The Top Six Female Vocalists in Electronic Music
Whether you are fist-pumping to a new Deadmau5 song or enjoying a relaxed evening with friends to more ambient music by Shlohmo, there is something about the commonly used female vocals in those songs that stimulate your senses in all the right ways. Artists like Ellie Goulding and Megan James from Purity Ring have made an entire career for themselves by skillfully exploiting this single trait. The vocals usually consist of repeated catchy phrases, abstract lyrics and/or ambient notes and sounds. These artists can skillfully use their voice as a versatile instrument to emphasize form, meter and symmetry of expression without having to rely on concrete words. With abstract lyrics and distinct voices, the only common thread is these women’s talent to deliver pleasure to their listeners through their alluring voices. And when it works so well within the field of music, then it is nothing short of magic. The airy quality of female voices blends well with the more male driven bass components that we see in most mainstream electronic dance music today. This female presence has given these songs a poetic touch specific to their gender that the generations before us have enjoyed in the songs of their time. If we are part of a generation where the DJ’s are the almighty Gods, reigning over us in their booths, controlling our every move, then these women are the Angels delivering the orchestrated commands.
6. Elena Alexandra Apostoleanu [INNA]
Elena Alexandra Apostoleanu, or more commonly known as INNA, became widely known for being the first European female singer to surpass one billion views on YouTube. This Romanian singer has had great success with the European audience and has only recently been promoted in America. While she initially tried her hand in pop rock and soft ballads, it wasn’t until she switched to euro house and dance music that she garnered fame and success. Her sensual and energetic tone, generally combined with upbeat summer tunes, is a great source for satiating any guilty Euro-pop cravings you might have. Most of her music has traces of Balkan influences but she constantly explores different genres. She started from her trademark club dance songs, ventured into summer house and electro ballads in her third album “Party Never Ends,” and has incorporated Latin influences like Reggaeton in her latest album. She has recently been associated with mainstream American artists like Flo Rida, Pitbull and Daddy Yankee and has an upcoming album titled latINNA, scheduled for release later this year.
Songs to check out: In your Eyes, Cola Song, INNdiA, Sun is Up
5. Haley Gibby
While not a famous solo artist yet, Haley Gibby has a voice that can instantly be recognized as the driving force behind some of Kaskade’s famous songs and his high-profile collaborations with Deadmau5 and Tiesto. Her soft and haunting voice complements the music like butter on toast, never compromising or overpowering the material. Ryan Raddon from Kaskade mentioned in an interview that Haley’s audio samples worked so well that he did not once have to meet Deadmau5 in person to co-produce “I Remember”. Haley started as an aspiring Jazz musician, quoting Tori Amos and Jewel — artists with the ability to combine different genres-- as her influences. She struggled to find her niche until she got introduced to electronic music through Kaskade. She ended up using electronic music as a canvas for her open-to-interpretation, intentionally abstract style. She is gradually coming into her own with her solo work and we can expect to see more of her in the near future.
Songs to check out: I Remember, Move for Me, Dynasty, Llove
4. Jillian Banks [Banks]
Jillian Banks is relatively new to the industry but her ethereal, effortless voice will leave you wanting more. She came out of nowhere and gained international fame overnight. Hailing from Los Angeles, she is a self-taught pianist, singer and songwriter. She was on almost every “artist to watch out for” list in 2013. Even the electronic queen bee Ellie Goulding is a self-confessed Banks fan. Banks combines delicate atmospheric sounds, earthy vocals, and poetic lyrics with exceptionally produced electronic beats. She serves up raw yet delicate vocals supplemented with minimalistic beats that do not shy away from some dirty low bass. Jillian Banks began her journey into music as an outlet for her parents’ divorce, using it as a tool to express her vulnerabilities and frustrations. This is evident in her music as she tiptoes between frail moments to raw, loud outbursts, with lyrics that often touch on the themes of love and desire. She is the current favorite artist for both established and upcoming artists like Shlohmo and Kaytranada to churn out remixes of. Her new album, Goddess, is slated for a release on September 8 of this year.
Songs to check out: Before I ever Met You, Fall Over
3. Nadia Ali
This Pakistani-American singer caught everyone’s attention with her 2001 single, Rapture, and has since been consistently topping the charts. Her distinctively powerful yet sultry vocals have helped her sustain her brand despite the ever-evolving EDM scene. Nadia Ali is known for creating dance anthems that stay true to her eastern influences and old-school trance roots while incorporating newer musical trends. While she always has suitors vying to collaborate with her, it is not just the sound of her voice that stands out. Nadia Ali is a talented songwriter and chooses artists to work with that can not only add a punch to her songs but stay true to her writing and intentions. In 2011, her Morgan Page remix of the song Fantasy received a Grammy nomination. Like others on the list, she started out in other genres before discovering electronic music as her fit. Nadia originally intended to become a hip-hop artist, until her producer tried dance beats on one of her tracks and it ended up sounding great. While her success relies on remixes by leading artists like Avicii, Alesso, Hardwell and Armin van Buuren, to name a few, rest assured she is no background singer.
Songs to check out: Pressure-Alesso Remix, Rapture-Avicii New Generation Mix
2. Alana Watson [Nero]
Alana is the lead singer of British electronic band, Nero. Nero single-handedly creates more anthems than any other artist in the electronic music industry. There is no such thing as a passive Nero fan. If you listen to Nero then you can and will mouth their lyrics. Skrillex’s remix of their song, Promises, won the 2013 Grammy for the best-remixed song and their music has even been featured on Baz Luhrmann’s rendition of The Great Gatsby. Alana was well on her way to being a certified midwife before Nero started gaining popularity in mid 2011. Imagine having her beautiful voice reserved for oblivious babies. Her repetitive, and often symmetrical lyrics combined with her powerful and hypnotic voice on top of Nero’s futuristic Dubstep sounds creates a uniquely dystopian atmosphere like no other. Alana Watson has cited post-apocalyptic movies depicting a dark future like Akira and Bladerunner as a big influence on her.
Songs to check out: Promises, Innocence, Guilt
1. Ellie Goulding
At the top we have the one and only Ellie Goulding. This British pop sensation took over the world with her wispy voice and piercing high notes when she came out with her début album Lights in 2010. Like the other artists on this list, she is also a self-taught vocalist and multi-instrumentalist. Ellie considers loneliness to be her driving force behind her song writing, but with her fan following there are millions out there willing to reassure her that she is widely adored. Her style of music is often considered a mix of folk and electronica. Ellie Goulding was one of the select performers at the Royal wedding last year. She is the biggest name in the game and boasts a massive range of collaborations and remixes with artists ranging from Tinie Tempah to her ex-boyfriend Skrillex. She is the biggest, loudest, and arguably, the most glamorous presence out there.
Songs to check out: I need your Love, Lights, Burn
Electronic music has come a long way from its experimental inception in the late 60’s. Its ever evolving nature holds promise and curiosity about what it’ll bring with progressing years. There’s no discrimination and every style can find a niche alongside the large pre-existing sub-genres that it shelters under its large wing. It draws parallels with our globalizing society that is constantly pushing boundaries wherein we all connect and grow without compromising our distinct individualities and cultures. This is our generation and our anthems. Science and research point towards feminine voice being more pleasurable for both genders. It is no wonder all our GPS and phones have a female voice by default. If you ask me then this is just a form of art that works well this way and I am not one to question the science behind it. I am but a mere admirer of these women’s talent and the rest… is magic.
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