Follow TV Tropes


Male Band, Female Singer

Go To
Basically, the music version of Two Guys and a Girl... with more guys included. Historically, musical groups have tended to be single gender. But there are cases in which a girl leads a band of guys, most often as the singer. Historically, such singers have sometimes been suspected to be mere mouthpieces for one or more of the men, but there are other cases in which she was definitely in charge. The girl can sing with Melismatic Vocals, a One-Woman Wail, Harsh Vocals or even be Cute, but Cacophonic. Often, the female singer is styled in an eye-catching and sexualised way, while the men are more utilitarianly clad, and the publicity photos and music videos will mainly feature her, sometimes to the point of completely omitting the men.

This girl is often depicted as having a complicated life, characterized by love affairs and drug addictions, almost being emotionally dependent on band members, and it is very common for her to get involved with one of them.

Often, the female singer completely dominates the group while the men are reduced to simply a backing band. Usually, she is the only member anyone can name or remembers from the group. See, Blondie, Garbage, Heart, No Doubt, Evanescence, The Cranberries, etc.

Men tend to dominate instrumental roles in rock because historically, rock, especially the harder forms, were subject to unwritten, sexist rules on gender roles. Women trailblazers who played guitar or drums in the past faced sexism and harassment. A case in point is heavy metal in the 1980s, which was all males except for a few exceptions like GirlSchool. Even though there are far more women instrumentalists in the current day, there are still pockets of male dominance in some genres or for some instruments.

Even genres which were historically male-dominated for instrumentalists, such as 1960s Country Music, accepted women singers. This is because even within the sexist 1960s paradigm, some roles were considered to be acceptable for women, such as singing or, for Classical Music, playing harp.

Among the Music Tropes, most common in Rock and Heavy Metal bands. Compare Female Rockers Play Bass, the other common depiction of women in rock bands. Compare Two Guys and a Girl, The Smurfette Principle and Female Fighter, Male Handler for the non-music versions of this trope.

Note that the inverse is almost unheard of - there are very few bands with a male frontman and all female backing musicians, and in the few cases where it does occur the women are usually a live band backing a male solo artist, rather than members of a group.


