18 Great Rock Songs By Women

Written by on July 10, 2017

Every couple months, my KPSU radio show Six Degrees of Rockination has a theme. In July 2017, that theme was “Grrrl Power.” What songs did I play?

4 Non Blondes – “Train”

Their most famous song is “What’s Up,” but I prefer this one, which is much more of a rocker. Also worth checking out is their song “Superfly.” Excellent band.

The Muffs – “Sad Tomorrow”

This was a band out of Southern California headed by Kim Shattuck. They were most famous for a cover of “Kids In America,” but this is their song I like best.

Sleigh Bells – “Demons”

This band’s sound is kind of fascinating. The guitar is so heavy and effects-laden. It almost has a ’80s big hair feel to it. Putting a woman’s voice over that kind of sound is very intriguing and effective.

Eux Autres – “Ecoutez Bien!”

A brother/sister act out of Portland, Oregon, these guys have quite a few songs in French and I’m not sure why. I like it, though. You should definitely check out their song “Salut Les Copains.” It’s a rocker.

Blondie – “Detroit 442”

Off their 1978 album, Plastic Letters, this song shows that Blondie wasn’t just a pop band. They had a punk side, too.

SATE – “Know My Name”

Every time I hear this woman from Toronto, Ontario, I think this is what Tina Turner would’ve sounded like had she gone into hard rock, rather than R&B.

Bikini Kill – “Rebel”

One of the most important punk bands of the 1990s, this group combined great music with a strong feminist message. They were led by singer Kathleen Hanna, who, when Bikini Kill ended, went on to form…

Le Tigre – “TKO”

Instead of feminism and punk, this band brought us feminism and party music. The documentary The Punk Singer is about Kathleen Hanna’s time in these two bands. I highly recommend it.

Dum Dum Girls – “He Gets Me High”

This band is best known for the song “Coming Down,” which appeared on the show Orange Is the New Black, but this is their song that I like best.

She and Him – “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?”

She and Him is kind of a supergroup, being made up of established Americana/folk musician M. Ward and established adorable movie star Zooey Deschanel.

Nina Simone – “See-Line Woman”

Nina Simone had a fascinating history, overcoming the racial politics of America in the 40s, 50s, and 60s to become a huge success as both a pianist and singer in jazz, pop, and classical. This song was based off an old children’s playground chant. Feist did a very nice cover of it.

The Pretenders – “Tattooed Love Boys”

The Pretenders had a number of very poppy hits, but they could rock, too. This song proves it, as does my favorite Pretenders song, “The Wait.”

HOLYCHILD – “Running Behind”

This two-person group formed in Washington, D.C., moved to Brooklyn, and is currently based in Los Angeles. They define their genre as “brat pop,” which I can’t help but find adorable.

Veruca Salt – “Volcano Girls”

This song is criminally underrated. Corporate radio always plays their song “Seether,” but this song is so much better. Just a brilliant rock song. Corporate radio has no taste whatsoever.

Priscilla Ahn – “Dream”

Our soft and pretty song of the day. I first heard this song on the Disturbia movie soundtrack. Also worth checking out from that soundtrack, the amazing “Great American Napkin” by the Summer Skinny.

Best Coast – “The Only Place”

Is this California’s state anthem yet? It should be.

Liz Phair – “Supernova”

One of Chicago’s best, Liz Phair’s 1993 debut album Exile in Guyville is required listening.

Bonnie Hayes – “Girls Like Me”

This song is just plain poppy fun. I first heard it in the movie Valley Girl. Lots of fun piano work here.

And there you go! 18 great rock songs by women. Want to hear the entire radio show? Here’s the link.

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