Florence Welch, the frontwoman for indie rock band Florence + the Machine, turns 27 today. Welch is force of nature known for her smart yet visceral songwriting, vintage style, and powerful voice. She suffered a vocal injury last year, but fortunately for fans of her sweet-yet-steely vocal stylings, Welch seems to have made a full recovery. The flame-haired songstress contributed a track to summer blockbuster The Great Gatsby, and is reportedly working on new material. In celebration of Welch’s 27th and the great music she's brought us, here's a rundown of the most memorable female voices of the last decade.
1. Kelly Clarkson
A vocal and songwriting powerhouse, Kelly Clarkson rose to fame as the first American Idol, but has since become known for raw, personal ballads like “Because of You,” as well as fun summer hits like “My Life Would Suck Without You.” The soprano, who sang live at President Barack Obama’s January inauguration, is set to release a Christmas album this October.
Adele's debut album, 19, was released about five years ago. She stunned us with her soaring vocals on the single “Chasing Pavements,” but it wasn’t until her sophomore record, 21, that the British singer-songwriter truly dominated airwaves, with her hits “Rolling in the Deep,” “Someone Like You,” and “Set Fire to the Rain.” What was the Top 40 without her?
3. Katy Perry
She first made waves for her guilty-pleasure novelty song “I Kissed a Girl” in 2008, but Katy Perry has since established herself as more than a one-hit wonder. The candy queen, known for her quirky fashion sense, more than holds her own in today’s music scene. Perry’s distinct vocal stylings are instantly recognizable, and her flexible range allows her to be husky, sweet, breathy, or clear, as she sees fit.
4. Hayley Williams
Little but fierce, Hayley Williams can belt out anthems with a voice that is belied by her five foot, two inch frame. Williams is the lead singer of the rock band Paramore, for which she also does most of the songwriting. With a voice that can be assured, brassy, or vulnerable, Williams handily carries the band’s stadium-ready hits, like 2007’s “Misery Business,” which became ubiquitous on Top 40 radio, and gentler tracks like 2009’s “The Only Exception.”
5. Amy Winehouse
The late Amy Winehouse made her mark with her sophomore album, Back to Black. It earned her five Grammys, including the Best New Artist, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year awards. Ever the troubled artist, Winehouse is remembered for her raw, throaty contralto stylings on the Grammy-winning song “Rehab,” an upbeat track that became tragic after her death from alcohol poisoning two years ago.
Australian singer-songwriter Lenka is best known for her song “The Show,” which is from her eponymous debut album. It was featured in the Best Picture-nominated film Moneyball, and it showcases Lenka’s sweet, quirky vocals. Lenka released her third album, Shadows, this summer.
7. Sara Bareilles
Sara Bareilles' hit, “Love Song,” landed at number one on the Billboard Pop chart, and has been a radio staple ever since. Bareilles, a singer-songwriter with serious piano skills, sounds just as good live as she does on her albums. The Grammy nominee’s gorgeous vocals are pitch perfect on both spare, wistful tracks like 2007’s “Gravity,” and more assured numbers, like the anthemic new single, “Brave.”