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No offense to the fellas and your multi-platinum rock bands, chart-topping hip hop and country albums and ill-advised racist anti-racist collaborations; but when it comes to innovation, envelope pushing and flat out excitement, the ladies have you beat. And it’s about time Chris Brown got beat by the opposite sex.

Now the lame stream media would have you believe that the only ladies on the planet who are musically relevant are Taylor Swift (TayTay), Rihanna (RiRi), Selena Gomez (SeeGee), Demi Lovato (the DL) and Adele (Ms. Adkins if you’re nasty). Enough! Let’s broaden our minds.

These 13 ladies lead a new parade of talent, each moving popular culture into fabulous new places. Our only criteria:

  1. No over-earnest coffee shop singer/songwriters (like Lili Taylor’s “Joe Lies (When He Cries)” warbler from Say Anything)
  2. No age-inappropriate teen vixens or wannabe pole dancers (this knocks out 40% of the submissions)
  3. Vocals must only contain 30% of the recommended daily allowance of AutoTune (this knocks out most of the rest)
  4. No Real Housewives vanity projects

#1: Charli XCX

London “¢ Back to the Future of Pop

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The other half of Icona Pop’s megasmash, ”I Love It,” steps into the spotlight on the utterly fantastic debut album, True Romance. As I stated in my globally adored track-by-track review, ”Finally, an album the goths and the cheerleaders can agree on.”

Demi and Selena probably don’t have musical influences older than the High School Musical soundtrack, but Charli’s teenage dreams were scored by dusty Nina Hagen, Siouxsie Sioux, Danielle Dax, Book of Love and Lene Lovich 12-inch singles. After releasing a dozen or so deliciously weird and captivating demos, Charli brings all of her influences together on the gothic new wave dance pop equivalent of Michael Jackson’s Triller. True Romance is a near perfect platter of 12 jaw-dropping monster singles — fat wet beats, lush synths, giant hooks and unlike her predecessors — shockingly intimate lyrics and a vulnerable vocal performance. Charli XCX may exude detached cool in her videos, but her heart is clearly tattooed under her sleeve.

And even though Romance’s impeccable 80’s soundscape is a large part of the appeal, any doubts that Charli is the product of studio trickery is rested here:

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Why She’s Destined for Failure:

She’s not dating Bieber; Brown and Drake don’t get into bar fights over her; Kanye didn’t pre-ordain her as the “future of pop” before she set foot in a recording studio; and she never starred on a Disney Channel series. The idea of a young woman making it on her own artistic merit in America is utterly ridiculous.

Connect with Charli XCX online and on facebook. Sign up for her mail list — she regularly treats fans with mixtapes, free tracks, the works. True Romance is on sale this week for only $6.99 at Amazon.

Get her new single — a collaboration with Marina + The Diamonds, for FREE here:

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#2: Florrie

London “¢ Supermodel drummer busts a Dave Grohl/Phil Collins move

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Something wicked this way comes — or at least that’s what Florrie has been promising fans for more than a year. Like fellow-Brit Charli XCX, Florrie has steadily built a fanbase by self-releasing songs — in her case, a trio incredibly polished pop EPs (many of the tracks are still free on her website). Ms. Arnold first burst onto the scene as the Xenomania house drummer — dropping the beats on some of Girls Aloud’s biggest hits. During her tenure, she took good notes from Xenomania’s Brian Higgins (one of the best producer/songwriters in the business); her catalog is packed with great songs and she promises that the best has yet to come. Florrie’s major-label debut is expected later this year.

Why She’s Destined for Failure:

Despite critical raves and 22 chart-topping singles, Girls Aloud’s catalog was never released in the States. Record companies have proven that female British singers just don’t appeal to US audiences. Adele, Cher Lloyd, Ellie Goulding, Lily Allen and the Spice Girls were all flukes. Flukes I tell ya.

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#3: Fallulah

Denmark “¢ Lykke Li’s Twisted Sister

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Beautiful singer makes beautifully weird pop music. What’s not to love?

Why She’s Destined for Failure:

Fallulah must be a Danish word for ”frustrating” because that’s what it’s been like for anyone outside of Denmark to (legally) get their hands on her intoxicating music. Sure I can see hesitating to press physical CDs until the fanbase swells, but it’s quite illogical to not make digital copies available worldwide. In the olden days of the early 2000’s, it made sense to stage releases by country so that you can negotiate plum real estate on the end cap displays of Tower Records, Best Buy and Target. In the modern world, a blogger in Sweden can discover an artist and within days, the track is blowing up on the Hype Machine. Why an industry that is so desperate to sell music refuses to sell that music when it’s hot truly escapes me.

Which brings us back to Escapism, Fallulah’s follow-up to 2010’s excellent The Black Cat Neighborhood — a disc I had to buy from Fallulah marries the cool hipster swagger of Lykke Li with the otherworldly dreaminess of early Kate Bush.

Not that this will do you any good — there is no release date set for Europe or the US. Hopefully some intern at Sony Music will read this and get that company on the ball.

”I Lay My Head” still deserves to be a major hit in the US.

