On this year’s International Women’s Day GEM wants to celebrate all the female artists that have shaped us to become the people we are. This is not an exclusive list rather just a short selection of women that have taken on the patriarchy, excelled within their field and became icons for everyone who feels slightly less alone because of them. We should applaud and support women every day of the year in a world that seems to be against them succeeding and therefore, this day is not just to celebrate but also to educate yourself on the history of feminism and what more we can do to make the world more inclusive for the generations yet to come. Love comes in many forms and ways so hopefully, the love we have for these artists will inspire you through the screen, maybe even make you stop what you are doing, sit back and listen
to their work.
No one celebrates womanhood like Maggie Rogers. The “witchy feminist rock star”, as the American singer-songwriter called herself once on Twitter, is in many ways an example for women all around the world.
On her debut album Heard it in a Past Life, Rogers sings about finding yourself, being independent, and love – in all its forms. Underneath the folk-pop catchy music lies raw and honest songwriting, which is uplifting and relatable, touching and empowering.
The 26-year-old is politically engaged as well and is very vocal about it; during the presidential elections last year, she urged her fans to get out to vote and performed her song ‘Back in My Body’ at the Democratic National Convention. Rogers stands up for what she believes in and spreads positivity, not only through her music but also by being an active voice on important social issues. Having a young woman in the music industry like her is so important, as she makes it feel even better to be a woman.
Written by: Ine Vanvuchelen
Megan Thee Stallion
Megan Thee Stallion, the biggest revelation of the last few years has been carving her way to the top with her immense talent that outs itself in hard-hitting bars and tracks that will resonate with people for the decades yet to come. Megan Pete known under her stage name Megan Thee Stallion is a legend in the making. From collabing with one of the hottest rap artists of the moment Cardi B to fellow Texas native and icon Beyoncé, there’s no way denying the ever-growing presence of the 26-year-old.
Her lyricism is met with an overarching tone that perpetuates clever, fun and confident tales. Megan Thee Stallion has become the supreme role model to follow for self-confidence. The term “Hot girl summer” is directly linked to Megan. Alongside inspiring others by reclaiming her own sexuality the Houston native uses the term Hot Girl to promote a broader sense of beauty, one that is more inclusive, a state of mind you embrace for yourself instead of laying that power in other people’s hands.
From her first mixtape ‘Make It Hot’ to her recent debut album ‘Good News’ it has been made more than clear that Megan Thee Stallion is the moment. She should be celebrated for the genius she is and later down the line we’ll be happy to know that we were there during this important cultural shift.
Written by: Lauren Dehollogne
girl in red
From her bedroom in Oslo, girl in red became a cult figure among young lesbians and bisexual women worldwide with her homemade songs about queer love.
The phrase, ’Do you listen to girl in red?’, was popularised by TikTok and fast became a coded way for LGBTQIA+ women to connect online. For them, growing up hiding behind ballads of heterosexual devotion was the norm. With songs that read like the diary of a young woman hoping for reprieval, girl in red feels familiar. This is displayed on track, ’we fell in love in october’. The slow-moving autumnal love song saw romance between two women make its way into popular music.
In the latest track ‘Serotonin’, lyrics, “I get intrusive thoughts like burning my hair off / like hurting somebody I love”, plunder unwanted images that haunted her during her adolescence. Mental health is a common theme girl in red explores in her music. When speaking about track ‘Rue’ she said: “A lot of people still don’t know about mental health. People lack the knowledge and don’t understand that your mental health isn’t necessarily who you are. You can be depressed but that doesn’t mean you don’t want to go outside or that you don’t have feelings. To me, mental health is not taboo at all”.
Her deeply-evocative cinematic songwriting style displays a rare and honest vulnerability, with her sound being the perfect DIY fusion of indie rock and lofi. girl in red’s audience found solace and guidance in her music, she has secured a passionate fanbase that grows every day.
Written by: Vanessa Valentine
Ever since starring in Disney’s hit show ‘Hannah Montana’ alongside her dad, singer/songwriter Billy Ray Cyrus, Miley Cyrus has been a huge figure in pop culture and an idol to many.
