Usually when I load up a “biggest hits” playlist, I end up skipping half the tracks. I’m barely skipping anything on NPR’s new playlist, “The 200 Greatest Songs By 21st Century Women+”. Every song is good! Even the country songs! And the lead performers are all women or non-binary.
Highlights include “F**k the Pain Away” by Peaches, “Two Weeks” by FKA Twigs, “Drone Bomb Me” by Anohni, “Soy Yo” by Bomba Estéreo, “Help I’m Alive” by Metric, and “Good as Hell” by Lizzo. There are also megahits such as “Run Away With Me” and “Single Ladies”. This is real singalong stuff.
NPR picked these songs with a panel of over 70 women and non-binary writers, choosing “artists whose major musical contributions came on or after Jan. 1, 2000, and have shifted attitudes, defied categories and pushed sound in new directions since then”. You can see a mini-review and music video for each song on NPR, or listen on Spotify or other streaming services.
NPR’s list has the kind of variety and actual listenability you don’t get from repetitive lists such as Rolling Stone’s 2003 “500 greatest albums of all time”. (Seventy-eight musical acts have three or more albums on that list. Two of those acts are female-led.)
On NPR’s list, most artists are listed just once, and no artist is listed more than three times. So you don’t have to hit skip-skip-skip through a hundred Dylan songs.