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Women Who Rock: Female Artists You Need To Add Your Playlist

Who says gen eds have to be boring? Last semester at the University of Iowa, I needed to take care of the “Literary, Visual, and Performing Arts” required gen ed. Scrolling for classes and trying to find one that looked bearable, I stumbled upon one called “Issues in Popular Music: Women Who Rock.” Now, a semester later, I have a whole new playlist composed of women rockers from “back in the day” who I knew little-to-nothing about before taking the class. 

I’d like to say that the class changed my life, but that is way too cheesy and dramatic. Instead, what the class did was open my eyes (and ears) to a new appreciation for women in music. The class unlocked a time capsule of knowledge of female artists who were revolutionary in influencing and leaving in impact on modern music today as we know it.

Here are badass women (from back in the day) you need to listen too and their top hits to add to your playlists now. 


All three of these legendary women rockers broke and redefined the stereotypes that only men belonged on the stage wearing tight pants with a guitar singing a Rock ‘n’ Roll ballot. 

Joan Jett

“I Hate Myself for Loving You” 

“I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll”

Pat Benetar 

“Heart Breaker” 

“Fire and Ice”

Patti Smith

“Because the Night” 


Punk Rock

These two shaped and made punk music popular with their catchy songs and their “I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks” effortless attitude. 

Debbie Harry (Blondie)

“Heart of Glass” 

“The Tide is High” 

Chrissy Hynde (The Pretenders)

“Brass in Pocket”

“Middle of the Road” 


These two lyrical geniuses are well known for their profound song writting abilities.

Carol King 

“I Feel the Earth Move”

“It’s Too Late”

Tracy Chapman 

“Fast Car”

“Talkin’ ‘Bout A Revolution” 


The OG diva herself: Miss Diana Ross. She rose to fame with her Motown group, The Supremes, but left to embark on a solo career filled with fun, upbeat, sophisticated pop princess like hits that will for sure get stuck in your head (in a good way). 

Diana Ross

“Upside Down”

“I’m Comin’ Out” 


These two bring the soul into SOULFUL. Their voices are not to mess with, both distinct and crazy, crazy good.  

Aretha Franklin 



Tina Turner 

“What’s Love Got To Do With It” 

“Proud Mary”


Infamously known as the “Queen of Jazz,” Ella Fitzgerald is a staple when one thinks of this genre. 

Ella Fitzgerald 

“It Don’t Mean A Thing”  


Listening to these women is not only empowering but refreshing. Their songs articulate far more than having a “big booty” and making out in the club, or worse, twerking. These women’s song lyrics are raw and have meaning, and their voices are powerful and REAL (no autotune needed). 

Alyssa Pozen

U Iowa '19

Editor-in-Chief for U Iowa Her Campus. Senior at the University of Iowa studying Journalism and Mass Communication and earning a certificate in Entrepreneurial Management. Obsessed with meme culture, entrepreneurial podcasts and the Real Housewives franchise.
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