By: Rosie Leonard
10. Heard It In A Past Life - Maggie Rogers (2019)
If anyone knows how to write an empowering anthem, it’s Maggie Rogers. Heard It In A Past Life, the Maryland native’s debut LP, is soul-baring of Rogers’ personal struggles and triumphs. With writing and production credits on every song, this album is a product of Rogers’ own mind and soul. Thematically, Heard It In A Past Life is preoccupied with thoughts of growth, love, and self-love. Rogers’ powerful ballads, accompanied by airy synths and strong percussion, are the perfect recipe for feel-good sing-along songs that cut deeper than your average pop song.
Stand-out Track: Back In My Body
9. Antisocialites - Alvvays (2017)
While not composed of solely female members, female-fronted band, Alvvays, still deserves a spot on this list. The groups’ second full-length LP, Antisocialites, feels like a hazy, indie dream. While housing some more up-tempo moments, this album is largely rooted in slower, sleepier sounds. Lead singer, Molly Rankin, takes centre-stage on the majority of these tracks, with the background instrumentals serving as the perfect base to carry her wispy vocals. Speaking primarily on the topic of love, Antisocialites is the ideal album for late-night wistful listening.
Stand-out Track: Dreams Tonite
8. A Seat At The Table - Solange (2016)
The third full-length album from Houston singer, Solange, brought not only her first number-one charting album, but her first Grammy nomination and subsequent win— and it is easy to see why. A Seat At The Table demonstrates Solange’s undeniable vocal talent, as well as her ability to create a tenacious narrative. This beautifully crafted album speaks on Solange’s own experiences at the intersection of her gender and race, and how these experiences have informed her life. Accompanied by an alternative R&B sound, Solange’s poetic lyricism and thoughtful interludes create a powerful, and gorgeously well-rounded album.
Stand-out Track: Mad
7. When we all fall asleep where do we go - Billie Eilish (2019)
Following her breakout EP, dont smile at me, 18-year-old Billie Eilish has become a new, and powerful voice within the realm of mainstream pop. Her debut LP, When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go?, finds Eilish at her strongest and most sensitive. Eilish brings a darker, more mature tone to this album, while simultaneously including some tracks that reflect the sound that brought her to fame. Her ability to have mass appeal without falling into the cookie cutter ideals of female pop stars— while simultaneously having so much creative control over her own projects at such a young age— makes Eilish the popstar Gen Z needs, and this LP cements that.
Stand-out Track: wish you were gay
6. Anti - Rihanna (2016)
This decade, Rihanna’s cultural impact is undeniable. From her lucrative fashion and makeup brands, in addition to being named Harvard’s Humanitarian of the Year in 2017, her wildly successful music career is to thank for bringing her to this point of prosperity. Her eighth studio album, ANTI, illustrates her creative growth since the beginning of her career. Unlike many of her earlier works, ANTI is not chocked full of club-esque dance songs. Sonically, Rihanna has never been so diverse. From slow jams like Yeah, I Said It, to songs more reminiscent of her earlier sound, like Work, Rihanna’s indisputable vocal talent shines throughout this entire album.
Stand-out Track: Love On The Brain
5. Lemonade - Beyonce (2016)
I have never rushed to get a free trial subscription of TIDAL as quick as I did the night Lemonde was released. Beyonce’s sixth studio and second visual album finds the wildly successful and talented artist at her most vulnerable. With multiple Grammy nominations, much critical acclaim, a groundbreaking 2018 Coachella performance as the first black woman to headline the festival, and the accompanying Netflix original— the impact of Lemonade is undeniable. The album deals mostly with Beyonce’s own identity, from struggles in her marriage, to tales of her childhood in Texas. On Lemonade, Beyonce finds strength in her struggles, and asserts herself as a trailblazer and a powerful force within the music industry.
Stand-out Track: Freedom
4. Born To Die - Lana Del Rey (2012)
Lana Del Rey’s first major label record tells tales of sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll. Her glamourized portrayal of American culture will make you nostalgic for a life you’ve never had. LDR has become one of the most popular female artists of the decade, largely due to the reception of this album. Born To Die is very cohesive. The entire album brings the listener into a dazed world I feel is only fair to compare to that of Daisy Buchanan. Not many artists have a voice that could pull off the overarching themes and mood of this album. Lana’s sultry vocals sound like they were made for this.
Stand-out Track: Off To The Races
3. Whack World - Tierra Whack (2018)
Coming in at only 15 minutes, Tierra Whack’s Whack World is composed of 15 one-minute-long songs, and was quick to receive critical praise, and for good reason. The Philly-born rapper and singer does not use any overly-complicated instrumentals on her debut project, but rather relies on her vocal versatility. Whack World is all over the place, yet very cohesive, with each one-minute-long track giving you a look into Whack’s world. The accompanying visual album is equally as enjoyable, and it is here that Whack’s sense of humour that you get a taste of on a few of her tracks, truly comes to life.
Stand-out Track: Hungry Hippo
2. CTRL - SZA (2017)
New Jersey native, SZA, does not disappoint on her first studio album. Her major label debut released four years after her EP, Z. Top Dawg Entertainment’s only female signee draws on fellow TDE artists, Kendrick Lamar, and Isaiah Rashad, as well as Travis Scott as collaborators on this LP. Primarily focused on the tropes of modern dating and love, CTRL embodies many of SZA’s own experiences with sexuality and the sense of self. Her voice is effortlessly beautiful, just like many of the airy and dreamy tracks on the album. Nearly 3 years later, this album is still on heavy rotation.
Stand-out Track: Garden (Say It Like Dat)
1. Stranger In The Alps - Phoebe Bridgers (2017)
Phoebe Bridgers’ debut LP is hauntingly beautiful. The Californian singer speaks on topics of love, loss, sending nudes, and being sad. Stranger In The Alps perfectly captures what it’s like to be young, navigating relationships with others, and yourself. Bridgers is able to evoke vivid imagery through her lyricism in a way that makes the scenes she describes feel like a distant memory. While the instrumentals on the album, marked mostly by acoustic and hazy electric guitars, are beautiful, it is Bridger’s voice, and most importantly what she is using her voice to say, that make this album my top album of the decade.
Stand-out track: Motion Sickness
To listen to all the tracks listed in this article, and more from these albums and artists, check out the Spotify playlist below: