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Top 10 Frontwomen in Rock

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you can’t rock as hard or as loud as a man. Throughout its history, rock music has had its share of incredible female singers and bandleaders. Whether it’s for their musical talent, songwriting abilities, unique style, onstage personas, good looks or a combination of them all, these ladies have proved they know how to make rock ‘n’ roll. Join as we count down our picks for the top 10 frontwomen in rock. Special thanks to our users Jack Morris and Yvonne Torres for submitting the idea on our Suggestion Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest.

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These ladies love rock ‘n’ roll. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 frontwomen in rock.

#10 – Hayley Williams (Paramore)

As the face and voice of pop punk and alternative rock outfit Paramore, Hayley Williams has shown her performances can be as fiery as her hair. Her singing and songwriting skills impressed music reps so much they signed her when she was just a teen. She’s now known for attracting fans with her spunky attitude and animated stage presence as well as vocals that’ve been praised by the likes of John Mayer and others.

#9 – Shirley Manson (Garbage)

Even though the Scottish lass had to leave her home country to record Garbage’s first album with a group of American musicians, the risk paid off: the band’s self-titled debut gave them worldwide exposure and turned them into one of the 1990s’ biggest alt rock acts. With her foreign accent, candid personality, don’t-care attitude and musical contributions, Manson is undoubtedly a big part of the band’s success.

#8 – Grace Slick (Jefferson Airplane)

Though she later became a solo artist, Grace Slick sang lead for a number of bands. But it was during Jefferson Airplane’s evolution from folk rockers to psychedelic rock band that Slick really found her voice, both as one of the act’s most versatile vocalists and as a songwriter. Thanks to her looks, unique singing style and onstage persona, she also became one of the ‘60s’ biggest female rockers.

#7 – Gwen Stefani (No Doubt)

Whether with No Doubt or solo, Gwen Stefani has proven she’s not just a girl. With her expressive vocals and upbeat image, she first caught our attention while fronting the ska punk-influenced rock band. Her signature style, including platinum blond hair, bright red lipstick and midriff-baring tops also made their mark. But it’s her successful solo career and accompanying fashion ventures that’ve shown she’s no one-trick pony.

#6 – Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders)

The Pretenders never would’ve existed without the talent and determination of Chrissie Hynde. As the band’s only unchanging member since 1978, the singer, songwriter and guitarist led the new wave and punk group to pop crossover success. But she wouldn’t be on this list if it weren’t for her energy and ability to hold her own against the men of rock and roll.

#5 – Ann Wilson (Heart)

Along with sister, guitarist Nancy, Ann Wilson has been the core of Heart since the mid-1970s. As lead singer, she’s demonstrated her versatility in genres like folk and hard rock and helped take the band to the top of the charts with “These Dreams” and “Alone.” Wilson has also opened doors for women to front hard rock and heavy metal bands today, and earned the respect of legends like Led Zeppelin.

#4 – Stevie Nicks (Fleetwood Mac)

Though she might not fit your traditional definition of frontwoman, Stevie Nicks’ songwriting abilities and vocal prowess were so vital to Fleetwood Mac’s success during the late-1970s that she made our list. As the woman behind hits like “Rhiannon” and “Dreams,” Nicks also inspired countless female singers with her theatrical performances and distinctive, heavily accessorized costumes.

#3 – Janis Joplin (Big Brother and the Holding Company)

Mostly remembered for her solo material, Janis Joplin wouldn’t’ve become The Queen of Psychedelic Soul if she hadn’t joined Big Brother and the Holding Company: her time with the band helped her hone the live skills for which she later became known. Described as an electric and provocative performer, Joplin also remains etched in our memories thanks to her colorful fashion sense and flashy hairstyles.

#2 – Debbie Harry (Blondie)

Considering her past as a go-go dancer and Playboy Bunny, is it any surprise Debbie Harry’s looks are as famous as her musical talents? After forming Blondie with Chris Stein, she quickly made a splash on the punk scene with her singing, songwriting and youthful but sexy style. With her trademark bleached-blonde locks, she was a standout in the band’s music videos. Soon Blondie’s mix of disco, punk rock and new wave took over the world.

#1 – Joan Jett (The Runaways and The Blackhearts)

After sharing lead vocals and co-writing songs with The Runaways, Jett developed her skills as a solo artist. But it was with the Blackhearts that she truly shined by nabbing a chart-topper with I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll’s title cut and by selling out Broadway’s Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. The Godmother of Punk didn’t only sing and play guitar; she also inspired the Riot Grrrl movement with her no-BS attitude and rocker chick style.

Do you agree with our list? Who is your top frontwoman in rock? Be sure to subscribe to for more entertaining top 10s.

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