Throughout the 2000s, women started to dominate the alternative music scene with their powerful stage presence and otherworldly talent. Following in the footsteps of riot grrrls, they proudly represented the fact that women rock just as hard, if not harder, than men. Despite the “boys’ club” of emo, punk and pop-punk communities, the women on this list were breaking down the doors and critiquing music industry standards.
They defined what it meant to be a woman in the 2000s alternative subculture and helped pave the way for future generations. From heavy metal all the way to electropop, artists such as Lights Poxleitner-Bokan and Sierra Kay proved that women were a force to be reckoned with and intended to expand their presence by participating in Warped Tour and other well-known festivals. These artists of the 2000s set out to continue establishing the presence and importance of women in alternative music.
Hayley Williams – Paramore
Paramore wouldn’t be the band they are today without the vocal talent and creativity of lead singer Hayley Williams. From the moment their debut album, All We Know Is Falling, released in 2005, her name has been synonymous with women who defined alternative music. With over 15 years of making her mark on the scene, Williams has continued to support other women by providing them a platform and showcasing their artistry on Instagram. She’s a force in the music industry and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Sierra Kay – VersaEmerge
Sierra Kay of VersaEmerge is known for speaking openly about being a woman navigating the male-dominated genres of alternative and experimental rock. Fixed At Zero showcased her vocal talent, which skyrocketed the band to success. After replacing lead singer Spencer Pearson, Kay brought VersaEmerge to the next level and took the scene by storm with dark, moody lyrics alongside a vocal range that can only be compared to some of music’s greatest artists. Not only did she provide a platform for women to explore the budding experimental-rock scene, but she was also critical of the genre that consistently attempted to impede on women’s participation in it.
Lights Poxleitner-Bokan – LIGHTS
Lights Poxleitner-Bokan, aka LIGHTS, is known for her soft vocals that accompany synthesizers, electronica and a youthful pop sound. During Myspace’s golden years, LIGHTS’ popularity grew at an astronomical rate and made her one of the most iconic women of the scene subculture. While making a name for herself in music, she also established herself as an outspoken activist who sought to support women in all musical endeavors.
Victoria Asher – Cobra Starship
Victoria Asher (also known as Vicky-T) was the keytarist of the popular electropop band Cobra Starship. While she wasn’t the lead singer, her presence onstage was never overshadowed by her bandmates. Every time they performed, Asher was always positioned at the front. She assisted in the growth of the scene by collaborating with other artists and expanding the network toward lesser-known artists. Asher is an unforgettable and talented keytarist who continues to support the scene.
Greta Salpeter – The Hush Sound
Greta Salpeter of the Hush Sound started her music career at the young age of 16. Since her introduction into the alternative scene, her vocals have a soft complexity that allows for emotional lyrics to seep through with meaningful intention. During the 2000s, Salpeter established that she was a staple to both indie and alternative rock, having gone on to perform with Vampire Weekend and start various side projects.
Cassadee Pope – Hey Monday
Hey Monday were the pop-punk band that the 2000s was missing, and Cassadee Pope’s vocals only enhanced it. While the band only lasted for a couple of years, Pope made a lasting impression on the scene with her ability to capture the essence of youth and joy alongside the difficulties of accepting adulthood. While pop punk was fueled by an underlying anger toward women, she took their anger and turned it into a celebration of moving on toward brighter days rather than dwelling on the past. Hey Monday changed what pop punk could be, and Pope paved the way for more women to participate in the genre.
Krysta Cameron – iwrestledabearonce
Krysta Cameron of iwrestledabearonce is one of the rare vocalists of the 2000s who went above and beyond when it came to merging screamo with electronica. The intensity of her voice mixed with the occasional softness made for some of the most remarkably experimental music to come out of the scene. While she left the band in 2012, Cameron set the precedent for what was expected for iwrestledabearonce, with Courtney LaPlante replacing her. Screamo in particular was a hard genre for women to break into—women being seen as docile and fragile colored many people’s views—but Cameron dismantled that ideology and then some with unabashed sincerity.
Jenna McDougall – Tonight Alive
Tonight Alive’s Jenna McDougall delivered the emotional intensity needed for the emo lyricism of songs such as “Wasting Away.” While their growth into alternative stardom was slow, it was steady, and as soon as they found their footing, Tonight Alive rose to the top. McDougall’s vocals have been a staple of the band since their inception in 2008 when she was only 16 years old. To this day, she represents the capability for women to participate in an array of genres such as emo, pop punk and alternative rock.
Tay Jardine – We Are The In Crowd
Tay Jardine of pop-punk outfit We Are The In Crowd has vocal chops that go from bubbly (“Kiss Me Again”) to evocative (“Windows In Heaven”). After a bizarre Myspace hacking experience, the band were recognized by Hopeless Records and signed to the label in 2009. Jardine’s vocals are fueled with a pop hopefulness that separates them from other pop-punk bands, and they’ve continued to make a name for themselves in the scene, with Jardine at the forefront.
