From the very beginning, it’s no secret that the rock genre has always been considered to be a “boys club” of sorts- considering the immense amount of stereotyping (and obvious gatekeeping!) that circulates around everything about it. The idea of mosh pits, lows and screams, dark lyrics and aesthetics have always been coupled with men and masculinity- but thanks to years and years of people like the legendary Janice Joplin, Stevie Nicks, Joan Jett, Kim Gordon, Courtney Love, Kathleen Hannah and so many more, we have progressed to a time in music that has given us some extremely brilliant and totally badass artists that are proving time and time again that women in alternative music are absolutely killing it.
In honor of International Women’s Day, here’s a list of trailblazing women in the alternative scene right now that are a force to be reckoned with.
20. Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey – Butcher Babies
Kicking off this list are Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey– the frontwomen of thrash metal (yes, thrash metal) band Butcher Babies. The LA based metal powerhouses turned a lot of heads after their first full length release ‘Goliath’ in 2013, (talking about you, Magnolia Blvd.) with the ladies wowing fans with overall incredible vocals- including phenomenal screams track after track. The group is still releasing music as of 2021, and living proof that women can open up a f*cking pit too.
19. Crystal Joilena
Solo artist Crystal Joilena is making some serious waves in the scene, and rightfully so. Joilena, who describes herself as “an artist who creates music with fantasy elements bound by no genres”, continues to prove that she is a force to be reckoned with as every track released is a surprise to fans- and in the best way possible. Joilena even managed to capture the attention of Motionless in White’s Chris Motionless– and was featured on the ‘Eternally Yours: Motion Picture Collection’ in 2020. Following this and the release of her EP ‘Numb Until Further Notice’ which beautifully showcases what she means by “genreless”, fans quickly took a liking to her and her captivating work, and it is without a doubt that we will be hearing a lot more from Crystal Joilena in the future.
18. Bonnie Fraser – Stand Atlantic
Bonnie Fraser is a prime example of proving that Pop-punk is alive and well considering the massive success that she’s had over the past few years fronting the absolutely incredible Stand Atlantic. The group has made its way to the mainstream with their smash hits “Lavender Bones” and the most recent release of the album ‘Pink Elephant’ last year, it is without a doubt that without Fraser’s strong and upbeat vocals, the band would not have grown to what they are in the scene right now.
17. Ash Costello – New Year’s Day
New Years Day’s own Ash Costello has been that of alt scene royalty since the release of ‘My Dear’ back in 2007 when NYD was the epitome of our emo phase, and over time has grown and proved herself as an artist of versatility. Costello not only has incredible range in her voice, but in more recent releases has given fans a taste of absolutely stellar screams as well. Costello has even managed to catch the attention of the WWE, as she is featured on the totally badass track “Brutality”, which is WWE wrestler Rhea Ripley’s theme song!
16. Lzzy Hale – Halestorm
If there’s something we can all agree on, it’s that Halestorm’s Lzzy Hale is the definition of keeping old school rock and roll alive and well while still managing to delve into the realm of impressive screams. It’s well know that one of Hale’s biggest idols none other than the original trailblazer and pioneers of women in rock music, Joan Jett, so it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that when combining this with raw and sheer talent, Lzzy Hale is one of the best vocalists and overall performers in the scene and always will be.
15. Reba Meyers – Code Orange
When we think Djent, we automatically think of ridiculously filthy slowed down riffs and angry dudes in pits- but Reba Myers has broken that mold without a single doubt. Meyers, the vocalist, guitarist, and founding member of the absolutely iconic Code Orange has managed to flip the Djent/ metalcore scene on its head over the years, quickly becoming one of the most well known of the bands to come out of the genre in a long time. Meyers is well known for putting on insanely impressive live performances, along with being effortlessly skilled in her guitar work.
14. Lynn Gunn – PVRIS
Lynn Gunn, the frontwoman of alternative rock band PVRIS is without a doubt one of the biggest trailblazers in the scene, and it’s not only because of her incredibly powerful lead vocals and kickass stage presence, but Gunn also manages to tell moving and empowering stories through her lyrics about her experiences being part of the LGBTQ+ community that have had fans of all ages relating back to her, making her one of the most influential frontwomen in the scene today.
