We were just as horrified as you when the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative released their annual stats about inclusion in the music industry at the start of the year.

The USC think tank's findings were unfortunate; in 2017, the research showed that men were dominating pop music, with women representing only 16.8% of popular artists on the top charts. It was a six-year low, showcasing how "women are pushed to the margins or excluded from the creative process" in music-making.

To combat this bleak statistic, we found we actually didn't have to look far at all for strong examples of women in the pop sphere — encompassing stylistic diversity that includes genres like R&B, hip-hop, and electronic — who were pushing boundaries and shaking things up with their virtuosic art.

Below, 100 women across all spectrums who are revolutionizing pop, and the face of music as we know it for the better, this year and beyond. Click through and listen to a special playlist curated by PAPER editors, featuring all 100 pop stars.


SOPHIE pushes pop to its extreme, crafting pristine sonic reverie out of grating synths, whispered lyrics, and shimmery keys. Her music contains all the elements of a radio or club banger, but is crafted to an extreme that makes it feel like a new genre altogether, synthesized in a laboratory to critically analyze the materialism that mainstream pop often perpetuates. She uses her music to praise immateriality, to assert that her face is the new shopfront and to remind us that, ultimately, she can be anything she wants. — Michael Love Michael (Photography: Jason Altaan for PAPER)

Story by Michael Love Michael, Vrinda Jagota, Justin Moran, Jael Goldfine, Katie Skinner, Talia Smith

Subscribe to Get More