Critics often tend to dismiss and trivialise heartbreak songs and other emotions that teenagers bond over. An analysis, conducted by The New York Times in 2018 showed that the music people hear as teenagers, influences their music taste in the future as well. No matter how hard we try, we can't overlook the power of Gen Z in the music industry, whether it’s the heartbreak songs teenagers adore or the teen artists they stan for their powerful songwriting and soul-stirring music.
Like Taylor Swift once said, “Heartbreak is the national anthem.” Through releasing songs submerged in heartbreak, teenage angst, and everything in between, here are some upcoming female teen artists with authentic voices who are reshaping the music industry:
Image: Instagram | @billieeilish
If you are a fan of the pop genre with dark and emo undertones, it’s almost impossible to miss the low-end voice of Billie Eilish. She garnered the attention of people from her debut single, Ocean Eyes, at the mere age of 14. Now, with two successful albums, 2019's When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? and this year’s Happier Than Ever, seven Grammy wins and one billion streams online, Eilish, now 19, is a force to reckon with in the music industry. From Bury A Friend written from the perspective of a monster under one’s bed to Xanny dealing with the aftermath of drug abuse, she and her brother and co-producer, FINNEAS, have left no stone unturned. The haunting lyrics that delve into existential concerns intertwined with vulnerability make Eilish stand out. Subsequently, her signature style of 'bored' eyes, dyed hair, and baggy clothes deviate from the notions of teen-pop sex appeal. Her influence has not only empowered more young artists to express themselves freely but has also reached audiences of all ages. Through an out-of-body approach to songwriting, she is also a role model for all wallflowers and kids who feel like they don’t fit in.
Image: Instagram | @tatemcrae
From launching a YouTube channel at the age of seven and working as a backup dancer during a Justin Bieber tour stop to getting signed while performing at Walt Disney World Resort and launching her debut EP Tate McRae has certainly come a very long way. Her EP All The Things I Never Said ranked third on the United Kingdom’s official Top 40 chart, further became platinum in Australia, and McRae, now 18, is currently one of Spotify’s Top 100 most-streamed artists worldwide. This year with the release of her album Too Young To Be Sad, which deals with doomed relationships, an alternative-pop single, You Broke Me First, peaking on Billboard’s Hot 100 at No. 40 with over a billion streams and her single, Slower, getting added to Radio 1's playlist, McRae has made her mark. That too, without leaving her bedroom. Her growing online presence, especially on TikTok and Instagram, her authenticity, and her ability to achieve success during adversities, motivates many young artists to follow in her footsteps.
Image: Instagram | @oliviarodrigo
After starring in Disney’s High School Musical-based TV series, Olivia Rodrigo, with her breakout single, Driver’s License, became an instant pop star who is now the leading voice of her generation. This 18-year-old became the first female artist to debut two songs at No. 1 on Billboard’s Global 200, and her album Sour not only captured the biggest opening week sales in the US this year but also became the first debut album by a female artist to have two, No. 1, and singles on Billboard’s Hot 100. Rodrigo doesn’t shy away from criticism or from expressing her insecurities and experiences before her fans. She is brilliant at channelling the nuances of heartbreak with her brutally honest and soulful lyrics that anyone experiencing an emotional breakdown can relate to. Sour, through its dynamism, deals with themes of insecurities and self-acceptance in the songs Jealousy, Jealousy, and Hope Ur Ok, and has gained a cross-generational appeal. Through endorsing COVID-19 vaccines in her recent trip to the White House and sticking to her beliefs, she has become a global icon by empowering women who are still discovering themselves.
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