The Top 49 Modern Female Vocalists You Should Know
My utter disdain with the current music world is that often times on independent music sites that list great artists and are trying desperately to bring audience awareness to more organic music is that these sites tend to only mention a handful of female vocalists. I'm sure there's a number of reasons for this, and perhaps since the entertainment industry is predominantly full of males, it may be much easier and accesible to find male bands, artists, and vocalists. After a great deal of research, female vocalists are not being mentioned because there isn't enough -- there's a plethora -- it's that whatever marketing schemes are happening is under representing the market.
I think this gives a very slanted portrayal of women in music, and though there are admittedly several entertaining female performers on the top billboard lists, I think the audience needs help finding the real organic feminine voice in independent movements.
I think this is important as informed music lovers as well as musicians. Though many musicians may not be canonized on the more popular media charts and award shows, addressing unique occurrences of female artists allows society to have a more realistic view of voice, and for those of us who are singers, we need to be listening to what's out there, to be able to replicate it in our voice (to grow as singers), and also to develop ears that really can differentiate between mediocre and excellent.
The following is an attempt to bring more awareness to the impressiveness of the female voice. At the heart of all social awareness is the need for voice representation, so how fitting for us to actually literally take a plunge to analyze the feminine singing voice.
I present to you now the top 49 female modern (as in recent, still somewhat in their career) artists that you should know.
P.S. Some of the ladies this article will be much more mainstream than others, but offer something deep with their innovations that still deserve recognition.
49. Yolandi Vi$$er aka Die Antword
This is the only chica on the entire list that will not receive a video.
She hails from South Africa in the band Die Antword which Lady Gaga hoped would perform before her concerts -- instead they viciously mocked her and pushed the edge even further than anyone knew it could be pushed. The videos are highly explicit, full of strings of curse words, gross bodily functions, and an array of complicated art patterns to confuse and make the audience curious. Yolandi is on the list because she defines the image of not caring, this band could go into complete obscurity and I seriously doubt the musicians would give a crap. It mocks the corporate world of mass produced media, it makes odd religious allusions that are either in salute to them or slandering it, and Yolandi may have the haircut of the season... there are not enough women in this world who are bold enough to do what Yolandi is doing, and I'm not sure if we entirely need this boldness, but it is impressive nonetheless.
I'm not sure how much is an act and what is flat out true living, but even if it is rampantly outrageous, it is playful and almost childlike. The lyrics of their music are complex and somewhat mumbled, the background beats are repetitive, but the driving themes are always grabbing and feel as though they peel back a layer of the universe to make us all wonder... what in the world inspired this band? She also has a compelling relationship with the male vocalist, Ninja, who is the father of her baby Sixteen Jones.
48. Annie Clark aka St. Vincent
Instant heart throb of all the man friends I've ever had. One of the best bands out there with a lead female artist. Her voice has a kind of seamless aesthetic to it and even a beauty in the way she breathes. She has a way of connecting her phrases in this dramatic way that builds momentum with the complicated instrumentation.
She sincerely has the ideal indie rock voice. She has a way of expressing emotion in these nice, soft spaces. She doesn't need to turn heads by holding out her voice and belting it, she can control the mood with coy, clear articulation and impressive phrasing. I'm guessing there's also something sensual about her to the male gender, besides her obvious good looks. Not every singer in the world can fit so fantastically inside the frame of a rock band, but she blends so seamlessly with them that it doesn't even remotely seem questionable that anyone else could belong.
47. Alison Goldfrapp aka Goldfrapp
One of in my opinion the best electronic bands with one of the best ethereal voices. I love Goldfrapp's more upbeat songs, and the hardness it has from "Ooh La La", "Strict Machine", and "Lovely 2 C U." Goldfrapp also does ballads that sound as if... the music is on acid. I wish they'd do more of the more dark, fast paced music. Alison has a great deal of versatility from singing classical, folk, trip hop, and electronica. She was partly inspired by Polish disco music and cabaret. She attempts to visualize her music before the writing beleving that music is an immersive experience. Her influences also come from surrealism and nature. The powerhouse synthesizer is nearing the age of fifty, and making her upper forties look divine.
46. Victoria Legend aka Beach House
It's the voice made of dreams. Beach House is the perfect band for a rainy day of introspection -- or a sunny day for that matter. Victoria has a mezzo quality, that has an otherworldly quality to it. It has a cleanness in it like the Disney princess voices of the 90s but also has an edge of hurt mixed together, like a trip of drugs inside her esophagus. I think this band for me is medicine.
I enjoy listening to them while I write, they offer a quality that helps me to be imaginative, and that's not always easy for music to achieve. I do enjoy the timbre of her voice finding it often both soothing and compelling. There's a certain rawness to it that I hope she is able to retain for years to come. This is definitely in the land of hipster dream pop music, but I find this liberating and her bandmate sounds nearly like Edward Sharpe. It's a wondrous world to have a band like this, a voice like hers, like a hidden ice cream truck in a world of violence, despair, and death.
I hope both of these musicians continue to grow because I think they have great potential to shake up the music scene while also inspiring some of the younger, coming of age apathetic generations Y and Z in a world seemed all too carved by Baby Boomers. We need this. We need to know we can carve the world without the hand of a media conglomerate.
45. Martha Tilston
Why is it that so many people can make living in a van look so sublime? Martha is a a folksinger who gave her voice to Zero 7. She is from Britain, and has a voice that sounds of the hills, like an angelic songbird. Sometimes this humble of pie, bucolic voice lets me relax in a world that's full of hustle and bustle. This is one of the most authentic folksingers I've yet to find, and I adore her work on Yeah Ghost. Serene voices like this are rare, just like the spaces they make home are quickly forgotten to the hustle and bustle of city life.
44. Shingai Shoniwa aka Noisettes
One day I found this glorious song called "Atticus" and I felt like I was in this dreamy state being lifted into clouds. Shingai Shoniwa is a Britain native who is the lead singer for Noisettes, she plays bass, cello, and guitar while also being a part of punk, blues, soul, and indie rock. Her voice can take on this fantastical quality, or perhaps the lyrics that play off the idea of "To Kill a Mockingbird" somehow strikes a chord for me.
She originally had wanted to go into a career as an actress, but through her friendship with classmate Dan Smith, the two created the Noisettes which has where she has been safely performing. She has a history of musical theater and even circus performance under her belt.
43. Anna Ternheim
Swedish singer with wonderful piano and string arrangements. Her voice has a lowness that makes for splendid woodwind like tones. She has worked with another of my favorite Swedish singers, Ane Brun. I'm beginning to think if there's any artists from Scandinavia that are making a scene it's a guarantee that they are worth giving listen. I haven't been disappointed yet.
"When she was 10 years old she began playing the guitar, writing songs and performing. During a year abroad in Atlanta, Georgia Anna created her first band "Sova", playing at smaller festivals and local clubs. Back in Stockholm she continued her song writing and later in Switzerland where she was performing while studying French.
42. Lucia Maria
This young lass is from Romania, and she looks like the alter ego of Dianna Agron. What impresses me about this woman is that she has this bell like lightness to her voice. So many vocalists try to make their voice as big and heavy as possible, such as trying to have the chutzpah of Aretha Franklin, but this woman found this angelic ring that has a charm to its aesthetic. One time I tried to incorporate this into my singing and had an incredible reaction with the crowd. She uses reptation in a powerful way that builds on itself. With the few songs I've heard, I admit they were instantaneously addictive, so I am excited for when her album finally premieres.
I hope to see more of her career take off because I'd love to hear more of this unique soul. I hope my predictions are right that she'll be a rising star. She has magic in her that floats around in the air. Thank goodness for the beauty of high notes.
41. Lykke Li
Dream pop artist from Sweden. Has a lovely way of painting landscapes to make me feel introspective and existential. She incorporates corners of jazz instruments with percussion that really ends up being catchy as well as enjoyable. "Dance dance dance" is one of my favorites of hers for sure, I especially love the slow down at the end. It reminds me of music from the 1940s.
"Possibility" is featured in the Twilight film Breaking Dawn. It's one of the most subversive, painful to watch, and realistic scenes of cinema for a teenager where Bella sits at a window watching the seasons change as she continues in her heart and mind to obsess over Edward Cullen. Lykke Li's song is a perfect match for this scene that might be one of the most memorable of the entire Twilight series. I have a hard time separating this song from the film, though I think the song is one of the best emotive anguishes of the past few years. Her music is a blend of pop and electronic with a wide range of instruments from violins, saxophones, tambourines, and synthesizers.
It's incredibly hard for me to write her bio and not have the song "Possibility" playing in my head.
40. Leslie Feist aka Feist
I have never heard a Feist song I didn't like. This woman resonates with cool. I consider her the American queen of indie and folk. I think she always finds the right accompaniment for her charming voice. I am rather fond of her arrangements, and find revisiting her music to always be refreshing. It's like sweet tea on a porch in the south... on a summer day.
"She aspired to be a writer, and spent much of her youth singing in choirs. At the age of twelve, Feist performed as one of 1,000 dancers in the opening ceremonies of the Calgary Winter Olympics, which she cites as inspiration for the video '1234.' Feist performed an alternate version of "1234" on Sesame Street during its 39th season, teaching children to count to the number four. She also sang with Elmo on the same episode. She said working with the Muppets was a career highlight."
39. Katie White
Pop punk female side of the duo group Ting Tings from England. Her unique accent is a good portion of the joy of the almost White Stripes like sound. She is famous for "That's Not My Name" and other of their hit songs that seem to be lovingly used on commercials, such as shampoo. White's grandfather won the lottery and gave some of the giant share to her father which helped launch her career. Even though her songs are undeniably urban, she grew up on a farm in Lowton. She started her music career at the age of fourteen, in a girl punk group called TKO, her next band was Dear Eskimo, and then at last... the Ting Tings.
"Katie was working in a boutique with a Chinese girl called "Ting Ting," which sounds like Mandarin Chinese for "band stand" (亭) or "listening" (听) and Katie used it as name for the band. The Ting Tings started by playing for private parties at the Islington Mill arts centre in Salford and their debut album, We Started Nothing, was released on 19 May 2008."
Her voice proves that distinct enunciation over loud music can make for star power. In going back to her grandfather winning the lottery, her dad also used the money to buy all his children ponies.
38. Joyce Jonathan
This woman is so unbelievably sweet I find myself confused that she exists. She has a kindness that oozes in her voice, and a delightful happiness in all of her music videos, except maybe the one I've put here that's about relationships. I wish more people could be like her in the world, and I am envious of her French accent. Due to the internet she was found through Myspace and headed toward making an album. There's a softness to her voice that separates her from many artists. I hope she continues to keep her lightness as her career progresses. If there was an award for adorableness... I think she would win it in a heartbeat. She is a mere 23 years old. In January 2011 she received the NRJ music award for "French revelation" of the year.
"She is the youngest of a family of three girls. Her mother is the director of a travel agency and her father is an architect. She was educated at the Alsatian School in Paris, and as of 2011, is studying psychology."
37. Karen Orzolek aka Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have been on the map for several years now. Karen is incredibly well fit for rock music. She's able to lead out against the electronic of guitars and bass, but also pumps out an impressive ballad. "Maps" is one of the best ballads in fact of the first decade of the new millennium. She has a way of belting out the lyrics and creating a guttural texture.
The woman was asked once if she would pose for Playboy, and has stated that she never would. Bravo to her for standing up against the misogynistic, voyeuristic, and objectifying Playboy.
She composed all of the songs for the chlidren's film "Where the Wild Things Are."
"O's vocal approach has been described as 'ethereal', sometimes compared to indie folk artist Quinn Marston, and has been described as 'yelping' at times. She described her approach: we still have to grab people by the collar … We put out a record every three years now; we could easily be forgotten. If you look at a lot of our peers that we came up with, a lot of them have disappeared." The lovely rock goddess approach to music has kept her band's longevity up. It is impressive when a band can stay together over a stretch of several years, thirteen years is now small feat, and is roughly half my own life.
I know this woman has talent, and clearly some unreal set of pipes... but she is one of the strangest people that have ever existed, especially in being a front woman in entertainment for several years. I have no idea what is going through her mind and how she comes up with the universe that she shares with the world. Her emotions in her videos are difficult for me to understand, as well as what in the world is happening with her art. There is no one like her or even close. She sings from a guttural place all of her own.
Even though the media has relentlessly picked on her, she has proven herself with countless awards from an Oscar, Golden Globe, and 13 Grammy Award nominations. Eccentric and esoteric as can be, she does create a sound of a haunting vision.
"Björk's music style tends to be quite eclectic and often challenging. She has embraced many genres throughout her career, creating a varied range of pieces, from big band music to sound art. Björk's lyrical themes range from personal matters to scientific, natural, or social topics."
35. Amy Winehouse
The unfortunately parted jazz singer. She was one of the best, and only was on the cusp of her career. She combines modern jazz in the style of Sinatra with ska. She always sounded older than her actual age, and people were constantly worried about her personal life habits.
The deep contralto began singing at an early age with her family, she had a difficult time keeping quiet during school. She was born to sing. Big hair and a crazy mess of tattoos, she was a wondrous revelation to the world of pop music, and so it is with great sadness that she left too soon. Lady Gaga and Adele praise Amy for setting the stage for their voices to come into fame. "Spin magazine music editor Charles Aaron was quoted as saying 'Amy Winehouse was the Nirvana moment for all these women... They can all be traced back to her in terms of attitude, musical styles or fashion.'"
