New Wave of Diversity Takes 2018 Music by Storm
By Lily Doolin
As of late, it seems as though gender diversity is improving in the music industry. Big-name female artists dominated the stage at the 2018 Grammys back in January. Many female artists have been grabbing headlines left and right throughout the year for their new music and performances.
However, the statistics regarding gender diversity among recording artists are actually quite bleak. In an article at the beginning of the year, The New York Times collected data revealing just how many women are present in the industry today. They found that “of 1,239 performing artists, 22.4 percent of them were women.” Additionally, “of the 899 individuals who have been nominated for the last six Grammy ceremonies, 90.7 percent were men and 9.3 percent were women.”
It’s disheartening to think that women are still significantly in the minority. However, there are some new female artists breaking through the gender bias and making their way into the limelight. Here are the top 5 female artists secretly taking the world by storm that you should be listening to:
Janelle Monáe stepped onto the music scene back in 2007 with her EP “Metropolis.” Her combination of a symphonic R&B vibe with more theatrical, old time rock and roll vocals made her popular among fans of artists like Pink Floyd and Destiny’s Child. While Monáe has now adopted more conventional pop/rap beats, she has still managed to maintain her new wave sound. Monáe’s latest release, Dirty Computer, focuses on her experience of being a queer black woman in a patriarchal society.
Songs to listen to: Pynk (feat. Grimes), Django Jane, Make Me Feel
You might remember Hayley Kiyoko from Disney’s 2011 movie Lemonade Mouth, in which she portrayed the rebellious Stella Yamada. In 2015, Kiyoko broke out onto the scene with her song “Girls Like Girls,” an evocative electropop song promoting LGBT visibility. This year, Kiyoko released her first full-length album entitled Expectations. The album is quite a diversion from her original electric vibe, opting for a more lusty, experimental sound with breathy, laidback vocals. Her sound, combined with her confrontational, provocative lyrics, is sure to catapult her into the mainstream soon enough.
Songs to listen to: Girls Like Girls, What I Need (feat. Kehlani), Sleepover
Amy Shark, aka Amy Billings, made her start in the Gold Coast of Australia. In 2016, her hit single “Adore” went 3x platinum in Australia, eventually launching her into international stardom. Defining Billings’s sound is a bit tricky; while many generally categorize her under the genre of “indie pop,” her music is not that straightforward. Many of the songs on her first full-length album Love Monster have folk-pop and rap influences. What is perhaps most entrancing about Billings’s music is her lyrics; her songs vary in topic, going from underdog anthems like “I Said Hi,” to revealing, emotional encounters like “Don’t Turn Around."
Songs to listen to: Adore, Never Coming Back, I Said Hi
Though H.E.R (Having Everything Revealed) chooses to remain anonymous, she’s been anything but unknown as of late. With labelmates/mentors Alicia Keys and Bryson Tiller helping to promote her, H.E.R.’s moody, alto EP “H.E.R., Vol. 1” was a hit with fans of artists like Drake and Khalid. Her most recent release, “I Used to Know Her: The Prelude” is a collection of songs detailing the struggle and anguish of being a young black woman in this day and age. The opening track, “Lost Souls,” provides listeners with an unusually upbeat rap song, while “Could’ve Been” is a deeper, soulful song that is more representative of her discography as a whole.
Songs to listen to: Best Part, As I Am, Focus
This all female-quartet from Provo, Utah, is more than your average girl group. These four no-nonsense ladies divert the stereotype, their sound diverging from the traditional, cheerful pop songs to more serious tracks dealing with everything from bad relationships to phoniness in today’s society. However, their music still manages to present these topics with lively melodies and an electric, indie-influenced pop-rock sound. Their first full-length album When My Heart Felt Volcanic, contains a plethora of fun, exuberant songs for carefree listening, including the chart-topping single “Stuck.”
Songs to listen to: Stuck, Fake Nice, Holiday
If you’re interested in any of the female artists mentioned above, be sure to tune in all day, every day to 88.9 WERS.