The music industry is packed with women, from popular to classical music, singers and musicians to songwriters and producers working backstage.
Still, few women are represented in rock music as women of rock, whether they are rock instrumentalists or rock critics.
Rock has always been a man’s world, and to highlight female rock icons who are breaking the glass ceiling, we are compiling a list of incredible and sensational women who have led their bands to stardom both in the past and the present.
Here are the best 17 rock music bands with female singers that you might want to know.
With her knack for storytelling through songwriting and her mystical and often mythical persona and vocal range, Stevie Nicks has shown that she is one of the best female rock leads in music history.
With over a hundred million records sold in their years as a band, Fleetwood Mac is one of the most successful bands to date.
Some of her best songwriting is immortalized in the song Rhiannon, Dreams, and Gold Dust Woman, with the last two songs being included in their groundbreaking and Grammy-winning album, Rumours.
Stevie Nicks also enjoyed her solo career while still a member of the band, her first debut album titled Bella Donna garnered critical praise.
Still, her mysticality will always be rooted in her tenure as a member of the incomparable Fleetwood Mac; with her long draperies and graceful dancing on the stage, she will always leave us under her spell.
Here is a band with a deep understanding of what Southern, blues, and soul rock is all about— Alabama Shakes fronted by the fantastic lead singer Brittany Howard.
This band hailing from Athens, Alabama, was created in 2009 and rose to fame just a year later, with over a million albums being sold in the United States alone.
The band’s Americana rock sound and Brittany Howard’s low voice register are proven to be a recipe for success since they released two albums in their band’s active years— topping the charts and making them take home 4 Grammy awards out of the nine nominations under their belt.
The band is on a hiatus, and Brittany ventured on her own with her album Jaime and her single Stay High, winning the Best Rock Song award, all the more proving that a girl can do it just on her own.
Blondie is every bit of the New York-born band that epitomizes punk, rock, and disco cool characterized by the times they were underground in their city up to the times they reached astronomical fame in the 1980s.
Their music has a range that somehow encompasses genre, with the song Heart of Glass with a heavy disco influence to the reggae beat of The Tide Is High.
Blondie’s ability to move with the sound of the future has proven effective since the band is still proven to be one of the best, going almost into its fifty years from its founding.
With chart-topping hits and two Grammy nominations under their belt, lead singer Debbie Harry has proven to be one of the best and most unapologetic leads out there oozing of cool nonchalance and sexuality.
Marie Fredriksson was already an established musical artist in Sweden before teaming up with Per Gessle to form the Swedish pop-rock duo Roxette.
You might recognize some of their song that has the tendency to be played during high school proms, like the song It Must Have Been Love that is also featured in the film starring Julia Roberts called Pretty Woman.
It Must Have Been Love would go on to sell over nine million copies in the whole world when it was re-released as part of their third album, Joyride.
Sadly, Marie died in 2019 after her long battle with cancer, but her songs and voice will live on as a soundtrack to many people’s memories.
Lead singer Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries has one of the most distinct and recognizable voices in all of rock history.
This Irish band originated in Limerick, Ireland, in the late ’80s and gained international success with the release of their first album Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We? in 1993.
Some of The Cranberries’ heavy hitters like Linger, which is part of their debut album, or the song Zombie, which is a track in their second critically acclaimed album, No Need To Argue, have all entered in the top 20 in the Billboard chart.
O’Riordan died unexpectedly in January 2018, and the last album the band released, called In The End, garnered a Grammy nomination in the Rock category.
In The End, was the last album the band put out, and they disbanded shortly thereafter.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
The New York City underground scene produced some of the most beloved alternative rock bands to date, and that is proven true with Karen O’s Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs released three albums that garnered them each a Grammy nomination in Best Alternative Music Album with every year an album was released.
Lead singer Karen O is a rock genius and a fashion icon in her own rights sporting outrageous and extravagant outfits by her friend Christian Joy.
Aside from being the frontwoman of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Karen O has made a name for herself with all the soundtrack works in movies she had done over the years.
You might recognize her work in Spike Jonze’s film Her where she did the vocals for Moon Song with lyrics by her and Jonze.