If anything we can take from her, it is a serious testament to taking concern with substance abuse and also receiving help for mental conditions. Too many of the greatest have been lose to these things when we as a community of people could have spent time outreaching to them such as Virginia Woolf, Janis Joplin, Sylvia Plath, Judy Garland, and Whitney Houston. I wish there were more movements to prevent some of the most talented from being lost and helping them to find themselves against some of the darker sides of psychosis. I think the fans will still love them regardless of their end, but I think more can be prevented from having these tragic ends.
34. Lily Rose Cooper aka Lily Allen
Lovely British ska-reggae. Always incredibly sarcastic and playful. She now is the mother of two, the co-creator with her sister of a clothing store called "Lucy in Disguise", and she has launched her own recording label "In the Name of." There are not many in the melancholy ska department, the age of ska seems to be silent at the moment.
Lily combines smashingly good manners with ironic disapproval in many of her songs. She often mocks her subjects of interest in the most polite of ways whether a brother on drugs or a frankly inept lover. I think it's this playful exploration of humanity that makes her music stick out for me. I usually find myself caught up in her lyrics, and find them pleasant to join and sing with.
"She dropped out of school at age fifteen, not wanting to 'spend a third of her life preparing to work for the next third of her life, to set herself up with a pension for the next third of her life.'"
Currently, she has no plans to make another record but is busy with married life and raising children. She has considered going into an acting career, "In August 2010, she gave what would be her last performance for two and a half years at the Big Chill Festival in Herefordshire, England." She has been writing scores for the musical version of "The Diary of Bridget Jones." Her heavy cockney accent is distinguishable in the music world.
33. Lisa Wisznia
Sexy whispering French singer of the band Elephant.
This group has no fear to jump into the world of aesthetically pleasing art. I think sometimes artists get too caught up in trying to be badass or crazy. If the high heel shark shoes and meat dresses have a point, excellent, otherwise I think it can take the potential of a great artist and turn them trivial. This band duo hailing from France are very pleasing to both the eyes and ears. It's like real chocolate rather than the knock off nonsense we find on the clearance aisle at the grocery store. (Good products don't find themselves on the clearance aisle.)
When it comes to art, it's the difference between knowing how red lipstick can be used as a motif or having no motif at all. That is the difference Lisa's voice adds; she has a way with her whispers, her eloquent French accent, and fashion model looks to create theme rather than a mere pattern. She transcends pattern. It's free spirited French, it's elegance in setting, it's well... it's a pop French band. I imagine hearing this as the soundtrack to a A+ film. It's romantic, endearing, without being cheesy. I'm not sure how someone can sing in such an attractive way, because that's not my game at all. But alas dear readers, you can't hear my lovely sweet voice to compare to all these fantastic spirits. Too bad for you. ;)
32. Johanna Söderberg and Klara Söderberg aka First Aid Kit
The indie-folk sister band from Sweden... because that seems to be where all good folk music seems to be getting its start these days. They have a great sense of harmony that weaves together like bread and jam. Fleet Foxes spread their name on the internet and they became instant hits. They sound as though they come from another time period, one that was much more kind than our present world. It's hard not to listen to them and feel all the more lighthearted. They sing songs reminding me of poetry from the 1800s. I like that their focus is more on authenticity than glamorized music. They started their career super young, but if you didn't know they are freshly in their twenties, you would think just from the content they would be older.
I wish there were more sibling bands, and especially acoustic ones. Their lyrics speak of values, it would all fit perfectly for a western film.
These kind of friendships in media are often taken for granted, but I think we need more of them. We are not all solo acts aimlessly wondering into the sea, but we're all together sailing to our own end -- so why not share the music with each other to the end of our glory days?
32. Ane Brun
The Norway folk singer who hails in Scandinavia has one of the most haunting alto voices that feels as though someone were cleansing out all the bad from within my contorted self. Her music literally exfoliates my eardrums. There is a richness to her voice that knows itself and brings out a certain texture of warmth while also presenting a whole new world of creativity. It is not surprising to me in the least that her regular music video director Magnus Renfo collaborated with her to create an avant garde short film experience entitled "ONE." Her music oozes with spirit, dazzling harmony, and a truthfulness often forgotten on the radio. Though not anywhere near a known figure in music in the States, she has picked up recognition in Scandinavia with growing fame in Europe. Not to mention, she records and runs her own label: Balloon Ranger Recordings.
"There is something about the focus in playing by myself that fascinates me", she says. "There’s nothing to hide behind when I’m alone on stage and it becomes almost meditative for me when I play."
Late in 2009 Ane organised the ‘No More Lullabies’ concert to bring attention to the issues of climate justice. She assembled 24 well-known Swedish artists such as Robyn, Loney Dear, Titiyo and Benny Andersson of ABBA to take part in seven hours of live music and visuals to mark the International Day of Climate Action (October 24th). They succeeded in making some noise on the issue before the upcoming COP15 conference.
31. Eska Mtungwazi
She's one of the vocals that the band Zero 7 picked and is on several of the tracks for their "Yeah Ghost" album: "Mr. McGee", "Medicine Man", "Sleeper", and "The Road." Instantaneously I fell in love with her magnificent soulful voice. I think adding her element to the band mixed the ambient with jazz and soul in a match made for Heaven.
She has the vocal pipes of a gospel singer matched with classical training. When it comes to rhythm, she commands it. She has a great sense of authority, solo flare, and candor. I love when people are able to take their classical skills and trust them into an electronic universe. Her "The Road" is one of the best slow songs I have ever heard in my entire life. She adds depth to what she touches, and she can hold notes in such a pure way. The aesthetics of her voice are impressive, earthy, and comforting. She's like a guiding voice in the darkness, like a mixture of Etta James and Aretha Franklin. Eska coaches young singers and offers them advice on how to improve their vocal skills. Also, I love her fashion. In the below video, her hat screams of an old gospel church choir.
30. Beatrice Martin aka Coeur de Pirate
Beatrice may actually be a Canadian-French angel. Her pronunciation of French fills me with mise en scene. I love her relationship with the piano that feeds into her emotions. She naturally fits with her instrument so well in transitioning with such eloquent musical landscapes. She has a way of being both adorable and also a strong willed beast, I mean, checkout her amazing sleeve tattoos.
Her vibrato has a lovely way of resonating with the acoustics of a room, and she has a clearness to her voice that almost makes me feel like I'm fluent in French. The way she expresses herself is so lovely that it sincerely has pastoral visions sweep through my mind. She could sing of terrible violence, corrupt bank owners, and it would still ring with an edge of purity. She offers a hint of sultriness in her voice and plays it well, but those piano keys... they hit a clandestine quality. I think it will be fascinating to see how her career progresses as she wields right now a fantastic realm of purity, but I think she would flourish under the wings of jazz and folk. But if you can stew emotions in the heart, that's a good chunk of the battle in music.
