Q: What’s making you happy today? A: Women pop singers with giant, real voices

The title for this post, which I hope will become something of a series, is lovingly ripped off from NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. PCHH, which is beyond-fantastic listening – intelligent, funny, informed pop culture commentary done by a group of people who clearly enjoy each other’s company – runs a segment on every show called “What’s Making You Happy This Week?”

This is the new track from Florence + the Machine. Florence Welch, who fronts the band, was discovered singing to herself one night in the bathroom of a club. Now she’s an international pop star, and you know why? Because she has a giant fucking voice that needs almost no digital assistance to sound this good.


And then there’s Adele. It’s hard to heap enough praise on this woman. She writes lyrics that’ll rip your heart out. She sings them with a conviction that will bring tears to your eyes. She’s a big, fat, gorgeous woman with a giant and genuine voice, and she rocks that up-do and those big false eyelashes. She owns the charts right now. She is phenomenal live.

These women’s voices are raw and real and they sound amazing. They are making me happy today.

WARNING: This particular song probably won’t make you happy. It’ll probably make you cry. Because Adele is really good at what she does.

Finally, congratulations to Melissa Etheridge, a woman pop singer with a giant, real voice, and a breast cancer survivor, who was just given a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.

Now, turn up your speakers and dance at your desks, kids!

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at chloesangyal.com

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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  • http://cabaretic.blogspot.com nazza

    Thank you for the enthusiasm! I needed it today.

  • http://feministing.com/members/sarahbee/ Sarah

    Love, love, love Florence + the Machine! And Adele! But Florence always makes me happy. No words to accurately describe it happy. Thanks for posting this! I’ve reached my exclamation point quota for the day so I better end this comment here…

  • http://feministing.com/members/accidentalbeard/ Mo

    Janelle Monae!
    I fell in love with her voice after seeing her fantastic “Tightrope” video (which is amazing and should be immediately watched by anyone who hasn’t seen it yet), but I saw her live last fall and was absolutely blown away by her vocal performance then. She’s an incredible performer and seems, from what I can tell from interviews and the like, to be a pretty rad person as well.

  • http://feministing.com/members/bellerenee/ Renee

    Sara Bareilles kicks ass, too. It’s nice to see her on The Sing Off, too, as she’s a musician foremost, not a sex symbol.

  • http://feministing.com/members/smash/ smash

    As much as I enjoy Florence + the Machine, I am troubled by their song “Kiss With a Fist” for its entirely un-feminist, pro intimate partner violence content. In it, she sings, “A kick to the teeth is good for some/ a kiss with a fist is better than none”. Thus, I hesitate to label her a bad-ass woman.

  • http://feministing.com/members/andyj/ Andy

    Seconded on the Janelle Monae.

    Dipping a little bit back into the proverbial well here, but man oh man, can Susanna Hoffs still sing. New Bangles album came out just yesterday, and it’s pretty great.

    Also, while she’s not really “pop,” Juliana Hatfield has a new record that’s absolutely fantastic.

    One more, too–Marcy Mays of Scrawl remains a sadly overlooked, underappreciated voice. Nature Film and Travel On, Rider are so goddamn good.

  • http://feministing.com/members/sparklepants/ Lisa

    I just made a new account (misplaced my old one) to come into this thread and say Shingai Shoniwa of Noisettes.

  • http://feministing.com/members/evelyn/ Evelyn

    Beyonce performing “One Plus One” at the American Idol Finale Performance. She makes me feel invincible. 122287Jezreel http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEu-L1Nz-Tg&feature=related

  • http://feministing.com/members/appc/ Terry

    I have a little gripe with this, not to knock any of these singers but I don’t see the use in pointing out that they use less digital effects on their voices than other pop singers. Any recorded music (and almost all live music nowadays) is at very least equalized, and you’d be surprised how dramatically a little equalization can change a sound. In that sense digital technology makes everyone’s voice “unreal” but that shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing it’s just the way things are.

    Sorry about that I couldn’t help myself, but on the subject of music I also have a question/suggestion. Will Feministing ever write anything about female composers? I’m sure you have at least some bias against classical music since it’s stereotypically dead white man land (Though really it’s one of the very few musical worlds not dominated by men today), but there are so many amazing female composers like Belinda Reynolds, Christine Southworth, Kaija Saariaho, and Missy Mazzoli (To just name a few) creating what I think is some of the most incredible and original music out there and I feel they deserve recognition. Thanks

  • http://feministing.com/members/fixedfrequencies/ Kirbie

    I’m gonna enjoy this new feature – keep it up!

    And speaking of awesome female singers, I highly recommend looking into Laura Stevenson and the Cans. She has the voice of an angel, and you can hear it on her most recent album, Sit Resist. Very underrated artist.

  • http://feministing.com/members/rhian/ rhian

    Thank you so much to those who mentioned Janelle Monae… I looked her up and have not stopped listening to her for 2 days.

    I’d also like to add Regina Spektor, whose voice is not “giant” but it is gorgeous, and she is not at all worried about doing weird playful things in her music (especially her earlier albums), which I really enjoy.