CELEBRATING OUR FAVORITE FEMALE SONGWRITERS

Although we often celebrate the many success’ that women have achieved in different areas from music, science and even politics, we took the opportunity for Women’s History Month to highlight some of the most talented female songwriters in the industry! From legends such as Dolly Parton to the underrated, yet equally talented writers who have penned recent hits, we delve into the brilliant minds of some of our favorite songwriters who we look to for inspiration as well as recognizing their accomplishments.

Dolly Parton

It is only appropriate to start our list with no other than singer and songwriting country star, Dolly Parton, who in her career had delivered dozens upon dozens of hits for herself as well as other singers. Parton had mentioned how she has easily written close to 3,000 songs ever since she had started writing when she was a child. Parton has delivered a multitude of hit songs from her own, such as “Jolene”, “9 to 5” and “Coat of Many Colors” to one of the most easily recognizable songs of all time, “I Will Always Love You” (performed by Whitney Houston), Parton’s undeniable talent earned her way into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2001 as well as receiving many awards through out her career, including 11 Country Music Awards.

Carole King

Co/writing 118 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, Carole King had cemented herself as the most successful singer/songwriter of the last half of the 20th century. Through her career she has written for multiple artists, from Aretha Franklin (“You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman”) to The Beatles ("Chains"). She has also released 25 solo albums including the successful Tapestry, including her hit single "You've Got A Friend", which catapulted her career to successful heights.  She has earned four Grammy awards as well as being inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Kate Bush

Throughout the span of her career, English singer/songwriter Kate Bush had released 10 albums, including 25 singles that found their place in the Top 40. Her debut single and one of her most popular songs, “Wuthering Heights” had reached the British Charts for four weeks straight back in 1978, introducing the world to her incredible talent in writing. Bush had won several awards including the “Ivor Novello” Award for her contributions to British music. Popular singers from PJ Harvey to Florence Welch have credited Bush as an impactful influence in their music as well. Though not having released any new material recently, Bush has already made her mark in music with her undeniable talent and influence on artists after her.

Amy Winehouse

Though her career was cut short due to her tragic death in 2011, London-born singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse took the world by surprise with her unique voice and sound. Mixing R&B, Jazz and Pop, her distinct style made her one of the most easily recognizable and popular singers, selling over 20 million albums worldwide. Her witty, punchy lyrics laced with her sultry vocals often entailed stories of love in different aspects such as her song “Stronger Than Me”, which received the “Ivor Novello Award” from the British Academy of Songwriters for Best Contemporary Song. She also won an astounding 5 Grammy awards and 2 Brit Awards for her sophomore release, Back to Black. Winehouse had paved the way for unconventional singers with fearless experimentation to be allowed a chance for mainstream success, from Adele, Lana Del Rey to Florence Welch, who all had mentioned how Winehouse’s music was a big influence on their work. Despite her unfortunate passing, her legacy will always live on and will never be forgotten.  

Florence Welch

Pairing her powerhouse vocals with the most eloquent, poetic lyrics to greet our ears, singer/songwriter Florence Welch, (from Florence & The Machine), has proved herself to be an unstoppable, beautiful force in music. Her thunderous songs, booming with emotions from personal conflicts to love, earned the band critical acclaim and worldwide praise. Her most recent effort with her band, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, earned five Grammy Award Nominations, with its journey of heartbreak through biblical metaphors and elegant instrumentation. Online magazine, Consequence of Sound, stated "it's apparent she's among her generation's most deserving superstars, maintaining a stunning balance of technical mastery and sensitive lyricism." Welch’s writing style is unmatched by her contemporaries, pulling the listener into a polarizing trance they never want to leave.

Charli XCX

Although only being in the early stages of her career with just two albums out (so far), singer/songwriter Charli XCX has made an incredible impact in the music world across different genres. Since the immediate response of her songs “I Love It” (performed by Icona Pop) and the summer hit of 2013, “Fancy” (with Iggy Azalea), the young singer/songwriter has since been one of the most in demand writers in the music industry. She has recently delivered other Billboard hits such as “Same Old Love” (performed by Selena Gomez) as well as her own songs such as the infectious "Boom Clap", which hit top ten on iTunes. There're never a dull moment in the glittering pop star's world, and time will tell with her upcoming third album release later this year what other potential gems the 24-year old singer has in store for us. 

