Punk rock is known to be a male-dominated genre. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any talented female punk bands out there making great music. Some of the best punk bands around today are fronted by women.
There are female punk bands that have gained popularity in the music industry. From hard-hitting rockers to melodic pop-punk groups, this list of 20 female punk bands is sure to get your blood pumping and your feet moving.
- 1. Blondie
- 2. The Runaways
- 3. X
- 4. Bikini Kill
- 5. Hey Violet
- 6. Lolita No.18
- 7. Hole
- 8. Lunachicks
- 9. Dream Wife
- 10. The Featherz
- 11. Siouxsie and the Banshees
- 12. The Regrettes
- 13. The Muffs
- 14. The Slits
- 15. Gore Gore Girls
- 16. Sleater-Kinney
- 17. The Donnas
- 18. L7
- 19. The Red Aunts
- 20. Gossip
New wave and punk rock collided in the late ’70s to create one of the most successful female-fronted bands of all time, Blondie. The group’s new wave sensibilities and punk attitude made them one of the most popular bands of the era.
The band’s frontrunner, Debbie Harry, is considered to be one of the most iconic figures in punk history because of her beauty, icy vocals, and iconic fashion sense. Blondie, a band that was never scared to try new things, helped influence the evolution of new wave and punk music.
2. The Runaways
The hard rock and punk hybrid were made possible by The Runaways, a female band who were among the first to bring punk rock to the mainstream.
Known for their individual talent in both music and fashion, The Runaways became an inspiration for many female bands that followed in their footsteps.
The band was known for their talent in playing on stage and their heavy metal guitar riffs. With their hit songs “Cherry Bomb,” “Queens of Noise,” and “Hollywood,” the group helped pave the way for future female rockers by showing the world that women could be just as talented and tough as their male counterparts.
A resilient band being fronted by Exene Cervenka, X has been playing punk rock together since 1977. Having limited success didn’t stop them from being a proponent of folk, punk rock, and Americana.
With both a unique sound and Cervenka confronting lyrics, it’s no wonder that X has inspired many punks and alternative bands throughout the years.
4. Bikini Kill
The era of unapologetic feminists in punk rock began with Bikini Kill. The riot grrrl movement was born in the early ’90s and it was led by this Olympia, Washington-based band.
With their powerful lyrics and louder-than-life personalities, Bikini Kill inspired a new generation of women to start fighting and speaking up for themselves.
The band’s music, which was a mix of power-punk and feministic anthems, helped to empower a whole new generation of women.
Their song “Double Dare Ya” has raged against the double standards that women face in society, and their song “Rebel Girl” is an ode to every punk girl out there. Bikini Kill’s ground-breaking work in the punk scene is still celebrated and respected today.
5. Hey Violet
Not letting music boundaries define them, Hey Violet’s unique brand of pop-punk has been making waves since its formation in 2008.
The band, which is fronted by the talented Rena Lovelis, offers something fresh and new to the punk scene with its catchy melodies and edgy lyrics.
Their song “Guys My Age” is an anthem for anyone who’s ever had an immature partner. It’s a relatable song that anyone can connect with, and it’s just one of the many reasons why Hey Violet is one of the best female punk bands around today.
6. Lolita No.18
Experimental punk style and gothic undertones are what makes Lolita No.18 one of the most interesting female punk bands to listen to.
The Japanese band, which was formed in 1989, is known for its high-pitched and cartoony vocals. They are known as one of the best Japanese bands of their era.
With their unique blend of punk, goth, and pop, Lolita No.18 demonstrates that women, like men, can be both sordid and dangerous. The band’s song “Rockaway Beach” is a perfect example of their sound, and it’s a song that is sure to get your feet moving.
Aggressive lyric content and guitar-driven melodies are what Hole is known for. The band, which was fronted by the late Courtney Love, was one of the most popular female punk bands of the ’90s.
Their album “Live Through This” has been commercially successful and critically acclaimed with over 1.6 million units sold in the US alone.
Their song “Celebrity Skin” talks about the culture of being a celebrity and how fame provides pressure to look perfect.
It’s a relatable song for women who have ever felt the pressure to be perfect, and it’s just one of the many reasons why Hole is one of the best female punk bands around.
A very loud and proud pop-punk band, Lunachicks was formed in 1987 and is known for its raunchy lyrics and onstage antics. They were unapologetic about who they were and what they stood for, which became a fan-favorite quality of the band.
The band published a memoir entitled “Fallopian Rhapsody” which reflects the real experience the politically-charged feminist band has experienced and how they were often undermined because of their gender.
Instead of crumbling under the industry’s patriarchal view, they fought back, made music, and became one of the most iconic female punk bands in history.
9. Dream Wife
An English punk rock band that sings about miscarriage, queer love, and misogyny, Dream Wife is a band that isn’t afraid to tackle controversial topics. The band, which is made up of Alice Go, Bella Podpadec, and Rouge Mahoney, is known for its high-energy live performances.
Their song “F.U.U.” is about being mad at the world and not taking any crap from anyone. It’s a badass song that will make you want to scream along with the band which makes them one of the best female punk bands in the music industry.
10. The Featherz
Glam and funk influence has become The Featherz’ trademarks since the band’s formation in 2009. The Welsh-English band is known for its guitar riffs, catchy melodies, and danceable beats.
Their song “Forget All You Know” is a perfect example of their rock and funk sound. The Featherz is one of the best female punk bands around because they’re unafraid to experiment with their sound.
