When I was in fourth grade, Spice World (arguably the most epic movie of all time, although IMDB begs to differ) dropped on VHS, and my Halloween costumes for the next three years were decided. Not only did Posh, Baby, Scary, Ginger, and Sporty teach me about the concept of girl power, they also left me with the below line, which I repeat to any guy with dating potential:
SHOP NOW >>
(^^Reasons I’m single.)
And while the Spice Girls’ time in the spotlight has come and gone, I’m happy to report that girl power is still alive and well in today’s music scene. Here, I’m breaking down my 10 favorite female-fronted bands of 2016.
You’ll likely be hearing a lot more about Portland-based indie folk trio Joseph in the coming months. Their sophomore LP “I’m Alone, No You’re Not” was released in August to critical acclaim; they performed their catchy anthem hit “White Flag” on Ellen in October and they’ll continue a North American tour into February 2017.
Fun fact: All three members are sisters; two are twins.
2. Lake Street Dive
Boston-based Lake Street Dive’s sound is ripe with jazz influences, pop sensibilities, soul flavors, and retro vibes. Their 2016 release “Side Pony”—which follows on the heels of 2014’s “Bad Self Portraits”—highlights these eclectic influences, and as always, showcases the incredible vocals of lead singer Rachael Price.
Within a month of releasing their first EP in 2011, the ladies of KING received a one-line email stating the following: “Would you be interested in meeting Prince?” Artists like Erykah Badu and the Roots’ Questlove also hopped on the bandwagon, propelling KING full force into the alternative R&B scene. Five years later, the long-awaited LP “We Are King” made its debut on the airwaves and emphasized the trio’s dreamy take on soul.
Fun Fact: Their most recent album was produced, arranged, and performed entirely by KING in their L.A.-based home studio.
4. Wild Belle
Chicago-area natives Wild Belle create rhythmic, reggae-/dance-/psychedelic rock-tinged indie pop. With the smoky vocals of Natalie Bergman, enticing beats, and the flare of a jazz saxophone, this brother/sister duo has created a unique sound that’s catching on quickly within the indie scene.
Fun fact: The video for their 2016 release “Throw Down Your Guns” features the Chicago Children’s Choir.
5. Wolf Alice
Reminiscent of ‘90s indie rock, North London alt-rockers Wolf Alice gained traction following their 2015 release “My Love is Cool.” Evocative lyrics and lead singer/guitarist Ellie Rowsell’s wistful vocals will make you feel nostalgic for all those complicated things that come along with growing up.
Fun fact: Ellie told the Independent why she feels lonely as a girl in rock music.
6. Christine and the Queens
Singer Héloïse Letissie (who performs under the moniker Christine and the Queens) makes electronic-soaked pop that blurs the lines between theatre, singing, and dance (especially when paired with choreography a la Michael Jackson). Themes of non-conformity, fluid identities, and sexuality are threaded throughout her 2015 self-titled album.
Fun fact: Héloïse told The Guardian that “‘Christine’ is an alter ego—a young boy dreaming of being Beyonce.” “The Queens” is a reference to a group of drag artists inspired by her time spent in Soho.
7. First Aid Kit
Swedish duo First Aid Kit initially caught the attention of Rolling Stone, who named their single “Emmylou” the 10th best single of the year in 2012. In the four years since, sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg have remained quiet, releasing only one record (“Stay Gold”) in 2014. But in July, First Aid Kit returned to the scene, debuting their woodsy, folk-influenced sound on the new track “Waltz for Richard,” which gives us hope for a potential new release sometime in the near future.
Fun fact: Their newest single was recorded at Jack White’s Third Man Records in Nashville, Tenn.
8. Bad Bad Hats
With lead singer/guitarist Kerry Alexander at the helm, Minneapolis-grown Bad Bad Hats made waves in the indie rock scene with the release of “Psychic Reader” in 2015. Kerry’s strong vocals and lyrical sensibilities also grabbed the attention of NPR, who says that she sings “both sweetly and with fists up.”
Fun fact: Kerry first recorded rough demos in her mom’s walk-in shower and sang ‘90s pop covers at open mic nights.
In 2014, Paste magazine featured Madrid-based Hinds as one of their “Best of What’s Next” bands, calling their music “a set of charmed, garage pop melodies dreamed up in the hot pink bedroom of a group of best friends.” Their 2016 release “Leave Me Alone” further confirms that description. We’re hooked.
Fun fact: The band, originally named “Deers,” was forced to change their name at the end of 2014 because of a similarly named group. They chose “Hinds” because it means female deer.
10. The Staves
The Staves are English sisters Emily, Jessica, and Camilla Staveley-Taylor—and after hearing their vocal harmonies and haunting melodies, it’s no surprise they raided their parents’ record collection consisting of Simon & Garfunkel and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young growing up.
Fun fact: They were featured in the music documentary Austin to Boston, a film that follows five old VW camper vans and four bands three thousand miles across the country. You can watch the movie on Netflix.