March 8th marks International Women's Day, an annual celebration acknowledging the achievements of women across all spheres (including culturally, politically and socially) and drawing attention to global issues around women's' rights. In honour of this here are a selection of our favourite female music artists here at The Courier.
Since the release of 2020’s “Falling Asleep At The Wheel” EP, Holly Humberstone has been one to watch over the past few years, her success culminating in her winning of the 2022 Brits Rising Star Award.
Her sound is tender, unfiltered and raw, her lyrics personal and filled with emotion. For fans of Phoebe Bridgers, her indie-pop tracks tell the tales of doomed relationships (“Scarlett”), mental illness in the family (“Deep End”) and her nostalgia for her childhood home (“Haunted House”). “Friendly Fires” is open and filled with warmth, whilst “Please Don’t Leave Just Yet” is haunting and co-written by Matty Healy (you can tell, the track features signature The 1975 80s synth pop vibes ).
“Falling Asleep At The Wheel” has gained over 200m streams worldwide and her follow up EP “The Walls are Way To Thin”, produced by Rob Milton (Easy Life, Maisie Peters), recently won the NME “best mixtape” award.
Holly has also made her mark with some of the industry’s biggest names at the moment: she is set to go on tour with Olivia Rodrigo in 2022 and features on Sam Fender’s acoustic version of “Seventeen Going Under”.
With lyrics self described as “tattoo lyrics”, Holly Humberstone’s music is melodic, honest and beautiful.
- Betsy Cleaver
Taylor Swift is, to put it plainly, a woman of many talents and this International Women’s Day I want to celebrate her impact on music and myself personally.
There’s little not to love about Swift, her passion for her craft is evident, and it seems rare to find any other artist nowadays who can capture the beauty of storytelling within music like she does. From Folkore to Speak Now to 1989, Swift is the queen of reinvention and there’s not a genre yet that she’s not managed to master. Her music spans every mood you could ever feel, want to have a good cry? Stick on a bit of Red. Similarly, if you’re feeling like conquering the world, put on Reputation. My love for her as an artist has only grown over the years and I’m always excited to see what she does next. Swift is also inspirational not only because of her musical talents, but because of her dedication to her fans. Everything that she creates is for them, and she makes her work as enriching as it can be. Taylor Swift has been a big part of my life since I was young, and it’s honestly been the best journey growing into the woman I am today listening to her music.
- Jess Bradbury
Marina, formerly Marina and The Diamonds, is the epitome of a feminist music icon. Her discography is a testament to her journey over the years, both a musical journey and a more personal journey (which led her to drop the diamonds from her stage name).
Her albums deal with the theme of change. Family Jewels argues you don’t need to change then Electra Heart (arguably Marina’s most popular caricature and album) declares it is okay to change. Froot reels it in by reminding us to change only for ourselves. Ancient Dreams in A Modern Land is an ecofeminist’s delight: you don’t need to change, the world does. As a person who often struggles with change, these albums me self-reflect and cope.
Aside from her inspirational self-development and growth, her music hits home every time and for every occasion. Feeling confident? This Is How To Be A Heartbreaker or Venus Flytrap. Feeling hopeless? Purge the Poison or Forget. Feeling sexy? Froot. Such a range of songs is commendable considering most songs I hear these days are recycled love songs. Even when Marina does tackle love, it’s of the self-love variety. She truly is a singer of and for the modern generation.
- Emily Kelso
Nobody epitomises modern female artistry quite like Dublin-born singer-songwriter Orla Gartland. Though still making her mark on the industry, Gartland is doing it with humble ease. Fresh off the back of a debut album steeped in undiluted metaphors of naïve susceptibility and a sense of bare sincerity, she writes with juxtaposing assertiveness and insightful contemplation among a stylistically ambitious repertoire spanning influences of pop punk to indie-folk and retro peppiness, all while retaining a translucency – she provides authentic honesty, not a total outpouring.
“I’m so fucking self-aware, it’s exhausting”: Gartland’s ‘Pretending’ condenses the hyperawareness of conformity into a single line, and the self-criticism which can be found in the act of pretence that stems from striving for perceived perfection. Parallels can be drawn with the female experience here – so often are women forced to acquiesce to preconceived expectations in a modern and ever-changing society. These themes extend further, tackling the toxicity of masculinity and feelings of repression (‘Zombie!’) to the comparative nature of self-exploration under the technological pressures of modernity (‘More Like You’).
Gartland is versatile, not only is she an artist but she has also showcased her talents as a producer extensively on her most recent album, released under her self-established record label, New Friends. While her music alone should be applauded, in an industry where female producers are so heavily underrepresented – reports from 2020 claim only 3% of producers in the music industry were female – it is even more important to recognise the work of Orla Gartland this International Women’s Day.
- Rowan Christina Driver