In a male-dominated field of music, the rise of bands led by mesmerizing female voices cannot be overlooked. Iconic bands like Paramore and Evanescence have shattered stereotypes, just like every other band on this list.
Whether it’s the raw emotion they bring or the unique timbre they offer, female lead singers have stamped their mark across genres and eras. Dive into an exploration of bands where women don’t just take the mic; they command the stage.
- 1. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
- 2. Paramore
- 3. ABBA
- 4. Blondie
- 5. Sonny & Cher
- 6. The Pretty Reckless
- 7. The Pretenders
- 8. The Go-Gos
- 9. Flyleaf
- 10. Evanescence
- 11. Hey Monday
- 12. No Doubt
- 13. Halestorm
- 14. The Distillers
- 15. Vixen
- 16. Alabama Shakes
- 17. Gladys Knight & The Pips
- 18. The Shirelles
- 19. The Cranberries
- 20. Heart
- 21. Pale Waves
- 22. Hole
- 23. Fleetwood Mac
- 24. Jefferson Airplane
- 25. The Bangles
- 26. Wilson Phillips
- 27. The Ronettes
- 28. The Runaways/Blackhearts
- 29. Destiny’s Child
- 30. Garbage
- 31. The Supremes
- 32. First Aid Kit
- 33. All Saints
- 34. Spice Girls
- 35. TLC
- Final Thoughts
1. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Formed in 2000, this New York City-based band started making waves in the indie world with iconic Karen O as lead singer. Some of their most well-known songs are “Maps”, “Heads Will Roll”, and “Y Control”. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are an indie rock band with a unique sound that has earned them critical acclaim throughout their career.
Formed in 2004, Paramore quickly rose to prominence in the rock scene, thanks largely to the captivating vocals of their lead singer, Hayley Williams. From the start, Williams’ dynamic voice propelled the band to chart-topping success with hits such as “Ain’t It Fun” and “The Only Exception”.
The next band on the list is an iconic pop group from the 1970s, ABBA. The band was fronted by the talented duo of Agnetha Faltskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. Their voices blended perfectly together and helped create some of the most catchy pop tunes of all time, like “Dancing Queen” and “Mamma Mia” which became massive hits.
Blondie is a punk rock band that was formed in 1974. The group is fronted by the one and only Debbie Harry, who is known for her cool style and powerful vocals. Hits like “Heart of Glass” and “Call Me” helped to make Blondie one of the most popular bands of the late 1970s and early 1980s.
5. Sonny & Cher
Next up is the duo Sonny & Cher, who were one of the most popular musical acts of the 1960s and 1970s. The duo was made up of Sonny Bono and his then-wife Cher. They were known for their catchy pop tunes and their on-stage chemistry. Some of their most popular songs include “I Got You, Babe”.
6. The Pretty Reckless
The Pretty Reckless is a rock band that was formed in 2010. Lead singer Taylor Momsen has been the lead singer of the band since their debut and sang “Heaven Knows” and “Messed Up World”. The band is known for their dark and edgy style, which is reflected in their music.
7. The Pretenders
The Pretenders is a rock band that was formed in 1978. The group is fronted by the one and only Chrissie Hynde, who is also a founding member of the band. The Pretenders are best known for their hits “Brass in Pocket” and “I’ll Stand by You”.
8. The Go-Gos
The next popular band with a female lead is The Go-Gos. The band was formed in 1978 and is fronted by the one and only Belinda Carlisle. They were formed in Los Angeles and are best known for their hits “We Got the Beat” and “Vacation”.
Flyleaf is a rock band that was formed in 2002. Kristen May is the lead singer of the band and she joined in 2012 replacing former-vocalist Lacey Sturm. They have been described as a “Christian rock” band and some of their popular songs include “All Around Me” and “Memento Mori”.
Evanescence, an iconic rock band established in 1995, is led by the compelling voice and founding member, Amy Lee. Their breakout hit “Bring Me to Life,” prominently featured in the “Daredevil” film soundtrack, catapulted them to stardom. With other standout tracks like “My Immortal” and “Going Under,” the band’s impact is undeniable. Notably, the group also showcases the talents of Jen Majura, their lead guitarist, highlighting the female prowess within the band.
11. Hey Monday
Hey Monday is a pop-punk band that was formed in 2008. The group has a female lead singer, Cassadee Pope, who is also a founding member of the band. They were formed in Florida and are best known for their hits “Homecoming” and “How You Love Me Now”.
