Here at COOL MOVES RADIO, we've decided to celebrate the ladies of the music industry by compiling a list of our favourite female-made songs both past and present. Scroll down to see what each of our contributors have to say about their picks, and check out the IWD Spotify playlist here!
Alison Selby -
ESG - My Love For You
This track is dance and funk music at its most minimalist - bass, percussion, vocals. ESG were masters of getting the most out of these elements, and perhaps this is why the sisters had such a profound impact on hip-hop and house music.
Cibo Matto - Sugar Water
Easily beating MF DOOM for my favourite food-themed album, ‘Sugar Water’ is probably the most conventional song on Viva! La Woman but its sharp bossa-nova chorus and heavy stabbing bassline make it a memorable one.
Björk - 5 Years
5 Years from Björk’s Homogenic loudly shows her defiance to the pop music of 1997 - the scattered crunchy textures march forward with an intensely powerful half-sing half-cry driving her refusal to be predictable. This track acts as a great centrepoint for the album, not just in track listing, but in terms of emotion, tone, and instrumentation
jennylee - offerings
Sorely underrated in my opinion, Jenny Lee Lindberg’s solo album has plenty of varied post-punk/new wave offerings, and her style of bass playing has been a constant inspiration for my own.
Ruby Carmichael - The Great Folk
Sibylle Baier – I Lost Something in the Hills Although recorded in the 70s on a cassette, Sibylle Baier’s beautiful tracks sat forgotten about for decades in a box until her son listened and realised they were too beautiful not to be shared. Her dream-like voice dances over a gentle strummed acoustic guitar mixed with the crackle of the original recording making you feel like you have been let into a well-kept secret.
Laura Marling – Wild Fire
A giant of the British folk scene, Laura Marling’s distinctive voice and intelligent lyrics have delivered quality album after quality album. Marling is never afraid to try out something new and Semper Femina, the album which this track is from intrigues and delights. Check out LUMP that was released last year if you want to hear her as she has never been heard before.
Carole King – Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? As a life-long listener and lover of Carole King she was a must for an IWD playlist. Although Tapestry came out in 1971, it has a timeless quality which still captivates me with every listen. ‘Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow’ has vulnerability and passion and beautifully showcases just how talented King is with lyrics.
Mountain Man – Animal Tracks It was a delight to see Mountain Man return last year with a new album after an 8 year break! This track from their first album is a reminder of just why we have patiently waited for so long. With laughter inviting us in, the voices of the trio blend beautifully making it seem effortlessly simple.
Nick Stewart -
Point Of Contact
Courtney Barnett - Crippling Self Doubt And A General Lack Of Confidence
From one of my favourite records from last year, this track exemplifies the witticisms, excitement, and indie rock greatest of Courtney Barnett.
Kelly Lee Owens - Throwing Lines
Taking elements of techno and house, Kelly Lee Owens’s minimal and atmospheric production on Throwing Lines is spellbinding - essential listening.
Liz Cooper & the Stampede - Dalai Lama
A psych-rock trio hailing from Nashville TN, Liz Cooper and the Stampede serve tunes both beautiful and swirling, yet equally driving and vital. The track ‘Dalai Lama’ is an absolute jam for the entire 7 minutes and 14 seconds.
This is the Kit - Moonshine Freeze
A true highlight from 2018’s End of the Road festival - This is the Kit are ever-brilliant in their musical intricacies, and songwriting abilities; seen no more clearly than on this track. The band are a gem in the crown of the British indie scene.
Reuben Cross –
The Inessential Guide
Stella Donnelly – Tricks
Another fresh act hailing from Australia, Stella Donnelly oozes charm on this stand-out cut from her new record Beware of the Dogs (out on International Women’s Day!). The track serves as a witty takedown of Australian culture and mocks the hecklers she used to receive, and showcases her excellent guitar chops now backed by a full band.
Weyes Blood – Everyday
Natalie Mering (aka Weyes Blood) has an ear for melody unlike anyone else in the business right now, and her new single ‘Everyday’ is a prime example of this talent. An early contender for song of the year, this teaser track from upcoming album Titanic Rising is sure to have you swaying your head – the perfect sunshine anthem for the summer we’re yet to have.
