12 Female-Fronted Bands and Female Artists from the 90's OR How To Psychoanalyze Your Playlists

Here's the thing about nostalgia-based music listicles, they usually come in one of two forms:

1. They examine the hits and/or forgotten one-hit wonders of a specific era. That's fun. I enjoy it.


2.  They only cover one genre. This is also fun. But I needed to construct a different kind of list.

You know what I think about nostalgia in general? We drift toward thoughts of the past when we:

A. know we need something from it (comfort, familiarity...even a tiny dose of pain) and we know we can find it in that particular set of thoughts and memories...


B. We're drawn to something very specific about that time period on a subconscious level.

Usually, when I stroll down a musical memory lane, I edit. I curate for prestige. I try to shine a little retroactive cool on the nerdy veneer of my past. This time, I just knew what I wanted to hear. I didn't care if it sullied my Spotify history.

It recently dawned on me that I'm in kind of a B. place. And once it did, the pattern of the music I chose was instantly recognizable. It made sudden, perfect sense why I felt the need to hear it.

But first? The list. Then I'll tell you why I made it.

Enjoy these 12 Female-Fronted Bands and Female Artists from the 90's.

End of list, let's return to the psychoanalysis, shall we?

As I scan, I note what's missing. Where's the Natalie Imbruglia? Where's the Whitney, the Madonna, and the Mariah? Nineties completists may also note the lack of Ani DiFranco and several other benchmark acts.

If a playlist is like a Rorschach, what does this one mean? What do the songs have in common? It's not the genre. It's not the look of the front woman. And hey, I'm not claiming everything on my list is prestigious or Grammy-worthy.

But each song is potent. Specific. Angry.

Some serious stuff went down in my life in 2017. There were times when I didn't want to recover.
Sometimes when someone we love dies, we want to go with them. And there was this beautiful girl who used to spin CD's like records and ask me to think about the lyrics. And she's gone now. In a way not at all befitting her greatness. Hours, days, months, and years of our lives spent together painting our nails, laughing until we couldn't breathe, and telling all our secrets. They'll never continue.

When we were young, we were promised girl power. So what if it was pedaled by a dying record industry? So what if they packaged it to sell lip gloss and body glitter? We believed it. That's what mattered. We had Buffy and Scully and all these beautifully angry singers telling us our adolescent feelings were real. That some of the injustices we faced were as big of a deal as we suspected.

We were church girls. That anger was painted as being incongruent with our spiritual lives. As though Judith doesn't behead Holofernes. Like Esther doesn't save a nation. Like Rahab, a "heathen, harlot", isn't listed in the genealogy of Jesus. Even a cursory glance at the Bible is full of, I'm sorry, but girl power.

I mean, I'm not sorry.

So why, all of a sudden, am I thinking about the soundtrack to my first taste of anger? The music came to me. It popped into my head automatically just after the New Year. Like the Stay-Puft marshmallow man. With each song I played, I remembered a time when I never would've stayed down for so long. I finally felt an emotion other than despair.

I felt rage, otherwise known as the second stage of grief. For the first time since my friend left the planet, I wanted to feel again. I wanted the future our nineties selves believed we could have. That's a big step up from wishing I could blink out of existence.

The next time you feel nostalgic for an entire era of music, I hope you make a playlist. I hope you ask yourself, "Why now?" and I hope you'll be brave enough to answer. 

I made you a Spotify playlist. 90s Again for Riot Grrrls