The 13 Most Powerful Women in Music Right Now
Who run the (music) world? Girls. And this year’s Grammy nominees are here to prove it.
From industry vets, like Pink and Miranda Lambert, to fresh newcomers, like Alessia Cara and Julia Michaels, the women rising to the top of the charts know exactly how to use their voices, taking on topics like politics, self-acceptance, and heartbreak, all mixed in with the occasional club banger.
Even divas who didn’t have a major album release got some Grammys love this year: Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Taylor Swift all got nods for their stellar collaborations with other artists. But women were conspicuously missing from the nominations for record of the year, a major snub that they, their fans, and other music-world big wigs spoke up about. Ahead of music’s biggest night, airing on Sunday, Jan. 28 at 7:30 p.m. ET on CBS, we’re breaking down the 13 fiercest female powerhouses going for Grammys glory.
THE BREAKOUT: SZA
After an unforgettable cameo on Rihanna's Anti, St. Louis native SZA (pronounced "SIZZ-uh") dropped her own much-anticipated first album, CTRL, to critical acclaim and five nods from the Academy, including Best New Artist.
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THE REBEL: LORDE
Give her the green light: Lorde is the only woman to be recognized in the highly competitive Album of the Year category. We think she should win for Melodrama's alt anthems alone. Plus, none of the guys would look this good in Monique Lhuillier.
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THE VOICE: PINK
It's been 17 years since Pink made her Y2K-era début, and though her Kool-Aid hair has faded, her feisty spirit certainly hasn't. Her latest chart-topper, "What About Us" (nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance), takes aim at the current state of political confusion in a way that only Pink can pull off.
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THE UNLIKELY OPTIMIST: LANA DEL REY
Del Rey knew we needed a reason to smile. If her cheery Gucci gown didn't do the trick, her latest LP, Lust for Life, will. It's a stark contrast to 2012's melancholy Born to Die and a front-runner for Best Pop Vocal Album.
THE SHOWSTOPPER: LADY GAGA
From her Swarovski-covered costumes to her intimate Netflix documentary (Gaga: Five Foot Two), there were a million reasons to love Gaga this year. Our fave? Seeing just how personal she got on her latest LP, Joanne, which was named after her late aunt. "I never knew her, but her strength with lupus got me through a lot of pain," said Gaga, who is up for Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Pop Solo Performance.
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THE BRAVE HEART: MIRANDA LAMBERT
Blake who? Lambert's breakup album, The Weight of These Wings, is one of her best. And the Academy took note, recognizing her ballad "Tin Man" for two awards, including Best Country Song.
THE BUZZ MASTER: CARDI B
The Bronx-born rapper has been making (money) moves with "Bodak Yellow," up for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance. Even more impressive? The hit made her the first female rapper to have a No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 chart since Lauryn Hill with "Doo Wop (That Thing)" in 1998.
THE FIGHTER: KESHA
After years of legal tug-of-war with producer Dr. Luke, Kesha has proved she's a musical force to be reckoned with. Just listen to that high note in her triumphant song "Praying," nominated for Best Pop Solo Performance.
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THE ADVOCATE: ALESSIA CARA
With four nominations, 21-year-old Cara is music's most empowering new voice. She's taken on everything from self-acceptance in "Scars to Your Beautiful" to suicide prevention in "1-800-273-8255," her hit with Logic and Khalid that's up for Song of the Year.
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THE HITMAKER: JULIA MICHAELS
She may be a contender for Best New Artist, but Michaels is no industry newbie. Besides her own nominated jam, "Issues," she's also penned earworms such as Justin Bieber's "Sorry" and Selena Gomez's "Bad Liar."
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THE VETERANS: BEYONCÉ, RIHANNA, & TAYLOR SWIFT
Even between albums, these divas got some love (with a little help from the boys). Queen B will be cheering on husband Jay-Z, who scored eight nominations (the most this year) for 4:44, including one for their joint performance on the song "Family Feud." As for Rihanna? Her silky smooth vocals on Lamar's "Loyalty" make them practically a shoo-in for Best Rap/Sung Performance. The fact that RiRi has already taken home the honor four times doesn't hurt either. And while Swift's buzzy Reputation didn't make the eligibility cutoff, she still got noticed for her Fifty Shades Darker hit with Malik, "I Don't Wanna Live Forever." She also received a writing nod for Little Big Town's "Better Man."
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