"In a report broadcast on French television, Martin explained that she chose the name 'Cœur de pirate' to appear not "as an isolated musician, but to get a band identity from the start.'"
29. Jessie Ware
Considered to have one of the best albums of 2012 with her debut "Devotion." It's like synth pop being married to the vocals of Adele. It's yet another on the list who makes the 80s feel like it's being reborn. Clean vocal arrangements, smooth electronic, and the type of innovation likely to push a singer to the top on Pitchfork. Thank goodness for this lovely sense of indie pop that's difficult to put together without going too regularly folk or too complex in synth to where you feel sea sick. She brings a mature femininity to her indie side as well, almost like Leona Lewis collided with Adele and went to the hidden world of music that most... are not going to find on their radio as they travel to and fro.
Before her claim to fame, she was a background vocalist in Florence Welch's "Ceremonials." "Ware reckons the proudest moment of her career was hearing 'Wildest Moments' accompanying a television montage of highlights from Andy Murray's dramatic third-round win at Wimbledon." The up and rising star almost didn't turn to music as she was pursuing a career in journalism and studied English while at university. Her biggest hits at the moment are "Running," "If You're Never Gonna Move", and "Wildest Moments." She's yet another British vocalist who due to her uniqueness is a forerunner to what music will be for the coming decade.
28. Ellie Goulding
Ellie is definitely the current, mighty reigning Queen of Dubstep. The dazzling dream pop artist who brought us the huge hit of "Lights" has a high soprano voice, with a fast vibrato, and a rather interesting control of her breath. "In a review for Halcyon, Neil McComick of The Daily Telegraph described her voice as 'something special', continuing; 'Her tremulous vibrato and slightly hoarse timbre have the feel of something primal and folky, her birdlike high notes conveying a childlike wonder while darker tones imply ancient depths of sorrow. She sings like she is strung out on the melody, warbling from a place of desperate emotion. It really is that rarest and perhaps most accidental of gifts: an original voice." Her looping has been complimented as having a wall of vibrato.
According to Ellie herself, "I think sometimes it sounds like my voice is like, out of control... I have to really control it because it just kind of goes everywhere. Like, sometimes stuff comes out that I don't expect."
On the side, Ellie is also a runner who intends to run at least six miles every day! "Bittersweet" was used as a part of the Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 soundtrack. "Hanging On" was used on the trailer for the Playstation 3 game "God of War: Ascension." Her loveliness is definitely noticed in England as she sang "Your Song" (an Elton John cover) at Prince Williams and Kate Middleton's wedding at Buckingham Palace.
27. Émilie Simon
French powerhouse experimental / electric music. As far as singers go, this one has an amazing way of inflecting her words at an unreal speed. If you're looking for a delicious amount of French music to tingle in your ears... Simon is key. She now has her own production side which began out of creating her arrangements on her computer, "At the beginning, I was writing my songs with the piano and the guitar and writing the lyrics and the music. And then, I started using the computer just, you know, to record. So that's how I started the production side..." Artistically, Simon offers anything from a Tim Burton esque style to elegant mise en scene. She is one of the few artists who mixes rich poetic beauty with haunting vocalization. Many of her music videos are animated in a style reminiscent of "Corpse Bride" and "A Nightmare Before Christmas"
I feel like her voice is something that would whisper out of a music box, which is an incredibly unusual charm to have. I wish her French pop songs could reach American airwaves, but alas we haven't gotten to point of playing a wide number of languages on the radio, but even still, it shouldn't matter whether you are fluent in a language to understand a song -- occasionally, we need to listen beyond the meaning of words and listen to the quality of the voice and the sounds they are able to create.
You are probably thinking... wow, I can't believe this auto-tune pop artist is on this list. But you would be wrong, she's far more complex than we see on a first impression.
For instance, back when she took the SAT she received a perfect score. The lady, as surprised as some of you may be, ain't dumb. She is one of the preeminent female rap singers, with a wide range of skills and actually... a beautiful voice, even though she's marketing her way through pop. Her fashion stunts can be crazy, such as creating garments out of human teeth (yikes!). She's a wild rockstar on her own journey, and though she's recently had fairly dark days in composing "Warrior" her abilities shouldn't be thrown to the wayside.
Her career is much different than other pop princesses as Ke$ha is a prolific lyricist and innovator with her own specific quirks. For instance, for her demo that she sent in, part of it was ad libbed rap that she ended up trailing off... which her producers saw as gutsy. She's worked with countless big names like Iggy Pop and the Flaming Lips, she seems to be having the time of her life, and I think she would be pretty real in person if not enjoyable. People like working with her because she's infectious. I think there's more irony to her than meets the eye, beyond just the fact that's she a genius dancing around in a party cliché. She's has a momentum to her that's speaking past her pop identity.
25. Maaya Sakamoto
Japanese voice actress, singer-songwriter, and secret weapon of composer Yoko Kanno. Apparently she is the official dub voice for actress Natalie Portman in Japan. If you look at her work on Wikipedia, you'll be impressed at how many works of art she has contributed to all by the age of thirty-three. As a voice she has contributed to such anime hits as Escaflowne, Cowboy Bebop, .hack//Sign, Wolf's Rain, and Death Note. She has eight studio albums all of her own.
"In 1996, she was given the role of Hitomi Kanzaki in the TV anime series The Vision of Escaflowne in 1996. In this anime she also made her debut as a singer under the production of Yoko Kanno, who was in charge of the soundtrack of the same anime. Under Kanno's production she made her debut as a singer with "Yakusoku wa Iranai", her first single released on April 24, 1996 that was also used as Escaflowne's opening theme. (If you haven't gotten it quite just yet, Yoko Kanno is one of the best composers in the entire world.)
This fine lady has done work for video games, television, musicals, radio... seriously, you can't get this much work unless you are divine. One of my favorite people she collaborates with is Steve Conte; in "The Garden of Everything" it takes on a religious expression of the Garden of Eden mixing the lyrics with scientific knowledge, while also exploring the gender dichotomy. Her mixture of English and Japanese I think further helps to bring out the themes of the song.
24. Amie Ann Duffy aka Duffy
Duffy became the first Welsh woman to achieve number-one on the UK Singles Chart since Bonnie Tyler topped the charts with "Total Eclipse of the Heart" in 1983. She sings in the style of Blues that would be found from the 1960s. There's an obvious edge to her voice that's unmistakable. Her past life is quite compelling as her stepfather's ex-wife hired an assassin to try to kill him (this didn't pan out), she's escaped a fire, and stole a rowboat as a youth. She has considered becoming a recluse as she has feared that fame would ruin her sense of self. Personal favorites of mine from her are "Mercy", "Warwick Avenue", and "Stepping Stone." She's my go to singer when I feel like I'm going to explode due to unrequited love in my life.
