Quirky Singer-Songwriter Chicks

You know the ones – sweet voice with maybe a hint of defiance, lyrics that are playful but actually say something, girl-next-door approachability, quirky personality. Maybe this trend has been going on for some time and I’ve been oblivious, but I feel like recently there are a growing number of artists who fall into this category. They write their own music, find fans online, and forge ahead without the help of big record labels or shows like American Idol, doing the thing they love on their own terms. Personally, I don’t love all of their songs, but I respect what they are doing and how they are doing it.

Here are 5 examples (in no particular order):

Colbie Caillet
The Malibu, California native – whose Myspace profile catapulted her to fame primarily due to her hit song, “Bubbly” (which I think I remember hearing was the number one song used at weddings in 2007) – is the first one I noticed. Her mellifluous voice has a tiny bit of raspiness to it, which is something I’ve always dug in females singers. I’m sure her critics probably write her off as just another feel-good annoyingly saccharine pop artist, but I think she’s pretty solid.
::Official Website::

Sara Bareilles
Here is another Cali girl who I just realized that I went to college with. She sang in the kick-ass a cappella group, Awaken, there. Actually…now that I think about it, I remember her performing at our annual talent show, where another up-and-coming act, Kara’s Flowers (now Maroon 5) also showcased their skills once upon a time. The story behind Sara’s hit, “Love Song”: Her record label, Epic, requested that she write a marketable love song to which she responded defiantly with a song saying “I’m not gonna write you a love song cause you ask for it”. Ironically, it turns out to be…well, quite marketable. Then again, having it featured as the free download of the week on iTunes in June 2007 certainly didn’t hurt either. After that her first major album shot to #1. There is something intoxicating about her voice – that husky lower register and crystal clear tone when belting the high notes. If you watch her in the “Love Song” video, watch for my favorite parts: her confident key-banging piano-playing style, how she stares right into the camera boldy as if she’s saying “what?”, and that mischievous glimmer in her eye.
::Official Website::

Ingrid Michaelson
Best known for her songs on Grey’s Anatomy and One Tree Hill, as well as that Old Navy sweater song, “The Way I Am“, the New York native is an excellent example of another artist who self-produced her albums and found fame on the internet. Her sound is edgy but simple, her lyrics are honest and unapologetic, and even her look is quirky and just real.
::Official Website::

Lilly Allen
One of my favorites is this English singer-songwriter, another Myspace darling, but that might be because anyone who sings with an accent automatically gets a ton of street cred and extra stars in my book. Her hits, “Smile” and “LDN” are deceptively catchy and sweet tunes, but the lyrics give you a little insight into the girl and her somewhat rocky history.
::Official Website::

Regina Spektor
Another international import, Russian-born Regina Spektor is classically trained in piano and initially gained recognition in New York’s anti-folk scene, where “the music tends to sound raw or experimental, and generally mocks the seriousness and pretension of the established mainstream music scene and also mocks itself.” Her music is diverse, from the light girly sound of songs like “Fidelity” to her more edgy and whiny sound in “Us“.
::Official Website::

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8 Responses to “Quirky Singer-Songwriter Chicks”


  1. 1 frankschulteladbeck February 25, 2008 at 8:41 am

    Thank you for the list. I am glad to have discovered your blog. I had not heard of these singers names, but I knew some of the songs.
    Lately, I have been exploring music from around the world, and I have been listening to Juiletta Venegas from Mexico, so I should get back to some singers in English.

  2. 2 dreamrapper February 25, 2008 at 8:54 am

    I totally dig Lily Allen. The songs are pure pop sugar with a nice hint of ska and reggae, but her lyrics have such an attitude. Another brit-chic who sings it like it is is Kate Nash. “Foundations” is her hit single right now and she often gets compared to Lily Allen.

  3. 3 Gavroche February 25, 2008 at 11:55 am

    A few more names to add to the list:

    1. Cibelle (last.fm/music/Cibelle)–Brazilian singer/songwriter, she is often associated with Devendra Banhart (but with a WAY prettier voice).

    2. Camille (last.fm/music/Camille)–French chanteuse whose soft voice will soothe you .

    3. Husbands, Love Your Wives (myspace.com/husbandsloveyourwives)– This stuff is raw, but filled with passion. She’s only got demos, but you might likey. Part of the Baskerville Hill collective (aka the label owned by Throw Me the Statue mastermind Scott Reitherman).

  4. 4 actualmusic February 28, 2008 at 11:55 am

    Got to see Sara Bareilles down in Los Angeles around 2002-03 when she was playing a solo acoustic show in a Chinese restaurant that had a stage with about 30 people…pretty amazing.

    Also pretty sad. When you listen to her demo, it’s a clear and beautiful acoustic image…a solitary girl singing songs and playing piano. There’s a buoyant loneliness to her, and her voice sparkles over the sparse backdrop. When I listen to her album all I can think about is how quickly her label pimped her out for the newest pop sound.

    Unfortunately, I find the album a shadow of her original music, even if it happens to be merely band fleshed out/radio ready versions of her songs.

    For people enjoying this type of music, I also have been enjoying Feist, Sia and Mia Doi Todd.

  5. 5 jlynch1977 March 18, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    I’m surprised I never dragged you to a Sara Bareilles show while you lived down in LA. My wife and I used to go every time she played. If you want to see a cool music video of hers, her original video for Fairy Tale is on Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIVQ9W2KHYs. The quality isn’t great (it is Youtube, after all), but it’s a visually stunning production, especially considering that it was put together by a couple of high school students, and it’s fun to compare the original version of the song, just piano, to the later version, with her band (I have that on CD somewhere), and finally to the version on the album. I have to agree with Actualmusic: I like her older sound better, although I personally prefer the in-between stage, with her three band members. I hope all is going well!

  6. 6 The Motorokr September 10, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    I see eyou put Sara Bareilles on the list. No doubt she is one of the most talented singer/songwriters out there right now. Motorola is actually giving away the “Lovesong” ringtone for free in The Hotel Cafe section on the Motorola site. Enjoy!

  7. 7 mgoode November 17, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    I was told that Criss Angel does some singing of his own during his new las vegas stage performance entitled “Believe.” The show has been all the rage around the office ever since I started working with them, That, and the youtube footage online at youtube.com/cirquelasvegas


  1. 1 Weezer + YouTube = A New Era of Collaboration « .Evolving Music. Trackback on July 2, 2008 at 7:43 pm

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