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(Credit: Far Out / Wikimedia / Wet Leg / Holly Humberstone)

Music

International Women's Day: The 10 most exciting female artists in 2022

@josephtaysom

The musical landscape has shifted significantly over the last decade, and for the most part, it has made leaps forward in a positive, progressive direction with the days of the domineering boys club coming to an end.

While there has never been a shortage of talented female artists, now they are finally getting the recognition they deserve. Many are on the brink of having moments to remember, and keeping this list of artists restricted to just ten names was an incredibly strenuous task with plentiful musicians looking destined to explode into superstardom.

While there have been significant steps towards equality in the music industry, unfortunately, it’s still not a level playing field in various areas, such as the overtly male-dominated festival line-ups that still prop up events. However, the wealth of musical excellence on display surely means that those testosterone-ridden, mono-cultural days will soon be over.

Below, we look at ten female artists who are on different steps of their respective journeys, with some more established than others, but the one thing they have in common is being on track for a monumental 2022.

The 10 most exciting female artists of 2022:

Wet Leg

Last year, Isle Of Wight’s Wet Leg seemingly shot out of nowhere with their enormously infectious earworm of a debut single, ‘Chaise Longue’, and they’ve been impossible to avoid ever since. Since then, every one of their singles has been infectious, and they’ve earned their right to become the most-talked-about new British band.

Unsurprisingly, all of the duo’s upcoming headline shows are sold-out, and nothing looks out of reach for Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers, who are still yet to release a dud. Wet Leg’s eponymous debut lands in April, and there’s a weight of expectation resting on the band’s shoulders to spearhead a new era of British indie.

Aldous Harding

While New Zealand singer-songwriter Aldous Harding released her self-titled debut album almost a decade ago in 2014, it feels like now is the time that people are finally beginning to wake up and appreciate her breathtaking brilliance collectively.

Her delicately beautiful 2019 third album, Designer, was the moment that Harding truly announced herself, and it was doubtlessly one of the stand-out releases from that calendar year. Harding is following up the triumphant record with Lawn on March 25th, and judging from the spellbinding titular single so far, it promises to be another beguiling release.

Mitski

After an almost four-year absence due to the negative effect the industry was having on her mental health, Mitski is back and producing the best work of her career. Thankfully, she returned to music after concluding she needed to create to survive. Even though she finds it a painful experience, it’s also a necessary one. 

Her part dreamy, part euphoric comeback album, Laurel Hell, proved that Mitski is a critical voice right now and makes the world of music a more prosperous place with her presence. Absence has only made the public’s feelings for the singer-songwriter grow fonder, and her sixth record is her most assured offering yet.

Billie Eilish

Admittedly, Billie Eilish is already at the top of the musical mountain, but 2022 will be the year that she proves that she’s here to stay. While it currently looks unlikely that a new project from Eilish will drop this year, it’s her world tour that is of particular intrigue.

Currently, Eilish is on the road playing arenas in the States, and her first monumental test comes when she’ll step up to headline California’s Coachella in April. Then, later in the summer, the 20-year-old will enter the history books when she becomes the youngest artist to top the bill at Glastonbury, which will be an instrumental moment in shaping her legacy.

Beabadoobee

Beabadoobee is expected to release the follow-up to her 2020 debut, Fake It Flowers, later this year and recently got fans excited by saying: “I feel like this new album is what I am meant to sound like.”

Since releasing her first full-length project, Bea hasn’t taken her foot off the pedal. The 21-year-old has collaborated with Cavestown and Luna Li, as well as an EP last year, which has gradually continued to build her ever-growing fanbase.

Speaking to Alt Press about the influences of the project, Beabadoobee revealed: “It’s a lot of different vibes. There’s not one song that sounds the same as the others. I’ve been really getting into a band called Stars, and I’ve always loved Stereolab as well.”

With a prominent slot at Glastonbury confirmed, and a new album on the way, 2022 is looking like it’ll be one to remember for the Londoner.

Holly Humberstone

2022 has already been a positive year for Holly Humberstone, who was given the BRIT Award for Rising Star and she looks set to follow in the footsteps of esteemed previous winners such as Sam Fender and Florence & The Machine.

The Lincolnshire native made her mark in 2021 with her second EP, The Walls Are Way Too Thin, and the 22-year-old lived up valiantly to the critical acclaim she’s acquired on the release, which is full of her unique concoction of dark, introspective pop.

While Humberstone’s debut album is yet to be formally announced, it is available to pre-order on her website, which suggests that it’ll arrive in time for the summer’s festivities.

Biig Piig

Ireland’s Jessica Smyth has been consistently releasing strong tracks for the last couple of years as Biig Piig, and 2022 could be the year that her craft steps up another level.

Her 2020 breakthrough track ‘Feels Right’ was the first time that many people switched on to the work of Smyth. The single represented the start of a new exciting chapter of her artistry as Piig ditched her lo-fi roots, elevating her production and adding a gloss to her sound.

Last year, on top of releasing the celebrated extended play, The Sky Is Bleeding, Smyth also collaborated with Metronomy and Emotional Oranges, as well as swapping London for Los Angeles.

Cleo Sol

British neu-soul sensation Cleo Sol has been quietly building up a substantial CV over the last few years since emerging back in 2018 with her debut EP, Winter Songs. From then, she’s released two full-length albums, but, interestingly, it’s not her work as a solo artist that you are most likely to be familiar with.

In 2019, she began a fruitful partnership with Little Simz and appeared on ‘Selfish’ from Grey Area before reuniting in 2021 for ‘Woman’ on Simbi’s fourth album, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert. Additionally, Cleo is also reportedly a member of the Mercury-nominated R&B collective Sault alongside Inflo, but 2022 looks to finally be the year she steps out of the shadows and gets recognised in her own light.

Priya Ragu

Priya Ragu’s delectable blend of contemporary R&B with her Tamil heritage makes for an unexpectedly exhilarating combination. Ragu grew up in the Swiss city of St. Gallen after her parents fled from the civil war in Sri Lanka and sought refuge in Europe.

It was only last year that the 35-year-old felt ready to ditch her day job and focus on her music despite already being a signed artist. Her thrilling debut mixtape, Damnshestamil, dropped last year. Furthermore, Ragu was also taken under the wing of Jungle, who she supported and featured on their album, Loving In Stereo.

Nobody else is creating work comparable to her, and Ragu’s fresh approach is nothing short of invigorating. Best of all, she’s only just getting started.

Wolf Alice’s Ellie Rowsell

Last year, Wolf Alice bolstered their claim to be the most important British band to emerge over the last decade with their emphatic third album, Blue Weekend. The record was their coming of age moment and a stellar progression for Ellie Rowsell as a songwriter. Now, in 2022, it’s inevitable more people will realise just how vital they are as they finally take the album across Britain and beyond.

Anybody who has had the pleasure of witnessing Rowsell lead Wolf Alice in concert knows just how much of an exceptional talent she is and how she has the crowd in the palm of her hands for the entirety of proceedings. This summer, the group will have the chance to make their bid as future Reading & Leeds headliners with their set before Arctic Monkeys take to the stage and prove they deserve the opportunity to top the bill.