These Women are Popping Off in the Pop Recording Industry

By: Natalie Dumonceaux

If you’ve been paying attention to the Grammys, the Super Bowl, or any of the other American Hallmarks as of late, you’ll know that women are absolutely crushing it in the music industry right now. The nominations for album of the year at this year’s Grammys included an exclusively female roster, with only one exception (we love you, Jon Batiste). Multiple other female artists brought home their first ever Grammys that night, including Miley Cyrus for song of the year, Tyla for best African music performance (she’s 22, by the way), and Laufey for best traditional pop vocal album. Also, Barbie, an all female-directed film, is the first movie in 7 years to have 2 songs nominated for the Oscar for best original song (“I’m Just Ken” by Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt and “What Was I Made For” by Billie Eilish, which also got Billie a Grammy nomination for song of the year). And the fun doesn’t stop there- female artists are absolutely flooding Spotify’s release radar with new hits lately. As such, I feel it’s only appropriate to give some of these women, and their music, the spotlight they deserve. 

Going back a few weeks is Beyoncé’s “16 CARRIAGES”, released on February 9th, followed by “Texas Hold ‘Em,” dropped on February 10th. Both songs have a heavy country-style influence in terms of their instrumentation, lyrics, feel, and even cover art; both featuring Beyoncé decked out in full Old-Western Cowgirl Glam. This is a totally new turn for an artist who for so many years has been called ‘Queen B’ of pop music. The first of the two new singles is a much slower ballad about juggling the anxieties and struggles that go along with being a young woman entering the music industry with heated family conflicts. This is my personal favourite of the two singles- it’s soulful, heartfelt, and has a powerhouse bridge that I implore you to listen to on repeat. The latest song, “Texas Hold ‘Em,” is a fun, more upbeat tune ringing even truer to the traditional country-style sound. With a call-and-response melody in the verses (which she of course Beyoncé-ified by filling it with vocal runs and harmonies), a whistle section, and a driving beat, I have no doubt this song will become a rodeo-staple. Both of these songs will be on her new album, Act II, which she announced at the Super Bowl on February 11th. This album will be the second part of a three-part album series, beginning with her album Renaissance in 2022. I’m not sure what this sudden turn to a country-pop music crossover is all about; first it was Lana Del Rey, announcing her country album Lasso coming this September, now there’s Beyoncé with this album coming at the end of March. While I’m not exactly country music’s biggest target audience, I know that if anyone is going to change my mind about the genre, it’s these women. Yeehaw!

Onto the more recent releases is Ariana Grande’s new version of her latest song “yes, and?” featuring Mariah Carey, released February 15th. The original version, which came out earlier in January 12th, sparked a ton of conversation about the Grande amounts of drama surrounding this artist over the last few months. For those of you who haven’t checked your Instagram explore page in a while, allow me to catch you up. Over the last year, rumours surfaced about Ariana and Ethan, costars of the new Wicked movie coming November 2024, getting together before Ethan and his now-ex-wife Lily Jay were officially divorced, and less than a year after the birth of Lily and Ethan’s baby (audible gasp). Between this supposed affair and the recent divorce of her own, Ariana has undoubtedly been in the limelight for all the wrong reasons as of late. In the song “yes, and?,” she addresses all of the negative attention she’s gotten in the past year in the most nonchalantly explicit way possible, singing “your business is yours and mine is mine, why do you care so much who’s **** I ride?”. All political agendas aside, I can’t deny that I will in fact be adding this song to my gym playlist ASAP- it’s fast, fun, feminine, and Mariah’s whistle notes and flawless belted backup vocals certainly don’t hurt. This, too, is a song from Ariana Grande’s 7th studio album titled Eternal Sunshine, dropping March 8th. I’ll reserve my judgements on all things Grande-Slater-scandal until then; surely releasing an album on International Women’s Day can only mean she’s making her feminist redemption, right?

The final female phenomenon in the spotlight this week is Dua Lipa, with her singleTraining Season” released February 15th. She gave us a sneak peak of this tune at her Grammy performance on February 4th, only now finally giving us the real deal.  Hopefully a message that’s slightly less controversial than Ariana Grande’s latest release, Training Season is all about how sick and tired Dua is with men who can’t see her worth. She’s just like us, for real. She puts it best in the bridge, saying, 

“Can you compete? Now is your time

Run when you hear that whistle blow

Are you on my team or stuck on the sidelines

Waiting for someone to tell you to go?”

And dropped the day after Valentine’s Day? Dua, you told us exactly what we needed to hear, exactly when we needed to hear it. This song is like any other Dua Lipa song- it’s sexy, powerful, and danceable, but being written in a minor key, it has an even more sultry, almost ominous feel to it. To put it simply, I wouldn’t want to be the next guy to screw her over after listening to this song. 

And for anyone who’s keeping track: yes, this song is also a single off of a new album from Dua Lipa, which she’s teased in several interviews. While there’s been no official announcement, you bet I’m still getting my hopes up for yet another female artist album drop for 2024. 

From country soul to disco pop to breakup anthems, the women of the music industry have certainly not failed to put in the work this month. As for myself, drowning in papers and exam reviews through this midterm season, I’m just glad to see that at least some of us girls are thriving out there. In the meantime, as we patiently await all of these exciting new releases and our (long overdue) reading break, I hope these new songs give you that little extra boost of girl power that we are all so desperately in need of.