23 Female Singers From The '90s Who We LOVE

Photo: Bob Berg/Getty Images.
Fair warning: You're about to enter a place of extreme '90s nostalgia. But we're not going to talk about Kurt Cobain or Friends or get wistful about the days of less digitally connected existence. Nope, this homage is dedicated to all the ladies who rocked that decade — and their way into our hearts (and eardrums) forever.

We're talking Sarah McLachlan and Lauryn Hill. Kathleen Hanna and Gwen Stefani. Brandy, Monica, and Melissa Ethridge. And then there's all the ladies of the Lilith Fair stage. The list really does just go on and on — which is why we'll be updating it every month to include more of our favorite female performers from one our favorite iconic musical periods. Without further ado: Less talk. More music.
Advertisement
1 of 31
Photo: Bob Berg/Getty Images.
The Artist: Sleater Kinney, a.k.a. Corin Tucker (vocals, guitar), Carrie Brownstein (guitar, vocals), and Janet Weiss (drums)

Known For: Moving along the rise of riot grrrl and indie rock in the Pacific Northwest. Being really, really badass.

Memorable Track: "Get Up"
2 of 31
The Artist: Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo

Known For: Being the best part of the Melrose Place soundtrack; cropping up in the movie 10 Things I Hate About You as the indie band of your (and Kat Stratford's) dreams.

Memorable Track: "Come On"
3 of 31
Photo: Rachel Bevis/REX/Shutterstock.
The Artist: Beth Ditto

Known For: Gossip might have been a little late to the West Coast grunge game, but the band, fronted by powerhouse Beth Ditto, began to make a mark in 1999 and things only went up from there. Often compared to Etta James, Ditto is still on the scene and making music today.

Memorable Track: "Heavy Cross"
4 of 31
Photo: Capitol Records/Getty Images.
The Artist: Meredith Brooks

Known For: She's a bitch. She's a lover. She's a child. She's a mother. She's a sinner. She's a saint, etc.

Memorable Track: "Bitch"
5 of 31
Photo: Epic Records.
The Artist: Brownstone

Known For: Killer harmonies, gifting Tory Lanez with the melody for "Say It"

Memorable Track: "If You Love Me"
Advertisement
6 of 31
Photo: Courtesy of Epic Records / Glow Worm.
The Artist: B*Witched

Known For: A specific subset of U.K. bubblegum girl pop, wearing a fair amount of matching denim.

Memorable Track: "C'est La Vie"
7 of 31
Photo: Matt Baron/BEI/BEI/Shutterstock.
The Artist: Britney Spears.

Known For: Making hits and then — oops — doing it again and again. Also her mental breakdown back in the day, and having once dated Justin Timberlake. Neither last nor least: dance skills.

Memorable Track: So many! "Baby, One More Time" was definitely her first biggie. But what would the world be without "Toxic" or "I'm A Slave 4 U"? A much darker place, that's for sure.
8 of 31
Photo: Erik Pendizch/REX/Shutterstock.
The Artist: TLC, a.k.a. Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas.

Known For: Creeping, passing on scrubs, general sassy excellence.

Memorable Track: All of them. But we are pretty partial to "Waterfalls."
9 of 31
Photo: Getty Images.
The Artist: Courtney Love, a.k.a. the lead singer of Hole, a.k.a. Ms. Kurt Cobain

Known For: Being a little cray cray, but also the queen of grunge. Plus her relationship with Cobain, which is subjectively chronicled in this iconic profile.

Memorable Track: Definitely "Doll Parts." Also, "Celebrity Skin," which we would highly recommend listening to this very second.
10 of 31
Photo: Ilpo Musto/REX/Shutterstock.
The Artist: Lauryn Hill, a.k.a. Ms. Lauryn Hill, a.ka. L. Boogie

Known For: Being the badass female member of the Fugees, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, that incredible rendition of "Joyful Joyful" in Sister Act 2.

Memorable Track: "Ex Factor," "Can't Take My Eyes off of You", "That Thing."
Advertisement
11 of 31
Photo: Photo: Andre Csillag/REX/Shutterstock.
The Artist: En Vogue, a.k.a. Terry Ellis, Dawn Robinson, Cindy Herron, and Maxine Jones

Known For: Being a precursor to Destiny's Child. Sweet moves. Slinky silver dresses. Breaking it down.

Memorable Track: We would sooner choose a favorite child. But "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)" and "Don't Let Go" are both vying for the top spot.
12 of 31
Photo: REX/Shutterstock.
The Artist: Ani Difranco

Known For: Being not an angry girl, but singing about things that make girls angry. Starting Righteous Babe Records. Inventive hairstyles.

