11 kickass ladies poised to conquer the music world

Don’t get me wrong—I love the boys in the music scene, but sometimes you just need the ladies to empower your day. Those girls that sing their hearts out. The ones that make you feel good about yourself. The ones chasing their dreams and inspiring you to chase your own. Of course, I love me some Taylor, Beyoncé, Katy, Ingrid, and HAIM, but here are some newer girls in the music scene. (Some have been around, but still deserve that recognition!) At the end of the post, I created a “Kickass Gals” Spotify playlist with my favorite song from each artist, so you can feed these amazing musicians directly in your ears.

Lianne La Havas

The 26-year-old British singer is full of soul. Her music is filled with her strong beautiful vocals and jazz-infused beats. In July, Lianne’s second album Blood was released. Many songs on the album are inspired by her Jamaican and Greek family heritage. Fun fact: her song “Is Your Love Big Enough?” (one of my favorites) is featured on the President’s summer night playlist on Spotify! Oh, and NBD she’s performed with Prince on Saturday Night Live.

Elle King

Elle King may not be America’s sweetheart, but she is America’s badass, folk queen. Her debut album Love Stuff was released this past February. She wrote/co-wrote every song on the album and it’s filled with banjo riffs and southern twang. The Los Angeles native is actually Rob Schneider’s daughter, but she’s definitely making a name for herself. She’s gotten all kinds of praise: For example, Reese Witherspoon and Hayley Williams are HUGE fans of her awesome music, raspy voice and witty personality.

Hayley Kiyoko

Hayley Kiyoko is a multi-talented musician and actress. Her whole EP This Side of Paradise is awesome and filled with dreamy Cali vibes. There’s one track on the EP that stands out: “Girls Like Girls”. It has a simple, but powerful message. “Girls like girls like boys do. Nothing new.” Love is love. Simple as that. Hayley co-directed the music video for the song. It stars her Jem and the Holograms/Insidious:Chapter 3 co-star Stefanie Scott and actress Kelsey Chow and has over 10 million views! The video is simply beautiful and I’m just in love with it.


Halsey is an anagram for her first name Ashley [Frangipane] and also the name of a street in Brooklyn, where she spent a lot of time as a teen. The 20-year-old identifies herself as a biracial, bisexual, and bipolar artist. Halsey has a hypnotic voice and creates dark, empowering music in the indie pop scene. She’s blown up because of her artistic/poetic posts on tumblr AND because she’s just amazing. Badlands, her debut album, is a fictional city she created and a metaphor for what’s inside her head. In Interview Magazine, she said, “There’s a booming, rotating, never sleeping city in the center of my brain and no body can come in and I can’t escape.”


Okay, so I’m into dreamy music. So what! It’s soo good. Sister bands always make me jealous because I have sisters and it’d be so awesome if we were actually musically talented and in a band. Ugh. Anyway, Elle and Shealeen Puckett (aka Poema) are super talented and creating some dreamy, kickass tunes. They’ve been making music since they were kids and I think they’ve perfected the chill vibe. Elle said, “For this last collection of songs we gave ourselves complete freedom. No boundaries, no time limits, and nothing to distract ourselves from pulling out the best material we could.” So get in your car, turn on their Pretty Speeches EP, roll down your windows, and do your best “rolling with the homies” moves.


Lauren Strahm a.k.a. Fleurie is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Listen to her Arrows EP and spiral into her swoony world of synth-pop with her intoxicatingly beautiful voice and lyrics. She talks about her new single “Sparks” saying, “It’s about that moment you realize you’ve fallen in love. Whether it’s love at first sight, or oh my gosh you’re my best friend and I’m in love with you. The song is about when that feeling hits you for the first time.” One of her more haunting tunes, “There’s a Ghost” is featured on MTV’s Scream soundtrack. In the future, I can definitely see other Fleurie tracks finding their way onto more TV and movie soundtracks.

Alex Winston

I first heard Alex Winston when her song “Velvet Elvis” came out in 2011. The 27-year-old is an indie pop rocker from Michigan. She’s toured with an array of different artists from Neon Trees to Chuck Berry. I’m in love her new music and had a hard time choosing just one song to put on the playlist. Her passionate and powerful lyrics are autobiographical and she’s said, “It’s always been easier for me to tell stories, so I wasn’t used to being as vulnerable, but I had to be during writing. I felt like I was doing myself a disservice not making the album personal because I’ve had a few tumultuous years.” Its infectious ’80s style rock that just straight up makes me want to drop everything I’m doing to dance.

Tori Kelly

I interviewed Tori a few years back and she was hella cool. She still is! Since then, she’s released her first full-length record Unbreakable Smile, performed at the Billboard Music Awards and the VMA’s, made a YouTube video with Miranda Sings, partied with Tay Swift, and tons of other awesome things. Even though I LOVE her song with Ed Sheeran (“I Was Made For Loving You”), I chose “Should’ve Been Us” because she killed it at the VMA’s with her powerful and insanely talented vocal performance. I’d totally get tea with Tori any day of the week.


Emmi is an Aussie artist living in London. Her music combines her soulful voice with R&B and electronic beats. On her website, she says, “In my life to date I have lived and worked as a dancer, actress, songwriter and more recently an artist, but the underlying passion has always been the same: to tell a good story.” Love that Emmi’s goal is to always tell a story. She’s written songs for Leona Lewis and Bridgit Mendler. The release of her first single “My Kinda Swag” is the world’s first introduction to her as an artist!


I’ve written about VÉRITÉ (Kelsey Byrne) before in my CMJ article, but I feel like I should mention her again. Vulnerability leaks into big electro-pop beats on her new Sentiment EP. The New Yorker looks like the girl next door that has a kickass secret and when you find out about it, her natural talent just blows you away. Ms. Sophia Bush closed out her Lollaplooza by running to VÉRITÉ’s set and posted an instagram saying, “the sound that comes out of this tiny precious badass lady will blow your mind.” So obviously, we all gotta go see her live.


Ruelle creates hauntingly beautiful electronic pop. You may have heard her music on Revenge, Teen Wolf, Pretty Little Liars, Scream, Sleepy Hollow..um basically every single show that could have a darkness to it. She’s obviously killing it in the scoring scene. Maggie Eckford decided to call herself “Ruelle” and brought all her songs together on her EP- Up in Flames. All the songs on the EP were specifically written and recorded for film and TV. How cool is that!?

[Featured photo via Instagram,Halsey by Micaela McLucas, Emmi’s by Darren Skene]

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