Even though I’m a girl, I’ll admit I’ve never really found myself listening to many female musicians. I’ve always had massive respect for the likes of Blondie, Stevie Nicks, Patti Smith, The Pretenders and Siouxsie and The Banshees, but they’ve never really been amongst my favourite artists. Up until this year, almost every musician on my Spotify ‘recently played artists’ were men. It wasn’t a conscious decision, I just hadn’t found the one.
So this is my shoutout to 2017 – the year that changed it all for me. I don’t know whether the girls have had a particularly good year in 2017, or whether it’s just taken me this long to properly hear the music they’re making. I know they’ve always been out there, but 2017 seems to be the year that I’ve finally tuned into them.
Lana Del Rey was the first female artist to really grab my attention when she dropped Born To Die back in 2012, serving nihilism, hedonism, self-loathing and feminine melancholia in a sort of hip-hop-punk package. Something about her persona and talent made a lasting impression, not only on me, but on the music scene in general. For me, she’s sustained her well-deserved reputation, culminating in this year’s Lust For Life album. Whilst, for me, it still doesn’t top Born To Die or Ultraviolence, this is perhaps her most accomplished album yet, with an exciting array of musicians featuring, including the aforementioned Stevie Nicks, as well as A$AP Rocky, The Weeknd and Sean Ono Lennon. Not only this, but Del Rey landed herself a magnificent ELLE UK cover and spread and whipped up excitement over shows in London, Liverpool and Glasgow. In short, 2017 has seen Lana Del Rey rocket ever higher.
A year later than Del Rey’s debut, 2013 saw the release of Haim’s Days Are Gone, an album which made its way into my summer playlist and into the pages of NME regularly. However, this year’s Something To Tell You has been the real showstopper, perhaps as a result of an agonisingly long 4-year wait for the group to return. Already with a reputation as one of the most exciting live acts around at the moment, Haim certainly have not disappointed this year, with an explosive headline set on the NME stage at Reading and Leeds. Even though I haven’t seen them live, watching their Reading set on the TV was proof enough to me that they deserve their reputation, and that 2017 has treated them well, with a second log of crowd-pleasing tunes, an eager and adoring audience, and a confetti cannon finale. This year their singles have even become an almost regular feature on Radio 1. However, my personal favourite Haim moment of 2017 has got to be their incredible cover of Shania Twain’s That Don’t Impress Me Much on Triple J’s Like A Version.
Like Haim, Lorde also released her debut album Pure Heroine in 2013. Unlike Haim, Lorde wasn’t really on my radar until she came back this year with Melodrama – an album I really can’t speak highly enough of. I’d heard Royals back then (who hadn’t?) but I feel like I, personally, wasn’t ready for it. It’s not until I heard Melodrama this year that I decided to listen to Pure Heroine, this time with full appreciation. A captivating performer, talented songwriter, and pals with the late David Bowie, Lorde is one of the girls I’m championing this year as she continues to enjoy commercial success without compromising on her quirky individualism, in terms of fashion, performance and personality (see her recent performance at the VMA’s despite having the flu). However, there’s definitely something different about 2017 Lorde compared to 2013. The musical direction, the haircut, I don’t know what it is, but, to me, 2017 seems to be the year that Lorde has flourished most so far, breaking into my psyche at long last and doing it for the girls.
Even on a smaller scale, 2017 seems to have blessed us with an array of talented gals, with Wolf Alice coming back at us with some new tunes, and Fickle Friends continuing to tour and work on their much-anticipated debut album. From the small tents to the headline stage, the gals have really been gearing up this year.
So, has 2017 been the year of the girl, or have I just been deaf all these years? Who is the queen of the scene at the moment? And, most importantly, who has dropped the best album of 2017: Lorde, Haim or Lana?