Teddy Sinclair

Singer/Songwriter Teddy Sinclair has been writing songs for her own solo album's for quite a few years now, including her most recent release under her new band name “Cruel Youth”. But since recently writing for bigger artists, she has proved that whatever she writes, turns to gold; or platinum we should say, in regards to her co-writing credit on Rihanna’s “Kiss It Better”, which had earned a platinum certification as well as a Grammy nomination. She has also been praised by none other than the pop queen herself, Madonna, and helped co-write a track from Madonna’s most recent 2015 album release Rebel Heart (“Holy Water”). Her ability to string words together like pearls to form the most beautiful necklace's of songs, often regarding the darkest time's in her life, is unmatched. Although not as greatly appreciated as she deserves, Sinclair has clearly shown that she has the potential to soar to greater heights in the future, and we don’t doubt that she most certainly will.

Sia

Being one of the most easily recognizable and successful songwriters of the past decade, we couldn’t possibly write this article without mentioning Sia. Spanning a career since the early 90’s, the songwriter had started out as a singer. After the wide success of her album We Are Born, the singer had decided then to retire at the time and focus on songwriting for other artists. Songs such as “Titanium” with David Guetta had reached the top of music charts worldwide and the songwriter began co/writing many songs for big artists from Beyonce ("Pretty Hurts") to Rihanna's top ten hit "Diamonds". Her collaboration with hip hop artist Flo-Rida “Wild Ones” reached the top of the charts as well in America along with a few other countries. Since then the songwriter has been enjoying the praise from her recent efforts from 1,000 Forms Of Fear and her most recent release, This Is Acting, released in 2015.

Lady Gaga

Easily one of the most groundbreaking popstar's in the latter half of the ‘00s, Singer/Songwriter Lady Gaga stopped the world with her incredibly catchy pop hooks and proved herself to be an unstoppable hit maker from “Just Dance” to “Born This Way”. The singer has written or at least co-written every single song in her career thus far, ranging from lighter moments such as "Paparazzi" to politically charged anthems found on Born This Way. The songwriter has always mentioned being intensely involved with the creative process of her award winning albums. She had also co-written for a few artists from Adam Lambert (“Fever”) to Jennifer Lopez (“Hypnotico”). Along with winning several hundred awards in her career, the singer had also received the inaugural “Contemporary Icon Award” from the Songwriters Hall of Fame just last June, reaffirming her position as a multitalented singer, songwriter and performer.

Lorde

Just one debut album is all that singer/songwriter Lorde needed to prove to be one of the most dynamic, poetically intriguing songwriter we have seen in a while. Only being sixteen years old during her album debut, Pure Heroine, the young singer impressed listener's as they were captivated by her distinct, dreamy alternative pop music and her lyrics, often revolving around themes of youth, teenage angst and romantic desires. Her unique writing style often dive's deep into world's of metaphors concerning teen angst and an observation of the life around her. Four years since her debut, the singer had finally released a new single, “Green Light”, a euphoric break up anthem bursting with adrenaline, off her new album, Melodrama which is due out in June of this year.

10 OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL BLACK MUSICIANS

In honor of Black History Month, we took the time to honor some of the most influential black artists who have shaped the music world in various ways. From Nina Simone to Michael Jackson, music history has been graced with the talent of numerous black artists throughout the decades. These artists have made a long lasting impact in the music industry and even socially, using their platforms and music to communicate their universal message. We have picked some of our favorite artists’ from the past few decades who have contributed to the culture and growth of the music as an art form and paved the way for present and future artists to come.

 

Nina Simone

American born songwriter, singer, poet, pianist and civil rights activist, Nina Simone succeeded in many genres of music including Jazz, Classical, R&B, Gospel and Blues. Many themes could be found in Simone’s discography including songs of social and racial commentary which have inspired many people from the civil rights era of the 60’s up until today. Many artists today have said to be immensely inspired by the late great icon.

The Temptations

The wildly famous group of singers were incredibly influential in the evolution of R&B and Soul music in the 60s and 70s, leaving their footprint on the genres and paving ways for black boy bands to rise in years to come. Their memorable choreography, melodies and stage presence set the bar high for many other R&B musicians at the time, making them one of the most successful music groups in history.