13. Edith Johnson; Téa Campbell; Ada Juarez – Meet Me @ The Alter
Sometimes it feels as though the scene forgets that Pop-punk is meant to be all inclusive- a safe space for anyone and everyone to be themselves no matter who they are- regardless of race, gender, orientation, or anything else that may make someone feel that they don’t belong; and Meet Me @ The Altar are making sure everyone remembers that. The all women trio, who was recently signed to Fueled by Ramen, have come onto the scene with their classic (and well done at that) pop-punk roots shining through on every track. The three girls, vocalist Edith Johnson, guitarist Téa Campbell, and drummer Ada Juarez are also using their platform to be vocal about social issues regarding race, LGBTQ issues, and sexism. These ladies are ones to look out for, and true scene trailblazers for the upcoming generations.
12. Suzuka Nakamoto (Su-metal”; Moa Kikuchi (Moamet) – BABYMETAL
This list would not be complete without none other than absolutely killer Japanese Rock duo BABYMETAL being part of it. Suzuka Nakamoto as “Su-metal” and Moa Kikuchi as “Moamet” , who have also been described as “Japanese Kawaii Metal”, have grown an insanely large following over the years following the release of their single “Gimme Chocolate”. The duo manage to combine elements of J-Pop with impressive and insanely heavy riffs creating a unique and totally original sound proving that there is no one truly doing it like them. BABYMETAL grew so much of a following, that the legendary Bring Me The Horizon not only brought them on tour, but featured them on their ‘Post Human: Survival Horror’ track “KINGSLAYER” which they, well…slayed.
11. Milkie Way – WARGASM (UK)
The UK’s own Milkie Way of the Nu-Metal duo WARGASM is making some serious waves in the nu-metal world and holy sh*t are we here for it. Way’s vocals as well as lyrical skill are some of the coolest, most original, and utterly badass that we’ve heard in a very long time. When comparing this with the fast paced riffs and overall Riot Grrrl attitude on and off stage, it is without a doubt that Milkie Way is going to be blazing her way to the top of the scene very, very soon.
10. Taylor Momsen – The Pretty Reckless
Taylor Momsen of The Pretty Reckless is perhaps one of the most well known (and best) frontwomen to come out of the rock scene in 20 years, and she has rightfully earned that title. Momsen first broke onto the scene in 2009, and many were skeptical of her “new persona” following her Gossip Girl days, but Momsen was quick to show everyone she meant business following the release of her album ‘Light Me Up’ which features the now timeless “You Make Wanna Die”. Momsen stayed true to the old school rock and roll vibe- showcasing her raspy, rocky vocals and is still making music, including the most recent release of The Pretty Reckless’s newest album ‘Death of Rock and Roll’.
9. Laura Les – 100 gecs
Laura Les, one half of the Hyperpop powerhouses 100 gecs, who dropped their album 1000 gecs in 2019, have made it onto the playlists of lovers of experimental pop and “nightcore”, and there is truly no one doing it like Laura Les is when it comes to experimenting with no styles not just in terms of beats and production, but vocals as well. As a trans woman, Les has said that she often plays with vocal pitch when working on new sounds for the duo’s tracks, which is explained by the now iconic high pitched vocal we’re used to hearing on their records. When it comes to innovation in the studio, Les is a trailblazer and is fearless, bold and someone that has the potential to flip the state of alternative music on its head in the upcoming future.
8. Amy Love; Georgia South – Nova Twins
English Rock duo The Nova Twins, who are made up of vocalist/guitarist Amy Love and bassist Georgia South are the definition of punk rock. The duo, who have been close friends since childhood, first caught the eye of fans after the release of their single “Bassline Bitch” in 2015. They quickly grew in popularity, and have worked with huge names in the industry like Fever 333 as well as being featured on Bring Me the Horizon’s “1×1”. The duo describes their sound as “bass-heavy… fusing grime and punk” as well as “urban punk” and it’s brilliant. As women of color in a scene that tends to be dominated by white men, this duo has proved that they are without a doubt a force to be reckoned with and a major implication of just how important it is to remember and know that being alternative is for anyone that wants to be- and not a generic template to follow.
7. Avril Lavigne
Let’s be real, a list of trailblazing women would not be complete without including the absolute legend that is none other than Avril Lavigne. Whether or not you’re a superfan, or you know one or two tracks, it is without question that Avril has paved the way for so many women in the alternative scene today. Avril’s versatility in song writing- whether it be the catchy pop-punk tracks like “Sk8er Boi” or “Girlfriend”, or heartbreaking ballads like “When You’re Gone” or “My Happy Ending” Avril’s work has influenced so many and continues to to this day. Besides the fact that she’s a role model for women in the scene, she’s still keeping alternative music alive, as she even just recently was featured on Mod Sun’s track “Flames” earlier this year!
