Music

All The Best Music This Year Has Come From Women

The future is female.

This week, Cardi B broke a record. Actually, she broke a couple of them.

The Bronx rapper now holds the title for the most simultaneous entries in the Billboard Hot 100 chart, with 13 of her singles currently ranking in the official list of America’s top-selling songs. In achieving this, she casually surpassed an artist called Beyoncé, who had 12 entries in the chart after the release of her 2016 album Lemonade. 

A few days before that, Cardi B’s debut album Invasion of Privacy shot past Taylor Swift’s Reputation to become the most-streamed album by a female artist in one week on Apple Music. And Cardi didn’t just break Swift’s record, she fucking smashed it: Invasion of Privacy racked up 100 million streams by the middle of the week, more than doubling the figures set by Reputation. 

At the time of writing, Invasion of Privacy is sitting comfortably at the top of the Billboard album charts, and at #6 on the ARIA charts. It has already been certified Gold in the US, only 13 days after its release. To put it lightly, Invasion of Privacy is a big deal.

And Invasion of Privacy isn’t just smashing records left, right, and centre — it’s also being hailed as one of the best rap albums of recent years. In their glowing review of the record — which awarded Cardi a whopping 8.7 out of 10 and the title of Best New Music — Pitchfork labelled it “remarkable”, and said it placed Cardi in the “pantheon of great rappers”.

Invasion Of Privacy is one of the most talked-about records of 2018 so far, and it’s also representative of one of the most noticeable trends of the year: that all the best music right now is coming from women.

Let’s Briefly Recap 2018’s Best Music, Shall We?

Only a few days ago, we ran an article detailing the unstoppable and somewhat unlikely rise of country star Kacey Musgraves, whose latest album Golden Hour is being heralded as an instant classic — not just among country fans, but within the mainstream indie press. (Coincidentally, Golden Hour also landed an 8.7 on Pitchfork, and the title of Best New Music.)

In a few weeks’ time Musgraves will step up for her Saturday Night Live debut, just a week before Nicki Minaj returns to the show off the back of two excellent new singles — ‘Barbie Tingz’ and ‘Chun-Li’. While it hasn’t yet been confirmed by Minaj, the two tracks are reportedly cuts off her new album which will (hopefully) drop sometime in the next few months.

We don’t know when Minaj’s new one will arrive, but we do know that Janelle Monáe’s highly anticipated third album Dirty Computer is landing next Friday. Over the last two months we’ve heard four tracks from the record, including ‘I Like That’, ‘Django Jane’, ‘Make Me Feel’, and ‘Pynk’. The latter two of these were accompanied by videos that were widely praised for championing queer culture and femme empowerment.

There’s still a week to go until Dirty Computer arrives, but there’s no question that it’s going to be one of the biggest albums of the year.

Then there’s Kali Uchis. A few months ago, the Colombian-American singer was relatively unknown outside of the Latin music community. But now, following the release of her sprawling debut album Isolation, she’s being hailed as an icon in-the-making. It’s not hard to see why: Isolation confidently blends Latin, bossa nova, R&B, pop, and rock influences into a record that still sounds fiercely unique. (Another coincidence: Isolation was awarded Best New Music by Pitchfork, and a rating of 8.6.)

Similarly, Hayley Kiyoko was relatively unknown outside a few acting roles on TV, but she’s now come through with one of the most talked about pop debuts in recent years with ExpectationsShe’s also now going by the nickname “Lesbian Jesus“.

It’s Not Just The Internationals Doing Big Things

You might have noticed that Australian pop music is having a little bit of a moment right now. And by ‘little’, we mean seriously fucking big. 

Artists like Jack River, Kota Banks, Nicole Millar, G Flip, and Amy Shark are consistently raising the bar for homegrown music — and with most of them on track to release full-length projects in the next six months, the homegrown pop scene is on the cusp of one of its biggest years ever.

Just last week Amy Shark released the short and punchy ‘I Said Hi‘, the lead single from her debut Love Monster, which lands in July. And only a couple of weeks before that Kota Banks made her live debut in Sydney off the back of the irrepressible single ‘Zoom‘, which triple j has been spinning on a daily basis.

And only a month or so before that, Sydney’s Nicole Millar dropped the indelibly catchy track ‘Gimme A Break’, a cut off her forthcoming debut record. At the same time, the Central Coast’s Jack River continued her 2017 victory lap (‘Fool’s Gold’ and ‘Fault Line’, anyone?) by releasing ‘Ballroom’, another track off her new album Sugar Mountain — due out in June.

We’ve also seen female artists come out of nowhere to release instant hits. Back in February, a then-unknown singer/drummer called G Flip (real name Georgia Flipo) uploaded a track to triple j Unearthed called ‘About You‘. Within two days, it had been premiered on triple j and written up by Pitchfork as Best New Music (are we seeing a pattern here?).

Away from the pop world, Camp Cope’s just-released album How To Socialise & Make Friends will go down as one of the most important records of the year, while Courtney Barnett’s impending second albumTell Me How You Really Feel, will surely go down as one of the biggest.

If the future is female, then it has well and truly arrived.

Jules LeFevre is Junkee’s Music Writer and is honoured to be living in the same era as Janelle Monáe. She is on Twitter