Stevie Wonder

One of the most successful musicians of the late 20th century, Stevie Wonder has excelled in singing and songwriting as well as being a multi-instrumentalist. The musician has recorded well over 30 top ten hits throughout his career and has won 25 Grammy awards. Stevie Wonder has been inducted in both the Rock N’ Roll and Songwriters Hall of Fame and has also earned the Lifetime Achievement Award for his work.

Marvin Gaye

The Prince of Soul, Marvin Gaye is credited to have helped shape the sound of Motown before venturing off into his globally successful solo career. Gaye’s music had influenced many subgenres of R&B as well as Soul. His successful singles such as “Sexual Healing” and “How Sweet It Is” earned him worldwide recognition and eventually lead to his induction into the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame as well as the Songwriters Hall of Fame. 

Michael Jackson

No one can deny the achievement and legacy the King of Pop himself has made in the music industry, and furthermore as a philanthropist. His hit songs from “Thriller” to “Billie Jean’ propelled him to global super stardom, influencing and inspiring people all over the world. His music transformed the art of music videos and his legendary dance moves and fashion cemented him as one of the most incredible performers the world has seen thus far. The late entertainer’s impact on music has influenced musicians of all genres and will continue to do so for years to come.

 

Tina Turner

Recording artist, actress, dancer and author, Tina Turner’s successful career has made her one of the best-selling artists of all time. The artist excelled across different genres from Rock, Pop, Soul and R&B, earning her several awards throughout her career including eight Grammy awards. The singer has sold more concert tickets than any other solo performance artist in history and has greatly influenced many performers of today’s era including Beyoncé and Mary J. Blidge.

Prince

Late music legend Prince was known for his eclectic style, energetic stage presence, wide vocal range and his talent for playing several instruments. The singer/songwriter’s  impressively produced the majority of his work by himself, blending genres together including pop, soul, funk and R&B. He has sold over 100 million records worldwide which earned him seven Grammy awards. His work in creating modern synthesizer sounds was the foundation of post-70s funk music which influenced many artists after him.

Whitney Houston

The most awarded female artist of all time, Whitney Houston remains a global icon as a singer, actress and producer. The late music legend sold an estimated 200 million records worldwide and left an immense impact in pop, soul and R&B. She was the first female artist to earn a number one spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart with her second album Whitney. She was also the first black female musician to receive more rotation on MTV with her music video “How Will I Know”, breaking the barrier for other black female artists such as Janet Jackson and Anita Baker to succeed at the time. Houston has been credited to be a major source of inspiration by numerous powerhouse singers such as Celine Deion, Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton and Christina Aguilera. 

Jay Z

Rapper and businessman Jay Z is one of the bestselling musicians of all time, selling well over 100 million records and receiving 21 Grammy Awards so far over the span of his career. Three of the rapper’s albums were included in Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time”. He has made a tremendous print in rap music as well as being a successful business entrepreneur with his investments in other industries from fashion to sports teams. The rapper has also been involved in philanthropy and founded the Shawn Carter Foundation, which since its start has helped eligible students facing socio-economic hardships succeed through college. 

Beyoncé

Global superstar of today’s era, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter is one of the most tremendously successful singers, dancers and performers music history has seen in years. The music legend's career, starting with Destiny’s Child, has seen constant evolution and change across a variety of genres including R&B, Pop and Hip Hop. The performer's last two visual albums have completely revolutionized the way music is released in today's industry. The singer has also been politically active recently. Her latest successful release, Lemonade included a full length film circling the themes of black female empowerment. Beyoncé is a worldwide phenomenon, inspiring millions of people and setting the bar higher and higher with each step of her career.

LADY GAGA IN ALL HER SPECTACULAR, SUPER BOWL GLORY

Lady Gaga stunned the world once again with another incredible performance at this years’ Super Bowl 51 halftime show, showcasing a stellar production filled with some of the most popular hits in her career. The show was watched by 117.5 million people, making it the second most watched halftime show and the most watched show without any guest performers.

The Grammy-award winning singer kicked off the show defying gravity in a custom made Versace body suit as she she opened with "God Bless America" on top of the stadium. The star was accompanied by hundreds of drones lighting up the night sky in red, white and blue while professing her patriotism for her country. The singer then jumped off the roof and made her way on stage as she sang a medley of her greatest hits from “Just Dance” to “Bad Romance”.

