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.
As the once-novel concept of borderless music becomes increasingly passé — and a comment on how an artist either "defies," "transcends" or "spans" genre has become requisite fodder of music profiles and press releases alike — Maggie Rogers is one of the few artists today who reminds us what it means to make music that sounds like little else. Rogers, who entered mainstream consciousness via a viral video in which Pharrell loses his mind over a demo of her breakout hit, "Alaska" at an NYU master class, was bred on banjos and pastoral folk metaphors, and matured on European dance and electronic, but her music is what it sounds like when an artist is inspired by life itself, rather than deciding to make folk or dance or pop music.
At first sound disguises itself as folk: all claps, falsetto, piano, strings, and lyrics about streams and forests, but slowly reveals soaring electronic production, hyper-danceable syncopated beats, and stunning cliché-less stories about metamorphosis, destruction, crushing lostness and rapid change: embracing the beauty of both organic and the synthetic in a way that feels utterly of 2018. Rogers is a sonic balm for the millennial condition: the kind of healing music that demands that you dance, cry, and admire the redemptive, heartbreaking beauty of the world, all at once. You could string together a mile-long list of genres to capture her sound or you could just call it sublime. — Jael Goldfine (Photo via Maggie Rogers)
Story by Michael Love Michael, Vrinda Jagota, Justin Moran, Jael Goldfine, Katie Skinner, Talia Smith