2020 will be remembered in a lot of ways, many of them pretty horrible. However, if there’s one bright light in this dark year, it’s been the women in rock.
Over the years, women have taken over the genre through their experimentation and record-breaking albums that honor rock and alternative. But they do so in ways that are easy for people to connect with. And they’re plugged in with current social and political problems.
If you need proof, look no further than the 2021 Grammy nominations. The Recording Academy recognized six female artists for the 2021 Best Rock Performance category. So in honor of those nominations, we’re looking at 10 times women proved that rock is no longer a boys’ club.
The 2021 Grammys Best Rock Performance category is all women
— Recording Academy / GRAMMYs (@RecordingAcad) November 29, 2020
The Recording Academy unveiled the nominations for the 2021 Grammy Awards last week. And it was the first time that all of the nominees for Best Rock Performance have been women. The nominees include Phoebe Bridgers, HAIM, Grace Potter, Big Thief, Fiona Apple and Brittany Howard. Outside of that category, other female artists were recognized for their chart-topping records this year such as Billie Eilish, Poppy, Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa and more.
Hayley Williams going solo
The Paramore frontwoman broke the internet at the end of 2019 when she announced she was releasing a solo project. And we could’ve never expected everything that Petals For Armor brought us this year. Hayley Williams’ debut album was filled with the raw lyrics we typically expect from the singer but delivered in a way that was all her own. Williams also became the second woman ever to lead the rock charts with the release of Petals For Armor in May.
Miley Cyrus’ Plastic Hearts
In late November, Miley Cyrus released her first-ever entirely rock-inspired album. It was filled with head-banging tracks and some surprising collabs. Billy Idol, Joan Jett and Dua Lipa feature on Plastic Hearts, which Cyrus said was inspired by Metallica. Prior to the album, Cyrus was also making a name for herself as the best karaoke singer of all time. She released jaw-dropping covers of tracks such as Blondie’s “Heart Of Glass,” The Cranberries‘ “Zombie” and her remix of Stevie Nicks’ “Edge Of Seventeen.” Cyrus is also working on a Metallica covers album, which could be revealed sometime in the future. If she’s proved anything in 2020, it’s that Hannah Montana has completely turned into a rock star.
Phoebe Bridgers’ breakout year
Phoebe Bridgers has been breaking out, both as a solo artist and in her project boygenius with Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus. However, she did so this year like no other. And she earned four Grammy nods to prove it. After releasing her second album, Punisher, the Recording Academy nominated her for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Music Album for the 2021 Grammy Awards. This year alone, she’s collaborated with the 1975, Hayley Williams and with Maggie Rogers to cover “Iris” by the Goo Goo Dolls, which reached No. 5 on Billboard‘s Hot Alternative Songs and Hot Rock & Alternative Songs charts. The “Iris” cover came after Bridgers said she’d release it if Donald Trump lost the election, The proceeds for the sales of the song benefitted Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight Action organization to promote fair elections in Georgia.
Meet Me @ The Altar signed with Fueled By Ramen
This year, Fueled By Ramen signed Meet Me @ The Altar, a group who play pop punk inspired by Paramore and Panic! At The Disco, to their roster. And not only does their signing mean new music for fans, but the band also want to use their presence to reach marginalized groups with their music. Additionally, this year they were recipients of Halsey’s Black Creators Fund—a financial and promotional support program for artists in need.
Pale Waves’ new era
Pale Waves have been rising up in the alternative music scene over the past few years. But this year they embarked on an era that took a raw and honest turn. Vocalist Heather Baron-Gracie made modern-day young women feel heard with the way she opened up on tracks about her sexuality, relationships and more on the band’s latest album, Who Am I? And the road to get there wasn’t easy. Most of the band endured a serious bus crash several months back. They then worked to complete a record with members across the globe during the pandemic.
Evanescence releasing “Use My Voice”
Evanescence have been a staple in the rock scene, reaching icon status for their radio staple “Bring Me To Life.” But this year, vocalist Amy Lee decided to use their platform to bring awareness to voter registration. The band released “Use My Voice” before the Nov. 3 election. They showed it’s punk as hell to be socially and politically active.
Melanie Martinez dropping the After School EP
Melanie Martinez went from being a contestant on The Voice to a record-breaking artist and filmmaker. At the end of last year, she released her second album and full-length motion picture counterpart, K-12. She wrote, directed and starred in the project. She’s proven that artists aren’t one-dimensional. And sometimes music can transport listeners into an entire new world, if the artists lets it. She’s also taken that idea and propelled it even further with the release of her candy-coated After School EP this past fall.
Halsey’s collab with MGK
Halsey has been one of the biggest names in pop for a few years now. This year, she showed us that she’s not only a scene kid at heart, but she can perform pop-punk like a Warped Tour veteran. She worked with Machine Gun Kelly to make the pop-punk song of our dreams, “forget me too,” featuring Travis Barker. And not only do we love it, but so do the fans. It’s become one of the most popular songs for both artists, amassing more than 45 million streams on Spotify. While Halsey has some stipulations for releasing a punk album of her own, we can only hope it’s on the way.
Poppy’s Grammy nominations and complete transformation
This year, Poppy was the gift that kept on giving. After introducing us to her metal side last year, she embraced that full force with everything she released this year. Just listen to her cover songs or I Disagree (More). And the industry recognized her for it, as she’s nominated for Best Metal Performance at the 2021 Grammys for “BLOODMONEY.” This year, she also released a graphic novel, Poppy’s Inferno, and an ambient album titled Music To Scream To. If that wasn’t enough, after teasing it, she finally released a Christmas EP this year to fill our holidays with heavy guitar chords and baby-like screaming.