's the percussion -- but I've come to realize that it's some of Nanna's most vulnerable and raw vocal work yet.
Haim -- "Falling"
Haim brought back sister rock in a bigger way than anyone since Wilson Philips and for that we thank you Este, Danielle, and Alana.
Charli XCX -- "What I Like"
I'm a firm believer that Charli XCX is becoming the best thing to happen to Top 40 pop music since the first Lady Gaga album, and "What I Like" from her first record is an easy example for why.
Florence + the Machine -- "Shake It Out"
"Shake It Out" > "Shake It Off." That is all.
Chairlift -- "I Belong In Your Arms"
Chairlift aren't always easy to love, but when you hear a song like this, you know why you fell in love with them in the first place. I'd say they're due for a new record soon.
Grimes feat. Blood Diamonds -- "Go"
Grimes might be the most exciting act making music today period, and "Go" -- a track she originally wrote for Rihanna -- proves that women can write a dancehall, EDM banger better than men.
Hospitality -- "Friends of Friends"
This here's a bit of a Deep Cut. Hospitality was one of the first bands that I ever saw live in NYC, and their self-titled debut album is still one of the best little surprises of the 2010s. Plus, the video has Maebe Funke. What more can you ask for?
Feist -- "The Bad In Each Other"
Dear Feist, please release a new album someday. Sincerely, Don.
Robyn -- "Dancing On My Own"
It's still a sin that this wasn't the biggest dance-pop hit of the 2010s.
Cults -- "Oh My God"
wasn't as great as the self-titled, but we'll always have "Abducted," "Go Outside," and "Oh My God" to remember 2011 by.
Santigold -- "Disparate Youth"
And, lastly, my pick for the best song of the 2010s that nobody else seems to talk about when talking about the best songs of the 2010s.