Lzzy Hale – Halestorm
As the lead vocalist of Halestorm, Lzzy Hale has a vocal intensity that allows for a range of genres such as metal, alternative rock and grunge. Her voice is so astounding that she’s collaborated with other artists such as Machine Gun Kelly and Shinedown. After 23 years of providing her talents to Halestorm, Hale has no intention of slowing down. Out of everyone on this list, she’s been around the longest, influencing an array of musicians both musically and personally by utilizing her talents as a vocalist, lyricist and guitarist.
Lacey Sturm – Flyleaf
Lacey Sturm’s lead vocals for Flyleaf are unforgettable, with their ability to relay a deep emotional connection between her and the lyrics. The band made a name for themselves with “I’m So Sick” and “All Around Me.” Sturm’s ability to capture the intensity of an emotionally charged and lyrically emo song mixed with instrumental familiarity to metal set her apart from other vocalists in the scene. She remains undefeated in her ability to entrance a listener with her perfectly pitched screams and deeply personal tone.
It’s virtually impossible to make a list of influential women from the 2000s without mentioning Avril Lavigne. Undoubtedly, she defined pop punk for young women who wanted to break into the industry. Not only did she come with a bounty of talent, but Lavigne had statements to make and critiques to deliver in the form of musical expression. Throughout her entire discography, she’s openly commentated on the mistreatment of women in the music industry versus that of men. Lavigne was one of the first women to make a name for herself in alternative rock in the 2000s and blew the door off its hinges for the future generation of women in rock.
Meg & Dia Frampton – Meg & Dia
Sisters Meg and Dia Frampton of Meg & Dia broke into the scene with full force. They found immediate success through Myspace, which was common for many bands at the time, and found themselves on the lineup for Warped Tour shortly thereafter. Their songs “Roses” and “Monster” became unofficial anthems for young women in the scene for their depiction of heartbreak, self-reflection and sheer emotional intensity. To this day, they’re celebrated as a duo who helped define the 2000s for women in the alternative scene.
Maria Brink – In This Moment
Heavy-metal unit In This Moment was formed by lead vocalist Maria Brink in 2005. From the start, Brink has presented a brazen vocality of hard rock and metal mixed with elements of gothic music. She’s been recognized as one of the most influential women in metal for her ability to captivate an audience with her musical prowess and stage presence. Brink overcame adversity various times in her life, but she always came out on the other side of it. The dark lyrics on their first album, Beautiful Tragedy, capture the essence of life’s greatest struggles, and Brink’s emotive vocals only enhance its message.
Ariel Bloomer – Icon For Hire
When Icon For Hire formed in 2007, Ariel Bloomer immediately dove into the local music scene and showcased her talents for all to see. Once they were signed to Tooth & Nail in 2010, it was all uphill from there. Her pop-punk vocals mixed with alternative-metal instrumentation created an all-new experience for listeners. Bloomer is clearly an inventive artist who doesn’t back down from building something unique from the ground up.
Ash Costello – New Years Day
As the lead vocalist of New Years Day, Ash Costello is a talented singer as well as an extraordinary songwriter. The band’s first self-titled EP features songs about heartbreak and emotionally volatile relationships that each member had experienced at one point in their lives. The pop-punk and post-hardcore elements mixed with Costello’s intensity formed the sound New Years Day became known for.
Lindsey Vogt – Eyes Set To Kill
The original lineup of Eyes Set To Kill was predominantly composed of women, including lead vocalist Lindsey Vogt. In particular, Vogt was known for her clean vocals that heightened the intensity of Brandon Anderson’s unclean vocals. She, along with her bandmates, assisted in creating a space for women in the heavier genres of the scene. Following her departure in 2007, all of Vogt’s solo projects prove that she’s a multifaceted artist who has the vocal talents to support nearly every genre of music.
Lisa and Jessica Origliasso – The Veronicas
Lisa and Jessica Origliasso of the Veronicas reached their monumental peak at the same time other bands were finding success through Mypace. Their electropop and pop-punk sound was a successfully experimental attempt at defining themselves alongside other acts utilizing this specific genre blend. “4ever” and “Untouched” were so successful that they continue to perform them to this day. Throughout their musical careers, the Origliassos have consistently advocated for women’s and LGBTQIA+ rights by participating in festivals and nurturing the growth of fellow artists.
Juliet Simms – Automatic Loveletter
Juliet Simms, the lead vocalist/guitarist for emo act Automatic Loveletter, was known for singing emotional lyrics that featured heartbreak, and her vocals were just as devastating in their delivery. “Hush” captures Automatic Loveletter’s essence with the lyrics “Your love’s not live, it’s dead,” which Simms performs with such intensity that it evokes deep contemplation from the listener.
Fefe Dobson entered the music scene with a booming voice that captures women’s empowerment at its core. With songs such as “Bye Bye Boyfriend,” Dobson declares that she no longer needs a partner who drags her down. Since the beginning of her career, she’s spoken on the microaggressions she’s faced as a Black musician and the difficulties that come with being a Black woman in a white, male-dominated industry. Dobson is proof that pop punk, rock and any other alternative genre can belong to whoever wants to participate in it.