With the combined power of Spotify, Youtube, and SoundCloud, we pretty much have the complete catalogue of every musical artist at the tips of our fingers. But with so much accessibility, it’s easy for talented musicians get lost in the noise and the passage of time.
If you’ve been wanting to inject some underrated female singers into your playlist, check out a few of these top artists that you should have on your radar—from up-and-coming rappers to 1960s folk queens.
1. Julien Baker
Angsty, brooding, hopeful—with biting lyrics and a gritty tone, Julien Baker has the talent to breathe the perfect words into complex emotions. In addition to her solo work, Baker is also one-third of the band boygenius, alongside Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus.
Listen if you like: Soccer Mommy, Mistki
You should probably know H.E.R.—she’s Grammy award–winning and has been signed since she was 14 years old—but it hasn’t been until recently that her popularity has picked up. With a mysterious aura and a slow and smooth sound, H.E.R.’s R&B flow makes it easy to get lost in your headphones.
Listen if you like: Kehlani, SZA
3. Doja Cat
With cheeky lyrics, upbeat rhythms, and genre-bending sounds, Doja Cat covers a wide range of styles in every one of her albums, with each song oozing with charisma and confidence. If you need a few jams to add to your workout playlist, check out her album, Amala.
Listen if you like: Lizzo, Nikki Minaj
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Thanks to her background in poetry and knack for clever delivery, Saweetie can keep up with some of the best female rappers in the game right now. Her breakthrough hit “ICY GRL” put her on the map a few years ago, but she’s released two solid albums since then.
Listen if you like: Megan Thee Stallion, Cardi B
5. Tove Styrke
Hailing from Sweden, Tove Styrke won third place on Swedish Idol way back in 2009, but didn’t gain international recognition until her 2017 hit “Say My Name.” Styrke has everything she needs to be the next pop queen—a bouncy sound, airy vocals, and electric hooks—but she hasn’t quite established the popularity that she deserves.
Listen if you like: Tove Lo, Katy Perry
6. Lucinda Williams
Twangy, heel-stomping folk music—that’s Lucinda Williams’ speciality. Underneath that country rock and gravelly tone, you’ll also find some of the most powerful lyrics from any songwriter in her generation. Williams has a lengthy discography dating all the way back to the 1980s, and she’s still putting out new music to this day.
Listen if you like: Sheryl Crow, Willie Nelson
7. Kacy Hill
A former backup dancer for Kanye West’s Yeezus tour, Kacy Hill was signed to West’s very own GOOD Music label after he heard one of her demos. Despite having the support of one of the biggest musicians in the world, Hill still has under 200,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. Her dreamy pop is much different from GOOD Music’s typical artists, but it’s easy to see why Kanye was so drawn to the combo of synth and old soul in her sound.
Listen if you like: Broods, BANKS
8. Little Simz
Little Simz is based across the pond, but her widely acclaimed albums have attracted attention from the likes of icons such as Kendrick Lamar and Ms. Lauryn Hill. Her rapid-fire, philosophical rhymes reflect on personal struggles, triumphs, and stories, and her latest album, GREY Area boasted stellar critical reviews.
Listen if you like: Kendrick Lamar, Noname
9. Caroline Smith
Both a solo artist and lead singer of the band Caroline Smith and the Good Night Sleeps, Smith hasn’t made music for a few years, but her old albums are well-worth revisiting. As far as sound goes, Smith’s solo work blends pop and folk while her work with the Good Nights sleep is very much stripped-down acoustic. Plus, since both her and Lizzo hail from Minneapolis, she even has an early collab with the current pop queen!
Listen if you like: Sarah Bareilles, Lucius
Once named the “Queen of American folk music” by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a Living Legend by the Library of Congress, Odetta Holmes was an icon in the world of American folk music. Since Odetta made much of her music during a time of racial tension and oppression, many of those themes carry through in her music. It’s not just folk, though—throughout her discography, Odetta masters jazz, blues, and everything in between.
Listen if you like: Nina Simone, Pete Seeger
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11. Amelia Meath
One half of the electronic pop duo Sylvan Esso, Amelia Meath’s cool, lackadaisical voice dances over the chimes and kicks of the band’s buzzy tracks. The Durham, North Carolina—based band’s sophomore album was named one of the best of 2017 by NPR, and while they haven't released a new one since then, they’re still touring regularly.
Listen if you like: Haim, Phantogram
12. Tierra Whack
Last year, Whack’s album Whack World—a unique debut filled with one-minute tracks—was ranked as one of the best of the year...and the title pretty much sums up the sound. Whack’s music is unpredictable and colorful, simultaneously pared down and over-the-top. Even if you aren’t a fan of rap, you should give Whack a try.
Listen if you like: Childish Gambino, Vince Staples
13. The Roches
A trio of sisters from “deepest New Jersey,” the Roches were known for their well-crafted lyrics, full harmonies, and quirky stage presence. Although they started as buskers in the streets of New York during the ‘’60s, the sisters’ unique sound and effortlessly cool demeanor quickly shot them to stardom in the folk music scene.
Listen if you like: Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan