Last week, we looked at five ladies poised to take over the pop music scene in the coming months. This year's female takeover, though, isn't exclusive to mainstream pop. In fact, the ladies seem to be at the forefront of 2013's hottest trend: electronic music (also called synthpop). The range of artists in electronic music is vast, as the genre encompasses any composition in which the synthesizer and electronic beats are predominant.
Ranging from more experimental artists like Grimes or Young Wonder to more mainstream pop artists like Robyn or Lana Del Rey, synthpop can be found womping (or ethereally gliding) out of speakers everywhere. Here's your guide to five ladies at the forefront of 2013's electronic music craze:
1. Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches
The Bones of What You Believe, Chvrches' debut studio album, was released September 23 via Virgin Records in the UK. It features hit single "The Mother We Share" as well as "Recover," which was released in February 2013 on the Recover EP.
Mayberry is easily identifiable as the lead vocalist of Chvrches, her bright vocals gliding overtop heavy electronic tracks with mesmerizing ease. Prior to Chvrches, Mayberry was in multiple bands while working in freelance journalism. Embodying the DIY mentality famous in electronic music, Mayberry told the Guardian that "You see so many bands regress and become like children, getting told what to do … I want to be able to say that we did it the way we wanted to do it."
Follow this link to listen to a great Chvrches remix of a MS MR song, "Hurricane."
2. Lizzy Plapinger of MS MR
Before Plapinger took the stage with MS MR she was best known for co-founding the independent record label Neon Gold Records. Neon Gold has housed some of electronic music's most easily recognizable names — including artists on this very list. Interview Magazine says Neon Gold "reverses the art/noise pop paradigm and is ushering literal, unironic 'Pop' back into indie (and mainstream) acceptance."
Artists like Ellie Goulding launched to tremendous success on Neon Gold. Who better to continue this revolution than Plapinger herself? Debut MS MR single "Hurricane" put the New York duo on the map as part of their Candy Bar Creep Show EP. A few of their singles since have earned coveted sync spots on shows like Game of Thrones. Released in May 2013, MS MR's album Second Hand Rapture showcases the duo's diverse influences and capacity for long-haul success.
3. Caroline Hjelt & Aino Jawo of Icona Pop
I LOVE IT!
No seriously, I do. This Swedish duo made the difficult transition to U.S. pop radio rotation earlier this year, and it appears they're here to stay. With girl power anthems like "I love it" and "All Night," Icona Pop has become the bad girl soundtrack of this season. Their easily recognizable choruses have a larger-than-life effect, sounding as though the band is a full crowd instead of just two vocalists. Their songs are infectious, their mentality beautifully irreverent.
Icona Pop's most recent album, This Is… Icona Pop, was released September 24, 2013. One critic at the New York Daily News said the album has "too much Cyndi Lauper sisterhood and not enough Ke$ha sleaze." I say that's a compliment of the highest order.
By far the most stylistically obscure on this list, Grimes is a Canadian-born synthpop artist currently leading the game in experimental electronic music. The Guardian said it best about Grimes: "By sounding a little like everything you've ever heard, the whole sounds like nothing you've ever heard."
While most electro-pop still follows the classic musical template of vocals supported by a track, Grimes seems to utilize her voice as just another instrument in the arrangement. I first mistook her vocal line in "Oblivion," actually, as another synth. The effect is otherworldly, which seems to be the point. Grimes, despite her music being catered to a specific niche market, enjoys crossover mainstream success. She performed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in 2012 and recently hosted MTV's red carpet report at the 2013 Video Music Awards (where she hilariously wore the same outfit as 2 Chainz).
5. Ellie Goulding
We had to throw some mainstream pop in the mix! Since 2010 and "Lights," Goulding has stayed consistently successful and productive in the electronic music scene. In 2010 she was the second artist to top the BBC's Sound Of… Poll and win the Critics' Choice award at the Brits. (I always found it interesting that she did so in the footsteps of Adele, who couldn't be farther away from the electronic movement.)
The August 2013 reissued album Halcyon Days featured "Burn," which became her first number one single on the U.K. charts. Singles "I Need Your Love" and "Burn" are iconic tracks in today's top 40 electronic takeover. Goulding's token raspy timbre is identifiable from miles away, lending her vocals a haunting, childlike quality. Personally, I respect her all the more for tracks like "I Know You Care" or her cover of "Mirrors" in the BBC live lounge. Neither of these songs rely on an electronic backing, and both allow her unique vocals to take center stage. Her crossover potential and her versatility allow her to traverse more territory as she expands her career to meet its endless potential.