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.


Like many of the teens in pop right now making us feel bad about ourselves, 19-year-old South African-born, Australian-raised E^ST (real name Mel Bester), armed with a geometrically hard-edged yet tender Aussie-accented wail and irreverent confidence is turning the microscope on adolescent heartbreak. Showcase especially on her mesmerizing "Blowjob" (which sounds like a gimmick but is actually a heartbreaking story of loneliness: "down on my knees, really just need/ Just need your open arms/ And you just need a blow job"), her musings are grounded in bright bouquets of synths and tingling dancey pop beats. — Jael Goldmine (Photo via E^ST)

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

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