The Perfect Playlist: Women of Rock

Women rock, okay? Right, glad we got that out of the way. In a typically male dominated industry, women have had to rock harder, louder, and more fiercely in order to be heard across the decades. In that vein, there are some amazing female rockers out there – so this playlist is an attempt to show my love to a few of those amazing women who threw up their horns, and rocked the fuck out. Not everyone could make it on here, and I will probably do a Part Two of this at some point because I feel guilty about missing some amazing, beautiful, and crazy rock and rollers off…


The song titles below are links to Spotify URLs. If you don’t have Spotify I strongly recommend you get it. I’m not getting paid one iota to say that, I just think it’s a great way of discovering new music and the basic version is free. I’ve had it for about four years and it’s brilliant if I’m being perfectly honest.

Control by Garbage (Not Your Kind of People, 2012)

One of the original 90s alternative grunge girls, Shirley Manson has always been one of my female rock crushes.

♪ I can feel I’ve lost control, I’ve let my guard down, I let the truth out… ♪

When Under Ether by PJ Harvey (White Chalk, 2007)

PJ Harvey’s lyrics are magic, not going to lie, and this gorgeous piano soaked song is no exception.

It was really challenging to pick just one song of hers to appear on the playlist. It was a choice between this one, ‘Is This Desire?’, and ‘Down By The Water’, both of which I strongly suggest you go and check out.

♪ The ceiling is moving, moving in time, like a conveyor belt, above my eyes… when under ether, the mind comes alive. We’re conscious of nothing, but the will to survive… ♪

PJ Harvey
PJ Harvey

Sleep Alone by Bat For Lashes (Two Suns, 2009)

Electronic with rock vibes, this is a chilled out track that you could imagine playing in a dark club at 2am in the back streets of Berlin.

♪ Last nights parties… and last nights horror shows… ♪

Celebrity Skin by Hole (Celebrity Skin, 1998)

Spending most of her career being one of the most divisive female fingers in rock certainly hasn’t stopped Courtney Love from rocking hard with her all-girl grunge band, Hole.

♪ Oh look at my face… my name is might-of-been, my name is never-was, my name’s forgotten… ♪

Cherry Bomb by The Runaways (The Runaways, 1976)

Introducing the idea of girl-power to the rock world of LA in the 1970s, The Runaways burst onto the scene with this absolute banger, and have inspired thousands of girl rock groups ever since. The band didn’t last all that long, but their cultural legacy had lasted for decades.

The Runaways
The Runaways

I Love Rock N’ Roll – Live by Joan Jett (Live… Long Island ’81, 1981)

Nope, Britney Spears did not do this song first (although I’ll forgive you because I didn’t realise that it was by this absolute queen of rock until I saw her play it live in 2010). Other JJ songs to you must check out are, of course, Bad Reputation, and Crimson & Clover.

You and I by PVRIS (White Noise (Deluxe Version), 2014)

Lynn Gunn is another of my rock lady crushes. She’s gorgeous, and her unapologetic, artistic honesty is stunning… and her vocals rock as well.

 ♪ If you and I can make it through the night… and if you and I can keep our love alive… you’ll find, we can meet in the middle, bodies and souls collide…  ♪

Brighter by Paramore (All We Know Is Falling, 2005)

One of the original girl fronted rock bands that I loved when I was a teenage emo growing up. They’ve become a lot more poppy in their recent years, and hey I like some of that stuff too, but Brighter always takes me back to singing into a hairbrush in my bedroom and pretending to be Hayley Williams.

♪ And if it ends today, well I’ll still say that you shone brighter… than anyone. ♪

Love Bites (So Do I) by Halestorm (The Strange Case of… (Deluxe), 2012)

Definitely the heaviest song on this playlist, this song is roaring guitars, massive percussion, and Lzzy Hale’s powerhouse vocals. I can also testify that she sounds ahmazing live, having seen the band at The Cockpit in Leeds in 2011 (RIP The Cockpit) & again at the Manchester Apollo in 2014. She is an incredible rocker live, and does it all in seven inch heels. If you want to hear her amazing pipes (Love Bites can get a bit… aggressive), then I strongly suggest you check out ‘Rock Show’ and ‘Hate It When You See Me Cry’.


Going Under by Evanescence (Fallen, 2003)

My original goth crush, Amy Lee of Evanescence combines her amazing classically-trained pipes with crushing guitars on this track to deliver an absolute belter.

Nothing Left To Lose by The Pretty Reckless (Light Me Up, 2010)

My teenage break-up anthem.

♪ After Jesus and Rock ‘n’ Roll couldn’t save my mortal soul well… I’ve got nothing left, I’ve got nothing left to lose… ♪

Dancing With Myself by The Donnas (Dancing With Myself, 2004)

A cover, but a total ace one that rocks. This is a song that you can turn up to the max on your headphones and dance around in your underwear without a care in the world. This example is way too specific – I have clearly done this. Try it, it’ll make you feel awesome.

Bye Bye Beautiful by Nightwish (Dark Passion Play, 2007)

So this time it’s a Scandinavian songstress with amazing pipes lending her voice to go over the top of a what is a classic Finnish metal band. Scandinavia is well known for producing gothic metal bands (maybe it’s the weather?), and Nightwish are no exception. Combining huge guitars, pounding drums with over reliance on the kick drum, keys, and huge voices, Nightwish have been at the forefront of operatic metal for decades.


Because The Night by Patti Smith (Easter, 1978)

Pretty much the female Bob Dylan (although PJ Harvey and Patti can probably duke it out for that one). Her mix of poetry and rock n roll has lasted generation. Patti has an amazing husky voice that mixed with her perfect brand of noisy, avant-garde rock n roll, makes her a true woman of rock. Because The Night was originally written by Bruce Springsteen, but he gave it to Patti, and she absolutely smashed it, making an anthem for generations to come.

♪ Love is an angel disguised as lust… Here in our bed until the morning comes. ♪

Edge of Seventeen by Stevie Nicks (Bella Donna, 1981)

Do I really need to explain this one?

If you’re not feeling female fronted rock right now, you can check out my other playlists:

Classical Music
New Wave
Sixties Rock ‘N’ Roll

Has this playlist introduced you to any incredible female fronted rock-bands that you hadn’t heard of before? Do you have a favourite song by these artists that you think I should check out? 

Let me know in the comments!


9 thoughts on “The Perfect Playlist: Women of Rock

  1. Very excited to see your list! I’m a particular listener of Evanescence and was super pumped to see you included the band! And you really can’t go wrong with any of these female singers, like Joan Jett. And maybe now I have one or two new ones to listen to? Thanks!! 🌸

Leave a Reply