Whether demure or radical, female musicians and artists were one of the only saving graces of the hellacious politically charged 2017. Below I will mention a few artists that have captivated our staff, for better or for worse.
- Billie Eillish — Homicidal pop from a 15-year-old? It seems an unlikely formula for success but the slowly climbing popularity of “Bellyache” has proven to the contrary. Working alongside her older brother and demonstrating an atheistic and personality beyond her years Billie takes no prisoners with the swagger of a rapper, the smooth vocals of a jazz musician, and a face made for pop radio.
- Lana Del Rey — The draw may be melancholy but Lana Del Rey encapsulates L.A. melodramatic magic. Taking a different direction than her 2015 release “Honeymoon” Lana shows off a (gasp) pinch of optimism. The single off Lust For Love fittingly titled, “Love“, speaks romantically to today’s youth grasping for yesterday, “Look at you kids with your vintage music/coming through satellites while cruising/you’re a part of the past but now you’re the future”. The collaboration with The Weekend was no mistake either with harmonies in “Lust for Love” that melt like butter. Overall, the album gives you a Mona Lisa grin, because even sad girls have good days.
- Kesha — Following a very long and very public legal battle with her record label Kemosabe Records (Sony) executive Dr. Luke, Kesha released her album Rainbow after a four-year wait. The album’s lead single “Praying” was met with critical acclaim and for good reason, with an emotional lyrical build up and a Mariah Carey-esque high note, it’s the albums sincere highlight. The title track “Rainbow” is fiercely catchy alongside incredible heartfelt lyrics, “I used to live in the darkness/Dress in black/act so heartless/but now I know the colors are everything”.
- SZA — Debut album Ctrl touches on a number of insecurities and complexities of relationships. Her big radio hit “Love Galore,” which features Travis Scott, is sealed with messy and at times discorded synth behind her melodic run singing out just one word, “love”. The album in its entirety is beautifully atmospheric. Her ethereal vocals float above full choirs and orchestras to entrance any listener. She continues to impress with “All The Stars” where she stands toe to toe with Kendrick Lamar for the Black Panther soundtrack.
- Noah Cyrus I can almost hear the sighs at me mentioning a Cyrus, but hear me out. It hasn’t been since Jessica and Ashlee Simpson that a sister has stood apart from a globally known sibling as fearlessly as Noah. She is sonically, lyrically, and conceptually miles away from her sister and she isn’t making a fool of herself. Her tracks drag you down in the dirt and there is no way you are in Malibu. You will want to hate her single “Stay Together” released May 2017, but good luck. Holding similar charm is the track “Again”, featuring XXTENTACION, which houses creepy undertones that hook you as Noah reminds the listener like a long lost witch from Salem, “You don’t know what you got till it’s gone my dear/so tell me that you love me again”.
- HALSEY Since HALSEY released BADLANDS in 2015 I was sold. Between songs like Gasoline that played to hearts of many confused women living in today’s social climate, “Are you insane like me?/Been in pain like me?/Bought a $100 dollar bottle of champagne like me/just to pour that motherfucker down the drain like me?”. Her vivid blue hair being chopped off seemed like a musical metamorphosis but quite the contrary, truthfully it made no difference to her mission statement and her 2017 full-length release. Hopeless Fountain Kingdom will blow your socks off whether through radio main plays, “Bad at Love” or the potentially lesser known “100 Letters”. The album plays homage to the insanely famous Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet, to which HALSEY accredits Baz Lahrmann’s cinematic interpretation entirely. “100 Letters” reminds the listener of a relationship that’s almost too painful to walk away from, “You wrote a 100 letters just for me/ and I find them in my closet in the pockets of my jeans/now I’m constantly reminded of the time I was 19”. Her rise from indie obscurity to mainstream radio play is one of the best accidents of 2017.
Women have dominated 2017 and have continued to carry that through to 2018. Whether through marches, exposing famous fondlers, or putting out fantastic music. As Kathleen Hanna, circa Bikini Kill, said, “All girls to the front!”.