Patti Smith is undoubtedly one of the most influential personalities to come out of the New York City punk rock scene.
Patti Smith was a poet first before she was a punk rock icon.
The release of Smith’s album Horses cemented her to punk rock royalty; it peaked at number 13 in 1978 at the Billboard Hot 100 and reached number 5 in the United Kingdom.
Aside from being a great punk rock musician, Patti Smith has proven herself a great writer with her New York Times bestselling and National Book Award-winning memoir about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe titled Just Kids.
Various publications like Rolling Stones would name Patti Smith as one of the 100 Greatest Artists, and the French Government also awards her for her contributions to the arts.
Indeed a master storyteller using her voice through music and the plume to convey her feelings out in the world.
Although not widely successful in the United States, the all-female band fronted by Joan Jett and Lita Ford garnered a considerable following overseas.
In their three years run as a female rock band, they stamped their name in the scene by releasing five studio albums, with one being a live album.
The Runaways were established themselves as the first all-female group that plays straight, guitar-driven with riffs and screeching rock and metal, paving the way for other female rockers to let loose and rock out as their counterparts do.
The Runaways was founded in 1975 by Joan Jett, and who was soon to be the band’s drummer Sandy West.
Joan Jett would be the first woman recording artist to own and found a record label, and the band was even immortalized and gained new fans with the biographical movie made about them starring Kirsten Stewart as Joan Jett.
The American alt-rock band Hole is Courtney Love’s chef d’œuvre.
You might know her as Kurt Cobain’s widow, but she is more than the late rockstar’s wife.
Courtney Love founded Hole in Los Angeles, California, in the late 1980s together with who was to be the band’s guitarist Eric Erlandson.
In their years of making music, Hole is considered one of the most successful female-fronted rock bands in all of history, with millions of their album sold in the United States alone and three Grammy nominations under their belt.
With Courtney Love’s role of songwriting for the band, the lyrics explore and ate vocal about the different topics on being a woman and the many issues that come with it, always from a feminist perspective.
Though polarizing, Courtney Love is regarded as instilling third-wave feminist ideals and consciousness in her lyrics and thus an ally to feminist ideas.
No Doubt is an American rock band with a solid British New Wave, punk and ska influence in their sound and music.
It is fronted by the brilliant female singer Gwen Stefani, who has made her name as a fashion icon and a marvelous musical artist, as well as one of the women in rock, all by herself.
The band came to be in 1986 in Anaheim, California when four of the main band members began singing around and performing together.
No Doubt’s trajectory with every album release has been a constant high with just a minor blip on their record.
Don’t Speak is one of their most recognizable songs, and it stayed at the top of the Billboard charts for 16 straight weeks and set a record at that time.
All in all, No Doubt has nine nominations, and two Grammy wins under its belt— Gwen Stefani and the rest of the band have proven to be still that ‘it’ band in the ’90s that have made hit after hit.
First on our list is the Paramore with their sultry front singer Hailey Williams.
Yes, we all know it’s Paramore when we see that punk singer with red hair on stage.
But that is not the only detail that makes this band super popular.
A lot will approve that this band is on top because of its tasty and very entertaining performances and albums.
This American band started in 2004, and their music is a mix of pop punk, alternative rock music, and emo pop.
Since then, its songs became an anthem for a while among the youth, and their music dominated the billboard as they released their first album entitled “All We Know is Falling” way back in 2005.
Paramore invaded not just the US stage but almost the whole world; they also performed in live tours.
Some of these are the Final Riot Tour in 2008 and Brand News Eyes World Tour which lasted for three long years from 2009 to 2012.
The Pretty Reckless
Next on the list is Pretty Reckless which has Taylor Momsen as their vocalist.
Momsen really owned her space whenever she gracefully performed along with her male band members.
This girl on fire is not just simply a singer but also a multi talented one.
While hitting every note of “Make Me Wanna Die,” she also plays the rhythm guitar.
The Pretty Reckless is from New York City and started creating music in 2009.
