Women’s History Month is ending! In keeping with the celebrations, let’s elevate and focus on the female voice just one more time before April showers sneak in. Continue reading to learn about Coog Radio contributors’ favorite female artists and their best albums and tracks.
In the male-dominated world of music producing and electronic DJing, Alison Wonderland has seriously earned her spot among the greats and paved the way for other women in the industry. It’s rare to find female producers, but especially one who can so rapidly rise to the top. Her album Awake last year was a much-earned hit, defining her growth and versatility as an artist. If this wasn’t enough, she also began playing the electric cello and singing live during her shows. This woman can really do it all – she works hard to create the best live experiences, bringing high energy and giving her all. Her passion and authenticity really show, and she’s a woman in music definitely worth recognizing. – Parnia Razinobakht Photo by Parnia Razinobakht
Born Cynthia Ann Stephanie Lauper, she pioneered what it meant to be a woman in a male-dominated industry coming on to the scene in the 1980’s. She embraced all the good of glam rock and synth pop riding the wave of incoming liberated, working-women in power suits and big hair. Although some stage outfits were as (at the time) risque as Madonna’s, they were clearly more of an art statement then for male appeal, a sentiment that would later be echoed by artists like Lady Gaga. From the start, she insisted on having control over her songs, often changing lyrics to empower women (“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”) rather then play into degrading subjects. As she gained power in the industry, she never forgot to extend a hand to those still trying to climb by engaging in extensive humanitarian work and advocating for LGBT rights. She still makes music today, but also dabbles in other art forms such as musical theater, eventually becoming the first woman to win a Tony for best original score for her musical, Kinky Boots. For a loney, eccentric third grader with a love of art and thrifting, I didn’t see too much representation for me among my favorite hair metal, thrash metal, or goth bands of the 80’s. And I never thought I was pretty enough to emulate Madonna or Blondie. But Cyndi stood out. She was herself, and proud, and encouraging. Unlike some of our queens today, trashing each other on twitter or at shows, Cyndi Lauper always uplifted other women. Her actions spoke for it, making so that she never had to say it, quite unlike many today who mirror the opposite. Although there are thousands of other women worthy of this spot, Cyndi Lauper deserves it for her influence in a crucial point in music and her far-reaching impact onto other female artists today. – Cynthia Zelaya
When choosing my favorite female artist, it wasn’t quick or that easy but Lady Gaga was definitely one of the first artists that popped into my mind. I thought about what songs I like or what albums a female artist has produced or released but also had a small reflection of what I value and appreciate from artists as individuals in their creative processes and work as well. The pool of strong and inspirational women was incredibly difficult to choose from, but I can honestly say Lady Gaga is a true visionary, who’s been challenging every possible norm and providing an inclusive space for everyone to feel welcomed and accepted for as long as I can remember. Her lyrics and music videos for songs such as “Bad Romance”, “Paparazzi”, “Born This Way” were literally ahead of their time and caught everyone’s attention with her bold choreography and costume choices. Gaga was and still is incredibly innovative. I don’t know if its because I’ve been playing “Bad Romance” on repeat these past few days or the fact that she’s come so far as to win an Oscar this year, but Lady Gaga’s immediately came to mind as a favorite and holds the position as one of my favorite female artists. – Amy Serratos Lady Gaga at A Star is Born Premiere (Source: Getty Images)
An extremely underrated emcee – some may not even know she had a rap career before becoming a world renowned actress – Queen Latifah’s voice plowed through any structure. Whether that be through rapping or singing, her struggle as a black women was to be understood and respected. As an avid feminist since the beginning of her career, her success as a female emcee proved that not only could women be a part of the Hip-Hop community, but also part of the finest rappers of her time. Her influence reached out to artists like Outkast and Naughty by Nature, and at one point, she even managed both groups. Although she has released several albums over the years (seven), her role in the entertainment industry was not limited to music. Latifah found a successful career in the film industry as well, winning an Emmy award and Golden Globe Award. – Darshak Chudasama Photo Source: Discogs
