7 Albums by Women That Got Me Personally Through 2016

I listened to a lot of music to survive the various emotional and political eras of relative darkness which I survived this year, including but not limited to: having my heart broken, staring into the void, watching my hero’s dreams die and also my own, and so on. Also, sometimes after SoulCycle I feel like my heart is going to explode but not because of exercise.

And the answer is, as it has always been: Listening to badass music by badass women that you relate to because you, yourself, are badass and yet manage to also feel! And so, I did. I listened to a lot of music by women. It helped! Here’s seven of them which came out this year and thus were appropriate to use as a year-end recap list.

Lemonade is not on here because I don’t have Tidal and I don’t want to talk about it. Also, this list is about women but shout-out to Blonde, Views, and Life of Pablo. I couldn’t have done it without you. And “done it” means “cried on the way to work.”

Put your favorite albums from this year in the comments!


MIA AIM cover

One word: “Freedun.”

6. Sia: This is Acting

sia this is acting cover

This list wouldn’t be this list without an album that made me feel limitless and powerful. That’s this album. Get on a stationary bike and wile the fuck out, girl.

5. Carly Rae Jepsen: EMOTION B-Sides

emotion b-sides cover

I’m sorry, did you just ask how I was doing?

4. NoName: Telefone

noname telefone cover

I went to Portland this year during Thanksgiving, during which I had a very wholesome time. I listened to this album on the way up, right when the five gets boring and monotonous. I felt a lot lighter and a lot more hopeful. I felt better. What I’m saying is, I blame this album for the state of mind which allowed me to wear sweatpants at the club in Portland. That being said, I also thank this album for the incredibly positive response I received for wearing sweatpants at the club in Portland.

3. Angel Olsen: My Woman

angel olsen my woman cover

I can’t believe Angel Olsen isn’t out. That being said, I still recommend listening to this album late at night when nobody else is on the road and you’ve made a questionable choice. Extra points if it also gets played at random when you’re about to make another one.

2. Solange: A Seat At The Table

solange a seat at the table cover

This album is art. A Seat At The Table has social and political commentary, deep and evocative personal meaning, spoken word interludes and an overarching narrative. My roommate urged me to listen to it, so I did, while I was going to bed. I immediately put it on regular rotation. It calms me down, fires me up, and keeps me strong. Bless it.

1. Rihanna: Anti

rihanna anti cover

It was around June. I drove to Keely’s apartment, went upstairs with a can of La Croix and a bottle of Perrier, and at around 11 PM we came back down, got in my car, and started driving. We immediately put on ANTI, which was the entire point. We put the volume to loud, rolled the windows down, lit cigarettes, and started screaming. We got on the 10 and I drove faster than the speed limit. We got on the PCH and I drove faster than the speed limit. We sang every single song. We screamed every single song. And when we pulled into a Jack-In-The-Box to get milkshakes at like 12 AM, I made Keely delete at least four snaps of us singing “Love on the Brain” because you could actually hear us over the song and it was not a good look.

Anti wasn’t just an album that got me through 2016. It was an album that defined my 2016. It’s an album I relate to because of what I went through and what I’m still going through. It’s an album that makes me feel seen and shows me the way out. And every once in a while, I still crank the volume up and listen to it during the long stretch of the drive to find some healing.

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Carmen spent six years at Autostraddle, ultimately serving as Straddleverse Director, Feminism Editor and Social Media Co-Director. She is now the Consulting Digital Editor at Ms. and writes regularly for DAME, the Women’s Media Center, the National Women’s History Museum and other prominent feminist platforms; her work has also been published in print and online by outlets like BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic and SIGNS, and she is a co-founder of Argot Magazine. You can find Carmen on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr or in the drive-thru line at the nearest In-N-Out.

Carmen has written 919 articles for us.


  1. For a second there I forgot my time in CA and the Pacific Coast Highway, and my brain read PCP instead. I was very worried about your safety and your driving decision making. Now I’m both relieved and feeling like a grandma. Is that even still a thing? And if it is, I’m pretty sure no one would say, “we got on the PCP and…”

  2. Great list, Carmen. It wasn’t a bad year for music.
    If you haven’t heard it, I would also recommend HEAVN by Jamila Woods.

  3. I don’t even know how to anything with the album Anti, it is great and I’m someone who gets sleepy and fidgety with most modern non-rock music.
    “Fuck your white horse and a carriage” is a line I’ve lived since I was a kidlet. My life was waiting for that one line of lyric.

    Def an album to turn up loud and drive around with.

  4. I find it really hard to discover new music I actually like, so I didn’t know any of the albums on this list, and I only recognized one of the artists. That said, some “new to me” music (just as good, right?) that I’ve been getting into lately is In This Moment. If anyone here likes hard rock that alternates between melody and screaming, check them out (their older stuff is more straight rock, recent albums are more electronic). Maria Brink, the woman at the head of In This Moment, is hardcore and has overcome a ton in her life. She refused to let anyone tell her she could not be a rock star, and now, she is one! If you love listening to stuff that is “aggressive depressive”, as I do, check them out. Also, her music videos are super-freaky.

    “Even in these chains you can’t stop me…even in these chains you can’t stop me!”

  5. I just found out about Angel Olsen last month and she’s all i’ve listened to since lol. and Mitski’s “Puberty 2” has been on repeat for me ever since it came out this summer, i’d highly recommend everything she’s written haha

  6. This is a great list! case/lang/veirs would make a pretty stellar addition to it (Neko Case + KD Lang + Laura Veirs = <3).

  7. I’m old and keep finding myself stuck in a musical rut. This article popped into my FB timeline and I found all the above on Spotify. Listening to “My Woman” now. Love it! Thanks for giving me new music and artists to love!!

  8. I’m also so behind on music. I hear of so many new books all the time but I have such a hard time encountering new music. So I have not heard any of the albums (even though I know and like some of the artists). Going to check them all out now! Thanks!

  9. I would totally add Adore Life by Savages to this list. One of my favorite records from 2016 by one of my favorite bands. Recommended!

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