Brought up in Tennessee raised on country music. Cyrus has been consumed by music ever since she was born from her dad to her famous godmother Dolly Parton she has always been involved in the entertainment industry. Therefore the 28-year-old realised early on that she wanted to work in the creative industry. When ‘Hannah Montana’ first aired and she became a teen sensation overnight, her soundtrack entered the charts and she embarked on a US tour as her alter ego, her pop princess dreams seemed fulfilled – until she started facing criticism and controversy.
Rumour had it that she lip-synced on stage – which has later been proven as untrue – and that she was photographed naked by Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair at the young age of 15 – untrue as well, she was wrapped in a blanket. Cyrus’ success and controversies seem to be going hand in hand ever since but what others may view as questionable and reckless towards her audience, has actually always been her way of being authentic and telling the world that nobody’s perfect.
After years of taking more grown-up acting roles, exploring different musical styles and ways of expression to escape her Disney-star-past, she finally seems to have found herself, as she released her most acclaimed album ‘Plastic Hearts’ last year, and made peace with her childhood experiences, joking and reminiscing about ‘Hannah Montana’ on various social media platforms. At only 28 years old, Miley Cyrus has proven versatility as an actor, singer and songwriter and went from country girl to pop princess to Rockstar, while teaching every young girl out there that they can do whatever they want as long as they stay true to themselves and to – as Cyrus would probably say – not give a fuck.
Written by: Vicky Madzak
From being America’s sweetheart to a wolf in sheep’s clothing, Taylor Swift has been named a lot of things but after all this time she is finally getting the recognition she deserves. The 31-year-old has been famous for over a decade now yet somehow people always questioned her talent and craftsmanship. Folklore and Evermore, the two albums she released in 2020 created a rift between the old Taylor and the new. She no longer used the age-old industry practices instead opting for a surprise drop but also because of her new musical direction more people and publications started to appreciate her and flaunt their support.
Swift who has always been followed by hordes of fans has had her fair share of trouble to deal with. She is a prime example of why being a woman in the music industry isn’t always easy, especially for someone with her level of fame. Even to this day people still use the word slut and Taylor Swift in the same sentence. The original meaning of the word “slut” is already antiquated but to use it as a form to insult an adult woman is just laughable.
Ever since she was a teen when her self-titled debut album dropped Taylor Swift has been capturing the hearts of people all over the world with her romantic, showstopping lyrics. Her coming-of-age in front of a crowd, opening up the world to her diary in the form of songs has made so many people relate to her portfolio in one way or another. ‘All Too Well’ for when your first true love breaks your heart, ‘Never Grow Up’ for when you first move out of your childhood home, ‘happiness’ when a serious several-years long relationship falls to pieces and the maturity comes that it’s not one person at fault. These examples and many others show that Taylor Swift’s sense of love unites everyone around the world.
Swift doesn’t just set an image but makes you live through the motions of her fairytale-like tracks. She is already the main inspiration for the next generation of songwriters prominently featuring Olivia Rodrigo and Conan Gray. Taylor Swift is not just an incredibly talented artist she is a feeling captured between love and loss.
Written by: Lauren Dehollogne
If there is one female singer on this planet who doesn’t need an introduction, it is Paramore fronter, Hayley Williams. For over 17 years, the now 31-year-old singer and songwriter has given her hypnotic voice and otherworldly talent and energy to the globally known and loved, multiplatinum pop-punk band that began when the now-star move from Mississippi to Franklin, Tennessee, after her parents’ divorce. Once there, she met the brothers Josh and Zac Farro, who later became the band’s guitarist and drummer, and together they washed over the then punk-loving music industry in a wave of success and awards.
It’s now been almost four years since ‘After Laughter’, Paramore’s latest record, but even throughout the break Williams has used the time to nurture herself and her creativity. She is one of those artists that harnessed the pandemic in a whirlwind of self-reflection and moments of going inward, suddenly being alone felt good for her. Born out of this were her two first solo albums ‘Petals for Armor’ and ‘Flowers for Vases/descansos’ – two records about wearing your flaws openly and using them as a means to make you stronger, about Williams’ past and present, and about fighting through the bad to finally see the good. Unsurprisingly, both full-length adventures impressed critics and fans alike, proving that Williams’ is deserving of a spot in the highest ranks of musical talents, be it alone by herself or together with Paramore. It might have taken a bit of time for her shell to break, but now Williams’ has finally become the flower she was always meant to be and we can’t wait to watch her bloom.
