From Taylor Swift to Adele to Selena Gomez and Lady Gaga, there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of amazing female talent out there. Even if you didn’t like ‘Look What You Made Me Do,’ you have to admit it was pretty catchy. If you haven’t been paying attention to the top hits stats, you might not have noticed that women aren’t dominating the music charts like they were in the earlier 2010s. In fact, seeing a woman in the top spot over the past year has been a rare occurrence.
We are currently in the 41st week of 2017 and stats are looking bleak for our female pop stars. Since the beginning of the year, a woman has been in the number one spot of the weekly Billboard Top 100 Artists only six times. That’s only 15 per cent of the past 10 months. Those spots went to Taylor Swift (twice), Kesha, Katy Perry, Halsey and Lady Gaga.
The numbers are even more staggering when you look at top songs by female artists. Billboard’s Top 40 Pop Songs list has featured songs exclusively by women in the top spot for only five weeks this year. That’s 12 per cent of the year! Those weeks are split between just two songs: ‘Scars to Your Beautiful’ by Alessia Cara and ‘Side to Side’ by Ariana Grande featuring Nicki Minaj. ‘Stay’ (Zedd and Alessia Cara) and ‘Bad Things’ (Machine Gun Kelly and Camila Cabello) add another seven weeks to the count, but they only feature women on male-dominated tracks.
So what’s the deal here? Where are all our ladies at? Patrick Langois of iHeart Radio has some theories. First, it’s just the record release cycle. A lot of the female heavy-weights haven’t released new albums in a while. Taylor and Nicki were busy collaborating on records, Demi’s last album came out in 2013 and Selena’s was 2014.
The female artists that did release albums this year also took some risky artistic moves instead of playing it safe. Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus both released amazingly-written personal songs, but they aren’t quite the top 40 pop material we’re used too. Katy Perry also completely reworked her image which could have contributed to her album’s mediocre success.
Another theory is that the most popular genres of music don’t have a very large female presence. Hip-Hop and EDM have really come into the mainstream this year and there just aren’t a lot of women in those genres, EDM in particular.
There’s some hope though. Billboard’s review of the past 50 years in music shows that on average, the presence of men and women on the chart has been closer to 50/50. This year is likely just a lull in the overall progress of women in pop music and it might be coming to a close soon. Canada’s girl Shania Twain just released her first album in 15 years, Now, and it is currently the top record on the Billboard Top 200 with Demi Lovato’s Tell Me You Love Me and Miley Cyrus’ Younger Now also in the top five. Demi Lovato is also branching into the EDM genre with her song ‘No Promises’ with DJ group Cheat Codes. You get it, girl.
Hopefully 2018 is the year women dominate the Billboard.