At Who What Wear, we think the best way to kick-start your summer—aside from adding effortless rompers, shorts, and dresses to your repertoire—is by curating the perfect playlist. With that in mind, we rounded up a handful of our favorite female artists and bands right now.
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Talented, stylish, and touring right now, these musicians, from notables you might already recognize (Ellie Goulding, Solange Knowles, Florence Welch) to up-and-comers (Angel Haze, Lou Doillon, First Aid Kit) whose songs are already on repeat, are the kind of girls who are currently creating the soundtrack of our lives. Click through our slideshow to see who we’re tuning into this summer and why, and be sure to check out our favorite tracks, too.
Photo credit: Billy Farrell Agency
WHO: Ellie Goulding
WHAT: Press play on “I Need Your Love,” a bubbly dance hit that’s perfect for a GNO pregame.
WHY: The British singer/songwriter is having a huge year. Her track “Lights” was an instant radio hit, and “Anything Could Happen” got major buzz after being used in the trailer for HBO's Girls. Goulding, who’s a running enthusiast, also worked with Nike to design her own version of their FlyKnit Lunar1+ sneakers.
WHERE: This summer she’s touring the US with Bruno Mars starting in July, as well as performing at a number of European music festivals.
WHAT: We can’t get enough of “Oblivion,” which contrasts Grimes’ light-as-air voice with hauntingly creepy lyrics.
WHY: In addition to being celebrated for her experimental sound--a daring mix of hip-hop, electronic, and industrial rock--Canadian musician Grimes is also a fashion darling. She wore Chanel to the recent Met Gala, and Hedi Slimane tapped her to draw designs for a collection of limited-edition Saint Laurent t-shirts.
WHAT: Put “Losing You,” a snappy ‘80s-inspired R&B song with an almost tropical-sounding beat, on repeat for a day spent poolside.
WHY: She lent her silky voice to musical comedy group The Lonely Island’s “Semicolon” last month, and got rap wunderkind Kendrick Lamar to contribute an original verse on a new version of her song, “Looks Good With Trouble.”
WHERE: Solange performs at several well-known festivals this summer, from Glastonbury in the UK to Philadelphia’s Made in America.
WHAT: Turn up the volume on “Sacrilege,” a gospel choir-backed track that will pump up a road trip.
WHY: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs haven’t debuted a new album since 2009, but this year they headlined Coachella and released their fourth, Mosquito, to critical acclaim. Karen O also popped up with a new blonde ‘do.
WHERE: They’re playing at several major festivals in the US, including Summerfest, Outside Lands, and FYF Festival.
WHAT: Blast girl power anthem “Girlfriend” when your best friend comes over.
WHY: Icona Pop’s ultra-catchy “I Love It” became this year’s party jam after being featured on a Girls episode in season two, and now the Swedish duo of Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo are back at it with their next surefire radio hit, “Girlfriend.”
WHERE: They’re playing a few festivals in the US, like New York’s Governors Ball, and plenty of shows in their native Sweden.
WHAT: The rapper’s rapid-fire delivery, plus a head-bopping beat, make “Werkin’ Girls” a no-brainer for a dance party.
WHY: Angel Haze may be a newcomer to the rap scene, but she’s already endeared herself to designers like Donatella Versace, who asked her to perform at the J.W. Anderson for Versus launch party. Watch for the rapper’s boundary-pushing debut album, Dirty Gold, later this year (artists as varied as Coldplay and Mark Ronson worked with her on it).
WHERE: Spot Angel Haze at a number of major music festivals this season, including Chicago’s Lollapalooza and Sweden’s Way Out West.
WHAT: Put “Who” in constant rotation on your morning playlist. The song’s interwoven lyrics and funky horns make it easy listening.
WHY: Clark, who’s known by her nom de plume St. Vincent, has always been an amazing performer, but after collaborating with the Talking Heads’ legendary David Byrne on Love This Giant and Brass Tactics, she’s officially part of the cool kid’s club. She also made a cameo on The National's new album Trouble Will Find Me, which came out late last month.
WHERE: Clark and Byrne are playing dates together all over the US this summer, including Bonnaroo, before heading to Europe for additional dates in August.
WHAT: Set your next dinner party to the hypnotic beat of “Keep You.”
WHY: As one-half of Wild Belle with her brother Elliott, Bergman’s enjoying a moment this year. After releasing their first album Isles this March, the duo brought their rock-meets-reggae-meets-funk energy to Coachella and will play at upcoming Lollapalooza.
WHERE: Wild Belle’s everywhere this summer, from New York to France and Canada.
WHY: If we could hitch a ride to Chicago, we’d definitely be there to catch Brooklyn-based duo Chairlift perform their melodic, sparkly synth-pop tunes at the city’s famous Pitchfork Music Festival in July, alongside notables like M.I.A. and Toro Y Moi.
