Who runs the world? Girls! We at THP are so excited to celebrate Women’s History Month this March, and what better way to do it than to shout out some of our favorite women in music? It was nearly impossible to narrow down our list, but here are 13 of the most iconic ladies in the industry.
Put some “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” on Aretha Franklin’s name! There’s a reason she’s nicknamed the Queen of Soul, and people around the world agree – throughout her career, she’s sold over 75 million records. Yup, 75 million records. Outlets like Rolling Stone have given her the crown as the greatest female vocalist in music history, and she became the first female artist to join the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. Talk about a legendary legacy! And that’s not even mentioning her incredible stage presence – she really knows how to command a crowd and get them off their feet.
From starring on Victorious in our childhood to becoming a global pop icon in our teens and young adulthood, Ariana Grande has truly soundtracked our lives. Not only that, but she has soundtracked music’s shift to a more digital landscape as the most-streamed female artist of all time.
So far, she’s broken 20 Guinness World Records and placed 5 songs (so far) in Spotify’s elusive Billions Club, which commemorates songs that have gotten over a billion streams. Five of her songs have debuted at #1on the Billboard Hot 100, the most for any artist, and we have a feeling she’ll continue her reign. Ariana is no longer just a pop star; she’s a musical titan.
Everyone, bow down to Queen Bey! Let’s take a little trip down memory lane. Beyoncé debuted as part of Destiny’s Child in 1997 and helped the group earn two GRAMMY Awards before focusing on her own work when they split up in 2006. Within just a few years, she became the top RIAA-certified artist of the 2000s and has since sold over 120 million records worldwide. Then she became the first solo artist to have their first six albums debut at #1 on Billboard’s 200 albums chart and reigns as the most-awarded female artist of all time. And she’s balanced her work with being a mother to three beautiful children! We don’t know how she does it, but we’re so glad she does.
No matter where you are in the world, BLACKPINK is in your area. They’ve become one of the biggest names in music, breaking past K-Pop to become global pop icons! They were the first K-Pop girl group to perform at Coachella and the first K-Pop group overall to hit one billion views, which they did with ‘DDU-DU DDU-DU’ in 2019. And not only are they the group with the most YouTube subscribers, but Jennie, Jisoo, Lisa, and Rosé are style icons and ambassadors for brands like Chanel, Dior, Celine, and Saint Laurent, respectively. They’ve helped bring Asian culture to the masses and have sounded and looked incredible while doing it!
Would you say Doja Cat is one of the biggest women in music right now? Because we’d ‘say so!’ Doja became a household name when ‘Say So’ took off on TikTok during the pandemic. One of her idols, Nicki Minaj, hopped on a remix, and it became the first female rap collab to top the Billboard Hot 100, as well as giving Doja and Nicki their first #1 hit. And the records just kept coming once she dropped the triumphant Planet Her album. It went on to become the female rap album to spend the most weeks in the top 10 of the Billboard 200, and three singles made Doja the first rapper to ever have three songs in the top 10 of Top 40 radio. Pretty impurressive if you ask us!
When we think of modern pop, Lady Gaga is one of the first names that pop into our heads. Not only is she an incredible artist with countless awards and hit singles, but she’s constantly using her platform for good. Whether it’s wearing a meat dress to the Video Music Awards to protest the US military’s homophobic “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Starting the Born This Way Foundation to promote kindness and individuality or planning the One World: Together At Home concert with Global Citizen to raise money for COVID-19 relief, Gaga is one of the loudest, most unapologetic artists out there. And we love her for it!
They got the ‘Power’ for sure! Little Mix is not only one of the best girl groups of all time but one of the most successful. They started racking up accolades back in their X Factor UK days: they were the first group to win the show and the only girl group to do so to date. Since then, they’ve become one of the best-selling British acts in the world, with over 65 million sales globally and 12 billion streams worldwide. They’re the first girl group to stay in the Top 10 of the UK charts for 100 cumulative weeks and the first girl group to ever win Best Group at the BRIT Awards. All the while, they’ve maintained such a beautiful friendship and an incredible discography!