Some of their popular albums are “Hit Me Like a Man” EP in 2012 and “Going to Hell.”
Basically, their music genre is a combination of alternative and hard rock; this musical genius bank earned a lot of awards.
Some of the titles that they got were an as best group from the Virgin Media Music Award in 2010.
Recently, this band also bagged the Rock Song of the Year Award from the iHeartRadio Music Awards.
Pale Waves is another modern band that was formed in England in 2014.
This rock band was originally named as the Creek, and it was a group of four musicians with 2 female band members Heather Baron-Gracie and Ciara Doran, with Gracie being the lead vocalist and guitarist as well while Doran being the drummer.
Their band members were just a perfect combination for indie rock and pop punk.
Pale Waves’ very first single entitled “There’s a Honey” set their branding of music in 2017.
This band has already won awards, including the Artist to Watch by Vevo in 2018 and Best Breakthrough Act in 2019.
Evanescence is one of the nostalgic rock bands that bring bittersweet theme songs.
Amy Lee is their female vocalist that hits notes effortlessly.
The trademark of this band is alternative metal, gothic metal and gothic rock music, and of course their excellent singer Amy Lee.
Some of Evanescence’s famous songs are “Bring me to life” and “My Immortal”.
This American rock band started in 1995 and their first album was entitled Fallen.
Evanescence’s success was phenomenal.
Their talents, including that of Amy Lee, helped them to be nominated in Grammy for 6 categories and bag 2 of these nominations.
This band was also best-selling as they sold millions of copies of the Fallen album and also topped the Billboard 200 many times and conducted tours around the world.
Ms. Lzzy Hale is the lead vocalist of Halestorm, and this American band has a colorful beginning.
Halestorm originated in Pennsylvania, USA in 1997.
The focus of this band is purely on hard rock, alternative rock and heavy metal.
It has 4 members and the lead singer is a woman; together with Ms.Hale is her brother who is the drummer of the band.
Halestorm is known to have a strong endurance when it comes to performance marathons.
In fact, they have performed live for as many as 250 concerts in a year.
Their first album was a success in 2009, and it was released by Atlantic Records.
Two of the awards bagged by Halestorm were the Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance in 2013.
Another was the best rock performance given by the 61st Annual Grammy Award.
Are you looking for ageless melodies that can bring life to your parties or to your late night driving?
If yes, then it is highly recommended to include in your playlist the songs by Blondie.
We are not talking about hair color but this band Blondie from America with colorful soundtracks.
Blondie was a match in heaven, as it was formed with a group of talented musicians.
What adds up to their success is the female singer Debbie Harry.
They started releasing songs in 1970.
Mostly, they play songs with various genres such as disco, funk, reggae, pop rock and even pop rock.
Blondie surprisingly reached success with their second album entitled “Plastic Letters” in 1977.
With their single “In the Flesh”, they became really famous in Australia and the United Kingdom.
The legacy of Heart left a mark in their fans, just as much like Courtney Love, since this band was formed in 1967.
Heart has big contributions in the music industry with their hard rock and glam metal singles.
This musicians band was composed of seven members and two of them were women.
Undeniably, Ann Wilson boosted the music quality of Heart.
Her appealing voice and talent in playing flute suited well with the style of her bandmates.
Her younger sister Nancy Wilson also joined the Heart as the occasional lead vocalist.
The Heart is considered as a versatile band, as they tried different music genres.
Among the 40 big hit songs that they made, the most memorable was “Dog and Butterfly.”
They also released their single “Dreamboat Annie” and “Magic Man” in 1976.
The Heart success also reached the Billboard 200 and was able to sell 35 million records.
Overall, these girl rock stars have had ups and downs in their careers, and as the years go by, it is expected that women in music are to be the norm, but the recent study by USC has proven otherwise.
In 2020, the number of female singers/artists and songwriting had dwindled.
This disparity problem could be remedied by inspiring future generations to music education and encouraging them to be their authentic selves, just like these trailblazing women from Joan Jett to Hayley Williams to Lzzy Hale and Ann Wilson and Janis Joplin.
Maybe then, more women in rock music will be encouraged.