She was heavily influenced by her parents record collection that she immersed herself into listening rather than the music of the day. Her album "Rockferry" was the best selling album in the UK of 2008. Duffy made a screen appearance with the 2010 film "Patagonia", a movie that connects Welsh and Argentine people together. "In February 2011, it was announced that Duffy would take an extended hiatus from music before beginning work on her third album." Lets hope that the lovely dream pop artist returns sooner than later, as I'm probably going to need more tunes for when my heart is a mess.
23. Adele Adkins aka Adele
Yes, yes, yes! She is in fact known and popular with several Grammy awards and radio time, but her voice definitely is one that deserves a place here.
What I'd like to see Adele do is expand her range of style where some of the higher up chicas on the list have a definite advantage in either creating something wholly new or being able to cover a wider range of styles. Adele's voice alone pushes her to a high seated position, but I'm not sure she's played with the frame of music long enough to break free and give us something groundbreakingly original. It is evident that she has a richness and profoundness to her voice, so I think now what needs to happen to make her as truly sensational as she can be is expand her range of performance, musicality, and lyrics. I think she will rise to be an ever brighter star as her career progresses if she escapes being type casted as a soul singer.
It is definitely undeniable that she has richness to her vocals, especially on the long extended notes. I still remember her before she got super big with her "21" album, and I remember being shocked when I looked her up and found she was only in her twenties. Those pipes sound much, much more mature than someone born from the late 80s. And to top that off, I thought maybe her music was from another era.
22. Charice Pempengco
What in the world is up with this young woman's pipes? They are truly, fabulously off the charts way more mature than you would dare think.
I can't wait to see what she'll sound like with a few more years under her belt if she continues to go on the path that she does. She hails from the Philippines and has been known as a sensation there for years. She came to fame in the United States when she came on the Oprah show, and even bigger fame when she was a frequent guest star on Glee. Her debut consisted of rivaling the show's big star Rachel Berry (Lea Michele)... Charice's character "Sunshine" was the first real female vocalist to give Rachel competition.
She was only in three episodes, but I hope the show will gladly have her comeback as she makes my eyes pop out of their sockets with her out of this world sense of voice. Even though she has had many religious songs come out, one of her biggest influences would be anti-religious Lady Gaga. Charice is growing up and I think is wanting to be edgier in her career, though I must say as long as she is making her strong pipes noticeable, I honestly am not sure if she needs to have any edge, but I commend her for trying. During her "Note to God" performance on Oprah she received a standing ovation and a teary applaude from Oprah herself. Charice is also standing for gay rights in part of the world that is much more closed off to the idea than in the States and abroad. It's nice to see someone combining aspects of God and homosexuality in a world that tries to separate the two.
21. Claire Boucher aka Grimes
Industry leader of electronic synth of the modern age, Claire Boucher has revolutionized and set a name for her voice.
A mostly soprano-esque voice, she has a memorable haunting appeal. Most of her songs are a dreamscape of electronic rhythms, childlike background vocals (she's actually a lot older than I thought), and fast paced spiritedness. I think this woman is taking a whole new approach to innovation with her ethereal voice. Both "Oblivion" and "Genesis" set her on the stage to be a musician to watch and see how her career transforms. Is she a reincarnated pop artist of the 80s? What are some of these dark underlying themes in some of her tracks? Her music has mesmerized many a soul already. I feel as though she has only begun to showcase her abilities.
"In April 2013, Grimes posted a written statement addressing her experience as a female musician in an industry rife with sexism and expressed disappointment that her feminist stance was often misinterpreted as anti-male." This statement expresses some of what she feels is wrong with the treatment with women in the music industry often being seen as to weak to handle certain aspects of the business, having their body talked about inappropriately, and other unfortunate misogynic thoughts. I find the statement to be more enlightening of the terrors women go through to provide music, and that she who is not trying to be a pop sex icon is deserving rather unfair treatment. Thankfully, someone is seeing that music female icons should not have to adhere to being only a sexualized form.
20. Régine Chassagne aka Arcade Fire
One of the founders of the mega band, her voice brings back an excitement of the 80s that makes my heart rejoice. This band holds some of the highest of highest status in independent circles, though it has received Grammy attention.
It's the rebellious movement of the coy, loving hipster and this is what I would call some of the best art of the hipster movement. They have beautiful music that I feel is the best merge of folk, 80s, and modern electronic. In the video below, miss Chassagne shows the world what it's like to just be free, to live, and how to make it look ravishingly good. It makes me want to go out and use sheets in a cinematic way, it gives me feelings of dancing around in my pajamas as a toddler in the 80s, it's divine meeting divine through and through.
She takes the lead on such songs for Arcade Fire as "Haiti", "In the Backseat", and "Sprawl II." Earlier in her life she studied jazz at McGill University; Win Butler met her in 2000 where she had a performance at Concordia and later the two would be instrumental in starting Arcade Fire... and eventually wed. She also has worked with the band Les Jongleurs de la Mandragore, and a jazz band, Azúcar. She plays multiple instruments from accordion, xylophone, hurdy-gurdy, keyboards, and the organ. It is clear that music is her life. She lives and breathes it. And she offers it back to the world.
19. Imogen Heap
I first was introduced to Imogen through the film Garden State when she was in Frou Frou. It's near the end when Zach Braff's character and Natalie Portman's are at a critical point of deciding whether they should be together, and then the powerful tune of "Let Go" brings a certain realistic, unfair quality to the scene helping it be one of the more powerful romantic endings I've seen in years.
If there's any woman who plays off the ethereal type of sound along with layering harmony around one's voice... it's Imogen. It's like she's a 19th century poet who time traveled into the future. She has a voice that seems as if its from nature, even if she is using a great degree of technology to create the magic of her act. I find it absolutely fascinating how she sings her low notes versus her upper range.
Not only that, but she has a way of singing in a whisper that's so light and kindred that it really takes the stress away from me. She did not get along with her music instructor and so she self-taught herself many skills from learning how to sequence and music engineer her work to playing the guitar and drums. These are the skills that set her apart and make for that evanescent quality.
"I just love crafting and shaping sounds. Actually, many of the sounds that I work with start off as organic instruments - guitar, piano, clarinet, etc. But I do love the rigidity of electronic drums... I would record live drums, and then I would spend a day editing them to take the life out of them."
18. Fiona Apple
I remember several years ago in the 90s when the Spice Girls were played at every interval, and then in my eight year old ways I found MTV and their was this skinny teenager named Fiona Apple singing to some song called "Criminal." I didn't know what the crap was happening, but I thought, "Whoa, she's all kinds of crazy... crazy cool."