This truth won’t hurt – Lizzo is one of the most talented ladies in the game! Very few people have gotten to the heights she did with her breakthrough single, ‘Truth Hurts,’ which quickly made her a household name in 2019. It made her one of just three female rappers to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the first Black woman in R&B to do so since Rihanna topped the chart with ‘Diamonds’ in 2012. She’s won three GRAMMY Awards and was nominated for eight in 2020 – the most nominations of any artist that year. Just a few months later, she became the first artist to get BET Award nominations in the hip-hop and R&B/pop categories in the same year! The ‘Rumors’ are true; she’s a legend who’s just getting started.
B*tch, she’s Madonna! Madge is one of the most influential pop stars of all time and one of the first to start reinventing her persona and aesthetic with each of her album releases. She holds the Guinness World Record for the best-selling female musician of all time, with over 300 million worldwide sales and counting. She’s the best-selling solo artist in the history of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and has the most #1 hits of any female artist on charts in countries like the UK, Canada, and Italy. After dealing with sexual assault at 19, she focused on channeling her energy into her honest, sex-positive music, and that’s part of why she’s unapologetically vulnerable and intimate. She started a revolution in pop music that’s still making waves today.
The star we’re thinking of right now has collected over 250 million sales worldwide throughout her career, become the first black woman to run a fashion brand under the LVMH luxury family, and currently ranks as the richest female musician with a net worth of around $1.7 billion. “Oh, na, na,” what’s her name? That’s right, we’re thinking about Rihanna! Riri is the only female artist who’s reached 15 million digital sales on three different songs thanks to ‘Needed Me,’ ‘Love on the Brain,’ and the Drake-assisted ‘Work,’ whose 32.5 million sales have made it the best-selling digital single by a female artist. Not to mention her work as an ambassador of education, tourism, and investment for her home country of Barbados. Represent!
Stevie Nicks is one of the most prominent women in rock, and it’s no wonder why. As one of the main vocalists of Fleetwood Mac across several decades, she helped bring the iconic Rumours album to the 20x platinum status it reigns with today. She also became the first woman to be inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame two times – first with Fleetwood Mac in 1998, then on her own in 2019 thanks to both her work with the band and her solo material. Stevie has gone on to inspire artists like Beyoncé, Lorde, and Taylor Swift, who keep her awe-inspiring stage presence and thoughtful lyrics alive in a new generation almost fifty years since she debuted.
This is Taylor Swift’s world – or as we like to call it, Earth (Taylor’s Version) – and we’re all just living in it. Sure, she’s the female artist with the most Top 40 hits in the history of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, the first female artist to headline three back-to-back stadium shows in the US, and the most-awarded musician in the history of the American Music Awards, but her impact goes beyond the numbers or pretty award statues. She fiercely advocates for artists’ rights, including when she wrote a letter to Apple Music to speak up about their original payment plans for artists and when she decided to rerecord her first six albums so she can regain full ownership and encourage other musicians to fight for the rights to their work.
Tina Turner is one of ‘The Best’ in the industry, and aside from the impact her soulful music has had on fans, she has the numbers to prove it. With over 100 million global sales, she’s one of the best-selling musicians of all time. Like Stevie Nicks, she’s been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice: once with her then-husband Ike Turner in 1991 and alone in 2021. She was the first female artist and the first Black artist to be on the cover of Rolling Stone and the only female artist so far to win a GRAMMY Award in pop, rock, and R&B categories. Speaking of the GRAMMYs, she won the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018. We love that Tina has gotten the recognition she deserves, though we’d argue that she deserves a world more!
Which of these ladies is your favorite? Who are some women in music you look up to? Let us know in the comments below, or hit us up on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter! And to get to know more female artists you need in your rotation, click here.