While she only released one solo album, Lauryn Hill is my favorite female artist. Her continued influence, even twenty years after The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was released, is so expository of her sheer impact on music and society in general. Lauryn Hill started her career as an integral part of Fugees. Especially on The Score, she was the glue between Wyclef Jean and Pras Micheal. And it isn’t just the vocals. Lauryn Hill has an emotional expressiveness that is inviting and humane. Between detailing her experience as a transplant from her home and her experience as a minority, she draws you into the album. Her magnetism is most evident on “Killing Me Softly.” While it is a cover, the chorus lyrics feel like Lauryn Hill thought them up herself with the intent and passion she puts behind each lyric. After an incredible stint with Fugees, Lauryn Hill released her one and only album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. While this would never be enough for most artists, you can feel the passion and emotion Lauryn Hill poured into the album. It is so incredibly difficult to find a flaw in the album. From top to bottom, you can tell it is one hundred percent her in production, lyrics, and everything in between. In just sixteen tracks, she touches on the themes of turmoil that many women face and how we are miseducated in how to handle these situations and life in general by social constructs. From a surprise pregnancy to religious faithfulness, Lauryn Hill leaves no leaf unturned. Her experience and perspective on the conflicts that women face is fresh but so wise. I learned a lot from Lauryn Hill as I struggled to find exactly who I am, and I know she did that for a lot of women. – Christina Dias Photo by Madeline Robicheaux
Hayley Williams- Hayley Williams is best known as the bright redhead frontwoman of the pop punk rock band Paramore. She has dominated and set a standard for strong female vocalists within the alternative scene. Hayley is no newbie in the music business, she’s been performing with her band since the age of 16. Throughout her career, which spans over a decade now, Williams has consistently been showing out and proving herself as a powerful songwriter and a powerhouse vocalist. Her range is seriously underrated, she’s able to hit low bassy notes as well as reach her natural high soprano notes. While Paramore is best known for their rock sound, Williams doesn’t necessarily limit herself to any one genre or style, frequently dipping into her love for 80’s pop as well as fiddling with her southern roots on a variety of tracks. She’s also collaborated on an EDM type track with Zedd and on a rap track with B.o.B, leaving her audience blown away at just how well her voice fits everything. The Grammy award winning artist is a great role model to many, she shares her healthy lifestyle choices with her fans and she also is constantly lifting other female artists up. Williams has countlessly used her platform to bring attention to causes she cares about and encourages others to do the same. We may never find a more genuine or talented female artist with stunning highlighter orange hair again. – Leslie Campos
Poet. Journalist. Activist. Punk. Patti Smith’s career spans multiple fields almost as if they are each different lifetimes. She was an instant stand out with crazy acts like performing poetry before sets, but it’s her boldness and unrelenting self-expression that has made Smith a living legend. I cannot stress the significance that her debut album Horses had on the overall music scene of the mid-1970’s and in crafting the musicians of today. Personally, she is my biggest inspiration in becoming a better writer and overall creator. – German Romaldo
Janelle Monae created an incredible piece of socially conscious art with her iconic album Dirty Computer last year, and I’m honestly still not over it. With a visual component as well, Dirty Computer tells an important narrative about identity in today’s world. Intersecting issues of race, gender, and sexuality, Monae helps us see the dystopian side of our society but balances it with light. It celebrates womanhood, femininity, individuality, and freedom in such a bold yet elegant way. This album definitely makes it into the top modern feminist works. – Parnia Razinobakht
Janelle Monae created an incredible piece of socially conscious art with her iconic album Dirty Computer last year, and I’m honestly still not over it. With a visual component as well, Dirty Computer tells an important narrative about identity in today’s world. Intersecting issues of race, gender, and sexuality, Monae helps us see the dystopian side of our society but balances it with light. It celebrates womanhood, femininity, individuality, and freedom in such a bold yet elegant way. This album definitely makes it into the top modern feminist works. – Cynthia Zelaya