Fiona is hypnotic, ensnaring, and has that low alto voice that mocks little girls in tutus (which not that I ever really did ballet, but I was often in dresses for Sunday school).
Not only is the timbre of her voice a whole breadth of its own beastly awesome, but she really doesn't need that much background instrumental persuasion, if at all. "Every Single Night" is about as close to her singing a capella as their could be, and it doesn't make you want to run and scream -- it invites you to listen as she artistically uses that voice that sounds faintly wounded and disturbed. She has a cavalier that other singers that have lasted from the 90s don't exude at all, partly because if anyone tried to make her be a pop princess it would be the most grotesque flattening of her sophisticated offerings.
Fiona Apple is like the girl in high school in an English class full of inauthentic teenagers that when she stands to read Shakespeare or some other enlightened piece of literature, the whole class is spellbound, somewhat confused by her profundity, like a mature version of something we wish to be when we're all so strapped in tight to red lipstick, bras, and curling irons.
17. Jade Castrinos
She is the front lady for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. She has a rich voice reminiscent of Janis Joplin (as you can tell in the below video). This is one of the few ladies on the list where I've actually seen perform live. She has a presence that is undeniably humble, serene, and overall heartwarming. Her chemistry with Alex on stage is worth seeing. Her voice fits into the rock and folk worlds beautifully, and I hope that as the Magnetic Zeros stay in operation that she will have more time to shine out with her incredible pipes. She's a rare gem, with a vibrant voice that mimics other instruments well. She's a deep soul who contributes to one of the greatest bands we have today. Why she doesn't lead out more, is a mystery to me, but she has an absolutely natural set of vocal chords.
In going back to when I saw her live, what fascinated me about her is that she didn't really care to be in the spotlight. She was incredibly humble, and allowed mistakes to be a part of her performances. She focused on her own personal internal world as she sang, and really came to life with the encouragement of the band, and dancing with Alex. I loved seeing this more introverted and introspective aspects during a musical performance that often are only seen during the creation process, not the performance process. She was being herself and didn't even try to be anything other then that.
16. Regina Spektor
Fearless, fearless Regina. She will express her voice in whatever way she possibly can with a richness that reminds me of a clarinet. She definitely understands voice and showcases a pretty high level of degree in the musicality department. I enjoy her strength in creating rich narratives with her lyrics and her definitely signature voice. I honestly feel that any kind of style could be thrown to this woman and somehow with her incredible brains she would figure it out, undeniably. She often uses scat or syllables rather than words in her songs. She does well to build off a simple motif and repeat it into a large storm of sound and meaning.
"She grew up listening to classical music and famous Russian Bards like Vladimir Vysotsky andBulat Okudzhava. She was also exposed to rock-and-roll bands such as The Beatles, Queen, and The Moody Blues by her father, who obtained such recordings in Eastern Europe and traded cassettes with friends in the Soviet Union."
If there were no instruments but just Regina's voice, I think she could still fill up a room whether with looping her voice or just a cappella. I think this shows a lot of her cleverness in music and her ability to listen and mimic not only the voices of other singers but also of instruments and ambience. This shows that she is an attentive listener and constantly applying her ear to various parts of the music world.
15. Katie Melua
The blues, jazz, folk-pop artist that I often wonder if she's from another time period whether the past... or the future?
She's from Georgia, Soviet Union and moved to England becoming one of the predominate female vocal artists. Her voice is as clear as a bell. It has a warmth and richness to it that could potentially be bubbly, but instead comes off sultry. She's a lovely sense of feminine, I wish many of her songs would play in coffee shops or that coffee shop singers would take a note from her book. She's not one of the more provocative artists, instead relies on her natural good looking face and fairy-like voice.
Her desire if she were to go to college would be to take English literature, history, or physics. I love when celebrities want to go to school to study out a passion of theirs. Bravo to her for wanting to study literature! If anything could enlighten music as well as literature, I would like to know what that would be.
The lovely lady is an adrenaline junkie enjoying sky diving, roller coasters, and the like. Melua was also featured in a Grindhouse trailer written by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, and directed by Edgar Wright. She entered the Guinness Book of Records for having the deepest underwater concert at 303 metres below sea level on the Norwegian Statoil's Troll A platform in the North Sea. Melua later described achieving the record as "the most surreal gig I have ever done."
14. Leona Lewis
The wondrous rich diva voice who came to fame in England on X Factor and has had her voice contributed to the Final Fantasy anthology. Basically, if you're voice is selected by Final Fantasy you're an automatically beautiful sounding voice. Leona Lewis with a four octave range practices opera, she's technically a mezzo-soprano. Though she has the diva kind of voice, she doesn't seem to have the diva attitude that many of her influences have had before her. As far as we know from the media, she's a genuinely nice person and easy to work with. "Bleeding Love" became the number one song in over 30 countries in 2008, and became the best selling single.
She initially trained in opera, but then later moved to jazz and blues and ultimately... pop.Her "demos were recorded under licence from UEG Entertainment, later included on an album called Best Kept Secret. None of Lewis's demos brought her significant attention, however, and she considered taking a hiatus from her music career to attend university. Then her boyfriend persuaded her to enter The X Factor which subsequently severed her connections with UEG"
This would be a strong example of what the reality television shows can actually do, and may be the best results of any of them from Star Search to The Voice. Leona's influences stretch from Mariah Carey to Eva Cassidy.
13. Beth Gibbons aka Portishead
Many of the women on this list have stated that at some point in their career that Portishead was one of their influences. The band has been around for more than 20 years, but I think for many people they still ignorantly don't know the name.
Trip hop in large part has much to owe to Beth Gibbons, even my favorite band Zero 7. It's music that marks the 90s and into today as its gotten more popular. It combines the dark with eloquence, a myriad of instruments, smoothness, and real, open raw emotion. I feel like Portishead is what you find in your adulthood, not likely as a child. Beth Gibbons voice gives the band it's signature, as she gives this unreal quality to it that's both haunting and jazz like.
It's definitely heavier than most music in tone, and is probably too compelling for radio play, but fits at a low key setting, whether a party or in a dark room late at night.
Beth Gibbons voice conveys the emotions of being fragile yet strong, dark yet self-reflective, sultry yet somehow... almost anti-sultry. Beth's voice offers so much in being able to pull of so many shades of emotion from disturbing to romantic. I think the charm of Portishead is how it can play off so much range from making it feel as though it beats to the 1920s, the 90s, and now. It is not the sounds of my parents' generation by any means.
This Alaska native is one of the first women I tried to replicate with my voice as a young girl. I was flattered by her lyrics, the way she'd belt with that loud folk vibrato, and the depth of her low notes to high notes. "Barcelona" is too low for me as a singer, but I did learn a great deal by copying this artist. She's versatile, humble, and has one of the sweetest and yet most powerful voices. She dominated the 90s in my opinion, and I'm glad she was a role model to me over other pop sensations. She's sung love ballads, pop songs, country, and folk. The messages of her songs dig deep on both romantic and spiritual sides. She's never needed a great deal of fashion or merchandise because her voice speaks for itself.