  • Blondie, fronted by Debbie Harry. The name of the band also led to large-scale I Am Not Shazam, and fans creating the slogan "Blondie IS A GROUP!".
  • The Pretenders, led by Chrissy Hynde, is an I Am the Band situation.
  • Kate Bush, in her rare live appearances.
  • Garbage has Shirley Manson, who was brought in an enforced case as the three others decided to seek a female singer.
  • Heart usually had the Wilson sisters front and center.
  • No Doubt has Gwen Stefani, who also has a solo career. The trope is even played with in the "Don't Speak" video clip, an Ur-Example.
  • Paramore has the Genki Girl Hayley Williams (the current page image).
  • Evanescence is practically synonymous with its lead vocalist Amy Lee, the only original member left. Subverted as of 2015, when the band hired a female guitarist.
  • Russian nu-metal band Slot are fronted by Daria Stavrovich - nicknamed Nookie (or Nuki, if transliterated directly from "Нуки") - with male rapper Igor Lobanov (aka "Cache/КЭШ") serving as back-up on vocal duty.
  • Many European Gothic Metal and Symphonic Metal bands have female vocalists, though often their male bandmates back them in a Soprano and Gravel format. Some of the better-known ones:
    • Lacrimosa's Anne Nurmi.
    • Epica's Simone Simons. Guitarist Mark Jansen frequently supplements her coloratura mezzo-soprano with Harsh Vocals.
    • Downplayed with Nightwish. They have had three very different female vocalists over their 25-year career, starting with Tarja Turunen (lyric sopranonote ) and continuing with Anette Olzon (lyric mezzo-sopranonote ). Their current vocalist Floor Jansen (dramatic coloratura sopranonote , also capable of growling/rasping vocals) also fronted After Forever and ReVamp (as well as collaborating with Pagan's Mind guitarist Jørn Viggo Lofstad in Northward), while Anette fronted Alyson Avenue and currently sings for The Dark Element and all three attract/attracted a fair amount of attention. However, former bassist Marko Hietala often sang duets and even sang lead on some songsnote , and charismatic band leader Tuomas Holopainen also has this fair share of attention too (he was typically the growler before Marko joined the band).
    • Lacuna Coil's Cristina Scabbia, The Agonist's Alissa White-Gluz (who would later replace Angela Gossow in Arch Enemy, itself another example) and Within Temptation's Sharon Den Adel.
    • The Gathering (Anneke Van Giersbergen and later Silje Wergeland) are another example except for the period 2004-2014, when Marjolein Kooijman joined the band as a bassist.
    • Symphonic Metal band Delain is another case of this, fronted by classical- and jazz-trained singer Charlotte Wessels, though they had a female rhythm guitarist, Merel Bechtold, from 2015 to 2019.
  • Downplayed with Amaranthe. Elize Ryd, the band's sole female member, is part of a three-person Vocal Tag Team with two men.
  • Chaka Khan was the frontwoman for the otherwise all-male band Rufus.
  • The Code Geass rock band AU has the reverse for its central band, Code Black. Lelouch is the singer, and Shirley, C.C., and Kallen are the band.
  • The Japanese rock band Kishida Kyoudan and the Akeboshi Rockets, primarily known for creating the opening songs for the anime adaptations of Highschool of the Dead, Strike the Blood, and Gate, consists of a female singer and three official male instrumentalists (and one male touring and session member). Based on their name, one might think that the name of the female singer is Kishida Kyoudan, but that's actually the name of the bassist, who is the founder and leader of the band. The singer goes by the stage name Ichigo, naming herself after one of her favorite anime characters, Ichigo Kurosaki.
  • A notable case is Doro Pesch from The '80s Heavy Metal band Warlock, who is known as the first girl to sing (and lead) a band like this in those years. She's also the only original member left, though the long, ultimately successful legal battle to regain the rights to the name forced her to work as a solo artist and backing band, billed as Doro.
  • Pizzicato Five in almost all their formations has a girl as the lead vocalist, especially the ones with Maki Nomiya.
  • Leaves' Eyes was formerly led by Liv Kristine; she was later replaced by Elina Siirala.
  • Inverted in Robert Palmer's music videos like "Addicted to Love" and "Simply Irresistible", which show Palmer singing with a "band" of female models miming playing instruments.
    • "Weird Al" Yankovic also inverted this with his video parody of the above in "UHF". The women now also sport glasses and moustaches to boot!.
    • Shania Twain's "Man, I Feel Like a Woman" music video, also parodying the above, goes straight with this trope. She is backed up by guys in see-through shirts who are miming playing the instruments instead.
  • Played with in Gorillaz. Noodle is the band's guitarist, but she's also provided backing vocals on some songs (especially on their first album), and lead vocals on the song "DARE" (which she wrote).
    • Another example of female members of a band taking the vocals (and sometimes writing the lyrics) for some songs are The Pixies' Kim Deal and Maximum the Hormone's Nao Kawakita.
  • The groups formed by Courtney Love usually go like this, including the revival of Hole (although the original version was all-female aside from a male guitarist).
  • The '90s British group Bôa (not to be confused with the Korean Idol Singer) has Jasmine Rodgers, daughter of Paul Rodgers. Maybe this group doesn't sound familiar to you, but you may know them for composing the theme song for Serial Experiments Lain, "Duvet".
  • Japanese Nu Metal group Head Phones President (formerly called Deep Blue) has Anza Oyama, who was a former Idol Singer before starting the group with her brother.
  • Japanese group Onmyouza has Kuroneko.