12. No Doubt
Formed in 1986, No Doubt, led by founding member Gwen Stefani, gained prominence with hits such as “Don’t Speak” and “Just a Girl.” The band earned numerous awards and received several Grammy nominations. However, they later disbanded to pursue solo ventures.
The next band on the list is Halestorm. The group has a female lead vocal, Lzzy Hale, who is also a founding member of the band. They were formed in Pennsylvania and debuted in 1997. The band is still playing in gigs and even made a fundraiser for the people who were greatly affected by the CoVid-19 pandemic.
14. The Distillers
The Distillers is a punk rock band that was formed in 1998. The group is fronted by the one and only Brody Dalle, who is also the founder of the band. They were able to release three albums before they decided to part ways in 2006.
Another punk rock band that has a female lead singer is Vixen. The group was formed in the 1980s and is fronted by Janet Gardner. They did not confirm if they disbanded but they have been inactive since 2011.
16. Alabama Shakes
Formed in 2009, Alabama Shakes boasts the distinctive vocals of founding member Brittany Howard. With chart-topping tracks like “Gimme All Your Love” and “Hold On,” Howard’s unmistakable voice has been a driving force behind the band’s standout identity.
17. Gladys Knight & The Pips
Gladys Knight & The Pips is a soul and R&B group that was formed in the 1950s. Their lead vocalist is Gladys Knight, who is also known as the “Empress of Soul”. The group is best known for their hits “Midnight Train to Georgia” and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”.
18. The Shirelles
The next soul and R&B group on the list is The Shirelles. They are an all-girl group and their lead singer is Shirley Owens, who is also a founding member of the band. The group is best known for their hits “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” and “Soldier Boy”.
19. The Cranberries
Formed in 1989, The Cranberries emerged as a prominent alternative rock band with Dolores O’Riordan taking the lead, succeeding initial vocalist Niall Quinn. Their 1994 hit “Zombie” stands out as an iconic track, alongside fan favorites like “Linger” and “Dreams.”
Next up is Heart, a rock band that was formed in the 1970s. The group is fronted by sisters Ann Wilson as the lead vocalist and Nancy Wilson as the lead guitarist, who are also founding members of the band. They are best known for their hits “Barracuda” and “Magic Man”. The sisters have been through ups and downs but they are still making music together.
21. Pale Waves
Formed in 2014 in Manchester, England, Pale Waves is spotlighted by the distinct vocals of founding member Heather Baron-Gracie. The band has since made its mark on the music scene with her at the helm.
The band Hole is known for its frontwoman, Courtney Love, who was the wife of the late legend, Kurt Cobain. The alternative rock band was formed in 1989 and released its first album in 1991. The band has been through many lineup changes but they are still active today.
23. Fleetwood Mac
Fleetwood Mac is a rock band that was formed in 1967. The group has had many lineup changes but the current members are Stevie Nicks on lead vocals, Christine McVie on keyboards, and Lindsey Buckingham on guitars. They are best known for their hit single “Albatross”.
24. Jefferson Airplane
Emerging in the 1960s, Jefferson Airplane captured audiences with the commanding voice of Grace Slick. With iconic tracks like “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit,” they solidified their place in rock history.
25. The Bangles
The Bangles is an all-female group that was formed in the 1980s. Their lineup includes Susanna Hoffs on lead vocals, Vicki Peterson on guitars, and Debbi Peterson on drums. They are best known for their hits “Walk Like an Egyptian” and “Eternal Flame”.
26. Wilson Phillips
Wilson Phillips is a group that was formed in the 1980s and is fronted by Carnie Wilson, who is the lead singer of the band. The group also includes her sister Wendy Wilson and Chynna Phillips. They are best known for their hit “Hold On”.
27. The Ronettes
The Ronettes was an all-girl group that was formed in the 1950s. Their lead singer was Ronnie Spector, who is also known as the “Queen of Rock and Roll”. The group is best known for their hit “Be My Baby”, which was released in 1963.
28. The Runaways/Blackhearts
Originating in the 1970s, The Runaways, later known as The Blackhearts, showcased the iconic Joan Jett as their lead vocalist. Their anthem “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” remains a testament to their lasting impact on rock music.