11. Siouxsie and the Banshees
The post-punk era’s most audacious and uncompromising musical act, Siouxsie and the Banshees was fronted by the one and only Siouxsie Sioux. Formed in 1986, the British band was known for its dark and atmospheric sound.
Goth was becoming highly popular in the punk scene, and Siouxsie and the Banshees were one of the bands leading the charge. The song “Happy House” by the band showcases the gothic and spooky visuals and sound that they were known for.
Siouxsie and the Banshees was one of the first female punk bands, paving the road for others to follow. They are still revered today.
12. The Regrettes
The Regrettes is a groovy LA-based band made up of teenagers Lydia Night, Genessa Gariano, Sage Chavis, and Maxx Morando. Their music is varied, but punk is the genre they are most commonly associated with and is often mixed with garage punk, pop, and rock.
The band was formed in 2015 and has been making waves in the music industry ever since. The Regrettes’ song “Barely on My Mind” is about a toxic relationship and how feelings are often manipulated in them. The simple bassline gave an ’80s vibe in the modern setting, and the song is both relatable and catchy.
13. The Muffs
The Muffs’ rebellious adrenaline-fueled sound is the perfect addition to any punk playlist. The band, which was formed in 1991, is known for its high-energy live performances and catchy hooks.
The song “Kids in America,” was released for a motion picture entitled “Clueless.” The raspy and raw screams of singer and guitarist Kim Shattuck are one of the things that set The Muffs apart from other punk bands.
14. The Slits
Rock, reggae, and blues are infused by The Slits to create a one-of-a-kind punk sound. The British band, which was formed in 1976, has been a unique yet refreshing act in the male-dominated punk scene owing to Ari Up’s reggae locks and their energetic audiences at live shows.
The song “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” is a cover of the Marvin Gaye classic, but The Slits put their own spin on it.
The song is slower than the original, and the reggae influence is evident. A band who’s adapted Jamaican fashion and sound to the punk scene, The Slits is one of the best around.
15. Gore Gore Girls
Another all-girl group that has been experimenting with different sounds to make unique punk tracks, the Gore Gore Girls’ music is a mix of ’60s garage rock, surf rock, and country. Formed in 1997, the band is known for its trashy garage sound and feel-good tracks.
The song “Where Evil Grows” is about a feeling of being trapped and wanting to break free. The song is catchy and easy to sing along to, making it one of the Gore Gore Girls’ best tracks.
One of the most influential female punk bands of all time, Sleater-Kinney is an American female-fronted rock band that is openly left-wing and feminist. Formed in 1994, the band had been a prominent member of the riot grrrl punk subgenre.
Being considered one of the best punk bands of all time, Sleater-Kinney’s song “Modern Girl” is a sarcastic critique of excessive consumerism. The song is catchy and rebellious, everything that punk stands for.
17. The Donnas
Teenage angst is something that The Donnas understand all too well. The American band, which was formed in 1993, is made up of four friends who bonded over their shared love of classic rock and roll.
The Donnas’ music is a mix of ’70s hard rock and punk and has landed in Atlantic Records which made them commercially successful.
Some of their songs have been used as film soundtracks and video game soundtracks, such as “You’ve Got a Crush On Me,” which was utilized in a PlayStation 2 game. The band focuses more on fun punk than rage, making them one of the best around.
Grunge and riot grrrl come together to form the unique sound of L7. The American band, which was formed in 1985, is composed of four women who were influenced by Frightwig and Ramones. They are known to be rocking the stage with their ‘slob girl’ fashion, embodying the rock-metal aesthetic.
They are one of the bands that earned respect in the punk-grunge community with their thrashing and majestic performance as an all-female group.
The song “Pretend We’re Dead” is found in the GTA San Andreas game, which speaks about conforming to what society wants you to be and knowing fully well it’s wrong. The lyrics are powerful, and the song is one of the best punk tracks around.
19. The Red Aunts
Women are just as punk as men, and The Red Aunts are the perfect example of that. They have been popular because of their rough and raw music which is a mix of punk and garage rock.
With no prior education or experience in being a band, they received help from Jon Wahl and Scott Drake of fellow Long Beach band the Humpers which led them to create their own sound and musical direction.
The song “Freakathon” is evidence of the group’s furious and powerful energy that sums up their scorching punk tracks. They’re known for the screech, thrash, and angst but fun music – and they definitely deliver.
Ending this list is a remarkable indie rock band that mixed punk, indie rock, and dance music to create their own unique sound and has won awards for their music.
Being known for the new wave riffs, Beth Ditto’s powerful voice, and stage presence, Gossip has been wooing audiences ever since.
The track “Heavy Cross” had become a success mainly in Germany, which sold over 450,000 copies. It is a track from their album “Music For Men” and is about societal pressure and our desire to be different.
The song is anthemic, and the message is powerful, making it one of the best punk tracks created by a female-fronted band.
Punk is a genre that is constantly evolving, and these female bands have been iconic in shaping the sound and message of punk rock.
There are lots of fantastic female punk bands still out there making excellent music and pointing out social issues. With a mix of rock, metal, blues, or even pop, punk is a genre that anyone can enjoy.
If you’re looking for something to listen to on a rainy day or want to challenge the status quo or simply enjoy some great music, check out these bands!
The Runaways Featured Image (Top-Right) by: Here., Fair use, Link
X Featured Image (Bottom-Left) by: George Rose, Los Angeles Times, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Bikini Kill Featured Image (Bottom-Right) by: Nfopollenz, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons