By Lily Doolin
When I take a look at all of the female artists I listen to, I’m amazed by the incredible amount of diversity I see among them. Newer and seasoned, queer and straight, of all different kinds of races and creeds. When I listen to these female artists, I feel honored to call myself a member of their ranks.
They’re the ones who inspire me to keep going when all I want to do is quit. Their songs have seen me through heartache, success, loss, and triumph all the same. I can remember hearing these songs in the background of a huge party when I’ve felt most alone. Either that, or my friends and I are belting out the lyrics together at 1 am. If I’m having a bad day, I listen to these women to make me feel like a boss.
No matter how you identify though, this playlist is for everyone! It’s full of headbangers, relaxing tunes, and powerful anthems that can inspire anyone to be the best version of themselves. Here are my top five favorite artists on this playlist, accompanied by my favorite song of theirs.
King Princess – “P***y is God”
King Princess, aka Mikaela Straus, is an up-and-coming singer/songwriter from New York that’s taken the pop culture scene by storm. I’ve recently been on a King Princess binge since I interviewed her this past January. It was so interesting to talk with her about her creative process, as well as how she’s handled all of the pressures of being a queer woman breaking out in the industry. In just the past year, she went from the daughter of a producer to an absolute icon—talk about hustling harder.
Her music is raw, honest, and bold. She holds no punches and doesn’t hide her intentions behind her music. She says what she wants to say regardless of who is telling her to keep quiet. She’s truly inspired me to put my head down and work—but also to have fun while doing it. “P***y is God” is my favorite song of hers, first of all, because the opening chords instantly pull me into this song. The lyrics are catchy, and the overall ethereal vibe is unlike anything I’ve heard before.
Amy Winehouse – “Tears Dry on Their Own”
Amy Winehouse, the late English singer/songwriter, known for her soulful rhythm and blue music, inspires me in a whole bunch of ways. Besides trying to emulate her iconic eyeliner every day, I always try to emulate how willing she was to be open and honest with her struggles in life. Whether it was with love or something more serious like addiction, she was always talking about the demons on her back. Her incredible vulnerability, as well as her strength in living with such struggles, reminds me every day that I have the power to get through whatever struggles I’m facing.
I especially love “Tears Dry on Their Own” because Amy is singing about picking herself up off the ground. You don’t need anyone to validate your feelings, or to help you overcome any obstacles—you have the power. I’m so glad I grew up in a generation that was able to experience Amy while she was still alive.
Paramore – “Brick by Boring Brick”
While the band Paramore — a staple to the pop-punk/alt-rock music scene — does have male members, lead singer Hayley Williams stands on her own. There are so few female role models in the pop-punk genre, especially in the early 2000s when I was growing up. I really needed a woman to listen to who would speak to the emotions and feelings I was experiencing growing up. As someone who struggled to make friends, I knew I always had a friend in Hayley.
“Brick by Boring Brick” is actually one of my favorite songs from my childhood. I remember whenever I was upset, I threw this song on and sang along. This song talks about childhood fantasies being shattered, and that was something I was reluctant to do myself. Hayley Williams is probably the one woman in music who was pivotal to the formation of my strong sense of identity as a kid.
PVRIS – “My House”
Similar to Paramore, local Lowell, MA alt-rock band PVRIS (said “Paris”) is made up of both men and women. However, Lynn Gunn of PVRIS was a huge role model for me during high school and continues to be today. She’s unafraid to present herself in a more tom-boyish manner, which was something I was always afraid to do growing up. Similar to Amy Winehouse, Lynn is incredibly transparent in her lyrics. She sings largely about defying people’s stereotypes and reclaiming one’s power over their own identity and self-image. The song “My House” is specifically about cutting toxic people who are trying to change out of your life. This is something I needed a lot of help with in high school.
Lorde – “Green Light”
New Zealand singer Lorde, who won her first Grammy at just 18 years old, has become widely acclaimed for her electro-pop sound that broke onto the scene in 2013. I actually wasn’t a huge Lorde fan until “Green Light” came out. Though I was a casual fan of “Royals,” I never really paid much attention until I had “Green Light” on every single playlist in 2017. Lorde is actually a sort of underdog role model for young women these days. She’s quirky and something totally different in the industry, and she embraces that about herself. She dances however she wants on stage, and she rejects the beauty norms that most women are forced to conform to in public. There’s nothing more empowering than seeing a woman who rejects stereotypes win awards and sell out some of the biggest venues in the world—and even at such a young age. And yeah, I don’t really have a huge emotional connection to “Green Light”—it’s just an incredible bop.