25 years later and I’m here writing about it, the iconic 4th studio album by Selena Quintanilla that contains some of the most popular Spanish songs in history, Amor Prohibido. I almost feel thrilled being able to say that this album is my favorite album as it was created by one of my favorite distinguished artists, Selena Quintanilla, a latin woman who continues to be a role model for Latinas all around the world. The album, being about dysfunctional relationships, unrequited or prohibited love and such themes, takes an almost inspiring stance announcing women’s strength but also struggles in love. Amor Prohibido notably contains some of Selena’s most popular singles that encompass her artistry and impact in not only the Tejano style and culture but in pop-culture, too. Singles off the album include “No Me Queda Mas”, “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” and of course “Amor Prohibido”. These songs together, or as singles are not only all favorites of mine but essentials everyone needs to listen to. Amor Prohibido as an album contains some of Selena’s most legendary work that paved the way for Tejano music and definitely has made its mark in music history. – Amy Serratos
Released during the golden era of Hip-Hop, All Hail the Queen served as a groundbreaking debut for Queen Latifah. Producer Daddy-O provided a perfect mix of tracks to dance to as well as rap to. However, no matter the speed or direction of his beats, Latifah bounced up and down with a diverse set of flows and her incredibly confident stature. A queen no doubt, she never gives a weak performance on any of these tracks. “Wrath of My Madness” is Latifah swiftly riding her own high horse while “The Pros” is slower than ever, arguably just as groovy as any Biggie track. Essentially a precursor for rappers like Kendrick to understand how to rap around a beat in every angle, “Queen of Royal Badness” pretty much sums up Latifah’s bad-assery in a mere 3 minutes. All Hail the Queen was, is, and always will be, Queen Latifah’s most powerful release from her entire discography. – Darshak Chudasama
Yes, I did pick Room 25 as my favorite album of 2018, but I can’t seem to get this album out of my thoughts. Every single time I listen to it, I feel refreshed. First of all, the musicality of the album is just simply unmatched. It is so calm yet there is so much intent behind the music. However, the main reason why I love Room 25 so much is what Noname actually says on the album. She perfectly encapsulates so many parts of what it means to be a woman. From the superlatives on “Self” to detailing the pain of unrequited love on “no name,” I feel heard and understood. Effortlessly, she articulates complex feelings that I really never unpacked within myself. And yet, despite the relatable nature of Room 25, Noname is so strong in her portrayal of self. The album is a true autobiography of her unique experience and is just so easy to get lost in. He unabashed sense of self plays into my idea of a strong, successful woman. While she may venture into discussing her pitfalls in her songs, she shows that she has learned from them, rather than beating herself up for them or trying to apologize. I previously referred to this album as decadent, but Room 25 has become more of a mainstay in my life than just a weekly treat. I learn something new every time I listen to it, and I don’t think I will ever grow tired of it. – Christian Dias
Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black – Let me be real honest. WHO WAS DOING IT LIKE HER? There are too many people to name who have been influenced by the raw sound of the late Amy Winehouse. The album Back to Black really solidified her career and her image into pop culture. There were countless hits, from her more jazzier tracks like the unforgettable Rehab to Back to Black and then she also offered more soulful pieces like Love Is a Losing Game and Wake Up Alone. Her unmistakable voice draws you in and then her uninhibited lyrics bring you straight into the image she’s painting. I truly believe Amy is one of those artists that you come upon once in a lifetime, she was able to portray the worst and most genuine parts of her life into art for the masses. – Leslie Campos
The only original pressing I have framed in my room. While it is not the perfect album nor is it her most famous, Patti Smith’s Radio Ethiopia is feral yet hypnotizing. At times, the intimacy of Smith’s vocal and the lounge-esque nature of the instrumentation makes the listener feel like they are in some private concert, but the bursts of energy bring you right back to reality with each wild Patti outburst. Definitely worthy of a listen. – German Romaldo
Check out our favorite tracks in the below playlist!
Who is your female artist? Your favorite track and album? Let us know in the comments. Subscribe to our site to stay up to date on rising female artists and the new projects of those you already love.