graphic by Jae Vyskocil

graphic by Jae Vyskocil

As 2017 comes to an end, I took some time to reflect on the year both in terms of music and just life in general. 2017 was hectic to say the least, but in the midst of the world’s current state female power flourished. The conversation around female empowerment is louder than ever.

After consulting my Spotify library and looking for opinions from the lovely humans on the internet, I narrowed down a list of some female artists in 2017 that absolutely smashed it. If I could write a 20 page essay on all of the artists I would, but in the meantime I’ve highlighted a few of the ladies that I think really made 2017 their year.

With the insane amount of incredible releases and new music that this year brought, siphoning through the list wasn’t easy, and I’m sure some standouts are going unnoticed. If I missed anyone you think is worth mentioning, drop a comment below.


Dua Lipa

  photo by Nicole Nodland

photo by Nicole Nodland

I remember seeing her name on the Lollapalooza lineup last year and having no idea who she was—just over a year later just about later everyone knows her name (or will very soon). Dua Lipa is a 22 year old dark pop singer from London. Alone and only 15, she moved to London to attend the prestigious theatre school, Sylvia Young. After gaining quite the following on YouTube, she signed her first record deal at the age of 19.

2017 has absolutely blown up Lipa’s career. Crushing the festival scene from Glastonbury to Coachella, hitting hundreds of millions of plays on Spotify, and landing in the Top 10 in multiple countries with her debut LP are just a few of her achievements.

Lipa’s explosion of fame could be thanks to a number of things—her 90s inspired attire, the high profile names who worked with her on her LP, her magnetic and don’t give a fuck presence. But in the end it is one thing that explains it—her ability to seamlessly blend catchy pop with dynamic lyrics and dark undertones. Part of her appeal is the way she balances between her own branding and well-known pop, walking on the line, but certainly not crossing over into mainstream territory. Not to mention the video she released for ‘New Rules’ was one of the best music videos I’ve seen in ages, full of pastels and camaraderie.

Watch out Marina, there might be some new rules to follow. (just kidding)


  from SZA's Instagram

from SZA's Instagram

I’ll start out by saying if you haven’t listened to SZA’s latest release, Ctrl, you should stop reading this and go listen. If you left, welcome back, and if you didn’t listen to it, you are missing out on one of the best albums of 2017.  

SZA or Solána Rowe is a 27 year old artist whose genre is hard to define. With neo-soul, synthpop, trap, chillwave, indie rock, and R&B influences, she doesn’t just fit in one category. This could explain why her music appeals to so many.

Her lyrics are raw and honest, sprouted from her life experience. Her lyrics are far too relatable, with topics ranging from tacos, not shaving your legs, and Netflix. Of course aside from that she provides words to all of the feelings you’ve probably experienced with your crush, your ex, your best friend, and everyone in between.

In interviews she’s said we hopefully won’t have to wait too long for her next album and in the meantime I will be playing Ctrl on repeat.



Billie Eilish

  from V Magazine

from V Magazine

Billie Eilish first entered the soundcloud realm with her first song “ocean eyes” and has quickly grown to be a viral sensation. Now just 2 years later, she has put out her debut EP and gone on a sold out tour through America and Europe.

Her debut EP dont smile at me ranges from sultry pop to R&B. It’s hard to believe that this girl is only 15 years old. Her songs paint a perfect picture of teenage heartbreak through her wispy harmonies and fierce lyrics.

2017 has been a year full of success for Billie. Besides her rapidly growing fan base, she has had late show appearances, been named Apple Music's UpNext artist, and has been interviewed by Zane Lowe on Beats 1.

If this is just the start for her, we can’t wait to see what’s next.


Julien Baker


Julien Baker made her way onto this list for several reasons, including the fact that I actually can’t listen to her music without shedding a few tears. Baker first entered the music scene when she dropped her debut album, Sprained Ankle, in 2015 and after much anticipation, released her second LP, Turn Out the Lights.

Her music addresses topics including God, mental illness, overcoming substance abuse, and not being good enough. Listening to Baker’s music is like hearing someone’s diary read aloud. Her album as a whole may not be relatable to everyone as we all have a different story, but not feeling like you are enough is something that I think we all struggle with.

In today’s world, it’s rare to find an artist as raw and real as Baker, making her music a breath of fresh air in a world overflowing with songs re-using the same general concepts and themes.


Ellie Roswell

Ellie Roswell is the definition of a modern day rock star. Member of UK rock band, Wolf Alice, Roswell is the badass front woman of this Grammy nominated band. Wolf Alice has been killing it for the past two year both touring and this fall releasing their second LP, Signs of Light.

In an indie rock scene that is so highly populated by men, it is refreshing to see a female fronted band really crushing it. Roswell’s dynamic vocals truly create Wolf Alice’s unique sound. Her talent shines well beyond the record and onto her life performance. Radiating talent, passion, and emotion Roswell truly captivates every member of the audience.

I can’t deny that one of the leading reasons that Ellie Roswell made it on this list is because her voice was the soundtrack to my summer--and by this I quite literally mean that I played the band’s second single “Don’t Delete the Kisses” on repeat for over two months straight every time I rode the subway. This song along with the album, ranked very high on my list of the best things to happen in music in 2017.



  from Lorde's instagram

from Lorde's instagram

And of course it would be wrong not to mention Lorde on this list. Melodrama was arguably one of the most anticipated albums going into 2017. After a four year hiatus of new music, Lorde released her sophomore LP and it was well worth the wait.

In her first album, a then 16-year old, Ella Yelich-O’Connor wrote about life as a teenager. The now 22-year old explores her journey of becoming a young woman and finding herself and her place in the world in Melodrama. It’s an anthem for becoming an adult, gaining independence and diving into what life has to offer

Lorde’s incredible presence swept across the states as she played several festivals and she will embark on a full tour in 2018 (you know we won’t be missing this).


Want all this goodness in one place?

Check out Sam's playlist

highlighting our 2017 Golden Girls:


Author, Sam Keeler

Sam is a member of the Gold Hand Journalism Team

Tall, blonde, and slightly awkward, Sam is a creative currently taking a break from living in Portland to spend the summer in New York City. She’s fuelled by music, tater tots, dogs, girl power, and of course caffeine.  You can probably find Sam taking photos of her latte art in a cute coffee shop or eating pad thai and binge watching any Shonda Rhymes show.

Instagram: @samkeeler


Graphics, Jae Vyskocil

Jae is a member of the Gold Hand creative team.

Jae Vyskocil is currently a student at Portland State University in Oregon. She is majoring in international studies with a regional focus on the Middle East and minoring in graphic design and conflict resolution. Her illustrations use patterns and textures to explore a range of themes. When she’s not drawing you can find her skiing on Mt. Hood or knitting.

Instagram: @jae.v

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