The music industry can be chock-full of male artists, with curated playlists and radio airtime regularly overflowing with men. However, the music industry fails again and again to acknowledge its female counterparts, with women often being neglected and left voiceless. In honor of Women’s History Month, here are eight underrated female artists that deserve the microphone, adding some much-needed moxie to one’s music library.
Chloe X Halle
Under the wing of Beyoncé herself, Chloe X Halle are on the fast track to stardom. After a string of DIY self-produced albums and performances of the theme song on their hit TV show, “Grown-ish,” the sister duo released slinky breakout hit “Do It,” followed by their Grammy-nominated album, “Ungodly Hour.”
While promoting their album during the peak of the pandemic, the sisters famously transformed their backyard tennis court into their own variety of performance stages, showcasing their undeniable vocal range and stage presence. Reminiscent of the likes of Ariana Grande and Kehlani, listeners will immediately fall in love with the effervescent R&B-pop fusion of Chloe X Halle.
Balancing a double life between attending college and being an indie pop star seems like an impossible feat. However, Maude Latour makes it look easy, with her song “One More Weekend” being streamed over four million times on Spotify while she attends Columbia University as a full-time political science major.
Latour’s music is deeply personal yet vexingly catchy, drawing inspiration from singer-songwriters such as Lorde and Taylor Swift, confessing her innermost secrets through a bright, candy-coated melody most aptly shown on songs like “Furniture” and “Walk Backwards.” Her lyrics are hyper-specific and diaristic, yet universally relatable, perfect for any fellow college-age hopeless romantics.
Born Blane Muise, Shygirl — self-proclaimed “lyricist and DJ with a tone set clearly in the depths of the club” — is already making her mark on the music industry. Recently, Shygirl completed a rite of passage for upcoming artists with her song “UCKERS” becoming a trend on TikTok, where users lip synced to the song while revealing their makeup routines.
Shygirl’s music is indicative of the “Hyperpop” movement, characterized by whispery, understated vocals over harsh, industrial beats, typically accompanied by outlandish visuals. Founding her own label, Nuxxe, Shygirl has already begun her journey as a music industry mogul, signing other underground electronic artists such as Sega Bodega and CouCou Chloe, making her one to watch out for in upcoming years.
Famous for penning hits like “Love Lies” by Khalid and Normani and “High Hopes” by Panic! At the Disco, Tayla Parx has only just begun composing her own musical journey. Releasing her album, “We Need To Talk,” in 2019, Parx branded herself as an entertaining, yet cheeky solo artist, releasing songs like “I Want You,” in which Parx belts a playful ode to polyamory.
On her latest album, “Coping Mechanism,” Parx pivots to new sonic landscapes, taking inspiration from ’70s disco and R&B seen in her Minnie Ripperton-inspired cover art. Balancing between vulnerable break up songs like “Nevermind” and self-love anthems like “Dance Alone,” Parx’s discography is quintessential “crying on the dancefloor” material.
Harkening back to early 2000s pop-rock, 22-year old Soccer Mommy has crafted a darkly comical indie rock catalogue. At first listen, songs like “circle the drain” and “bloodstream” can provide the soundtrack for a lively night out while also touching upon relatable themes of depression, loneliness and mental illness upon further inspection.
Combining the musical styles of Avril Lavigne and Phoebe Bridgers and always utilizing a live band while recording — a rare patrice these days — Soccer Mommy provides a unique listening experience for the Gen-Z audience, synthesizing both modern and nostalgic musical sensibilities.
Known for writing songs for the likes of Ariana Grande and Selena Gomez, Victoria Monet has now positioned herself center stage as her own musical entity within the past year. Releasing “Jaguar,” the first of three corresponding musical projects, in late 2020, Monet has identified herself as a throwback, funk-inspired songstress.
Through songs like “Dive” and “Moment,” Monet provides a window into a sepia-tone, ’70s-inspired vision where synths and 808s are surrendered in favor of analog instrumentation. Wading deeper into the ’70s inspired landscape, “Experience,” a duet with singer Khalid, evokes a sparkly, Studio 54 aura in which Monet dances away the pain of a broken relationship. Monet has continuously proven herself worthy of the spotlight, and listeners should familiarize themselves with her work before she inevitably blows up big-time.
Previously a college student at University of Southern California, dropping out to pursue a career in music, UMI is making her mark on the lo-fi, neo-soul music scene. Relaying themes of nostalgia and introspection throughout her mid-tempo, laid-back music, it's no wonder that UMI is emblematic of the Gen-Z bedroom pop movement. UMI concocts songs like “Remember Me” and “Love Affair,” perfectly capturing the vibe of a summer car ride with the windows rolled down.
UMI is also known for adding details regarding mindfulness in her lyrics, often doting on the importance of meditation and interconnection, such as in the song “Down to Earth.” Reminiscent of Jhené Aiko, Erykah Badu and SZA, fans of the former should take the time to listen to their burgeoning new contemporary.
Razor-sharp beats and stunning neon visuals are the bread and butter of English singer/rapper Bree Runway. With a few viral Twitter moments under her belt, Bree Runway has officially established her name in the music world. Taking inspiration from 2000s hip hop icons — such as Missy Elliot, whom she later collaborated with on the track “ATM” — Runway has made it her goal to open up a space in pop music for not only herself, but for fellow dark-skinned Black women. “[The music industry is a place where] dark-skinned girls don’t get prioritised, [but] I want to prioritise them in my space,” Runway said, detailing how she actively employs dark-skinned dancers because they are typically “thrown in the back”. Listeners should brace themselves and listen to the idiosyncratic rollercoaster ride that is her 2020 EP “2000AND4EVA.”
As Women’s History Month comes to an end, one must be sure to continue saluting and recognizing women in music. Commemorate their boundary-breaking hard work by adding, appreciating and streaming female artists’ music all year long.
Contact Jake Dodohara at email@example.com . For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter and Instagram @Breeze_Culture.