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#4: Alana Sweetwater & The Satisfaction

Los Angeles “¢ Hail Hail Rock and Roll

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There’s a reason Los Angeles has so many earthquakes — a whole lotta shakin’ is going on when Alana Sweetwater & The Satisfaction take the stage. Sweetwater and co-writer/co-conspirator Scott Feldman lead one of the tightest rhythm sections this side of the pearly gates from James Brown. Sweetwater is Joan Jett, Amy Winehouse, Suzi Quatro and Diana Ross shaken, stirred and poured into a hot strappy dress. Feldman and the Satisfaction give the Dap-Kings a run for their money (holy crap, that would be a great double bill — paging Sharon Jones).

Alana Sweetwater & the Satisfaction – Love More Than Anything

In the spirit of this round-up, here’s a bonus slab of hell yeah Aaaahlana amazeballs, “Dealin’ With a Woman”:

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Ready to get sweaty? Buy the self-titled album on Bandcamp. See Alana light up LA’s legendary Hotel Cafe on June 21 at 11:00 PM. This gig’s not even on the calendar yet — you heard it here first.

Why She’s Destined For Failure:

Timeless, soulful music from a badass bombshell may sound good on paper, and even better in your ear holes, but these days the kids won’t dance to anything without a Skrillex-esque, seizure-inducing bass drop.

#5: Volita Bioletti of the Neo-Kalashnikovs

Auckland, New Zealand “¢ Hot Chick and Her Brothers Blow the Roof Off Garage Rock

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The Neo-Kalashnikovs’ music has been described as Lana Del Rey fighting the Black Keys in a smoky bar. Who am I to argue that? Led by the alluring Volita Bioletti, her band of brothers, Moss and Gabriel, ride a smoldering groove that carries the torch for the Pretenders and countless kindred CBGB’s bands.

Download their entire debut LP, She’s On Heat, for free right here. By the time you can devour that platter, their second album, “Gorgeous Baby,” drops this Saturday — also for free right there. But wait, there’s more. Pulling a total Green Day (minus the rehab), their third album, “Urban Warfare” drops July 23rd — also for FREE. How do they stay in business? Volume.

So play this one loud:

The Neo-Kalashnikovs – I Don’t Wanna be Your Friend

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Why She’s Destined for Failure:

Volita is way too confident and self-assured to play in America. We like our pop stars to be primarily defined by what men do to them: SeeGee (Bieber), RiRi (Chris Brown), TayTay (too many to list), the DL (one of the Jonas brothers), etc. Now if she changed her name to Lolita…

#6: Laurence Giroux-Do of Le Couleur

Montreal “¢ French Electropop

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Le Couleur had me with the first line in their new song, “Vacances de 87,” a collaboration with French Horn Rebellion: ”Do You Like Hall and Oates was the first thing she said to me.” It only gets better from there. Patrick Gosselin, Steeven Chouinard and Felix Lafrance slather on the guitars, drums, bass, synths and plenty of cowbell. Their new EP, Voyage Love, follows up on the critically adored full-length, Origami (on sale for $5.99 here) to feed the hunger of fans of Saint Etienne, Royksopp, Brazilian Girls, Enon and OMD.

Le Couleur – Vacances de 87 Radio Mix

Why She’s Destined for Failure:

America doesn’t need another beautiful, talented, Canadian pop star. We already have Robin Sparkles.

7: Jessie Ware

OK, I’ve already vented plenty about the airport delays in getting Europe’s hottest music to be released stateside. Her lovely Adele, Massive Attack with a shade of Sade album, Devotion, finally came out Stateside in April. It’s good — but if you need to dip your toes in the water, begin with the absolutely essential singles, “Wildest Moments” and “If You’re Never Gonna Move.”

Relaxed? Now prepare yourselves for this slab of godlike genius: a breathtaking cover of Prince vault rarity and Martika deep album cut: “Love Thy Will Be Done” — masterful.

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Why She’s Destined for Failure:

Prince will probably sue her into the next century for doing that cover.

8: Paloma Faith

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Fall to Grace is another album that came out in 2012 and was EPIC all over the planet — everywhere but here in the States. Fuck it, this is an album full of soulful, bombastic Brit Pop. It will be just as great 10 years from now as it was 8 months ago. Wake up. Catch up. Whatcha waiting for?

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Why She’s Destined for Failure:

93% of the people who read this will accidentally buy the equally excellent Palma Violets album by mistake.

#9: Amilia K Spicer

Amilia Spicer 2013For more than a decade, Amilia K Spicer has been a touring dynamo, making the rounds of LA’s best singer/songwriter clubs, the Kerrville Folk Festival, the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago and ravenous fan enclaves back East. Not bad for someone who hasn’t released a new album in 10 years. Not that she hasn’t been busy. In addition to film work and throwing banjo, mando, lap steel into her signature mix of piano and guitar stylings, she’s contributed tracks to a stack of critically adored compilations including A Case For Case: A Tribute to Peter Case (grab all 48 songs for only $9.49 here — including Dave Alvin, Victoria Williams, Steve Wynn — oh my!) and Cinnamon Girl: Women Artists Cover Neil Young (alongside Kristin Hersh, Tanya Donelly, Louise Post and the Watson Twins).