29. Destiny’s Child
The popular R&B group Destiny’s Child was fronted by the one and only Beyoncé. Her powerful voice helped the group churn out hits like “Survivor” and “Say My Name.” They are an all-time great girl group and their music is still as popular today as it was when they first debuted.
Led by the enchanting Shirley Manson, Garbage emerged in the mid-90s with a blend of alternative rock, electronic, and trip-hop sounds. Manson’s distinctive voice and edgy style made songs like “Stupid Girl” and “Only Happy When It Rains” instant classics. With her fiery red hair and fierce lyrics, Manson and her bandmates crafted a legacy that’s still resonant today.
31. The Supremes
Arguably Motown’s most iconic group, The Supremes were trailblazers in the 1960s. Diana Ross’s silken voice, combined with the harmonies of Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard, produced timeless hits such as “Stop! In the Name of Love” and “You Can’t Hurry Love.” Their glamorous outfits and choreographed dance moves set the stage for future girl groups.
32. First Aid Kit
This Swedish folk duo, consisting of sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg, might be newer to the scene compared to some of the others on this list, but their impact is undeniable. Known for their ethereal harmonies and poignant songwriting, songs like “Fireworks” and “My Silver Lining” showcase their unique ability to blend folk with modern pop elements.
33. All Saints
Riding the wave of the 90s girl group resurgence, All Saints brought a mix of R&B and pop that stood out from the crowd. With hits like “Never Ever” and “Pure Shores,” the quartet, led by Shaznay Lewis and Melanie Blatt, brought a mix of sultry voices and urban-cool style that left fans wanting more.
34. Spice Girls
“Girl Power!” became the rallying cry for a generation, thanks to the Spice Girls. Each member brought their own flavor to the group – Scary, Baby, Ginger, Sporty, and Posh. Chart-toppers like “Wannabe” and “Spice Up Your Life” are just a testament to their enduring popularity. They weren’t just a band; they were a global phenomenon.
The perfect blend of R&B, hip-hop, and pop, TLC was nothing short of revolutionary in the 90s. T-Boz’s husky vocals, Chilli’s sultry tones, and Left Eye’s fiery raps created iconic tracks like “Waterfalls” and “No Scrubs.” Their messages of self-empowerment and social consciousness made them stand out, proving that they were more than just a typical girl group.
These are 35 bands with female lead singers that you should totally check out. They mostly consist of rock bands but there are a few from other genres as well. We hope you enjoyed the list and found some new music to listen to. Thanks for reading!
Yeah Yeah Yeahs image by Max Knies, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Destiny’s Child Image by: Pete Sekesan from New York, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Paramore Image by: Raph_PH, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
ABBA Image by: AVRO, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL, via Wikimedia Commons
Blondie Image by: Private Stock Records, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Sonny and Cher Image by: CBS Television, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
The Pretty Reckless Image by: Samuel J. Rodrigues, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The Pretenders Image by: Calan, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
The Go-Go’s Image by: Michael Borkson, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Flyleaf Image by: Michael553, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Evanescence Image by: Justin Higuchi, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Hey Monday Image by: Callum l, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
No Doubt Image by: BrianTheMute, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Halestorm Image by: Sven Mandel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The Distillers Image by: Ian Wilson from London, England, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Vixen Image by: Stefan Bollmann, Attribution, via Wikimedia Commons
Alabama Shakes Image by: Liza Agsalud from Los Angeles, Ca, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Gladys Knight & the Pips Image by: United States Department of Defense, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
The Shirelles Image by: Scepter Records-from Scepter Records’ Billboard ad which has no copyright marks., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
The Cranberries Image by: Graph sas, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Heart Image by: See page for author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Pale Waves Image by: Raph_PH, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Hole Image by: loopyvids – , Fair use, Link
Fleetwood Mac Image by: Warner Bros. Records, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Jefferson Airplane Image by: RCA Victor – Billboard page 2, PD-US, Link
The Bangles Image by: Tabercil, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Wilson Phillips Image by: skinnylawyer, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The Ronettes Image by: General Artists Corporation-GAC (management)-photographer-James Kriegsmann, New York., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Fanny Image by: Reprise Records (photograph by David Bailey) – allmusic.com, Fair use, Link
The Runaways Image by: Here., Fair use, Link
Garbage Image by: Raph_PH, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
First Aid Kit Image by: Raph_PH, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
All Saints Image by: ger1axg, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
TLC Image by: From http://the30ish.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/TLC.jpg, Fair use, Link