Music Essentials: Female Rockstars

We all know Meryl Streep rocks. Now, quite literally so, with her performance in Ricki and the Flash. The film follows her character, a musician who gives up her stardom for a whole new gig: Motherhood. With the wait to watch Meryl play a rockstar finally over, we decided to revisit our favorite female rockers, who managed to give the bad boys of rock n’ roll a run for their money. Right from the swinging ’60s to the present day, here are 10 women who rock with the very best from their discographies:

Suzi Quatro

One of the earliest female rockers, Suzi Quatro paved the way for women in the genre. Often described as a hell-cat, she is also something of a Bass Goddess. And is there anything cooler than a bass player? Nope! Just don’t tell the rest of the band we said so.

Associated Groups: The Pleasure Seekers, Cradle, Chris Norman
Essential Tracks: Keep a Knockin’, Can the Can, All Shook Up, 48 Crash, Devil Gate Drive

Debbie Harry

If there’s one woman who singlehandedly took away any negative connotation from being a "blonde", it’s Debbie Harry. The singer named her band Blondie as a deliberate take on the notion. This tactic was later adopted by the Riot Grrrls, who would write insults directed at women on their bodies to draw attention to the issues women face. Now, say "Badass", loud and clear!

Associated Groups: Blondie, The Wind in the Willows, The Jazz Passengers
Essential Tracks: Heart of Glass – Blondie, Call Me – Blondie, One Way or Another – Blondie, Liar Liar – Debbie Harry

Stevie Nicks

When the Dixie Chicks, Florence Welch, Mary J. Blige and Courtney Love all cite someone as an inspiration, you know they’ve done something right. These are just a few of the many the legendary Stevie Nicks has inspired. Her unique brand of soulful rock is easy to appreciate, but difficult to emulate.

Associated Groups: Fleetwood Mac
Essential Tracks: Edge of Seventeen (Solo), Rhiannon – Fleetwood Mac, Dreams – Fleetwood Mac, Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around (with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers)

Patti Smith

At 68, Patti Smith is more badass than most people will ever be. If there’s one person who made poetry cool for the masses, it’s her. What about her rock cred? Well, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked her album, Horses, the 44th greatest album of all time. Need we say more?

Essential Tracks: My Generation (The Who cover), Gloria, People Have the Power, Smells Like Teen Spirit (Nirvana cover)

Joan Jett

One of the most influential female musicians of all time, Joan Jett‘s journey wasn’t always a smooth one. She was criticized for the way she dressed, and her "unladylike behaviour". How did she deal with it? By releasing this massive "F#!* you" track, of course:

Associated Groups: The Runaways, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
Essential Tracks: Bad Reputation (Solo), Cherry Bomb – The Runaways, Activity Grrrl (Solo), I Love Rock ‘n Roll – Joan Jett & the Blackhearts

Kim Gordon

Let’s face it; a good bassline can make or break a song. This is something that Sonic Youth never had to worry about, because they had their very own Bass Goddess – Kim Gordon. One of the most iconic bass players of all time, there’s nothing about her that isn’t epic.

Associated Groups: Sonic Youth, Ciccone Youth, Free Kitten, Harry Crews, Body/Head
Essential Tracks: Tunic (Song for Karen) – Sonic Youth, Teenie Weenie Boppie – Free Kitten, Teenage Riot – Sonic Youth, Expressway to Yr. Skull – Sonic Youth

Courtney Love

Courtney Love‘s work with Hole has undeniably influenced the riot grrrl movement. Though her personal life has been the subject of much scrutiny, no one can deny that the credit due to her for some truly unforgettable tracks.

Associated Groups: Hole, Sugar Babydoll, Pagan Babies
Essential Tracks: Celebrity Skin – Hole, Doll Parts – Hole, Miss World – Hole, Malibu – Hole

Kathleen Hanna

Kathleen Hanna led Bikini Kill, a band that is hugely responsible for the riot grrrl movement. In fact, their track Rebel Girl served as the soundtrack for the revolution. We think we’ve made our point.

Associated Groups: Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, The Julie Ruin
Essential Tracks: Rebel Girl – Bikini Kill, Suck My Left One – Bikini Kill, Oh Come On – The Julie Ruin, Keep On Livin’ – Le Tigre

Alanis Morissette

20 years later, Jagged Little Pill is still one of the most iconic albums of all time. And once you listen to even one track, it’s obvious why. One of the most iconic Canadian musicians of all time, Alanis Morissette is the one of the leading figures of alternative rock.

Essential Tracks: All I Really Want, You Oughta Know, Head Over Feet, Thank U

Karen O

Watching Karen O perform is like being transported to the Riot Grrrl era. It is rebellious. It is fun. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman is known for her remarkable stage presence, her powerhouse vocals and her overall cool quotient. We don’t know about you, but we can’t stop hitting replay on YYY’s music.

Associated Groups: Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Essential Tracks: Maps – Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sacrilege – Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Y Control – Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Phenomena – Yeah Yeah Yeahs

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