Halsey has always teetered on the edge of pop and alternative rock, however, following the release and massive success of Machine Gun Kelly’s ‘Tickets to My Downfall’ and her feature on the smash hit record “Forget Me Too” it was without hesitation that we all knew Halsey should be considered an alternative artist. Halsey’s vocals, lyrical skill as well as being well known advocating and making a difference the best she possibly can when it comes to social issues makes her a real trailblazer as not just a woman- but an artist in the scene. Rumors have been swirling that her entire next album is going to be “pop-punk”, and we hope it’s true because not only will it be phenomenal, but she is setting up a potential movement to bring alternative music back to the mainstream full force.
5. Billie Eilish
Speaking of bringing alternative music to the mainstream, coming in at number five on our list is the incredible Billie Eilish. Whether or not you enjoy her music or not, it is without question that Eilish should be included on this list. The 19 year old singer has managed to shatter record after record following the release of her album ‘When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go?’ in 2019 and has continued to make serious waves in not just the alternative scene, but the entirety of the music industry. The “Bad Guy” singer has snagged five grammy wins before the age of 20, including album and record of the year. Considering all of this, it has opened the door to so many younger generations of young fans to dive into the realm of alternative music and keep it alive, making Billie the epitome of a trailblazer for the scene, duh. (See what I did there?)
Nu-Metal is no longer just for the boys, and it’s 100% because of the groundbreaking and phenomenal Poppy. The “BLOODMONEY” singer got her start in 2015 as an internet phenomenon, after the release of her “I’m Poppy” video- which had people wondering just who “Poppy” was. Fast forward six years later, she’s at the top of the alternative charts, with her records being featured on WWE’s NXT Takeover as well as taking home a grammy for best metal performance. As if that’s not impressive enough, Poppy is the first and only woman to be nominated for the award, let alone win – earning her a spot on our list as one of the most trailblazing women in the scene today.
3. Amy Lee – Evanescence
Amy Lee has proved time and time again that she really is one of the greatest of all time in the alternative scene, and she has no intentions of ever going anywhere. Lee is well known for being the frontwoman of the goth rock band Evanescence, giving us timeless bops like “Bring Me to Life”, “My Immortal” and “Call Me When You’re Sober”, that feature her incredibly captivating and hauntingly beautiful vocals that will never be ones to be tired of hearing no matter what kind of music or subgenre you enjoy. Lee has a voice that could make a grown man cry, and even recently did a feature on BMTH’s “One Day the Only Butterflies Left Will Be in Your Chest as You March Towards Your Death” which was arguably one of the most beautiful releases of 2020. Amy Lee is a blueprint for so many other music in rock music and will continue to be for generations.
2. Hayley Williams – Paramore
From “Misery Business” to “Hard Times” and “Simmer”, Hayley Williams has earned the title of being not just one of the greatest women in the alternative scene in the last 20 years- but one of the greatest of all time across all genders. When asking someone who their idol or influence is in pop-punk, emo, or alternative music, one of the top answers will almost always be “Paramore” or “Hayley Williams” every. Single. Time. (and rightfully so). Williams‘ talents are one to be admired, as she is an insanely skilled songwriter, instrumentalist, vocalist, entrepreneur, and human being. There is so much more to Williams then the versatility of Paramore, but her as a solo artist as well. Williams’ shows that while you’re viewed to be one way in terms of artistry, it’s also okay to make yourself vulnerable and put tracks or records out that make people feel things more than one way they’re used to from a particular artist. Hayley Williams– although she has been around for a long time, continues to show us artistry unlike no other making her a major trailblazer for alt music.
1. Courtney LaPlante – Spiritbox
Perhaps the most trailblazing woman in the state of the scene right now is without a reasonable doubt Courtney LaPlante, lead vocalist and frontwoman of the metalcore band Spiritbox. LaPlante made her mark on the metalcore scene with the release of Spiritbox’s “Rule of Nines” and “Blessed Be” but what really shook the scene was the release of the 2020 summer smash hit “Holy Roller”. Metalcore fans were completely blown away by everything the track had to offer, however it was LaPlante’s impressively brutal screams and lows that raised the eyebrow of fans everywhere. Despite this, LaPlante has been vocal about who she is an artist, and has been sure to let fans know their is so much more to her artistry than heavy tracks like “Holy Roller” and she proved this following the release of her hauntingly beautiful vocals on Spiritbox’s “Constance”. Courtney LaPlante’s range in who she is an artist- as she is able to take on the role of so many different genres and sounds (as well as aesthetics) is nothing short of admirable and utterly incredible. Courtney LaPlante is the scene trailblazer right now, and we can’t wait to see what she has up her sleeve next.
Have a favorite artist that didn’t make the list? Let us know down below!