Joni Mitchell – This Flight Tonight
From two modern stars to one of the all-time greats, there have been few songwriters with as much depth as Joni Mitchell to have graced this earth. Both poetic in her lyricism and able to conjure up the most majestic chord structures, it’s no wonder so many aspiring musicians look up to her for inspiration. A personal favourite from her timeless classic album, Blue, I suggest you simply immerse yourself in the beauty that is this song.
Jessy Lanza – I Talk BB
Taken from her 2016 record Oh No, ‘I Talk BB’ is a mysterious synth-pop ballad that has a dream-like energy to it. While not entirely indicative of all the music Lanza produces, it shows the Canadian artist’s range – if you’re looking for house bangers she provides those with aplomb too. Definitely an artist I’m intrigued to hear more from, and fingers crossed 2019 is the year that comes true.
Abbie Skinner - Escape Plan
Sleater-Kinney - The Last Song
Sleater-Kinney are a band so influential that they need little introduction. The trio are impossible not to visualise when talking of powerful female musicians. Their music has been fundamental not only to the definition of riot grrl as a genre but also to wider punk music in the late 90s. ‘The Last Song’ both inspires and liberates as Carrie Brownstein’s screams of ‘I don’t owe you anything!’ ring in the ears of the listener as a final ‘up yours’ to the end of a dysfunctional relationship.
Sharon Van Etten - Seventeen
A personal favourite of mine from Sharon Van Etten’s explosive 2019 release Remind Me Tomorrow, ‘Seventeen’ eludes to Van Etten’s experiences of moving to a new city with an open mind and a hopeful heart, only to be met with the barrier of elders accusing the city of forever changing, something she would witness for herself over time. ‘Seventeen’ overflows with emotion and optimism, leading the song to be one of the most memorable of the album.
Noname - Window
Noname’s debut album Room 25 was one of the most impressive and ingenious records of 2018. Throughout ‘Window’, Fatimah Warner’s tender poetic vocals flood the listener with warmth and felicity as she illustrates both her desire to be understood and what it means to be truly happy.
Solange - Almeda
Solange returns with When I Get Home, perhaps her most surprising and ambitious record to date. The album touches on themes of nostalgia, belonging, and what it means to feel at home. The personal standout of the album ‘Almeda’, features lyrics alluding to beautiful black and brown things over a loud intoxicating baseline that is impossible to be ignored.
Hannah Kingwell - Nectar
Sylvan Esso – Hey Mami
Catcalling isn’t cool by any means - it’s prehistoric and gross. Amelia Meath acknowledges this universal truth, swiftly stripping it of its ‘power’ in ‘Hey Mami’. Rather than illustrating the natural inclination to embarrassedly retract into a shell, Meath transforms this unwanted attention into an appreciation of the power and punch of the female body, thus promoting self-confidence and the ability to unashamedly own the self. Also nothing beats Amelia Meath’s dancing. Nothing. (Check out Sylvan Esso’s Austin City Limits set)
Everybody Wants To Love You – Japanese Breakfast
Michelle Zauner oozes cool and this is one my favourite music videos ever. Again, want to dance like her.
Because The Night – Patti Smith
After stumbling across 21 year old Robert Mapplethorpe and roping him into pretending to be her boyfriend in order to escape going to a strange man’s apartment, the two embarked upon a unique and dedicated symbiotic relationship. Despite continuous struggle they supported each other’s creative endeavours to no end, with Robert becoming a respected photographer, and Patti a writer, artist, and musician. In her memoir, Just Kids, Patti remembers the moment that the two friends heard ‘Because the Night’ blaring from storefronts. Although Robert had seemingly received more attention for his work by this point, she was finally making it too. Robert proudly said to her at this moment “Patti, you got famous before me”.
