Visible Women

NPR has selected its 150 best albums by women

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Moya Crockett
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There is a long-running debate about the merits of women-only lists. Open up a discussion about political shortlists designed to increase the proportion of female MPs, or film awards that only recognise female filmmakers, and you’re guaranteed to find more than one smart, reasonable woman who feels ambivalent about them.

The argument against all-women honours goes a little like this: by creating parallel systems that only reward or raise up women, we are reinforcing the idea that women don’t need to be rewarded in the mainstream. We’re also potentially highlighting women’s gender identity as the most defining thing about them, rather than their talent.

The counter-argument to that, however, is that the male-dominated mainstream has shown time and time again that it won’t adequately celebrate female success (see: the Golden Globes, festival line-ups, the Grammys). As a result, if women want to get props, we’re going to have to give them to ourselves first. This idea of women championing other women’s achievements was the driving force behind Stylist’s Visible Women campaign, and it’s one we’re proud to hold dear.

All of which brings us neatly to NPR’s newly-published list of the 150 best albums by women musicians. National Public Radio, or NPR, is one of the most prestigious media organisations in the US, and is the force behind iconic shows such as This American Life (the radio show that launched the smash hit podcast Serial).

While some music purists might argue that ‘best of’ album lists make most sense when organised by genre or era, rather than gender, we think there’s something wonderful about seeing so many wonderful albums by incredible female artists gathered in one place. Plus, of course, it provides us with excellent inspiration for our next fist-pumping Spotify playlist. 

Lauryn Hill’s debut album came third in NPR’s list 

The top 10 albums by female musicians, according to NPR, are as follows:

  1. Joni Mitchell, Blue (1971)
  2. Carole King, Tapestry (1971)
  3. Lauryn Hill, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
  4. Kate Bush, Hounds of Love (1985)
  5. Janis Joplin, Pearl (1971)
  6. Patti Smith, Horses (1975)
  7. Amy Winehouse, Back to Black (2006)
  8. Beyoncé, Lemonade (2016)
  9. Tori Amos, Little Earthquakes (1992)
  10. Joni Mitchell, Court and Spark (1974)

For more musical inspiration, read the full list here.

Throughout 2018, Stylist is raising the profiles of brilliant women past and present – and empowering future generations to follow their lead – with our Visible Women campaign. See more from Visible Women here.  

Images: Getty Images