Female Empowerment Bops!

I used to dislike female artists, and here’s why:

After enduring the electronic-toned teenage love and heartbreak era of 2000s pop music, I had had enough. I felt like I was constantly listening to women retell their stories of passion and later devastating heartbreak on the radio. Their voices struck me as whiny, and the electronic background track felt overwhelming. Women’s voices are annoying. I just don’t like female artists was the mantra I wound up repeating to myself. I stopped turning on the radio. 

Soon after forsaking female artists, I slipped into my emo phase, emboldened by a heavy metal soundtrack. I dyed my hair green and cranked up the sound in the earbuds past half-way. I began to immerse myself in punk, emo, and rock bands, all dominated by male singers. Hearing the male voice in the music I listened to became normal to me. All of my favorite bands had male lead singers, so I no longer had to endure “nasally” female pop vocalists. This was more than fine by me. 

Then high school came around, and my hair faded out of green. I began transitioning out of my phase of ripped, black skinny jeans and band tees. I realized that good music didn’t have to mean gradual hearing loss from cranked up concert amps or lengthy guitar riffs accompanied by guttural screaming (although I can still appreciate both from time to time). Freshman year of high school, I finally started listening to artists that didn’t wear their eyeliner like raccoons—although they were still all-male. I revered artists like Troye Sivan and BORNS; later, Hot Flash Heat Wave, Summer Salt, and Billy Lemos. All wonderful bands or singers. But my music reality remained dominated by male voices—an issue I was no longer even aware of. 

Before coming to Kenyon, I considered myself to have finally matured into the genre of music that I would be cranking up in my earbuds for the next couple of years—lo-fi-esque pop, like Still Woozy and Kid Bloom. I relished the electronic beats and catchy melodies of the genre. I would find new songs every day on my Spotify recommended, and my playlists grew to the ungodly size of 300+ songs. I felt like there was an infinite world of male voices to submerge myself in. After a childhood of enduring pop that I had no connection to, I was excited to finally have found an alternative sound that made sense to me. 

Cut to a month ago, at Kenyon. It was a sunny midwestern afternoon, I was walking Middle Path and listening to one of my various finely-crafted playlists. Yet I couldn’t settle into the music; none of the songs felt like they fit the mood, so I kept my finger plastered to the skip button. After skipping pretty much the entire playlist, I was beginning to get frustrated. Why did these artists suddenly sound so bad? Why was I not enjoying this? 

Then a song came on the playlist radio: “Ride my Bike” by Maude Latour. When I say it was truly musical love at first sight, I mean it. It was love at first sound. Immediately I clicked on her profile and listened to her entire discography. I began to look through and listen to similar artists and ended up falling down a musical rabbit hole. That night I stayed up way too late for someone with a 9:10 class the next morning, just listening to hours of beautiful women’s voices. I couldn't believe I had never realized that there were female artists out there making the same type of music that I had already fallen in love with.

Looking back on my former music taste, I am kicking myself for missing out on years of amazing female artists, purely on the basis of a silly middle school grudge against pop. At the same time, I am ecstatic to finally be discovering music that speaks to me not just on the basis of its sound but also its emotion and purpose. 

If you ever find yourself in the same musical rut that I was in prior to falling in love with these artists, you should check out this Spotify playlist. Although it arose from my 3 a.m. tumble down a Spotify rabbit hole, I promise it will make you re-fall in love with female artists and the lovely women in your life. 

Female Artists That (We Think) Are Killing It!

Beabadoobee (Grace)

Our favorite tracks: "Disappear" and "Space Cadet"

Beabadoobee, real name Bea Kristi, is a 19-year-old artist from Britain. She was born in Manila, Philippines and grew up in London, England. She picked up a guitar at age 17 and began songwriting. Her first hit was “Coffee,” which blew up on Youtube and got her a record deal. She’s made a lot more music since then and is currently on tour with Clairo (and Hello Yello, who’s coming to Kenyon this year!). Her voice is absolutely beautiful. She often layers the vocals in her songs to produce an ambient, ethereal sound that complements her melodies perfectly. One of my favorite things about her music is the guitar. It’s a prominent feature in every song, and is simple but so good! This girl is incredibly talented and someone to watch because she’s really coming up.

