Not all pop musicians are made alike. Thank goodness for the weird ones. Here’s a list of the ladies that gladly make what they want, whether it’s a night of dancing on the town or sulking in the dark corner of your bedroom.
1. “Zero”- Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Karen O is clearly a badass. I love how she can be both vulnerable (“Maps”) or aggressive (“Date with the Night”) with ease.
Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Photo Credit: Damian Shaw)
“Zero,” taken from the album It’s Blitz, is a departure from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ edgier, more punk output earlier on, but clearly Karen O is having a blast. Her outfits are proof.
2. “Northern Lights”- St. Vincent
On the surface, Annie Clark’s work seems like breezy pop/rock songs, but digging deeper reveals rich textures and an underlying edgy tone that isn’t found in the majority of modern pop music. Go take a listen to her new self-titled album via NPR if you haven’t already.
3. “Infinity Guitars”- Sleigh Bells
Juxtaposition is what Sleigh Bells is all about. What other band can say it is comprised of powerful 1980s metal guitars and sugary pop choruses? Singer Alexis Krauss doesn’t have the most impressive vocal abilities, but her ability to intersperse sweet coos with shouts and chants sets her apart.
4. “The Trick Is to Keep Breathing”- Garbage
Oh do I love Shirley Manson. She’s one of the first women that showed me female-fronted bands can indeed be cool (I’ve usually preferred male vocalists).
Shirley Manson of Garbage (Photo Credit: John Kenney)
Though her music can be described as rock, there’s always a pop element to it, and Shirley Manson has an effortlessly cool style and demeanor.
5. “Glass”- Bat for Lashes
I’ve always felt Natasha Khan has a certain mysterious quality about her.
Much like Florence Welch, she creates baroque pop that often incorporates a hint of mysticism. Okay, maybe more than a hint.
6. “Bones”- MS MR
Lizzy Plapinger’s voice is so unique. Her powerful, husky tone compliments MS MR’s dark indie pop.
Lizzy Plapinger of MS MR and her always cool hair
The debut album Secondhand Rapture is one of those albums for which you won’t feel inclined to skip a track.
7. “Feral Love”- Chelsea Wolfe
Goth culture has found a new inspiration. Wolfe’s somber music and visuals are hauntingly atmospheric. Too bad she isn’t more popular, because there’s such a breath of fresh air to her approach.
8. “Circumambient”- Grimes
Claire Boucher’s angelic, wispy voice layered over many, many vocal tracks and synthesized sounds didn’t immediately engross me, but take a few listens and you’ll start to realize just how smart and layered her records are.
9. “Falling”- Haim
This talented trio of sisters have soared in success since the release of their debut album Days are Gone in 2013. R & B, soul, modern pop, and classic rock are all sprinkled within the catchy record. Somehow it all works.
10. “Army of Me”- Björk
The fabulously weird Bjork (Photo Credit: Andre Csillag)
Countless artists have been inspired by her, but Iceland’s most popular musical export is in a league all her own.
Raw yet sentimental, Björk’s otherworldly voice and music has opened up the genre of pop in a whole new way.
11. “Fist of a Flower”- Gemma Ray
Though not as well known as most of the artists on this list, Gemma Ray is a British singer/songwriter that has released several albums evoking a 60s pop vibe for the modern age. Considering she collaborated on a single with Sparks, she’s the definition of quirky.
12. “Spectrum”- Florence and the Machine
That powerhouse voice Florence Welch has can wail about anything and make it sound spectacular, but Welch’s lyrics also separate her from the overtly saturated pop genre. She sings about everything from ghosts to mental breakdowns, yet somehow manages to keep it all sound sweeping and beautiful.
13. “Dreams”- Fleetwood Mac
This playlist just needs to end with a classic. Besides Stevie Nicks’ wild lifestyle back in the day, there’s actually good music there too! Nicks’ vocals are unlike any other, and her style of long flowing garb has inspired many (including the aforementioned Florence Welch.