WHERE: In addition to Pitchfork, they’ve booked a few other US dates.
WHAT: “You’re The One,” an electro-pop song brimming with dark synths, might just be our next karaoke go-to.
WHY: Fashion can’t get enough of Charli XCX, who wrote and was featured on Icona Pop’s “I Love It.” The song blew up after appearing in the infamous cocaine-fueled dance scene in Girls--you know the one--and brands like Urban Outfitters and Levi’s soon tapped the British singer to work with her. Plus, her debut album True Romance was released in April.
WHERE: Charli XCX headlines her own tour this summer with dates in the US and UK.
WHAT: When you’re in a meditative mood, play “Over the Love,” which features Welch’s signature swooping, powerful vocals.
WHY: All year you’ve heard Welch’s soaring vocals in Calvin Harris’ smash hit “Sweet Nothing.” Now her song “Over The Love” is featured in one of the year’s most popular movie soundtracks, The Great Gatsby.
WHERE: Florence + The Machine’s slated to perform at Poland’s Coke Live Music Festival and Brazil’s Rock In Rio later this summer.
WHAT: With its soaring, euphoric melody, “Breathing Underwater” was meant to be performed in a huge stadium arena or sung at the top of your lungs in a car--we’re down with both.
WHY: The frontwoman for Canadian quartet Metric, beloved for their seamless blend of rock, electronica, and synth pop, recently branched out to jewelry design, teaming up with Fleet Jewelry to create The PENdant Necklace ($120).
WHERE: Check out Metric’s North American tour this summer.
WHY: When folk rock favorites Mumford & Sons performed in Stockholm this April, they invited First Aid Kit onstage with them. The duo, made up of Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Soderberg, have a song called “In the Hearts of Men” that was recently featured on an episode of Bones.
WHERE: They’re touring all over Europe, including the UK, their native Sweden, and Norway.
WHAT: The energetic beat of “Bounce,” out next month, is destined for a summer rager.
WHY: Iggy Azalea’s been hovering on our hip-hop radar for a while now--her video for “Work” is over-the-top awesomeness--but the Australian-born rapper (who also starred in a Levi’s campaign last fall) is on the verge of superstardom. Her debut album will be released in September and features a duet with one of our other stylish faves, Rita Ora.
WHERE: Watch her play intimate clubs and massive festivals in both the US and Europe this summer.
WHAT: Listen to the infectious “Red Eye” while on the way to your summer getaway.
WHY: For a band that’s yet to release a debut album (it’s due soon, by the way), Haim’s already toured with huge acts like Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros and Florence + The Machine. Sisters Este, Danielle, and Alana Haim also recently harmonized with Kid Cudi on the track “Red Eye” off his Indicud album.
WHERE: Haim’s packed tour schedule includes dates all over Europe, ending with a healthy handful of US shows.
WHAT: The hushed, haunting quality of “Places” is simply magnetic.
WHY: Doillon, the daughter of Jane Birkin and Jacques Doillon, could have easily rested on her laurels as an accomplished actress. But her folk pop album Places is making waves in the French music scene for its folksy, smoky ballads, cementing her skills as a musician, too.
WHERE: Find Doillon serenading crowds at a number of tour dates in France.
WHAT: Groove to the uptempo “Disparate Youth” as you’re mixing cocktails for a backyard barbeque.
WHY: The singer just made a cameo in Vampire Weekend’s buzzed-about video “Diane Young” and sings the catchy hook on A$AP Rocky’s “Hell” from his debut album Long.Live.A$AP. Her most recent release--the single “Girls”--was created specifically for HBO’s Girls and featured on season two of the show.
WHERE: She’s slated to perform three concerts in Hawaii this month.
WHAT: Cruise down a particularly scenic highway while blasting the dreamy pop song “Myth.”
WHY: Like every other fan of Beach House’s ethereal sound, we were mesmerized by the band’s short film, Forever Still, released earlier this year. The video finds the duo in the desert performing songs off their 2012 album Bloom as the sun sets and rises. Watch now: it’s 26 brilliant minutes that perfectly captures the spirit of their music!
WHERE: Catch them at a number of dates in the US, Europe, and Brazil.
WHAT: “Facing West,” with its pleasant, lilting melody and whistling, is our new wake-up song.
WHY: We’ve got several sister acts on our list--and British folk rock trio The Staves is more proof that siblings make beautiful music together. Check out Emily, Jessica, and Camilla Staveley-Taylor’s hazy, dream-like video for their song “Facing West.”
WHERE: The trio headlines a North American tour through June.
WHY: Though she’s one-half of the indie rock outfit The Fiery Furnaces (the other half being her brother Matthew), Friedberger’s about to showcase her own talent on her second solo album, Personal Record.
WHERE: She’ll be playing at plenty of intimate venues in the US and UK through September.