BENEE (Grace)

Our favorite tracks: "Wishful Thinking" and "Glitter"

Stella Bennett, a.k.a. BENEE, is a 19 year old from Auckland, New Zealand. She began releasing music in 2017 with her single “Tough Guy” and has since released a six-song “album” called FIRE ON MARZZ and recently another single: “Find an Island.” I am not kidding when I say every single one of her songs is an absolute bop. Her voice is unique and really complements the style of her songs. She uses a lot of really cool synth instruments, guitar, drum beats, etc. that add up to create a vibe that I would describe as fun, fresh, and funky. Her songs are very catchy (in my opinion) and I never tire of hearing them. Check this girl out, you will not be disappointed!

Cehryl (Alina)

Our favorite track: "Optimist"

Cehryl is a 23-year-old independent artist born and raised in Hong Kong. She was incredibly musical from a young age and avidly played classical piano. As a teenager, she learned to play the guitar, which led her down the path of becoming a musician. Cehryl studied music at the Berkelee School of Music in Boston, and now writes, records, produces, mixes, and engineers all of her own music. She recently released her first full album, Slow Motion, which is definitely worth a full listen. Her music ranges from soulful pop to guitar-heavy alternative, so there’s definitely a little bit of something there for everyone to connect with. Not to mention, her silky voice overtop of a lo-fi beat in “Optimist” is tear-jerking.

Dori Valentine (Alina)

Our favorite tracks: "Chlorine" and "INC."

Dori Valentine is a nineteen-year-old singer-songwriter from Amarillo, Texas. Dori writes and produces most of her own music, and her songwriting ability goes way above and beyond her nineteen years. Her music draws from pop, jazz, chill-hop, and rock. But her genre is most accurately described as indie/soul/alternative, and this ambiguity is understandable after listening to her music—Dori Valentine transcends genre. As said by a fan after watching her perform: "Dori lets go and allows her music to transport herself in such a refreshing, authentic way and the beauty of it is, she takes you with her!"  Her soulful, soft voice perfectly complements the deep guitar and layered electronic tones of the instrumental track. Unfortunately, she has only three released songs so far. Dori Valentine’s next project is set to come out in Spring 2020 so she’s really making us work for it. Luckily all of her released songs are true bangers, so playing them on repeat for a year and a half shouldn’t be a problem.

Eloise (Alina)

Our favorite track: "TTLC" (but the entire album is amazing)

Eloise is a singer-songwriter from London, England. Although she grew up in rural Normandy, her family moved to London when she was 10. Eloise was greatly inspired by the jazz music her family played for her as a little girl. The artists who most greatly influenced her style are Billie Joel, Gilbert O’Sullivan, and Blossom Dearie, because of the storytelling quality within their music. The ability to tell stories and establish connections is definitely a skill Eloise herself possesses. She sings about her emotional journey—stories of bravery in the face of heartbreak, finding personal strength, and passion. In addition, her vocals are insane! Her mature voice drips with soul and soothes while still provoking deep emotions. Eloise recently released her first EP, This Thing Called Living. I highly recommend taking a listen to the entire album and letting her voice take you on a soulful journey.  

MUNA (Grace)

Our favorite tracks: "Pink Light," "Taken," and "I Know A Place"

MUNA is my favorite girl band. The band is made up of three badass, powerful women: Katie Gavin, Josette Maskin, and Naomi McPherson. Their style is kind of electronic, synth-pop with a lot of cool beats and amazing vocals. Katie Gavin (MUNA’s lead singer) has the voice of a goddess; it’s very distinct and really defines their sound. These gals are in their early twenties and have been killing it since releasing "Winterbreak" in 2016. All three of these women identify as queer and they frequently use their music and platform to address issues of sexuality and gender with the goal of inspiring young people to be comfortable with their identities. Their lyrics are insightful and impassioned and the mood behind their music is equally moving. Whenever I’m in my feelings and need a confidence boost or just to feel some female power I listen to MUNA because they just get it.

