Summer of Boss Ladies: The Top 10 Female Artists Ruling the Charts
Editor’s note: IXiiV Records (9 to 5 Records) is a music consulting firm for independent recording artists. Run by two smart and savvy women, the Boss Ladies, IXiiV provides artists with the knowledge and resources they need to reach their professional goals. The Boss Ladies can help artists in the areas of marketing, branding, and performance. Contact them for a full service list and check out the IXiiV blog for advice and insight on the music industry.
What makes a boss lady? Is it a look? Talent? Drive? Attitude? This summer, female artists are burning up the Billboard® Hot 100. Not only do these women rule the music scene, but many have also ruled multiple branches of the entertainment and fashion industries for years, while the remaining ladies are not far behind. Whether or not you like their music, there is no denying the success that these hardworking and multi-hyphenate women have achieved.
To celebrate them and their accomplishments, the Boss Ladies of IXiiV, Vicki and Suz, have compiled a list (in no particular order) of this summer’s leading female artists, based on their reign across multiple Billboard® charts, with clips of their greatest and latest hits of 2011. Read below as the two give their candid thoughts on what they think of each of these talented femmes as boss ladies of the music and entertainment industries.
Agree or disagree with their choices? Did they leave someone off the list or put on someone undeserving? Let IXiiV know in the comments section!
1. Jennifer Lopez – On the Floor
Vicki: Oh god I hate this song. If this is her “comeback song” she needs to go and come back with some better music. She looks gorgeous in the video as usual, but the concept is boring and cliché. Regardless of my feelings about this song, I admire J Lo for the empire she has built herself through her clothing line, perfumes, movies, music, and now hosting American Idol. She’s a fashion icon and A-List celebrity. You can’t really get more boss lady than that. I was sad when I heard that her and Marc Anthony are divorcing, but I’m sure she’ll handle it in true J Lo style.
Suz: She was slipping for a few years and this, paired with her American Idol gig, definitely put her back on the map. I don’t know if I’d call her “an artist,” but you can’t say she’s not a boss lady. Running a fashion, music and acting empire, she knows how to promote her brand. She knew she needed a big jolt back into the public spotlight and American Idol was the perfect platform; once again, she’s America’s Sweetheart who had millions of viewers at her disposal to showcase her new album, not to mention the countless endorsement’s she’s landed since AI. This song is thin and probably won’t last the test of time, but she knows exactly how to make the business work for her.
2. Beyoncè – Run the World (Girls) (Live at 2011 Billboard Awards)
Vicki: Queen B! I absolutely love Beyonce. She has been at the top of her game since she went solo in 2003. No one can touch her in terms of popularity, album sales, and radio airplay. She could probably read the phonebook on a record and it would be #1. I just listened to her newest album 4 (thanks Spotify!). Her vocals were great, but the music didn’t grab me. I’m not feeling the singles she put out recently especially this song, but her live performances blow me away! I think I’ve watched this Billboard® performance at least 20 times. She is an amazing entertainer, the complete package. Anyone who can sound and look this good while singing live and dancing in heels is my hero.
Suz: Love her or hate her, this routine was impeccable. Four solo albums in, she’s still performing hit songs. Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in a sea of B-overload on the radio, but she knows what it means to be disciplined and work at your craft, something her husband, Jay-Z, knows plenty about, and I have to respect that. She may not be the truest songwriter, but she certainly knows how to make any song her own. She’s covered acting and, although I think she has a long way to go, she seems to take it seriously, so I don’t doubt she’ll hone her craft on screen soon enough. Combine that with her Derèon clothing line, countless beauty endorsements, and BBFL-status with the President and First Lady, she pretty much does rule the world.
3. Nicki Minaj – Super Bass
Vicki: OMG this song is even worse than On the Floor. As soon as it comes on the radio, I change the channel. I seem to only like Nicki when she is on someone else’s song (Monster, Bottoms Up, etc.). She usually takes the song over. The one song of hers that I do like is Moment 4 Life. She may not be my favorite, but I think it’s extraordinary what she has accomplished since her debut album Pink Friday was released last year. She completely turned the hip-hop game on its head with her unique style, crazy energy, and lyrical prowess. She came out at the perfect time, when female emcees seemed to have disappeared. I’m interested to see how she progresses musically.
Suz: I LOVE her! It took me a little while to get on Team Minaj, but after her verse on Monster, how could you not? I’m a huge Lil’ Kim fan and would like to see this beef squashed, but Kim has been M.I.A. for a while and I’m happy to see another strong female come along in the game and mix things up a bit. She isn’t hung up on looking pretty over delivering a verse and pushing the creative envelope – she just goes for it with no apologies. She has been able to prove herself and hold her own amongst the biggest names in Hip Hop, and I think she knew it was time for a little fun. Sure, this song is cheesefest central, but I love it and will not be ashamed – she’s having fun. She knows it’s campy and she embraces it! I’m sure by this time next year she’ll have fashion and accessory line (Barbz Nation, anyone?), perfume empire and movie roles awaiting her.
