It is no secret that there is a wanton lack of equality in the music industry, and one that is still unfortunately just as prevalent in today’s scene. Though there have been small steps towards a more egalitarian industry, there are still some obvious, vital leaps and bounds to be made.
In 2020, there was huge uproar surrounding the misrepresentation of the female talent out there on the Reading and Leeds bill, which featured an overwhelmingly male line-up.
If you’re female you’re less likely to be high up on (if you’re lucky enough to be included) the line-up for a music festival. According to Forbes, you’re more likely to experience a significant pay gap compared to your male peers and are less likely to receive awards nominations.
In a man’s world, it is easy for exceptionally talented women to slip through the cracks or fall from the teetering edge of the precipice of stardom. While you may already be a fan of the likes of Taylor Swift, Lorde, Charlie XCX, Billie Eilish, Clairo, and Girl in Red, here is a hand-picked list of some lesser-known, female, or female-fronted acts you should make it your mission to get to know this year…
Must Listen to: ‘Girlie’
The dreamy alt-pop Alexandra Savior lends soft vocals to heartbreaking lyrics that are an easy comparison to that of Lana Del Rey. Jazzy undertones entwined with vintage visions allow for a unique combination that has become the staple of Savior’s music.
Collaborating with Alex Turner in the production of her critically acclaimed album Belladonna of Sadness, Savior’s creations are as much a cinematic feat as they are musical.
Must Listen to: ‘Caroline’
Atlanta teen newcomers Lowertown perfectly blend electronic, lo-fi indie and country sounds with narrative-led lyrics to create a warm and fuzzy melancholic atmosphere of lost love and teenage dreams.
Taking inspiration from Radiohead’s use of electronic sampling to create acoustic sounds, the duo take pride in their production of lush pop tunes that awe and inspire.
Must Listen to: ‘Backyard Boy’
Bedroom pop daydream Rosinkranz is living every teen girls’ fantasy as a social media sensation at just 17, having gone TikTok viral with her track ‘Backyard Boy’. Her lo-fi tracks feature heartfelt lyrics which bring that boppy summer feeling, whatever the time of year.
If you want to be transported back to your loved-up teenage years, look no further than Claire Rosinkranz.
Must Listen to: ‘Leg Day’
Pom Poko are ‘pure Norweigan Punk sweetness‘ that deliver explosive tracks with layered sounds. Taking lessons from the RIOT GRRRL punk-rock movement and obvious influences such as Le Tigre and Bikini Kill, the band bring 90’s sounds into the modern world.
The avant-garde, female-led quartet bring buckets of energy and frequently switch from cacophonous noise to a more stripped back sound, which is evident in their live performances.
Must Listen to: ‘Pristine’
The glittering solo project of Lindsey Jordan is undeniably lush and without a fault. Electricity sparks and runs throughout her musical adventures, with powerful vocals and soft-burning guitar hooks, allowing for the excellent delivery of transcendent tunes.
Snail Mail is – undoubtedly – the future of indie rock.
Must Listen to: ‘If You Want To’
Another example of a teen triumph, Beabadoobee brings 90’s nostalgia encapsulated in vulnerable indie-rock bops – bedroom pop is seemingly worming its way into our everyday life.
Bea draws on 80’s to 00’s influences to create glittery earworms featuring pristine vocals and ruthlessly honest lyrics.
Must Listen to: ‘Walk You Home’
Melancholic vocals dominate Sir Chloe’s sound, backed by soft basslines which give an intimate feel to the soft punk tracks. The four piece, fronted by Dana Foote, have an ability to tell a story through their words.
Their use of introspection and intimacy shows influences from the likes of Bikini Kill to Cage the Elephant.
Must Listen to: ‘Velvet Ring’
The subtle indie rockers have a plethora of adoring fans, and rightly so. They have a specific brilliance for delivering raw and heartfelt music whilst retaining an aura of mystery.
The spectacle four-piece are American but have more than firmly stamped their sound on UK audiences. Their sparkly and startling sound leaves you yearning for more.
Must Listen to: ‘Crocodile Tears’
I first discovered Ozard after witnessing her stellar performance as a preamble to Whenyoung taking the stage at Gorilla in Manchester. It’s hard not to be completely entranced by her soft, velvety vocals that add depth and glamour to emotionally fuelled lyrics.
With a twinkly and sweet aesthetic, Ozard is a true testament to Manchester’s music scene.
Must Listen to: ‘Pedestrian At Best’
Australian singer-songwriter and powerhouse Barnett is a master of humour and blunt honesty, providing dissections of everyday-life through witty lyrics and punchy vocals.
Barnett seemingly sings about nothing and yet everything, all at the same time, with a rocky sound reminiscent of Blur.
Approaching topics from highways littered with roadkill, to supermarket shopping and fresh veg – Barnett attacks the mundanity of humanity in the goofiest and most delightfully fantastic way.
Must Listen to: ‘Cracker Drool’
All-female outfit Goat Girl have been hailed as the casual saviours of underground indie by I-D, and it’s a title that isn’t far amiss. The urban ladies from Peckham make political lyrics their goal and use satirical social commentary to cement themselves as punk rockers.
Their hypnotic sound, sweet and unassuming, contrasts to dark and unnerving lyrics that lend to an ominous undertone – a style perfected by the young quartet.
Their latest release On All Fours demonstrates their ease of blending satirical humour and playfulness with dark and exuberant undertones.
Must Listen to: ‘GIRL ON TV’
Moriondo’s musical evolution has been intriguing to watch. Starting on Youtube as an acoustic artist, Moriondo has gone from collaborating with Cavetown, to independently releasing an album and stepping into the realms of bedroom pop.
Her meditative and soothing sounds, intertwined with the ASMR of trickling water and nature soundscapes, are just a few examples of her creative prowess.
Must Listen to: ‘Hey Heartbreaker’
The all-female punk rock band have a unique and unwavering penchant for powerful vocals, and they provide an ingenious blend of blunt and profane lyrics atop catchy guitar riffs that more than secure them as one of the best all-female bands to come out of the last decade.
Singing about misogyny and miscarriages with zeal and zest, they take taboo subjects and deliver powerful messages within post-punk atmospheres.
One for Nostalgia: Sibylle Baier
Must Listen to: ‘Forget About’
Active throughout the 70’s, Baier is a connoisseur of delivering enigmatic vocals and entrancing songs that all but wholly absorb and encapsulate the listener.
Spotify Playlist: ‘Female Fronted’
Artists: Phoebe Bridgers, FKA Twigs, Nasty Cherry, Yeule, Kailee Morgue, Aerial East, Sad Alex, Lennon Stella, Natalie 2V, Molly Burch, Julia Jacklin, Paris Paloma, Adrianne Lenker, Amyl and the Sniffers, Fiona Apple, Cat Power, Men I Trust, Alice Phoebe Lou, Black Honey, Cherry Glazerr.
If you’re interested in reading more into the underrepresentation of women in the music industry, here are some articles to delve into:
- New Report Shows Major Lack of Representation by Women in the Music Industry | Billboard
- Still a boys’ club: don’t fall for the hype that the music industry has changed | Music | The Guardian
- Women Don’t Even Have 20 Percent of the Top Songs in 2020 So Far |Rolling Stone
- New Annenberg study shows some gains for women in music | LA Times