Maude Latour (Alina)

Our favorite track: "Ride My Bike" (and highly recommend "Plans") 

Maude Latour is a 20-year-old student and singer-songwriter studying at Columbia University in New York City. During her childhood, she briefly lived in Hong Kong before moving back to New York City for high school. Her first two songs were actually written and produced by her as a senior capstone project, but they ended up taking off on Spotify. This was when she realized that her passion for music could have an impact on the world. Maude Latour proclaims her music to be “cooler pop, with like rock-ish, jazz-ish, electro-ish kind of vibez.” The wide range of her deep, soulful voice pairs perfectly with the hard bass and electronically created highs within her music. Her self-proclaimed purpose in writing music is to bring people together; to help create a sense of community through music so that teens like her can feel less alone in the world. She wants to make music that truly inspires people to feel something, “cuz I just cant hear another song about being #drunk #in #the #club.”  In summation, Maude Latour is my idol. And she really could get it.

Nicotine (Alina)

Our favorite tracks: "Running" and "Pull Up"

Nicotine is a queer, Afro-Latinx musician, poet, and artist from Houston, Texas. Her music is described as being neo-soul, with a jazzy twist. Nicotine is very open about her battle with depression, which is evident in the poetic verses within her latest EP, An Open Letter. Nicotine truly is as candid with her songwriting as it gets, which is evident in songs like “An Open Letter (Intro)” and “Closure (Outro).” Another bop that I did not include above but is equally worth a listen is “Bantu Knots and Boudain” which has a spunkier twang and rhythm than Nicotine’s classic sound. Although she is a versatile artist and creates a range of music, Nicotine's jazz influence shines through in all of the music she creates, evidenced by the incorporation of piano and high hit snare drum. Take a listen to any of Nicotine’s music and fall in love with her tender vocals and poetic lyrics.

Silver Sphere (Alina)

Our favorite track: "boys in bands"

Silver Sphere is a 20-year-old singer-songwriter from Chicago. She has been described as a “being of pop magic.” Silver Sphere’s music deals with themes of young love and self-care, of finding joy and happiness amidst heartbreak. She puts a unique yet vintage spin on the pop love song. The background track within her music acts as a soundtrack that swells with her voice. While her electronic beats hit hard, they are still able to act as an atmospheric background to her voice, which truly could and does stand alone. Her lyrics are what drew me to her music. The song “boys in bands” was the first Silver Sphere song that I heard, and when I say I was vibing, I mean I was vibing. Just listen to see what I mean. Silver Sphere is definitely an artist to crank up when you need to get hyped...and when in need of liberation from boy problems. 

Soccer Mommy (Grace)

Our favorite tracks: "Your Dog" (and the entire Clean album), "Lucy," and "Allison"

Soccer Mommy is Sophie Allison’s epic stage name. She’s a 22-year-old from Nashville, Tennessee, and a lyricist, guitarist, and singer. I have been listening to her ever since discovering her song Allison in 2017. She’s been a huge inspiration to me and someone I really look up to. Sophie is an extremely talented guitarist, which comes through in all her songs and especially at her shows! I had the opportunity to see her play at a small, grungy bar in Denver, CO last year and even though it was nothing fancy, it was the best concert I’ve ever been to. Her music is so authentic and very easy to get into. Your Dog, specifically, gets me every time. The guitar riff in the beginning (and throughout) is the single best I’ve ever heard. Please listen to Soccer Mommy!

UMI (Grace)

Our favorite tracks: "Remember Me" and "Love Affair"

Tierra Wilson, better known as UMI, is a 20-year-old singer-songwriter from Seattle currently based in LA. She combines R&B with lo-fi beats and synthesizers to create a ~vibey~ feeling that makes you want to dance all slow. Her style is modern, yet her music has a really timeless quality. Her voice is amazing (she can do such cool runs) and her lyrics flow perfectly with the melody of the songs. I would describe the experience of listening to her music as silky smooth; it just pulls you in and envelops you. I listen to UMI whenever I want to feel empowered or de-stress and she never fails to bring me up!

We know that there is an overwhelming amount of music out there, just waiting to be heard. We hope that the few amazing artists we included will inspire you to seek out other female artists that are killing it. Going out of your comfort zone and broadening your music taste can be truly life-changing—give yourself some time today to listen to a new song that makes you smile!

Image Credits: FeatureBea Kristi (beabadoobee)Stella Bennett (BENEE)cehrylDori ValentineEloise, MUNAMaude LatourNicotineSilver SphereSophie AllisonTierra Wilson (UMI)