UPDATED to correct an error in the Crystal Castles item. "Suffocation" is a Crystal Castles original, not a HEALTH remix. -- Ed.
March is Women's History Month, and Rocks Off has been thinking a lot lately about the indelible contributions to popular music made by women over the last few decades. After all, where would Elvis Presley be if it weren't for Big Mama Thornton? Probably still dead, we guess, but you get the point.
Artists like Joan Jett, Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, Tina Turner and more helped push rock, pop and soul in new directions their male counterparts couldn't, and the world of music is richer for it.
Still, when we think about great female artists, the pantheon remains pretty exclusive. What about the ladies who are making musical history right now? After all, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees of 2037 now walk among us. It only stands to reason that some of them are doing it in heels.
As a favor to Women's History Month researchers of the future, Rocks Off has compiled the following list of 10 ladies whose music we're way, way into at the moment. Savor that spotlight, girls, and remember -- you might be making history.
10. Sleigh Bells' Alexis Krauss:How freakin' hot is Sleigh Bells right now? The pounding electro-rockers are riding high on the back of a new album, Reign of Terror, and the most buzzed-about SNL performance in years.
Vocalist Alexis Krauss' breathy, girlish voice makes for a fierce counterpart to Derek Edward Miller's bombastic guitars, and if we pretended that her sexy stage strutting didn't up the group's appeal significantly, we'd be no better than stupid, ugly liars. You better believe these two will be hitting up SXSW hard before swinging into Warehouse Live next month.
9. Florence and the Machine's Florence Welch:Great Britain has exported more than a couple of ladies with outsized voices in recent years, and Florence Welch might just be the best of 'em. The rich timbre of her voice is downright empowering, we don't care what gender you are. The Machine rolls into the
Verizon Wireless Theater Bayou Music Center on May 2, and if we get goosebumps, we're not apologizing.
8. Crystal Castles' Alice Glass: We've been late to jump aboard the Crystal Castles bandwagon, but when we caught the Canadian electronica group's video
for the HEALTH remix of its song "Suffocation" last month, we were smitten at last.
Longtime fans probably already knew all about front woman Alice Glass' magnetic live performances, but the video was our introduction to her potent blend of disturbing and alluring. We've got Crystal Castles down for a new album this year, and we won't be the last ones to pick that one up.
7. Adele: It would be pretty criminal to skip over Adele so soon after her Grammy coronation. The hype got a little embarrassing for a while there in the wake of the monster that was 21, but that's part of our point here: We had "Rolling in the Deep" shoved down our throat for months, and we still don't hate it.
We aren't the only ones still diggin' her, either. Just this month, Adele became the first solo female artist to have three singles in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time.
6. Janelle Monae: There are a couple of reasons why we're so into Janelle Monae. The first reason is that she pretty much exclusively releases concept records about robot women. That's good enough that we don't really need a second reason, but we also happen to be very impressed that she can tie a bowtie.
Monae recently scored her first chart-topping single thanks to her featured appearance on Fun.'s "We Are Young," that briefly omnipresent song from the Chevrolet Super Bowl commercial. Here's hoping that momentum carries over into a high-profile new album release later this year.
5. Lights: Lights is kind of like the Canadian girlfriend (you don't know her) we couldn't even convince ourselves that we met at summer camp. The bite-sized electropop chanteuse may be only 24, but she's been writing songs professionally since 2006. Those impressive chops (and a strong, pretty voice) are the backbone of the twinkling, electric tunage that filled Warehouse Live on Wednesday. If you missed it, it may be time to admit to yourself that you suck. (Those of you in Austin for SXSW can see them Saturday at Elysium -- ed.)
4. The Tontons' Asli OmarSinger Asli Omar and her bandmates in the Tontons are repping Houston pretty hard at SXSW this year, bouncing from the group's official showcase at Deseo Centro Thursday to the Convoy Group "Houston Invasion" at Gypsy Lounge on Friday to the Eye in the Sky Collective's Future of Music showcase on Saturday. Armed with the Tontons' signature psych-rock formula, you can always count on Asli to put the city's freshest musical face forward.
3. Lacuna Coil's Cristina Scabbia: For more than a decade now, Cristina Scabbia has been proving that you can achieve lasting success in the heavy metal game without simply being "one of the guys." The Lacuna Coil singer brings a singular, feminine grace to a rock genre that sorely lacks it, but she can more than hang with the headbangers.
Lacuna Coil achieved their biggest chart debut yet with their new album Dark Adrenaline, a triumph Cristina was kind enough to speak with us about earlier this month.
2. Feist: Canada is seriously churning out the charming lady rock stars these days, isn't she? Don't get us wrong, if we have to hear "1,2,3,4" again anytime soon, we may kill ourselves, but Feist warrants inclusion on this list due to an upcoming release that we're going to be gunning hard for next month on Record Store Day.
The singer/songwriter will be issuing a split seven-inch with none other than Mastodon, the hirsute metal weirdos responsible for last year's terrific The Hunter. The record will feature Feist covering Mastodon's "Black Tongue" and the Atlanta rockers giving Feist's "A Commotion" a try. It's a pairing so far out of left field that April 21 really can't get here soon enough.
1. Madonna: We can feel it already: 2012 is the year we fall completely in love with Madonna all over again. After keeping her career on a low simmer for the past couple of years, the Material Matriarch's music is beginning to boil over again thanks to a new album, a world tour and a triumphant Super Bowl appearance.
The last time Madonna came through Houston, she turned Minute Maid Park into the world's largest gay disco for a night. We'll be there with body glitter on when she takes over Toyota Center for two nights this October.