I've enjoyed reminiscing about her songs and even found myself lost in hits that I haven't heard in years like "Who Will Save Your Soul", "You Were Meant For Me and I Was Meant for You", "Foolish Games", and "Hands." I find her comforting on a day by myself cleaning and thinking about my young self attempting to sing and grow my voice at the age of nine or ten. I have a lot to thank for Jewel because still in my mind I refer back to her and enjoy thinking of the stories I knew about her from road trips across the country to living in a van. Her music was noticeably refreshing even in my young musical years.
11. Tori Amos
Outstanding woman of achievement who has been blasting tunes since the late 70s. Her looks and voice have kept up as she approaches her fifties, and she holds her guard with deep, dark piano arrangement, and her mezzo voice that suddenly thrusts it's creative impact in these bell like, clear like higher notes that she can sustain.
"Cornflake Girl" is one of my favorite songs with its fantastic transitions into various emotional riffs. She's one of the few elite women who have secured five albums in the top 10 Billboard on debut. Surprisingly, the woman is unable to sightread music but rather prefers to pick up music by ear. There's very few women who can articulate darkness while still remaining pure in tone. She has a unique, powerful voice that has stayed incredibly well over time. I love that her rock, indie-folk type music is daringly complicated. I think that because of her complexity in music she's actually appreciated in a wide amount of circles from the more classically trained to rock-punk bands.
She exudes ethereal. Many of her lyrics are stepped in legend, myth, and folktale giving her the advantage of having songs based on narrative. She almost looks like the mother of Florence Welch, and if we were draw similarities between these two artists, I think we would find many striking similarities from the type of music that they share to the types of themes and storyworlds addressed in their songs. She is quite the impressive lady.
10. Lea Salonga
The singing voice of both Princess Jasmine and Mulan, the original Miss Saigon, one of the absolute most wonderful voices to ever bless the planet and quite possibly the best Eponine to ever grace the planet.
The texture of this voice is of princess quality, she's an incredibly fast learner, but more awesomely... is gracious. She has an incredible way of seeming light in her voice and then creating this intense amount of energy. It's no wonder why she was given the absolutely huge roles of Jasmine and Mulan among others. She's lovely in every way, and is a voice that if any woman is trying to study, is worth listening to on repeat and trying to mimic. I as a child would sing "A Whole New World" from Aladdin as much as I possibly could finding that her inflectional instincts made singing seem easy and wondrous. I think she has one of the kindest demeanors, but yet has one of the biggest voices.
She began her musical debut at the age of seven in a rendition of the "King and I" by Repertory Philippines. Her big debut clearly was that of "Miss Saigon" where the British producers looked throughout various countries for an appropriate Asian singer... and she very much like always, melted their hearts. She received a Tony Award among other musical theater awards, and for her role as Jasmine, "A Whole New World" ending up winning the acclaimed Oscar. (She is also an avid video game enthusiast!)
9. Kristen Chenowith
Oklahoma raised Kristen Chenowith is a sparkle of fresh air with an incredible set of operatic trained pipes that can also easily slide into musical theater or country music. Her performances on Glee are... some of the show's best even after a few more seasons with exceptional artists who have performed.
There's no one really quite like Kristen who is a wondrously enjoyable soul both for her sense of humor and her jaw dropping good vocals. She is someone that sings who looks like they are having a complete utter blast. What's impressive is she doesn't take herself so staunchly serious; she can be down to earth, laugh at herself, and open to conversation. For someone to successfully go through an opera training program, Broadway, and television it obviously shows that someone has an incredibly endearing personality.
There's few people in this world who can be as entertaining as Kristen. She doesn't just sing, she applies a large dosage of character. She is a great example of how training at the collegiate level can lead to success, and also that by being open to possibilities one's voice can take on a whole pantheon of adventure. Though her opera instructor was not thrilled that she picked musical theater over opera, it is more evident than anything that Kristen cannot be tied down to one medium -- she's too freakishly talented and infectious. She's like a beautiful fairy that somehow grew up with us bodily functioning messed up humans.
8. Mathangi Aruloragasam aka M.I.A.
Mathangai is a British born, rap master, lyrical genius, rhythm powerhouse, and all around badass -- she is one of the most awesome, fresh personalities in music period.
Clearly by being so original she is able to bring awareness to some of the most complicated issues in the world (particularly of the middle east), and she is down right crazy, not because of her fashion wardrobe as many mediocre singers have made their claim, but because this woman dares to do unthinkable actions that in the providence of liberation could get her killed, like in her Bad Girls music video that focalizes on the oppression of women in Saudi Arabia, a place where a woman can be killed for driving a car, Mathangi plays off the idea in one of the most impressive stunt videos ever, where she literally lays on her side on a car traveling with two wheels up in the air. She's a bona fide musician who continually pumps out some of the best hooks, like in "Paper Planes." Her attitude is honestly something I wish could project, but in my nerdy librarian ways, I could never match the sheer awesomeness of how she expresses her femininity.
She is a linguistic master. Her tongue-tying songs find their root in catchy yet complex sequences. Her music always stands out because she's attempting to arrive at her sound in ways most women would find unappealing or not prim enough. Her femininity doesn't reflect masculinity taking over like in so many other projections of the self -- she's just badass feminine.
7. Kimbra Johnson aka Kimbra
Holy mother she is good and is freshly into her career at 23. Kimbra is one of the most inventive musicians on the market with a dynamic voice range and capacity to jump across various styles. Americans started knowing her when she was featured on the infamous Goyte song "Somebody I Used to Know", but those in New Zealand and Australia already had a taste of her insanely impressive looping, jazz, syncopation, and powerful sense of performance.
She puts her whole self into what she sings, and she enters a special internal world to bring back the emotions for her songs. Her live performances found on youtube are absolutely amazing to watch, and often are flawless. Her music director Guy Franklin is definitely assisting in helping the name of Kimbra come alive as he creates the stunningly beautiful and often times classy videos.
It's truly amazing that a pop artist can actually be classy, so I hope she keeps this edge about her. Besides Goyte, she's also collaborated with "Foster the People" and "Miami Horror", two wonderfully technologic, grooving bands. When I watch her perform, I feel like she's attempting to bare her soul the best way possible and it seems that she finds this space internally making her performances all the more rich, especially when she already has a voice that invites you to listen. Her innovation to music is heralding a new sense of sound for our coming decade.
6. Angela Aki
Both an accomplished pianist and vocalist, Angela is a garden of pure, touching music. Her vocals were used in Final Fantasy XII.
