I know so many strong, amazing, and inspirational women, so I put out the call for guest bloggers & got an overwhelming response. So today, I’m starting something a little different. My amazingly talented friend, Ashton (seriously, check out her band The Hearsay) is going to be here every Monday with “Mixtape Monday” to get your week started out right.
Welcome to the first installment of Mixtape Monday! Every Monday I’ll be dropping a super sweet playlist to get your week started off in the best way possible– with some fabulous music.
This week, as March and Women’s History Month come to a close, we’ll be celebrating with 20 of the latest tracks from some of best female artists of today. This curated list covers quite a bit– from mainstream artists like Adele to up-and-coming powerhouses like the Muddy Magnolias.
Let’s get started!
Now, there’s only one rule to Mixtape Monday: Like any self-respecting 90s kid knows, when you get a mixtape, you listen to the songs in order. What?! Yes. I know, it’s becoming a strange concept…in today’s age of streaming and shuffling and immediate gratification, we loooove to skip around, listen to 30 seconds of a song and move to the next one at random. Just pretend it’s 1994 and your boyfriend or girlfriend or cool older cousin gave you this tape. Just hit play and revel in the 60 or so minutes of music meticulously ordered and recorded just for you.
Got it? Good.
Mixtape Monday, 3/27, “Femme Fatale”: Click here to play while you read
- “Cranes in the Sky” – Solange: Yep, we’re starting with a Knowles. She may not be as widely known and doesn’t have a bunch of cool nicknames like Yonce or Queen Bey, but she’s an incredibly talented artist and vocalist in her own right. “Cranes in the Sky” is the biggest single off of her 2016 album A Seat at the Table, a stunning, thematically unified and musically adventurous statement on the pain and joy of black womanhood.
- “Lost on You” – LP: My. Goodness. LP is the moniker of the phenomenal artist Laura Pergolizzi, and was one of my most favorite finds of 2016. She is finally gaining some recognition in the U.S. with her recent EP “Death Valley,” but she’s been a sensation in Europe for a while now, and sharing this particular song with me was the best souvenir my friend who spent 6 months in Germany brought home to me. This gorgeous song resonates deep with most of us. You know that feeling when you want someone to cut you free but you can’t quite extricate yourself, and they won’t exactly let you go either? Yes. We all do.
- “Devil’s Teeth” – Muddy Magnolias: I’ve also considered myself very lucky to have discovered this duo early-on…something tells me that next time they come to Atlanta, I won’t be seeing them in another intimate setting like I did in February at Eddie’s Attic. With Jessy Wilson hailing from Brooklyn New York, and Kallie North coming up in Texas/ Mississippi, they are simply stunning; their voices sound like Janis Joplin and Tina Turner formed a duo, making them easily accessible for lovers of any genre.
- “Pray (Empty Gun)” – Bishop Briggs: I discovered Bishop Briggs around the time that I took a two-week trip to New York back in September, and I spent most of my subway rides listening to this LA-based powerhouse of a vocalist. This song, similar to her others, is a dark-pop track filled with trap-style percussion that keeps the instrumentation low-key in order for Briggs’ emotion-filled, powerful voice to truly blow your mind.
- “Wild Horses” – Birdy: Most of us became aware of British singer-songwriter, Birdy, with her beautiful rendition of Bon Iver’s “Skinny Love,” or the multiple tracks she provided for that movie based off of one of John Green’s relatively depressing young adult novels, but this past year she released her third studio album Beautiful Lies. This wonderfully talented NINETEEN YEAR OLD delivers an entire LP with an emotional keenness and insight many of her pop peers could only understand with decoder tools.
- “Shut Up Kiss Me” – Angel Olsen: “Shut Up Kiss Me” is one of the more uptempo songs from indie-glam-country darling, Angel Olsen. I absolutely love the build of this song and the pleasantly distorted beachy/ retro guitar. This “lay-it-all-out-there” plea of a song is a perfect DO SOMETHING for these times when the end of the world feels nigh, so what the hell are you waiting for?
- “Dirty Dirty”- Charlotte Cardin: Ok. If LP is “one of my favorite finds of 2016,” Charlotte Cardin is the other included in the “one of.” This young, French Canadian, former singing-competition participant turned model turned singer-songwriter has completely taking my ears (and my heart) hostage. Every single song on her EP “Big Boy” is completely mesmerizing. Finally getting some press in the U.S. after performing 4 showcases at this year’s SXSW, Cardin’s captivating voice is vulnerable and strong at the same time, which perfectly complements her lyrics that are painfully honest and wistful.
- “Devil Side” – Foxes: I first heard Foxes when she did guest vocals for Fall Out Boy on their 2013 album “Save Rock And Roll,” and really enjoyed her single “Let’s Go For Tonight” off of her first album. In early 2016, she released her second album All I Need, that includes this particular gem. Foxes fits into the modern catchy synth-pop landscape, but let’s not forget what a talent she is– “Devil Side” truly captures her sultry, powerful, vocals and the meaningful lyrics she’s known for.
- “Your Best American Girl” – Mitski: Mitski is an very talented and intense singer/songwriter/guitarist. This beautifully vulnerable track comes off of her recently released fourth studio album Puberty 2 and deals bluntly and emotionally with issues of identity that are personal to her as a half-Japanese, half-American woman who was not raised in America. This song builds in a stunningly emotive way.
