The Runaways formed in Los Angeles in 1975. They were signed to Mercury Records the following year -- the same year they dropped their self-titled debut album. Before long, the band, made up of Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Cherie Currie, Sandy West, and Jackie Fox, were opening for groups like Cheap Trick and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. While they never fully-achieved mainstream success in North America, they did score a hit with their single Cherry Bomb and became sensations in Japan. The Runaways were given the big screen treatment with a 2010 biopic starring Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett and Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie.
Before Belinda Carlisle discovered that heaven is, in fact, a place on Earth, she was the frontwoman of the pop/rock band, The Go-Go's. Formed in late '70s Los Angeles, the band released their debut album, 'Beauty And The Beat', in 1981. Thanks to radio-friendly songs like "We Got The Beat" and "Our Lips Are Sealed", the album reached the top of the Billboard 200 album chart, making the Go-Go's the first all-female band who write their own music and play their own instruments to achieve the distinction. The Go-Go's followed up their history-making debut with their second album, 'Vacation', from which the title track was a summertime smash. The band released a third album, 'Talk Show', in 1984 before disbanding. While the band's radio-friendly music and MTV-ready smiles may have been deceiving, make no mistake these girls had as much a penchant for sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll as their male counterparts, as documented in Belinda Carlisle's 2010 autobiography, "Lips Unsealed". The band reformed for a final farewell tour in 2016 and are currently encouraging fans to campaign for them to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 2018.
We'd be remiss if we didn't include the band who taught us the valuable life lesson of how to walk like an Egyptian, right? Like The Go-Go's shortly before them, The Bangles formed in Los Angeles. The all-female pop-rock group released their debut album in 1984 and their profile rose after touring with another powerhouse lady, Cyndi Lauper, on her Fun Tour. The Bangles' second album, 'Different Light', was released in 1986 and including several hit singles including "If She Knew What She Wants", "Manic Monday" (penned by Prince) and the classic, "Walk Like An Egyptian", which Billboard named the number one song of 1987. The group became the first all-female group to score five top-ten hits. While the band were initially set up with all members sharing lead vocal duties, tensions arose when Susanna Hoffs emerged as breakout Bangle. After releasing another album in 1988, the group eventually disbanded. The Bangles started drifting back together in the late '90s and officially reformed to record a song for the soundtrack to "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" which was directed by Susanna Hoffs' husband, Jay Roach.
Though often looped in with the Seattle grunge scene, Hole actually formed in Los Angeles in 1989 by lead singer/guitarist Courtney Love and lead guitarist Eric Erlandson. The band was influenced by LA's punk scene and released its debut album, Pretty On The Inside, in 1991 which was produced by Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon. But it was the band's second album, Live Through This, that really propelled them into the mainstream. The sophomore effort was famously released the week after Courtney Love's husband, Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, committed suicide at the couple's Seattle home. Live Through This spawned several singles including Miss World, Violet, and Doll Parts and Spin magazine dubbed it album of the year. The band was plagued by rumours that Cobain contributed significantly to the songwriting on the album, the band maintains it was the work of Courtney Love and Eric Erlandson. Hole released a third album, the critically and commercially successful Celebrity Skin, in 1998 before officially disbanding in 2002.
This punk group formed in Washington state in 1990 and is widely considered to be pioneers of the '90s Riot Grrrl movement with their intensely feminist lyrics and electrifying live performances. In fact, in the band's early shows, singer Kathleen Hanna was known to jump into the audience to personally remove male hecklers. The band's debut album, Pussy Whipped, was released in 1993 and the band toured the UK. Upon arriving back in the US, the band began collaborating with Joan Jett formerly of The Runaways, Jett produced the band's single Rebel Girl. The band released three studio albums and in 2016, their song Rebel Girl was used in an unofficial pro-Hillary Clinton campaign video although one of the members had it taken down as she was a Bernie Sanders supporter. Canadian duo Tegan and Sara list Bikini Kill as an early influence.
Babes In Toyland
Unlike many of their contemporaries, Babes in Toyland did not form in California, rather the trio came to be in the decidedly less sunny Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1987. Though bands in the Riot Grrrl movement often list them as an inspiration, Babes in Toyland didn't self-identify as part of that scene. The group released three albums between 1989 and 1995 and were part of Lollapalooza in 1993 where they shared the bill with acts like Rage Against The Machine, Alice in Chains, and Primus. In 1995 the band was featured on the cover of Entertainment Weekly and guest-starred in an episode of television's "Roseanne."
Formed in 1993 while all founding members were Grade 8 students in Palo Alto, California, the band first called themselves The Electrocutes. If that sounds familiar it's because it was the name of the band Adrian Grenier goes to see in the 1999 movie, "Drive Me Crazy" and yes, it was The Donnas playing themselves. The band, whose early days were influenced by bands like The Ramones, Bikini Kill, and even Motley Crue, were part of the Riot Grrrl movement of the '90s. The Donnas released their debut self-titled album in 1997, and went on to release seven more, concluding with a greatest hits record in 2009. In an interview earlier this year with Noisey commemorating the 20th anniversary of The Donnas' debut album, lead singer Brett Anderson revealed she's currently earning her BA at Stanford University which is ironic since the band's debut album included a song called I Don't Wanna Go To School.
Tegan and Sara
Canadian darlings and sisters Tegan and Sara Quinn have been a duo since birth but began making music in their hometown of Calgary when they were 15 years old. The sisters used their high school recording studio to record their first demos and released their debut album, 'Under Feet Like Ours', independently under the name Sara and Tegan in 1999. The duo re-named themselves Tegan and Sara and have consistently released music, becoming more and more popular throughout Canada and eventually gaining recognition south of the border thanks in part to release of their seventh album, Heartthrob, in 2012 which debuted at number three on Billboard's top 200 album chart featuring the successful single, Closer. The sisters went full mainstream when they were invited to perform at The Academy Awards in 2014 after their song on The Lego Movie soundtrack, Everything is Awesome, was nominated for Best Original Song. Everything truly IS awesome for Tegan and Sara.
Even if you can't name a Pussy Riot song, chances are you've heard of this feminist punk protest band. The all-female Russian group made international headlines in 2012 when its members were arrested and charged with hooliganism for staging an anti-Putin protest performance inside Moscow's Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Three members were subsequently jailed with two of them serving nearly two years behind bars. Imprisonment did nothing to silence the brave balaclava-clad social justice warriors, though. The women have since protested the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. as well as released singles in English like "I Can't Breathe" a song about the death of Eric Garner at the hands of the NYPD as well as "Make America Great Again" a track criticizing US President Donald Trump.
Like Wilson Phillips before them, Haim keeps it in the family. The trio consists of sisters Danielle, Este, and Alana Haim, but unlike the aforementioned trio, these ladies play their own instruments. Music has been part of the sisters' lives since a very early age, taking inspiration from artists like Pat Benatar, Blondie, The Pretenders, and Gwen Stefani, but it wasn't until 2012 when they signed with a record label and landed a management deal with Jay-Z's Roc Nation group. Their debut album, Days Are Gone, released in 2013, spawned six singles including, Forever, Don't Save Me, and Falling, and earned the sisters some serious critical cred as well as celeb fans like Lena Dunham and Taylor Swift. The album was included in Pitchfork magazine's list of The 100 Best Albums Of The Decade So Far. Want You Back, the debut single from Haim's second album, Something To Tell You, is already a critical fave and the band performed the song on "Saturday Night Live" in May.