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.
Hayley Kiyoko knows what she needs, which is exactly why we love her. The queer, Asian-American singer-songwriter makes irresistible pop music for the radio about openly loving, flirting with, dancing with, and being heartbroken by other women. Tracks like "Feelings," "What I Need (with fellow queer icon, Kehlani)," and "Curious" from her critically acclaimed debut album Expectations fuse Kiyoko's natural (and nature-inspired) instincts with warmth and compassion. It's smartly-crafted, highly danceable pop music for the masses that is also specific enough to resonate with queerlings all over who need it most. It's easy to understand, then, why Kiyoko is widely considered pop music's lesbian messiah. — Michael Love Michael (Photography: JUCO for PAPER)
Story by Michael Love Michael, Vrinda Jagota, Justin Moran, Jael Goldfine, Katie Skinner, Talia Smith