- “Sleep Deprived” – LÉON: One of the most recent tracks on this playlist, Swedish pop singer-songwriter LÉON’s “Sleep Deprived” is found on her early March EP release, For You. I really enjoyed her 2015 EP “Treasure,” and she shows no signs of slowing down. Her new singles are raw and emotional with “Sleep Deprived,” about a relationship taking a turn for the worst, being a little more upbeat and radiant than her previous single “Liar.”
- “Bird Set Free” – Sia: Ok, y’all. Sia is probably my absolute favorite mainstream pop artist. Her 2016 album This is Acting, picks up right where the phenomenal 1000 Forms of Fear left off. If you weren’t aware, Sia is an incredible songwriter and has written many songs for her fellow pop vocalists; in fact, the entirety of This is Acting consists of songs written with and/or penned for other people. This one in particular was co-written with Adele and was meant to be included in Adele’s larger than life 2016 album 25. Instead, it became the breathtaking, inspiring opening track on Sia’s album.
- “All I Ask” – Adele: Oh, and speaking of Adele…well, do I really need to go into how amazing she is? Nah, you all already know…and if you don’t, what rock have you been hiding under for the past 7 years? Anyway, this understated, simple piano track co-written and produced by Bruno Mars is the penultimate song on 25 and my personal favorite showcase of Adele’s voice on the album.
- “Wicked Ones” – Dorothy: Dorothy is an LA based, kick-ass rock band, fronted by Dorothy Martin, who has one of most powerful rock voices I’ve ever heard. Many of their singles have been utilized on television shows, such as Orange is the New Black, and this single in particular was featured in a regularly run Gatorade commerical; yet, most people still aren’t aware of who is behind those songs. It’s DOROTHY Y’ALL, GET ON IT. “Wicked Ones” is catchy as hell with a true Blues Rock flair where Martin sounds rich and powerful as background chants add depth.
- “Better Now” – Cloves: I recently became aware of Australian singer-songwriter Cloves, and I’m very glad for this discovery. This single came out in late 2016 in preparation for her forthcoming album, a follow up from her 2015 EP XIII. Better now explores a darker side to her songwriting, as she wrote this song finding inspiration in “feeling misunderstood and claustrophobic in a relationship”. Her vocals are captivating as ever, but the drums and “woos” give this track a very Alabama Shakes-esque sound.
- “Million Reasons” – Lady Gaga: Lady Gaga reminded the world of how talented she was at this year’s Super Bowl half-time show. She might not be overloading the pop charts with singles these days, but her 2016 album, Joanne, shows more of her raw, powerful vocals and songwriting abilities, akin to some of her lesser known tracks such as my personal favorite The Fame Monster song “Speechless.” “Million Reasons” is a highlight of the album for her vocal strength and heartbreaking lyrics— the simple production, much like the aforementioned Adele tune, provides a vulnerability not typically found on a Lady Gaga record.
- “Not Gonna Let You Walk Away” – LOLO: Ok, real talk. LOLO’s debut album has my favorite title of any title ever: In Loving Memory of When I Gave a Sh*t. Yasss. LOLO is a recent discovery of mine–and as an AVID Amy Winehouse lover, I greatly enjoy the Tennessee born, previous musical actress’ vocals (she was the original Ilse in Broadway’s hit show “Spring Awakening”). This track is sparse instrumentally, but is made up for with something much more impressive: commanding vocals, heated passion, and fierce attitude.
- “Howling” – Cathedrals: Cathedrals captured my soul with the 2014 song “Harlem.” They’re at it again with the two recent singles “Howling,” and “Don’t Act Like a Stranger” (which was released this past Friday). The San-Francisco based duo features the hauntingly beautiful vocal stylings of Brodie Jenkins and the emotive production of Johnny Hwin. “Howling” is a thoughtful cover of RY X and Frank Wiedemann’s notable 2012 single.
- “Green Light” – Lorde: Lorde recently (finally) came out with two amazing singles in anticipation of her upcoming sophomore album (seriously, we’ve been waiting since 2013). Both are fantastic (I’ll be featuring “Liability” next week). Produced by Lorde and 80s new-wave revivalist Jack Antonoff (famous for producing fun. and America’s sweetheart T-Swift), “Green Light” comes off as an EDM remix of something she might have previously recorded, but attention to the lyrics and the layers of musicality and instrumentation, it’s just as emotive and wise as the previous work of the young singer-songwriter, with a dash more experience and self-awareness.
- “Man on the Moon” – Zella Day: Zella Day’s first single released since her debut, “Man on the Moon” is a dense, decadent, exquisitely layered song like a thick slice of devil’s food wedding cake. The music is a little bit of R&B, a little bit folk, and her ethereal vocals fill my dreams…which is appropriate as the choral repetition of “I’m in your dreams now” gives me chills in the very best way.
- “Daddy Lessons” – Beyoncé feat. The Dixie Chicks: If you thought I wasn’t ending the playlist with the other Knowles sister, simply because Spotify doesn’t have access to “Lemonade” THINK AGAIN. Thanks to The Dixie Chicks’ love of Beyoncé’s country-folk influenced “Daddy Lessons” the entire world received a glorious gift at the end of 2016– a joint performance of Queen Bey and the Queens/ Renegades of Country Music at the Country Music Awards. The CMAs duet was explosive, both musically and in the industry controversies it touched upon. The Dixie Chicks’ musical prowess is heightened even further by some fantastic musicians, including a horn section, keeping that key part of the album version intact. They also add a small section of their own song “Long Time Gone,” and the harmonies–oh the harmonies! The triad + Beyoncé = girl power ear candy to the fullest.