4. Rihanna – S&M
Vicki: Finally, a song I like! Rihanna is so fierce. Otherworldly fierce. She has come a long way since Pon de Replay, transforming herself from just another female R&B singer to an international superstar. I love the story about how she went against her label’s wishes and cut her hair into the now infamous Rihanna bob, an image transformation that helped catapult her career. My favorite celebrity to follow on Twitter, she just seems so fun and sassy, like someone I want to hang out with. The first time I heard this song, I laughed so hard when she said “Sex in the air. I don’t care. I love the smell of it”. Then I stopped laughing and downloaded the song. It was on heavy rotation in my iTunes. The video, though campy, reflects her personality and style. Can’t wait to see what she does next.
Suz: You love sex, you want everyone to say your name, you like the way it hurts – we get it. Honestly, I have mixed feelings about RiRi’s music these days, but you can’t escape her. For the last three years she’s been on damn near every song that’s reached the Top 10. I honestly shelved her as a one hit wonder when Pon de Replay came out, and I’m glad I was wrong. Even when I don’t like one of her songs, I do find her compelling and entertaining. She’s grown so much from album to album, and seems to have even taken some singing lessons along the way. She doesn’t let herself be pigeonholed as a pop princess and I like that she’s explored the route of culture fashion without taking herself too seriously. She seems genuinely thankful for her fans, the Rihanna Navy, and she knows exactly how to play the media with every tweet she writes (or doesn’t write). She’s business savvy and perfectly good at it.
5. Lady Gaga – Born This Way
Vicki: What can I say about Lady Gaga that hasn’t already been said? I’m not the biggest fan of her music, but she is probably one of the smartest and savviest artists in the industry. The way she promotes herself and her music makes my marketing heart flutter (just look at this case study). Seriously, I get emotional sometimes just talking about how she uses social media. That’s not a normal reaction, I know, but there’s a reason why she’s the most followed person on Twitter. She is completely committed to her brand. You will never see her out of character wearing regular people clothing. Born This Way definitely warranted the Madonna comparisons, but the song was a huge hit in it’s own right and further cemented Lady Gaga as the champion of the misunderstood. I love that her videos are always an epic production with outrageous costumes, strange storylines, and lots of dancing. The first few times I watched this video I had no idea WTF was going on. I’m still not sure if I get it. All I know is that I really like the end when she whips her hair (back and forth) with real-life skeleton Rick Genest, yes those are actually tattoos.
Suz: You can say what you want about Gaga and her obvious comparisons to a Madonna remake. However, you cannot argue her marketing power. Really, you can’t. I will tell Vicki about it and we will both show up at your door and demand a proper apology because you would be wrong. We do not joke about branding and social media. Whether it’s her, or her team of little monsters, Gaga has been able to surmount an unbelievable following by remaining painfully dedicated to her stage persona and musical mission. She has easily become the voice of this generation, embracing social media and ruling it within the paradox of marketing herself as the world’s underdog. And, Madonna wannabe or not, after seeing her HBO special where she sang an a capella version of this song during the credits it is clear she can sing circles around the Material Girl.
6. Ke$ha – Blow
Vicki: Ok, I just forced myself to watch this video and um…wow. I want my 4 minutes back. Did James Van Der Beek have nothing better to do? Do unicorns really bleed rainbows? How did this get 21 million views? So many questions. I would have loved to sit in on the meeting where they discussed the concept. I think my cat could have come up with something better. If you couldn’t tell, I’m not a Ke$ha fan. Her music and dirty party girl image don’t appeal to me, though I do like glitter on occasion, but clearly it’s working for her. She seems to actually have a decent voice underneath all the auto-tune and she knows how to write hit songs; I just don’t like the songs. What I do like is her sense of humor. She doesn’t take herself seriously. She understands the type of music she makes and owns it. I respect that.
Suz: I’ll be honest – I can’t stand K-e-dollar sign-ha. In fact, I turn the dial most of the times her music comes on the radio. It also caused my near physical pain to put her on this list. However, this song has been stuck in my head for days! I do like the fact that she doesn’t take herself too seriously, as evident by this hilarious Funny or Die video, and she knows how to craft a pop hit. I’ll admit I even like the song she wrote for Brit Brit – Til the World Ends (I’ve even contemplated buying the remix that she appears on with Nicki Minaj). With hit after hit, and dirty glitter face after dirty glitter face, Ke$ha has made her presence known and many of you are certainly paying attention. So, in closing, Ke$ha, go on with your bad, glitterized dirty self!
