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Lorde, Amy Winehouse, Lana Del Rey & More Named Most Influential Women Musicians Of This Century
Three weeks ago NPR asked its listeners who they think are the most influential female musicians currently making waves of change. The question inspired over a thousand fans to participate in the poll and on Nov. 20, they shared the top 25 artists from the responses, which put GRAMMY winners Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Taylor Swift in the top five, along with more current-day sheroes, among them fellow GRAMMY winners Lorde, Amy Winehouse and St. Vincent and GRAMMY nominees Janelle Monáe, Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande.
NPR highlighted that while most of these talented artists fall under the umbrella of popstars, their style and influence is far from cookie-cutter, with authenticity playing a prominent role in responders' answers. In NPR's words: "While the majority of the artists you picked are pop singers, your comments show that this commonality doesn't mean they all exert influence in the same way. You remarked on artists' command of their instruments…their inventiveness around genre; their ability to be honest and authentic in their songwriting."
Others on the list include M.I.A., whose hit "Paper Planes" took over the airwaves in 2008, along with Camila Cabello, whose debut single as a solo artist took over the airwaves in 2017, as well as rising star Hayley Kiyoko, who sits at No. 4 on their list, although she only released her debut album, Expectations, earlier this year.
The poll also solicited comments from voters. "[Kiyoko] has influenced an entire new generation of youth to be comfortable with their own sexualities and does this with dreamy pop music that lifts spirits," Manpreet told NPR.
Another response pointed to the importance of Beyoncé, who took first place on the list, as a role model for young black girls. "Her mere presence is enough to encourage young black girls to strive for greatness," fan Niharika Palakodety said. "She doesn't shy away from saying things as they are, and her focus on every detail of her music makes it that much more important."
The superstar herself seems deeply aware of this, which she reflected on during her acceptance speech for Best Urban Contemporary Album for her groundbreaking Lemonade at the 59th GRAMMY Awards. A then-pregnant, glowing-goddess Beyoncé shared during the show:
"It's important to me to show images to my children that reflect their beauty, so they can grow up in a world where they look in the mirror, first through their own families, as well as the news, the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the White House and the GRAMMYs, and see themselves and have no doubt that they're beautiful, intelligent and capable. This is something I want for every child of every race."