Memorable Track: "Untouchable face." (But really, choosing an Ani track is an impossible task, as they are basically all incredible.)
13 of 31
Photo: Andre Csillag/REX/Shutterstock.
The Artist: Natalie Imbruglia

Known For: Being an Australian soap star. That chicly choppy haircut.

Memorable Track: "Torn." Were there other ones? Probably. But that one got the most radio play, and is still a "should we breakup" anthem.
14 of 31
Photo: Ilpo Musto/REX/Shutterstock.
The Artist: Jewel

Known For: Mournful songs about splitting with your boo, having small hands.

Memorable Track: "You Were Meant For Me." Dreams DO last so long, even after you're gone. It's poetry, people.
15 of 31
Photo: Ian Dickson/REX/Shutterstock.
The Artist: Courtney Love

Known For: Kurt Cobain. Public meltdowns. Being the front woman of Hole. (Not necessarily in that order, but sort of.)

Memorable Track: "Celebrity Skin," but also, "Doll Parts." These two are sort of the bookends to the Courtney Love performance spectrum.
16 of 31
Photo: Newspix/REX/Shutterstock.
The Artist: Spice Girls

Known For: Girl power! Archetypal band personas!

Memorable Track: "Spice Up Your Life" — though you should probably just go ahead and listen to the entire Spice World album.
17 of 31
Photo: RICHARD YOUNG/REX/Shutterstock.
The Artist: Destiny's Child

Known For: Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams, other former members (in that order).

Memorable Tack: Um, what Destiny's Child track was not memorable, is more the question? But if we had to go with just one, we'd say "Say My Name."
18 of 31
Photo: REX/Shutterstock.
The Artist: Brandy

Known For: Braids. Being Cinderella. Fighting about boys with Monica.

Memorable Track: "Have You Ever."
19 of 31
Photo: REX/Shutterstock.
The Artist: Sarah McLachlan

Known For: Making you cry about animal mistreatment. General soulfulness. Sad, sad, sad songs. Fumbling towards ecstasy.

Memorable Track: "Building a Mystery."
20 of 31
REX/Shutterstock.
The Artist: Gwen Stefani

Known For: Being the leading lady of No Doubt. Badass braces. These days, being one-half of Gwake.

Memorable Track: There's no choosing here. Just listen to Tragic Kingdom over and over again until you get it.
21 of 31
Photo: PAT POPE/REX/Shutterstock.
The Artist: Tori Amos

Known For: Mad piano and composition skills. Being silent all these years.

Memorable Track: "Winter" — though it should be noted that the Tori Amos canon is wide, sometimes experimental, and a little unpredictable, save for that gorgeous voice.
22 of 31
Photo: Matt Baron/BEI/BEI/Shutterstock.
The Artist: Mandy Moore

Known For: Missing you like candy. Playing a really compelling bitchy high schooler in Saved!.

Memorable Track: "Candy." That is quintessential Moore.
23 of 31
Photo: REX/Shutterstock.
The Artist: Lisa Loeb

Known For: Finger picking. Excellent taste in eyewear.

Memorable Track: "Stay." (Duh.)
24 of 31
The Artist: Mariah Carey

Known For: Oh man. For a primer: start here. But those vocal falls are pretty important.

Memorable Track: "Fantasy."
25 of 31
Photo: Nils Jorgensen/REX/Shutterstock.
The Artist: Tracy Chapman

Known For: Having a really unique, unbelievably beautiful voice. Great hair.

Memorable Track: "Fast Car."
26 of 31
Photo: Ken Hively/Getty Images.
The Artist: Alanis Morissette

Known For: Dating Uncle Joey. Being engaged to Ryan Reynolds. Playing god. Long hair. Jagged Little Pill and everything that came after.

Memorable Track: "You Oughta Know"
27 of 31
Photo: Harry Langdon/Getty Images.
The Artist: Monica

Known For: That boy being hers. Totally understanding that sometimes it's just one of them days that a girl goes through.

Memorable Track: "Don't Take It Personal"
28 of 31
Photo: Ebet Roberts/Getty Images.
The Artist: Melissa Etheridge

Known For: That incredible wail. Being a Grammy winner, many times over.

Memorable Track: "I'm the Only One"
29 of 31
Photo: Frans Schellekens/Getty Images.
The Artist: Sinéad O'Connor

Known For: Making a shaved head look really, really good. An incomparably gorgeous breathy quality to her voice. Covering Prince. Activism on behalf of women's rights.

Memorable Track: "Nothing Compares 2 U"
30 of 31
Photo: Bob Berg/Getty Images.
The Artist: Fiona Apple

Known For: Feeling like a criminal.

Memorable Track: "Fast as You Can"
31 of 31
Like this post? There's more. Get tons of celebrity news, fun takes on pop culture, and trending stories on the Refinery29 Entertainment Facebook page. Like us on Facebook — we'll see you there!