Every woman in rock, whether as a musician or a fan has been told be someone in and out of the scene that it’s not their place, or that they’re only there to be a fangirl or a groupie. These girls beg to differ, so without further ado here’s my top 10 songs by Women in Rock.
Best Songs By Women In Rock
1. We Will Rock You – Maria Brink, Lzzy Hale, and Taylor Momsen
Maria from In this Moment got Taylor Momsen and Lzzy Hale together to cover Queen’s We Will Rock You, and it’s fantastic. They also appear on my girls who rock list.
2. Rebel Girl – BikiniKill
Bikini Kill is a self-proclaimed feminist rock band which formed in Washington in 1990. I listened to Rebel Girl all the time when I was 15, and still adore it. The band took a 22-year break, but returned in 2019 because in the wake of #MeToo, the world needs Bikini Kill more than ever.
The movie The Punk Singer came out in 2013, and is the life story of frontwomen Kathleen Hanna. You might also like these rock musical movies.
Speaking of punk, we can’t honour women of punk without shouting out Broady Dale from the Distillers!
3. Black Me Out – Against Me!
Laura Jane Grace is a punk icon; she started Against Me! herself after her band broke up, and I’ve always admired the if-you-want-something-done-right-do-it-yourself attitude, and she eventually met the other members of Against Me! She came out as transgender in 2012, and their album Transgender Dysphoria Blues is a beacon of hope and safety for LGBTQ youth everywhere.
4. Simmer – Hayley Williams
Hayley Williams is the emo queen, but her solo stuff has been wonderfully raw and experimental. On the first few listens to Petals for Armour I wasn’t loving it, but it grew on me and now I listen to Simmer and Cinnamon on repeat.
The process was very healing for Hayley to express her own struggles with mental health and the breakdown of her marriage. Listening to the album in full literally feels like a therapy session.
5. Let it Go – Cherri Bomb
Cherri Bomb were one of my favourite bands as a teenager, and if I didn’t love them so much I’d have been immensely jealous. As a teenager who spent her days trying to form bands, and idolizing Joan Jett, the girls in Cherri Bomb were girls my age living my dream.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be for Cherri Bomb as once frontwomen and founder Julia left the band, the label dropped the band. The reamining members of Cherri Bomb rebranded as Hey Violet and took on a more commercial sound, while Julia released solo music under the name Pyrce.
Regardless of ill fate, Let it Go is still one of my favourite songs, is actually where the name thisdreamsalive comes from, and Julia inspired me to never give up on music when people give me shit for it. This song means a lot to me, beyond just being another one of these killer songs by women in rock.
6. You Call Me A Bitch Like it’s a Bad Thing – Halestorm
Halestorm is fronted by Lzzy Hale, and was started in 1997 by Lizzy and her brother, Arejay Hale, hence the name Halestorm. Although the band formed in 1997, their debut album didn’t come out until 2009!
Lzzy’s voice is so strong, I’m constantly in awe of her. I love You Call Me A Bitch Like It’s A Bad Thing, because I call myself a bitch all the time. If being a bitch means not taking shit from people, then I’m a bitch and proud.
7. Under The Water – The Pretty Reckless
The Pretty Reckless is a band that struggled to gain respect given that frontwomen Taylor Momsen was an actress. You might remember her from her roles as Cindy Lou in The Grinch, and Jenny Humphrey on Gossip Girl.
The Pretty Reckless are a band that deserves more respect than they get, and I think they’ve been granted some of that since their second album, Going to Hell, and third album, Who You Selling For, had a more mature sound and saw Taylor improve massively as a songwriter. Most TPR songs are written by Taylor and guitarist Ben Phillips.
As much as I love their first album, Light Me Up, the EP Hit me Like A Man is where they really upped their game, and is what Under the Water is on.
8. Doll Parts – Hole
Courtney Love is a controversial character, but Hole are one of my favourite bands. The 90s grunge scene was surprisingly populated with women as Bikini Kill were in the same scene at the time too.
Although Courtney is a solo artist now her continuing friendship with Hole bassist Melissa Auf der Maur is beautiful. The original Hole line-up included Courtney, Melissa, Eric Erlandson, and Patty Schemel. As someone who’s been the only girl in the band, I find it funny that Eric was the only man in Hole.
Doll Parts is one of Hole’s biggest songs, and not just one of my favourite songs by women in rock, but one of my favourite songs of all time.
9. I Hate Myself for Loving You – Joan Jett & The Black Hearts
Joan Jett is nothing short of the Queen of Rock n’ Roll. After the Runaways disbanded she still struggled to make it because it was still socially unacceptable for girls to play guitar, let alone be in a rock band! She said f*ck this when no label would sign her, and set up her own label, and released Bad Reputation, and the rest is history.
Bad Reputation, and I Love Rock n’ Roll are classics, but personally my favourite song of hers is I Hate Myself For Loving You.
10. Cherry Bomb – The Runaways
The number one song on this list of hits by women in rock had to be Cherry Bomb by the Runaways. The Runaways were an all-girl rock band in the 70’s consisting of 15/16 year old Joan Jett, Cherrie Currie, Lita Ford, Sandy West, and originally Jackie Fox on bass. Joan and Lita went on to be rock n’ roll legends, and Cherrie made a decent dent in music too but she’s actually a chainsaw artist now!
Cherry Bomb was their first song, based on Cherrie’s name and has been the ultimate women of rock n’ roll song ever since.
Do you listen to any of these songs by women in rock? You might also be interested in my bimbocore essay.