7. Katy Perry – Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)
Vicki: Ok so take everything I said about Ke$ha and apply it to Katy except Katy’s video has better cameos (sorry, Dawson) and actually makes sense. I don’t like her music, it is definitely geared towards a younger audience, but I do admire her for the success she’s achieved in just a few years. Every song she puts out becomes a huge hit. It’s crazy to think that she started as a Christian singer. She’s come a long way since then finding her own sound and style. Whether she’s sporting a whipped cream bra or a smurftastic blue wig, she’s never afraid to show off her playful side. Another artist I’d love to hang out with as long as we didn’t have to listen to her music or watch one of her husband’s movies. While I may never buy one of her songs or albums, I’m pretty sure she’s going to do just fine without me.
Suz: Another artist I don’t really care for, however another songwriter that has figured out the key formula to hit songs – taboo lyrics, colorful and entertaining music videos, and loud, repetitive crowd-banging hooks. Her and her BFFL, RiRi, are two boss ladies that know how to get loud and party. This year alone, Katy is set to surpass the King of Pop with the most #1 hits off of one album. With her new perfume line, famous husband and endless #1 hits, Katy Perry is certainly running things this summer.
8. P!nk – F*ckin’ Perfect
Vicki: Wait what…P!nk? Has there always been an exclamation point? Oh artists and their love of symbols (ahem…Ke$ha). Pink is pretty badass. She’s always followed her own path in the industry, carving out a place for herself in the pop world without going the typical pop princess route. She speaks her mind and I love that. I haven’t followed her music much lately, but I think she has one of the most underrated voices. This video makes me cry. I love the message; it reminds me of Beautiful by Christina Aguilera. Ok let me stop now before P!nk finds out I compared her to Christina.
Suz: I’ve loved her since the day There You Go came out. I was sad to see her leave her Hip Hop roots behind, but I’ve learned to love her rock-pop sound. She has a soulful voice and sings lyrics that say something, no matter if they are controversial, contradicting or dancey and humorous. She doesn’t seem to give in to the universal branding of her image (perfume, clothing, shoes, accessories, etc.). Instead, she puts her energy in to her stage shows and staying the artist she wants to be like a true boss lady. Surprisingly enough, as she put it on Twitter, “Out of Myself, Britney and Christina – didn’t everyone think I was gonna be the troublemaker?” in reference to Britney’s poor judgment and Christina’s recent run-in with the police. When it comes to music, I can see P!nk sustaining and holding her own as a modern day Pat Benatar or Deborah Harry.
9. Adele – Rolling in the Deep
Vicki: I’m ashamed to admit that I don’t know much about Adele. I do know that her voice is amazing, so soulful. I’ve only heard a few of her songs including this one. I need to give her music the listen it deserves especially since 21 is now the biggest-selling digital album ever. Kudos Adele! Rolling in the Deep sounds like nothing else on the radio right now. Thank you for making music that is both artistic and radio-friendly. I cannot wait to listen to the rest of the album.
Suz: I heard about Adele a while ago, but I honestly never gave her music a real listen until I heard Rolling in the Deep performed on Glee. I know… I’m not proud of it either, but I’m not going to hate on anything that brings me to notice an album like 21. It’s been weeks and it is still on repeat on my iPod. Her voice and attitude emit such an experienced, old soul, yet her music still speaks to the younger generation. Like P!nk, I don’t know if I see her delving into clothing lines and lip gloss, but there’s no need for her to do that. Her voice is enough, clearly, to drive her album sales.
10. Britney Spears – I Wanna Go
Vicki: Oh Brit Brit. You’ve been through so much, yet here you are still making music and selling out tours. I jam out to some Britney ever now and then (don’t judge me!). When I hear I Wanna Go I immediately think of the Summer By Bravo commercials. The song is nothing spectacular, typical Britney dance song. The video is cheesy, but it’s good to see her having fun. Even though she’s not a great singer, her dancing has become boring, and her music is far from innovative, I find myself rooting for her. When she first came out, she blew everyone away and became the leader in a crowd of young female pop singers (remember when Mandy Moore and Jessica Simpson actually sold records?). Now there is a new breed of female pop stars that are pushing the creative envelope with Lady Gaga at the forefront. Unlike Gaga and some of the other ladies on this list, Britney is a veteran in the music industry. Her fan base has been with her through all the ups and downs and will continue to support her no matter what. After all, she’s Britney bitch.
Suz: I have never been a fan of Britney… never. However, there is something about her latest singles, as auto-tuned as they may be, that I can’t get out of my head. And I have a confession that I’d like to share with all of you right now… I bought some of her recent songs. Never in my life, have I purchased a Britney (auto)tune, until now. This one in particular I love, more so for the video, especially because I think this is the first video in a long time that you can see real life in her eyes. She has a focus in this performance that we haven’t seen from her in a while. Even though I’m not a fan of her music, I am routing for her as an industry powerhouse and do believe she is finally making a real comeback on her own terms. She’s someone that obviously has a lot of fight in her and doesn’t seem to give a crap about what other people say about her choices. Some may think she has snorted to much Tinkerbell fairy dust over the last few years, but I think beneath all of the tabloid fodder there’s a real smart business woman in there that is playing the media more than we know, and laughing all the way to the bank. I say more power to her!