POPDOSE has taken a spin of her new, as yet untitled CD, and let’s just say, it was worth the wait — set pleasers such as the spellbinding ”Windchill,” the lovely ”Wild Horses” (not a Stones cover) and the edgy ”Harlan” share the big sky country patio with the waltzy “Medicine” and chilling “Down to the Bone.”

Hopefully you will also be hearing it soon. If Guns & Roses release TWO albums before this one comes out, Spicer will have to add ”Sweet Child of Mine” to her set as penance. Then again, that would be freaking fantastic.

Til then, here’s one of my favorite songs in the history of the planet, “I Knew a Man”:

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Why She’s Destined for Failure:

There is absolutely no market for folky Americana in America. Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers, The Head & The Heart, the Civil Wars, the Lone Bellow were all flukes I tell ya. Flukes.

#10: Stephanie Cupo of Souvenir Stand

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Stephanie Cupo is the type of girl whose enchanting beauty and timeless style inspired the Beach Boys to harmonize and Phil Spector to build a wall of sound… before he went batshit crazy of course. Cupo’s winsome debut, under the band name Souvenir Stand, recalls the golden age of Motown girl groups and endless summers on California beaches. Three-track EP, still available for free at Bandcamp, was recently expanded for a very-limited run of orange cassettes courtesy of British boutique label, Beautiful Strange.

Souvenir Stand – Days I’ve Spent With You

Why She’s Destined for Failure:

Cupo also plays a mean saxophone but has yet to take a cue from Candy Dulfer by releasing a sax-punned album like “Sax Appeal”, “Goldman Sax” or “It Sax To Be You.”

#11: Elley Duhe aka: L.E.D.

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When Elley Duhe took the main stage on NBC’s The Voice — none of the judges’ chairs turned in her favor. While heartbreaking in the moment, it was definitely more of a blessing than a curse. The Voice has yet to launch a certified pop star. Jessica Sanchez, who finished 2nd on American Idol, could only translate her ”millions and millions” of votes into a few thousand units sold. Meanwhile, two-time Idol reject, Hillary Scott, will yet again debut atop the Billboard 200 with the new Lady Antebellum record.

Like Charli XCX and Florrie before her, L.E.D. is finding her voice while releasing demos via her soundcloud page. Her voice is equally suited for EDM, Pop and Country so it will be interesting to see which direction she goes. Why not all three?

Download This: LE.D. “Hello Nice To Meet You”:

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Why She’s Destined for Failure:

L.E.D. is a terrific stage name — unless you’re trying to Google her.

#12: Vicci Martinez

Speaking of The Voice — 2011’s third place finisher, Vicci Martinez, has the best chance of any alumni from the show at securing a bankable career. Here, she gets a boost from her mentor Cee-Lo Green on her debut single.

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Why She’s Destined for Failure:

Martinez’s success is totally ruining my argument that nothing good ever happens to truly talented reality show contestants. Seriously, buy her awesome album, Viccihere.

And finally, welcome to the club…

#13: Laura Jane Grace of Against Me!

Despite all the attention on the ladies — two of my favorite albums of the decade were by dudes: the self-titled 2012 masterpiece by the Delta Spirit and the 2010 album White Crosses/Black Crosses (28 songs for $10, go get it) by Against Me! Not too long ago, Against Me’s lead singer, Tom Gabel, outraged the underground hipster indie label DIY punk rock community when he made the very brave revelation that he would be… recording an album with super producer Butch Vig — on a major label nonetheless. His fanbase was much more supportive years later when she told the world via Rolling Stone (what! Not Alternative Press?) that she would be transitioning from male to female and assuming the name Laura Jane Grace.

2013 sees Grace in the third act of her inevitable ”VH1: Behind The Music” story arc — the major label deal is gone. Recent drummer Jay Weinberg and longtime bassist Andrew Seward left the band. The high profile opening slot on the Bad Religion tour has been scrapped. The follow-up album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, remains unfinished.

It remains unclear whether Grace and guitarist James Bowman will carry on as Against Me! or something else. When the music comes, it promises to be epic. The band previewed a few songs when I saw them play Seattle last fall. Rumors swirl that TD Blues is a concept album about a transgender prostitute — and while I know it will be a powerful story, the gender fluid/gender liberated community deserves some art that doesn’t portray them as trick turners, serial killers and walking punch lines. Femininity, when embraced by someone born female or born male, is something that should be cherished, celebrated, respected and supported. In real life, Grace has already shown us all of this and more — here’s hoping a few of the characters in her songs can follow suit.

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Why She’s Destined for Failure:

Grace is happily married to  beautiful, powerful and supportive wife — together, they are raising a lovely daughter. This means there is absolutely zero chance Grace will reap mountains of free press by hooking up with Lindsay Lohan.

About the Author

Keith Creighton

Keith is a music correspondent for Popdose and an advocate on women's empowerment, gender identity, and gender liberation issues. He is a monthly new-music contributor to the Planet LP Podcast and is a marketing writer by day for Sudden Monkey.

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