Despite how some people praised Gaga for excluding any political statements during her performance, they had clearly missed the graceful, subtle hints that were inherent in the music. From the beginning, Gaga hinted on the current immigration ban with her inclusion of the song “This Land Is Your Land” originally by activist and singer Woody Guthrie. She then followed with her emphasis on the words “indivisible” and “liberty and justice for all,” when quoting a line from the Pledge of Allegiance. After singing just parts of songs from lighter hits such as “Just Dance”, Gaga reminded us how she has always used her music for social commentary with her performance of “Born This Way” in its entirety. She was sure to belt out the lines, “No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian, transgendered life,” with passion to the millions of people watching, including the vice president who is known for his opposition of the LGBT community and was present at the stadium. Gaga made her statements, emphasizing how the foundation of our country was built upon the notion of unity and equality.

The singer left her heart on the stage and it was clearly evident that the effort she put into this performance was unmatched. From jumping 70 feet down into the stadium and perfectly showcasing her live vocals throughout the intricate choreography and wardrobe changes, the pop singer did not disappoint after she ended the show catching a football while jumping into a pit of foam. The singer received critical acclaim including everyone from Hillary Clinton to Adele, praising her efforts in delivering a spectacular performance and making it clear who the real winner of the night was.

MUSIC AT THE POLITICAL FOREFRONT

In the midst of a controversial political climate that has set off a series of protests around the world, the importance of raising our voices has never been so crucial. Certain issues that have always been present since last century have been forced to the surface by multiple events. The unjust shootings of hundreds of american citizens, specifically black citizens, ignited the first spark in protests these past few years, and now the alarming inauguration of Donald Trump and his actions in office regarding his ban on citizens from several middle eastern countries (specifically refugees seeking safety), has set off another intense series’ of protests around the world in opposition. These protests, along with the recent worldwide Women’s March, have instilled hope and unified millions of people, reminding each other that despite the tense political climate, that we will not be divided and will fight against what is unjust. 

Many music artists across different genres have always been at the political forefront with some of their songs, and there is no appropriate time than now to use these songs as our anthems to have with us to inspire and spread love with the unpredictable future. From climate change to LGBT rights, we have compiled a list of songs to carry us into the new year with hope and as much positivity as possible. 

 

SEVDALIZA - BEBIN

Upcoming artist of Iranian descent, Sevdaliza, had released a song recently in wake of the recent muslim ban with a message stating "In protest of the inhuman political climate, I could not rest my head in privilege....as I will not be able to travel to the United States for indefinite duration, take this message without lights, camera, action. I am solely a messenger. In the brain of love, there is no place for racism nor bigotry.”

M.I.A. - BORDERS

Back in Fall of 2015 U.K. rapper M.I.A. released a video for her song "Borders", in light of the refugee crisis in Syria, showing the struggle's that refugee's face seeking safety and opportunities for a better life. Now that the recent muslim ban in the U.S. has been passed, the refugee situation has now been further amplified and the message of this song is needed now more than ever to bring peace and stop closing our borders to those in need.

LADY GAGA - SCHEIßE

Released on her Born This Way album in 2011, Lady Gaga's song Scheiße, (which literally translate's to "bullshit" in german), is a club-banging, energy fueled feminist anthem demanding equality for women, and refusing to take any Scheiße from anyone who disagrees. 

KENDRICK LAMAR - ALRIGHT

From the black empowered album, To Pimp A Butterfly, "Alright" addresses the struggles of black citizens across America and the challenges that have to be overcome every day in the face of hate. This song is an uplifting anthem that assure's every listener of the importance of having hope and positivity when one is confronted with injustice and always standing up for who you are.

MILEY CYRUS - 1 SUN

In terms of the environmental crisis, which seems to never be taken as seriously as it should, Miley Cyrus reminds the listener that at the end of every polluted day, we only have one sun and one earth. The lyrics show that if we continue to be ignorant in our damaging behaviors and not take the safety of our environment seriously, there will be nowhere left to turn once climate change has reached a point where we cannot heal the earth once we have destroyed it. Hopefully with a more raised awareness of our environmental crisis, we can take more action in the future to protect our environment and prevent the escalation of global climate change.

P!NK - RAISE YOUR GLASS

Being yourself, as sad it may seem, can be dangerous at times, and members of the LGBT community are some of the bravest, unapologetic beings to stand up in the face of discrimination. Love wins more and more every day as members of the community rise up with the understanding that there is nothing wrong with being themselves and they should always be celebrated no matter who they love. P!nk's "Raise Your Glass" proclaims just that and serves as a party anthem reminding us to always raise our glasses and take pride in ourselves.

TOP FOUR ALBUMS OF 2016

2016 has been an intense, rollercoaster ride of a year and the music world has treated us to some of the most exciting and groundbreaking releases we have heard in a while! The fourth largest debuts this year have been highly anticipated albums from super stars such as Beyoncé and Lady Gaga as they have paved new roads in the music landscape. So as the year is finally winding down, we took the pleasure to review 2016’s four albums with the largest first week debuts.

 

Beyoncé - Lemonade

Back in March, Beyoncé shook the world with her sixth studio album and accompanied movie, Lemonade. Selling over one million units so far this year solely in the U.S., the album debuted with 653,000 equivalent album units in its first week, making it the number one album debut of the year. Lemonade covers a variety of different genre’s from rock and R&B, to country while aggressively delving into themes of infidelity and ultimately, forgiveness. The brilliantly directed movie, threaded with a narrative written by Somali poet Warson Shire, specifically goes more into themes of black women empowerment. The album has received positive critical acclaim from a number of sources, earning a 92/100 on metacritic. Lemonade, still sitting in the top twenty of iTunes since its spring release, has been one of the most impactful albums on pop culture this year and proven to be the super star’s strongest album to date lyrically and vocally. The impact the one hour long movie has made on concept albums and music releases has opened a door for artists to move towards more creative endeavors with introducing new music in the 21st century.

 

Lady Gaga - Joanne

Among the most diverse and exciting album releases we have heard this year, Lady Gaga surprised the world with her highly anticipated fifth studio album, named after her late aunt, Joanne. The Applause singer’s infamous catchy hooks, aggressive pop beats and melodies were all stripped away on the singers fifth album, as she sang over a cohesive collection of eclectic soft rock beats and country elements. With collaborations from Mark Ronson, Tame Impala, Father John Misty and Florence Welch, Gaga’s vocals are beautifully showcased throughout her most personal album to date. The album debuted with over 170,000 sales in its first week, making it her fourth album to reach #1 on the Billboard top 200. Joanne’s successful debut has also made Gaga the only female this decade to have four consecutive number one album’s on Billboard. The album received generally favorable reviews from Rolling Stones to the Guardian, all noting how the change in genre was a bold move for the 30 year old super star as she evolves yet again in all her groundbreaking, artistic glory.

 

Drake - Views

Rapper Drake released his fourth album Views back in May and it remained at the top of the Billboard 200 for 13 consecutive weeks. The album sold over 852,000 copies in its first week and achieved over 245 million streams as well, making it one of the top four album debuts of the year. Some critics have stated that the album was missing more of a fresh perspective that gave us something different from his previous work. However, the album earned favorable reviews by The Lost Angeles Times and NME, claiming how the album featured a number of beautiful tracks including the popular “Too Good” featuring Rihanna. "Hotline Bling" was an inescapable sensation that dominated popular culture for the first quarter of the year. The albums second single “One Dance” became the rapper's first number one single on the Billboard 200 and remained number one for ten weeks. The 20 track album, featuring rappers from Kanye West to Future, has been one of the most talked about albums of the year as well as the most successful of the rapper's career.

 

Frank Ocean - Blonde

After a series of delays and overwhelming anticipation following his first successful release, Channel Orange, Frank Ocean had finally released his album Blonde, in August of this year. Featuring collaborations from Beyoncé, Andre 3000 and Tyler the Creator to James Blake, the experimental R&B album sky rocketed to the number one spot on the Billboard 200 and received widespread acclaim from numerous critics. In its first week the album sold over 276,000 units making it the third highest debut of the year. Blonde was also streamed 65.4 million times on Apple Music and reached number one in several countries around the world. Delving deeper into emotions and philosophical concepts over its psychedelic dreamy beats, Blonde sets itself apart from Channel Orange sonically and lyrically, drawing the listener into the ultimate experience.