These 9 women artists defined the Tumblr-era of alternative music
Now that the scene revival of 2019 has somewhat subsided, the soft grunge pinks and deep blues of the Tumblr era are back in full swing. Between 2009 and 2014, women such as Marina And The Diamonds (now known as MARINA) and Lana Del Rey were dominating the Tumblr dashboard. Grimes was stealing hyperpop hearts, and Charli XCX gave angsty teens anthems of rebellion mixed with classic pop sounds. The women who dominated Tumblr dashboards, hashtags and lyrical photo edits were and continue to be some of the most influential of all time, especially during their 2021 revival.
Many of these women haven’t stopped crafting hits since their Tumblr popularity. Despite the shift from colorful tights and mesh long sleeves to blunt bangs and shaggy mullets, the songs that fueled hours of scrolling have reentered popular culture. While the actual website may be passe, the women who dominated thousands of Tumblr dashboards are timeless. Here are 9 women who dominated the Tumblr-era music scene, as well as the most likely to pop up on the “For You Page” in the next coming months.
Lana Del Rey – Elizabeth Grant
At one point in the Tumblr era, Lana Del Rey (Elizabeth Grant) became a symbol of the website’s ideal aesthetic. With a blend of deeply emotional lyricism, haunting vocals and the occasional self-destruction music video, she appealed to a vast audience and inspired some of the most iconic looks at the time. The flower crown from the “Born To Die” music video transformed into a Coachella staple, as did her Americana imagery in “Ride.” Del Rey’s presence on Tumblr and in the mainstream was nothing short of sensational.
Marina And The Diamonds – Marina Diamandis
Marina Diamandis of Marina And The Diamonds had one of the most unforgettable aesthetics of the Tumblr era. Her album Electra Heart was a hyperpop hit filled with lyrics of heartache alongside beats that implored listeners to dance until sunrise. With a heart on her cheek and 1950s Hollywood glamour, Diamandis’ image, as well as her songs, were unavoidable—in the best way—for most Tumblr users, especially photo edits of her lyrics overlayed on pink clouds.
Grimes – Claire Boucher
During Tumblr’s most popular years, Grimes (Claire Boucher) was one of the most prominent musicians in the site’s alternative scene. Their songs “Oblivion” and “Genesis” were simple but refined while providing fans with a glimpse at the hyperpop legend they became as Art Angels hit the scene in 2015. The years that Grimes dominated Tumblr dashboards defined the artist’s future as a unique and unmatched music sensation.
Lorde – Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor
Lorde (Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O’Connor) hit mainstream fame in 2013 with her smash song “Royals,” but the entirety of Pure Heroine had its own moment of fame on Tumblr. While the single was enough to skyrocket her to fame, “Ribs” appealed to an audience that could identify with the artist’s lyricism. The then-16-year-old unforgettably addressed the beauty of youth and the fear of growing up. Most importantly, she emphasized the importance of teenage feelings that she and her fans felt. Most Tumblr users at the time were her age, making Lorde one of the most relatable artists during the site’s most popular era.
Charli XCX – Charlotte Aitchison
One of the most unforgettable aesthetics of 2009-2014 Tumblr was that of Charli XCX’s. With her alternative style of dark eye makeup, tights, platforms, spikes and a blend of “girly” with grunge-y, she embodied the immense creativity of the site. Even with her growth as an artist, especially with her feature on Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy,” she maintained the image and sound of a rebellious teenager. Her vocals are timeless, and her ability to adapt as a musician is impressive, proven by her growth on Tumblr alone as well as her consistent presence on the site.
Sleigh Bells – Alexis Krauss
Between 2009-2014, Sleigh Bells maintained an image of rebellious youth culture. Alexis Krauss’ intense vocality captured audiences across the site as she sang of revenge, angst, frustration, heartbreak and high school. With a blend of pop, electronic-synth and rock, Krauss and co. created an image and sound unlike any other group or musician on this list.
Sky Ferreira largely popularized the soft grunge aesthetic on Tumblr. What can only be described as a pastel version of the classic ’90s grunge defined by Kurt Cobain and Nirvana swept through the website with Ferreira as its figurehead. Despite her association with soft grunge, her delivery, lyricism and instrumentation are deeply inspired by ’80s pop music. Regardless, Ferreira’s unforgettable image and entrancing voice became a large portion of Tumblr’s most popular 2009-2014 aesthetics.
The Pretty Reckless – Taylor Momsen
The Pretty Reckless frontwoman Taylor Momsen epitomized the darker and heavier side of Tumblr. While hyperpop grew in popularity, Momsen’s rock stylings embraced achromatic aesthetics rather than vaporwave or dark paradise. In particular, she appealed to those who once ascribed to emo and scene looks. Her incredible vocals only enhanced her appeal to Tumblr users across thousands of dashboards.
Tove Lo – Ebba Tove Elsa Nilsson
Tove Lo’s (Ebba Tove Elsa Nilsson) “Habits (Stay High)” took both the airwaves and Tumblr by storm when it released in 2014. The musician’s soft vocals accompanied by self-destruction lyrics were reflective of the dark parts of the website. Even as it started to falter in popularity, users were reveling in the last few moments they would have before it ultimately fell apart. Undoubtedly, her songs of growing into adulthood and recognizing bad habits symbolized a larger shift away from the blog site entirely.