Mitski – Your Best American Girl
The unapologetic honesty of Mitski’s raw, sharp, and visceral lyricism slices clean through the gut. In ‘Your Best American Girl’ she gently unfolds and then brutally dismisses innocent romantic desires, before creeping to a crescendo in which she absolutely mashes the life out of the guitar - and rightfully so. The resulting unrelenting wave of pure gritty fuzz utterly overthrows previous self-deprecation, culminating in a composed and cathartic ending.
Michael Melville - B_LOOD_VISIONS
Delia Gonzalez - Hidden Song My first pick comes from multi disciplinary, Cuban-American artist Delia Gonzalez. Although perhaps known for her collaborations with LCD Soundsystem’s Gavin Rayna Russom as The Crystal Ark, this is is a track from her 2017 solo record, Horse Follows Darkness. A Neu!-esque guitar-driven instrumental, ‘Hidden Song’ opens this underrated gem from the DFA catalogue.
Holly Herndon, Jlin - Godmother (feat. Spawn)
Women have historically been on the cutting edge of electronic music. From the radiophonic breakthroughs of Delia Derbyshire and Daphne Oram to the Sci-Fi soundtracks of synth pioneer, Wendy Carlos to the sound design of modular virtuoso, Suzanne Ciani. In the modern world of Computer music, AI and New Instruments for Musical Expression, Holly Herndon is blazing the trail. In ‘Godmother’, Herndon collaborates with the - equally boundary-pushing - Jlin. Utilising Spawn, a program developed by LaPlace in collaboration with Herndon, neural network style transfer merges Herndon and Jlin’s voices. The result gives us a glimpse into AI’s potential as a creative tool and forms the dizzying soundtrack to the imminent rise of the machines.
Little Simz - Offence
I had to make some space on my picks for who I believe is the best MC in the UK right now, Little Simz. I saw her perform at Brighton Centre supporting Gorillaz in 2017 and it was hands down one of the best live rap sets I’ve seen. So high energy with a syllable-perfect flow from start to finish, she is truly a master of the craft. On ‘Offence’, the opening cut from her sublime GREY Area, she follows in the footsteps of all the great MCs before her with braggadocious bars (including my personal favourite, “I’m Jay-Z on a bad day, Shakespeare on my worst days”) and bold affirmation of her place in UK rap.
Maria Davidson - Work It
In the cold, dark world of techno, it’s rare to have personalities that shine through. That is with the exception of Marie Davidson. The Montreal-based producer and vocalist punctuates her punchy instrumentals with quasi-comedic, theatrical vocals. On ‘Work It’, Davidson fetishises the concept of the ‘hustle’ and in the process has created perhaps the greatest gym track of all time.
Julianne Fjell - Midnight Sun
Warpaint - Whiteout
A personal must-have choice for a IWD playlist. Although it has been nearly three years since the release of their album Heads Up, it is as stuck in my head as ever. Warpaint has shown themselves able to constantly write unique love songs that don’t necessarily have a happy ending, and this is no exception.
Ida Maria - I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked
Ida Maria has an impressive career behind her and never fails to show just how bold she really can be. I Like you So Much Better When You’re Naked is taken from her debut album in 2008 and was my first introduction to her raw sounds. Her newer album, Scandalize My Name, has taken a much calmer turn, reflecting on her growth both as an artist and as a person over the last ten years.
Razika - En sjanse til
Razika has undeniably proven their worth as a powerful feminist band. Their latest album Sånn Kjennes Verden Ut (‘That’s what the world feels like’) focuses on choices, such as who you are and where you’re going. ‘En sjanse til’ addresses what it is like to want just one more chance to change your choices and what you would have done differently. Sadly this is the last album we’ll get from the four childhood friends as they’re focusing on their solo careers onwards.
Pikekyss - Vi Burde Danse
Nothing but upbeat indie rhythms from this five piece band. Their preppy sounds perfectly encapsulates the playful optimism of being a teenager while maintaining a critical view of the world. ‘Vi Burde Danse’ (‘we should dance’) is about being young, going out and never wanting the night to end.
Listen to all of these tracks plus more in our bumper COOL MOVES International Women's Day playlist (click the image below):