The 7 Ladies Who Will Be Stars Of Summer '14

While Ariana and Iggy’s peppy “Problem” seems to be the early front-runner for 2014’s song of the summer, Miss Sugar and Miss Spice are not the be-all or end-all of the season's musical offerings. As we are at the beginning of June, consider what we have to look forward to: releases from seven women, among them rock and indie vets, electropop essentials, and one singer who has only gotten stronger, despite backlash from plenty of critics. Trust the musical gods, by the time Labor Day rolls around, you will be thanking these seven for making the summer sound a whole lot better.
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In chronological order, by release date, voilà.
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Photo: Courtesy of Chrissie Hynde.
Chrissie Hynde, Stockholm, June 10

I mean, we could just stop here. Swagger generation, this woman invented the word, and backed it up with The Pretenders’ 1979 self-titled debut, one of the great first albums of all time. Now 62, and still rocking raccoon eyes more convincingly than anyone on earth, Chrissie has put her iconic band on the back burner, for a solo debut that she has described as a “power pop album you can dance to.” The result includes sparkling "You Or No One" and the peppy "Dark Sunglasses." (Check out the video featuring lots of folks in shades.) Chrissie recorded the album in Stockholm (hence the title), working with Björn Yttling of Peter, Bjorn and John. No, she’s not whistling, but her pals Neil Young and John McEnroe do make cameos.
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Photo: Courtesy of Interscope.
Lana Del Rey, Ultraviolence, June 17

Ever wonder how two people can look at the same thing and come away with such wildly different conclusions? Such was the case with lovely Lana’s emergence on the indie landscape in 2011 with “Video Games,” and quick transition (too quick for some) into the mainstream in 2012 with a memorable SNL appearance and rather polarizing album Born To Die. Nothing shuts up the naysayers like success though. That record was multimillion-dollar, worldwide hit — owing to a cult-like devotion in some quarters — and the glamour-gangster girl promises more languid forays into sex, drugs, and violence on this hugely anticipated follow-up. And, who doesn’t want to hear a song called “Fucked My Way To the Top”?
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Photo: Courtesy of Drag City.
Jennifer Herrema, Black Bananas, Electric Brick Wall, June 24

There’s style and then there’s style, and Herrema’s got it in spades — she's a latter-day Janis. Between the hair, the shades, the voice, she’s the whole package: a writer, designer, artist, and she was born to be in a band. Her latest morphed from RTX to Black Bananas a couple of years back, and Electric Brick Wall is its second collection of genre-smashing goodness. There’s fuzzy rock squalls (“Dope On An Island,” “Highway Down”), Woodstock-ready psych blues (“Hey Rockin’”), and funky, danceable charmers (“Give It to Me,” single “Physical Emotions”) — and in the middle of it all, one rad woman. Keep an eye out for an R29 interview with Jennifer later this month.
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Photo: Courtesy of Virgin Records.
Sia, 1000 Forms of Fear, July 8

Sia Furler is one of the most significant figures in pop music of the past decade who has yet to become a major star (some would say it's criminal). She has already given 2014 a soaring, reach-for-the-rafters anthem in “Chandelier” that’s served to ramp up excitement for this, her first solo album in four years . For a while it looked like there might not be another, so the fact that this record even happened is cause for celebration. If there is justice, this prodigious talent, who has countless times brought her Midas songwriting touch to pop’s A-listers, will finally join their ranks. Of course, part of what makes Sia special is she has seemingly no interest in doing that.
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Photo: Courtesy of Polydor.
Elly Jackson, La Roux Trouble In Paradise, July 8

Almost as reluctant about fame is La Roux’s Elly Jackson, who’s waited even longer — five years — to put out a second album of electropop crowd-pleasers. We’ve already had two tastes of it: the just-released track “Uptight Downtown,” a synth stomper that’s a bit Chic-meets-Scissor Sisters and lives up to its hook, “the temperature is rising,” and the more wistful “Let Me Down Gently." In the accompanying music video, the most vibrant color comes from Elly’s signature shock of ginger hair. If she looks lonely in the clip, maybe it’s because with the departure of former bandmate Ben Langmaid, La Roux is now down to just Elly. Never fear, the Tilda Swinton lookalike with the sweeping soprano can hold her own.
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Photo: Courtesy of Barsuk.
Jenny Lewis, The Voyager, July 29

It seems everyone has a different Jenny Lewis touchstone. Mine, for instance, would be a relationship that took off just as Rilo Kiley’s album More Adventurous did, nearly a full decade ago — Jenny basically soundtracked that situation. Others cite her partnerships with The Watson Twins, The Postal Service, and Johnathan Rice (Jenny & Johnny), and even her kid-actor early years (the 1989 Fred Savage vehicle The Wizard is a favorite of a friend). Point is, whatever Jenny does, she seems to evoke a smile. So, there were smiles all around with the recent announcement of The Voyager, from a woman who’s done some voyagin’. Collaborators on the record include Ryan Adams, Beck, and Rice.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nettwerk Music Group.
Sinéad O’Connor, I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss, August 11

We began this list with a take-no-prisoners warrior — why not end with one? It was about six months ago that I last spoke to the fearless Sinéad, in the wake of her unfortunate social-media dust-up with Miley Cyrus over issues including feminism and mental health. While she didn’t care to elaborate on that back-and-forth, she didn’t back down from her statements either. And, would you expect her to? Since her debut, The Lion and The Cobra, was released 27 years ago, she has long been as ferocious as both those creatures when it comes to the matters close to her heart. Her upcoming tenth release, though, was originally named The Vishnu Room after the Hindu supreme god Vishnu, and Sinéad has called it “an album of very romantic songs.” Just the cool down we may need come the dog days of August.
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