Who runs the world? Girls. The ladies dominated the music industry in 2011. Katy Perry became the first woman to score five #1 singles from one album, Adele's 21 became the world's highest selling album of 2011, Rihanna's 'We Found Love' spent the most weeks at #1 in the US (8) and Rebecca Black had the most watched YouTube video. Guess what tomorrow is? IT'S FRIDAY!!! What can I say, I still have the Black plague.
Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and Ke$ha joined the trio of Perry, Adele and Rihanna as female artists churning out hit after hit, but it wasn't just the pop princesses that kept giving us reasons to keep on lovin' music this year. Critical favourites like Kate Bush, Bjork, PJ Harvey and Mary J Blige all delivered new records that stand as some of the best work of their distinguished careers. Nicki Minaj made huge waves with 'Super Bass,' becoming the first female rap artist since Missy Elliott to place in the upper echelon of the US Billboard Hot 100 (#2) and has found herself the go-to-girl for hot, show-stealing guest appearances.
Indie and rock all found a touch of class in the forms of Rachael Yamagata, Florence Welch and Evanescence's Amy Lee. Welch has found herself at the top of critics choice lists for Florence + The Machine's sophomore studio set, Ceremonials and Lee proved that she can still compete with the big boys of rock as Evanescence's self-titled LP debuted at #1 on the US Billboard Album chart. Alternative music had a huge year with strong releases from amazing women like Amanda Palmer, Lykke Li, Megan Washington and Feist.
It wasn't just the established acts tearing it up. New singers like Lana Del Rey, Zowie, Clare Maguire, Emma-Louise, Emeli Sande and Oh Land all left us wanting more and at least three of those mentioned are going to make a huge impact in 2012. Do I even need to touch on the release of Vows, the tantalising debut from the enigmatic and soulful Kimbra? Didn't think so.
With all these amazing women and possible contenders for Woman of the Year, how ever will we work out who the winner is? Top 10 style of course! Who were the best of the best?
10. Amanda Palmer
Amanda Palmer finds a way to restore your faith in humanity. I don't know how. I don't know why. Somehow... she manages to do this.
Underrated, under-promoted, not played nearly enough on the radio. Still, Megan Washington released a fascinating collection of songs on the Insomnia EP, so I can't not add her to this list of extraordinarily talented women. What should you do now? Go get the EP!
8. Rachael Yamagata
Once you're done with Washington's catalogue... go get everything Rachael Yamagata has ever released. You'll thank me later. In 2011, Yamagata transformed from a really great songwriter and performer to one of the best in the world. Songs like 'Even If I Don't' and 'Starlight' were some of our favourites and we still can't bring ourselves to stop listening to them a couple of times a week.
7. Lykke Li
And the Robyn Award for Swedish Pop Superstar of the Year goes to... Lykke Li!!!
6. Lady Gaga
LGG might have fallen a little bit short on that whole "best album of all time" thing she said we could expect from Born This Way, but she still managed to create her most consistent and fluid LP which was full of ready for the d-floor anthems. 'The Edge of Glory,' 'Judas,' 'Marry the Night,' 'You and I;' these were excellent additions to her catalogue that have kept her in the public's eyes and ears this year. Then there was the album's title track, 'Born This Way.' I still don't love it, but it managed to spend six weeks at #1 and became the fastest selling digital download in history. Born This Way also picked up Gaga's third consecutive nomination for Album of the Year at the Grammys. Not too shabby.
Much like I said in regards to Eddie Vedder in the Man of the Year category, do I really need to give you a reason as to why Bjork is here? Seriously?
4. Florence Welch
of Florence + The Machine
Ceremonials as an album is better than Lungs. It's just the most epic thing to come out of a year full of awe inspiring concepts and grand ideas. If you think this is because of anyone other that Florence Welch all I can say is... you're entitled to your opinion and I wish you all the best. Jerk. What? Sorry. Friends?
3. PJ Harvey
Twice the Mercury Music Prize winner! That's right, in 2011 PJ Harvey became the only artist in history to win two of the most prestigious awards in music for her war epic, Let England Shake. Many are calling it the great artwork of her career. When you listen to it, you can understand why.
Adele is without a doubt the most successful woman of the year. You know what she's achieved this year. There isn't even much point in rehashing the details of how she became the highest selling act of 2011 and critical favourite for 21, the most intense break-up album since Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill. Why even discuss 'Rolling In The Deep' spending seven weeks at the top of the US Billboard Hot 100 or 'Someone Like You' becoming the first piano/vocalist only single to hit #1. How about readdressing the fact that Adele came out of nowhere to steal 2011 from the likes of the Gaga's and the Beyonce's? We don't need to do any of that because you already know it. Adele was anywhere and everywhere and there's a reason why. She deserves to be. We complain about style always triumphing over substance, but in 2011 and through Adele, substance had its day.
Vows is simply one of the most stunning debut albums in years. It bounces seamlessly between genres, styles and emotions, but you never find yourself tiring of it's charms. Instead, with every listen you find more and more reasons to love it and more and more reasons to love its hostess, Kimbra. Unique and quirky with a tremendously captivating voice, Kimbra stood out amongst all others as the greatest woman in music this year. She stole the show in 'Somebody That I Used To Know' (It's My Kind of Scene's #1 Song of the Year, 2011), had us on our feet and singing along to 'Cameo Lover' and 'Good Intent' and has worked her butt off to make sure her festival and solo live sets are the talk of the town. We've named her the 2011 Woman of the Year, but this is nothing in comparison to what she will surely achieve throughout her career. I can't wait to see what she'll deliver.