Eight exceptional women in music taking center stage: your Press Play-list for Women’s History Month

Bart Carmody, Arts Editor

As we celebrate women empowerment and brilliance from this March forward, we look up to the incredible women who are paving the way for the cultural, political and socioeconomic aspects of our everyday lives.

With this Women’s History Month’s theme being #ChooseToChallenge, an initiative to birth change from challenging the gender biases, inequalities and disparities that are still so present in our society, we’ve built this week’s Press Play-list around the same idea, focusing on women in music that are challenging the music industry through sonic experimentation, sound pioneering and unapologetic feminism in their musical content.

Here are eight trailblazing women artists making waves in multiple genres, and your Press Play-list for Women’s History Month 2021.


Namasenda – “I Could Die”

In the fast-growing ethereal world of PC music, Namasenda is making huge waves. The Swedish singer/songwriter has a swiftly-expanding discography of glimmering, bass-and-drum, bubblegum-vocals bangers, and her track “I Could Die” off the PC collaborative project “YEAR0001 – RIFT One” is a perfect start to our playlist. The first majority of the track features Namasenda serenading sweetly over futuristic synths, before the song breaks out to an all-out symphony of hard-hitting drums near the track’s conclusion. As her vocals are chopped over the gorgeous, unmistakably PC production, “I Could Die” impeccably showcases Namasenda’s utterly unique sound and melodiously melancholic delivery.


Arca – “Mequetrefe”

Venezuelan singer, producer and DJ Arca is another artist on this playlist that’s purely unmistakable when you hear her. Her self-titled 2017 album was an array of bone-chilling ballads that demonstrated her beautiful vocal ranges over eerie, ambient production. But her 2020 release “KiCk i” was a change of direction from that sound, featuring ingeniously distorted pop & reggaetón jams, one of those jams being “Mequetrefe.” The song brilliantly distorts a reggaetón beat by implementing experimental pop aspects, stripping it down to its skeleton and warping it into something stunningly unrecognizable. While the song is bizarre enough to blow the listener’s mind, it doesn’t lose its hold on its catchiness, making the listener indecisive as to whether they need to sit down and try to decipher it or get up and dance. This is where Arca’s brilliance comes out – she so effortlessly creates incredibly infectious dance tunes while providing you something that you’ve certainly never heard before, making her an outstanding artist in both avant-pop and Latin music.


Quay Dash – “Queen of This Shit”

New York City rapper Quay Dash, put simply, is not one to be fucked with. She’s making enormous impressions on the NY rap and trap scenes, with her production sounding like modern-day experimental hip-hop meeting the old-school rap scene, all perfectly complemented with her raucous, cut-throat verses. Her single “Queen of This Shit,” produced by the late pop legend SOPHIE, is a perfect example of this energy. Dash glides over the bass-heavy beat, rapidly spitting bars like “Bitch I’m on top now, where your funds at?/Click click pow, where your guns at?/Show y’all really how to do it, bitch, bump that/I’m the queen of this shit, bitch, fuck that.” Growing up as a Black trans woman with much of her childhood spent in foster care and group homes, Dash’s story hasn’t always been easy. But this upbringing only made Dash more susceptible to bringing her gritty, know-thyself attitude to her music. Dash is unapologetically herself on each and every one of her songs, and she knowingly takes pride in that fact, telling Dazed Magazine in a profound quote, “I’m Black, I’m trans, and I can actually rap. Plus, I’m pretty… When you have beauty, brains and talent, that’s some shit they can’t take.”


박혜진 Park Hye Jin – “Like this”

박혜진 Park Hye Jin’s 2018 EP “If U Want It” was an array of dreamy, down snare bops that utilized moody electronic production and terse vocal refrains. The debut project took fans of South Korean house and fans from other genres alike by surprise, as Park smoothly delivered almost everything the genre had to offer, from the sway-inducing lo-fi tunes, to classically techno bass-and-snare jams. With listeners anxiously awaiting to see what Park would drop next, nobody could predict that it would have been her 2020 EP, “How Can I.” The project is a complete turn-around and expansion in sound for Park, with the self-titled track being a slow, more melodious juke jam in comparison to cuts from her previous release, and the following track “NO” being a menacingly hard techno banger in which, contrasting to her usually chill demeanor, Park repeatedly tells the listener to “Shut the fuck up.” The project’s intro track, titled “Like this,” is another standout from the tracklist, as it arguably features Park at her apex. Through another classic techno beat accompanied by lovely bells chiming throughout, Park sings a catchy melody in Korean about self-realization and openness. The intro builds up to a supreme dance tune that bursts into the song with perfectly placed drum kicks, snares and claps. Whether it’s through lo-fi ballads or blatant nightclub hits, 박혜진 Park Hye Jin never fails to create a dancefloor in your bedroom.


Tirzah – “Gladly”

U.K. singer/songwriter Tirzah has been consistently reviving the classic “love song” for some time now. The hazy, reverbed-bedroom-pop artist reinvents songs of longingness with a sense of brutal candidness. Sonically, Tirzah strives on imperfection. Almost every song on her 2018 debut album “Devotion” features production that trips over itself and vocals so warped that it almost disconcerts the listener – in the best way possible. This is most adequately shown in the song “Gladly,” an unambiguous love letter song with an equally-as-ambiguous delivery. Tirzah’s vocals lull and rise throughout the deep-percussion, low-pitched-piano instrumental, as she somberly voices love for another, leaving no stone unturned in the many façades of a naturally complicated relationship. Tirzah achieves a different sound in the genre of love songs, but is far from a breath of fresh air – she wonderfully allows the listener to find comfort in the discomfort of her music.


Rina Sawayama – “XS”

Rina Sawayama’s 2020 debut album “SAWAYAMA” undoubtedly took the world by storm. The Japanese-British rockstar brought all that she had to the table, resulting in a fierce, unceasing collection of rock-and-roll-infused pop anthems that shook the genres of alternative rock, electropop and in many of the project’s instances, experimental trap. The biggest hit off the record, titled “XS,” lives up to its name both sonically and lyrically. The track’s production is over-the-top in an excellent way, infusing a crashing-down riff of heavy metal guitars and drums with a catchy chorus that sounds almost right out of an early 2000’s pop hit. And in terms of lyrical content, Sawayama persistently holds an attitude of unashamed braggadocio throughout, singing “Cartiers and Tesla Xs/Calabasas, I deserve it/Call me crazy, call me selfish/I’m the baddest and I’m worth it.” With such an impeccable debut album already under her belt, Sawayama is destined to be one of the greatest rockstars of our generation.


Noname – “Rainforest”

Noname isn’t a stranger to being politically outspoken both in and out of her work. For some time now, the rapper and poet has utilized her Twitter to forwardly express her beliefs of political radicalization and anti-capitalism; the artist even discontinued all Noname merch and formed an organization called “Noname’s Book Club,” a non-profit organization committed to giving authors of color a voice and donating books to people who are incarcerated. This radical outlook shows up more than ever in her newest-released single “Rainforest,” a smooth, jazz-infused obituary to her past beliefs. As cool as Noname’s delivery is over such a calm instrumental, her lyrics juxtapose the laid-back sound of it all, as she collectedly asks the listener “Why don’t you empty out your love for me, then chisel the stone?/These are ten Black commandments, a property loan/’Cause every bladed grass of earth, we don’t actually own.” Noname illustrates a world in which Black people’s sorrow doesn’t have to exist at the benefit of the oppressive world they live in, and between this single and her discography thus far, she’s far from done working to achieve that dream.


Kim Petras – “Heart to Break”

Kim Petras is quite possibly our generation’s pop sweetheart. She’s consistently been putting out hit after hit in genres far and wide, from the synth-filled disco ballad “I Don’t Want It At All,” to the sinister, German-techno-influenced “<demons>.” But one of her most memorable, most brazen pop star moments is on the song “Heart to Break.” The track can, without a doubt, go down in history as one of the most loveable heartbreak songs of all time; between its bubbly and playful electronic production and Petras’s triumphantly belting of the chorus, “Even if it means that I’ll never/Put myself back together/Gonna give you my heart to break.” The desperately-in-love lyrics are all-too-familiar for many, as even Petras admitted in an interview with Billboard, “When I hear heartbreak songs I always feel like ‘O.K. that’s exactly how I feel… I’m not the only person who fell in love like a stupid person.” She continued, “I love songs like that; they just make me feel like I’m not alone. So I hope that it does that for somebody, but also I hope people can get really drunk and sing along and party.” Petras flawlessly captured that feeling of an all-around perfect pop anthem with “Heart to Break;” the perfect sulking song for sad bitch hours, and the perfect strutting song for bad bitch hours.