She is quite possibly endowed with one of the purest, most crystal clear, resonant voices in the world. She is one of the rare performers that can strip away all the theatrics and simply be cut down to the vocal self. She speaks with a maternal innocence that not only sends shivers down my spine, but she has flawless control as she sings from her low registers to her upper registers. She has the voice of a songbird and sounds lovely in Japanese or English. I have never found a live performance of hers that didn't have beauty written into every measure. She can spring with a sudden intense amount of emotion that rises into the spiritual.
I'm not sure what thoughts she communicates in with her mind as she sings, but I find it awe inspiring. I love the intonation she brings to her words, and find it exciting how she can build off her voice to transcend more and more. She comes to the piano as herself, in glasses, generally jeans, and her voice inevitably fills up my ears as if it were the London Symphony Orchestra. She hasn't forgotten the type of lyrics that matter, which build in powerful narratives. It really does need to be noted that she has absolute gorgeousness in the way she sings into her various different registers. Ladies, purity definitely has undeniable power.
5. Janelle Monáe
Honestly, I find it baffling that Janelle is not substantially more popular. She has an eloquence to her voice, she isn't afraid to sound off, and her rap skills are paramount. A great deal of her musical career has paid homage to the 1927 science fiction film "Metropolis" a film which receives a great deal of controversy for some of its thematic nature, but nonetheless a fascinating German Expressionist film.
Her style of music exudes with a mix of retro and an ahead of its time appeal making it plausible that she "defies every label." Everything she offers to the music world is pure perfection. Her music videos are filled with spontaneity and dance prowess. I think she is a rarity in form and easily one of the hardest performers to replicate from her style, sound, dance, and admittedly... facial expressions. Also, I think it would be a travesty if artists started copy catting her as her uniqueness is what I feel is her trump card, not that I think anyone could mimic her with justice anyway.
She creates a unique experience that questions society's intermingling of ideas on feminism and cyborg technology. it's intellectual honey in a world of decayed music. All of her songs jam hard. They come from a world that doesn't seem like the present, but is definitely liberating in how much it presents the idea of the free individual self. She's one of the few women who can wear a tux and somehow still own it like a woman.
4. Florence Welch aka Florence and the Machine
I love that her band has a harp. More importantly, she has an incredible voice that has a great deal of dynamic range to it as well as a unique signature to it. She's lent her voice to various film soundtracks lately from "The Great Gatsby" to "Snow White and the Huntsman." Her lyrics lean toward poetry of landscapes and the spiritual. Her mother was an art history professor, which I think influenced Florence to some degree as she seems like she escaped from a romantic painting from the 19th century. Her attire is usually vibrant, her performances are highly free spirited, and she always carries a smile. I think she has an incredible amount of power to her voice, and her mid range has a noticeable beauty to it.
She intends to sing music that has biggest themes such as sex, death, violence, and love as these will still be relevant hundreds of years from now. Her band's title started off as a joke and when needing a name she actually gave "Florence Robot/Isa Machine." Her claim to fame really began when she sang, while inebriated, Etta James' "Something Gotta Hold On Me" in the bathroom of a club with soon to be production manager. Growing up she read more on fashion magazine than music, which may account for the eclectic style.
A great deal of her two albums "Lungs" and "Ceremonials" has to do with her relationship with Stuart Hammond that do to career demands did not work out.
3. Mai Yamane
Have you ever seen Cowboy Bebop? She's the main female vocalist. She has one of the strongest blues, jazz voices in the world. There's only so many artists that can work with the renowned composer Yoko Kanno and be able to pull of the sheer brilliance of her compositions, and Mai Yamane is one of them. Her live versions of the song, "Blue" are riveting, they draw you in until you feel like your head is going to explode.
She has one of these uniquely powerful voices that only comes once every a hundred years. She has a voice that transcends most in the amount of depth it carries. It has a power that sounds like it comes from so far away in a deep part of the universe. Mai Yamane has an incredible voice that fits snuggly for rock, such as with the Seatbelts, but she also has a voice that easily can make orchestra or symphony recordings all the more powerful. She commands voice out of her body in ways that most women will never be gutsy enough to try, and it has a distinct maturity it to it that gives me shivers. Her voice is an integral part of the Cowboy Bebop aesthetics, "Rain" helps make for one of the best animated episodes I have ever seen. I think she could practically command storms with her voice.
This might not be her best performance that I'm applying here, but I think this shows that this woman has magnitude. A freakish amount of magnitude.
2. Sia Furler
Beginning her career in a karaoke bar in Italy with an impressive version of "Lean on Me", Sia has one of the most soulful, authentic, joyful, and innovative voices of all time. She lent her voice to several tracks for Zero 7 creating some of the their most profound songs. In her performances she comes off unafraid, willing to thrust herself into artistry, with a deep sense for compassion and social rights, while also maintaining an aura of utter happiness.
Her work with David Guetta has created some of the most prolific pop music of the past couple of years with vocal lines that most singers should be hesitant to try and mimic. She is becoming a more common household name in the United States and abroad, but her career has been steadily taking off in her home country of Australia for years. She has written and collaborated songs for such musicians as Madonna, Ke$ha, Rihanna, and Christina Aguilera.
Her creative soul leaves a golden impression on everything she touches, and her attitude is sunshine. She has currently five studio albums with her solo career. Her ballads are rich and her dance-pop is electric. When she belts, it has a certain ring of truth to it that most artists will never find. I would pay good money for her to collaborate with Daft Punk... I must admit, I'm actually fairly disappointed in a lot of friends I have who have never even heard of her name.
1. Susanne Sundfør
Hailing from Norway, the 27 year old is by far heads and shoulders one of the most fascinating and beautiful voices on the planet. With a mastery of jazz and classical she is able to both sing with a full understanding of how music works fundamentally while also transcending it to be free flowing. Her recent album "The Silicone Veil" asks existential questions about how we modify ourselves into these plastic masks to be accepted socially and how in the end we wish to be freed of the silicone surgeries that ensnare our generation.
This is music that will cause you to stop and think, to feel deep emotions, to having you question the sex trade, ponder on the reality of religion, and to wonder what is the state of our world. She has already done work with Röyksopp and M83 (two of the best bands in the business). There have been rumors that while playing in Norway other "Norwegian artists would start crying when hearing her—both because she is several leagues above them, but also because her music is so moving and beautiful." One of her influences is Radiohead, which I find noticeable and impressive in that she can replicate the band into her style, as it is also gratifying to hear a feminine match to Thom Yorke... that isn't to say she is a copycat for she definitely offers and delivers something new to the table, and is perhaps a great deal more positive in lyrical meaning than her influence.
Her voice is truly angelic in its full capability of expression. She commands and allows it to be free in some of the most chilling and unforgettable ways.