Written by: Laura Weingrill
27-year-old Julia Michaels inspires many across the board to embrace their fears, insecurities and anxieties on a day to day basis by being the wonderful, authentic open-book she is. By speaking out about defying the pressures that society places on what “beautiful” is.
Michaels has often taken to Twitter expressing how “Social norms can eat an eggplant” helping so many of her fanbase called the Gems to welcome body hair as the normality it is rather than something that we should be hiding. The growth she’s undertaken from releasing raw and honest songs such as ‘Body’ expressing vocally the struggles both herself and so many face to embracing and normalising body hair and celebrating your own beauty in her latest music video, ‘Lie Like This’ has been widely applauded.
With songs such as ‘Anxiety’, ‘Body’ and ‘If You Need Me’ making so many young women feel genuinely heard, empowered and loved, and by standing vocally for a real sisterhood, Julia makes it feel like the most magical thing to be a woman, acting like a safety blanket for many and an inspiration to all.
Written by: Issy Todd
There are many powerful and expressive female artists in the music industry – one of them is a Spanish singer and songwriter Rosalía. Her extravagant style and dynamic voice are unique and have a high recognition factor. Rosalía’s genres range from Flamenco pop to Latino R&B and keep evolving every time she releases new music, which shows her keenness for experimenting with different sounds.
The singer has collaborated with various artists such as J Blavin, The Weeknd, Travis Scott and Billie Eilish and won the Grammy award for ‘Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative Album’ in 2020. Her most popular song ‘Con Altura’, on which she collaborated with J Balvin and EL Guincho, was the starting point of her quickly progressing career. It appears that her two albums, especially ‘Los Angeles’, tend to integrate the Flamenco pop sound in contrast to her recent singles and collaborations with other artists, which oftentimes incorporate a more generic Latino R&B beat. Rosalía’s song repertoire covers everything from acoustic instrumental songs, such as ‘Que Se Muere Que Se Muere’ and ‘Juro Que’, which accentuate her incredible vocals to Spanish R&B songs, such as ‘Yo x Ti, Tu x Mi’ and ‘Brillo’.
As if her musical talent is not enough of a blessing, Rosalía also has a striking stage presence! Her live performance of ‘MALAMENTE – Cap.1: Augurio’ on Austin City Limits proves that she is not only an amazing singer but an admirable dancer who radiates confidence and passion, which affects her audience as well. Whether you want to relax while listening to soft acoustic flamenco pop or you need some female power to show off your dance moves, Rosalía got you covered.
Written by: Alexa Zsigmond
Chloe x Halle
Sisters Chloe x Halle have taken over the music and acting world. With their Grammy-nominated albums ‘The Kids Are Alright’ and ‘Ungodly Hour’ and appearances on Grown-ish the Georgia natives have become household names for the younger generation. Halle Bailey, the younger sister even went on to score the part of Ariel in the upcoming live-action remake of ‘The Little Mermaid’. With her angelic voice and impeccable talent, there has never been a better casting.
Chloe x Halle are powerhouses in the making. The two sisters bring the best out of each other and create a perfect atmosphere of fun and vulnerability. Once their voices blend together and they align the listener might be mistaken for being in an ever-consuming daydream. The 22 and 20-year-old represent what perfect sisterly love is and whilst doing so are creating new fans right, left and centre.
Yes, Chloe x Halle are Beyoncé approved and are even signed to her label Parkwood Entertainment but there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that if ever someone would be able to rise up and enjoy Beyoncé’s level of acclaim, talent and power it will be the two of them. They are more than just a new duo on the horizon, Chloe x Halle are the future of music combining R&B, Soul and Pop music in the best way possible. The duo doesn’t just transcend the blurring of genre they also transcend the line of talent.
Written by: Lauren Dehollogne