  • Another (kind of) subversion is LADYBABY, a group with two moe idols and a Wholesome Crossdresser Death Metal singer nicknamed as "Ladybeard".
  • Missing Persons fronted by Dale Bozzio.
  • Jefferson Airplane and its successors, Jefferson Starship and Starship, were fronted by Grace Slick, even though she was part of a Vocal Tag Team with Marty Balin or Mickey Thomas.
  • In This Moment has Maria Brink as the frontwoman. It's kind of a Running Gag that nobody knows the names of her musicians.
  • The Cranberries featured lead singer Dolores O'Riordan.
  • The German band Silbermond has only male musicians, but the singer is Stefanie Kloß.
  • Another I Am the Band example is Joan Jett, who has her own male group called The Blackhearts. A shift for her, since she started out in pioneering all-female hard-rock band The Runaways.
  • The Fugees was an unusual Hip-Hop/Reggae band with this kind of formation, with Lauryn Hill as the mostly-singing vocalist and leader of the group backed by two male rappers.
  • The '90s Japanese group Judy And Mary (internationally known by Sobakasu) has Yuki Isoda, considered by some fans as the Japanese Björk. The trope continues even with her solo career in the 2000s, being backed by the group "Band ASTRO", which is also formed only by men.
  • Fleetwood Mac has sometimes had Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie as solo frontwomen during its long and tangled career, although during the most successful periods they were both in the band.
  • The '80s group that doesn't need a description: Lisa Lisa And Cult Jam.
  • The Pretty Reckless has Taylor Momsen, mostly known as Jenny Humphrey from Gossip Girl.
  • Halestorm is named after the Hale family, which includes lead singer and guitarist Lzzy Hale, her brother Arejay (percussionist) and father Roger (former bassist), and two other men. Halestorm is the first female-fronted group to win the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance, for "Love Bites (So Do I)" in 2013.
  • DOROTHY is named after lead singer Dorothy Martin. The band's other members, Dylan Howard, DJ Black, and Gregg Cash, were brought in by producers Mark Jackson and Ian Scott.
  • There're some cases in which there's a female pop/rock singer with a solo career that has a male supporting band. Some famous singers with a backup male band are Janis Joplin (probably the pioneer), Christina Stürmer, Avril Lavigne, Sheryl Crow, P!nk (early on, her more recent tours have featured mixed-gender backing groups), and Nanase Aikawa.
  • PJ Harvey was initially promoted as a group that happened to be named after lead singer/guitarist Polly Jean Harvey, but after the male two other original band members both left it became simply her name as a solo artist.
  • Selecter: 2 Tone ska band with Pauline Black as the vocalist.
  • SteeleyeSpan: Maddy Prior has fronted the British folk-rock band for most of its history, save for a break of a couple of years. Gay Woods was a founding member alongside her, and rejoined the band during her absence.
  • British folk has lots of examples of this trope: Sandy Denny of Fairport Convention and Jacqui McShee of Pentangle are other well-known examples.
  • runforyerlife: Short-lived 8-piece Ska Punk band. Vocalist Kelly Zouhari was the only female.
  • Maire (sometimes spelled Moya) Brennan was frontwoman of the Irish family group Clannad. Sister Enya joined for one album, but otherwise, Maire was the only female member in Clannad's history.
  • Stereolab: From 1990-92, then from 2002-09, vocalist (and also guitarist) Laetitia Sadier was the only woman in the group. But averted for the intervening decade, their most successful years: for most of that time, the band comprised three men and three women.
  • Bon Voyage (a side project of Starflyer 59): Julie Martin (singer) and Jason Martin (guitar) were the only recurring members, but in every incarnation, the rest of the band was dudes.
  • Trip Hop group Zero7 consisted of two male DJ's, plus a not-yet-famous Sia Furler on vocals.
  • Plumb started off as a rock band fronted by Tiffany Lee Arbuckle. On their debut album, they even sounded a lot like the aforementioned Garbage. But there was enough band turnover that Arbuckle wound up being the only consistent member, so she stopped calling it a band and just took "Plumb" as her own stage name.
  • Seattle grunge band The Gits was fronted by Mia Zapata. Sadly, they disbanded after Mia was assaulted, raped and murdered while recording their second album, and the killer wouldn't be found for a decade afterward.
  • Arkona: Russian Folk Metal band, with Maria "Masha Scream" Arkhipova handling both melodic singing and death growls.
  • Hey Ocean! has Ashleigh Ball. That's right, the voice of Rainbow Dash and Applejack is the lead vocal for this Canadian indie pop trio.
  • Jenni Haan, lead singer of Babe Ruth.
  • In Chile, there're 2 female members of Parra clan (which historical known members are Violeta Parra and Los Jaivas) which lead their own rock groups, mostly in The '90s: Javiera Parra (Javiera y Los Impossibles) and Colombina Parra (Los Ex).
  • Brazil's Pato Fu and Fernanda Takai (though the band's actual leader and her husband John Ulhoa also sings at times).
  • Brazilian pop-rock/nu-metal singer Pitty has an all-male backing band.
  • Other Brazilian examples include new wave band Kid Abelha, fronted by Paula Toller, and pop rock band Leela, with Bianca Jhordão.
  • Kelli Dayton (later Ali) was in the Sneaker Pimps.
  • van Canto: while the group is made almost entirely of singers (with one drummer), Inga Scharf is one of the two considered to be the "lead" singer.
  • The Kills are fronted by vocalist Alison Mosshart; the other permanent member is Jamie Hince.
  • Portuguese Synth-Pop / Alternative Rock band The Gift is fronted by vocalist Sonia Tavares.
  • 70's U.K. Punk Rock band X-Ray Spex was fronted by Poly Styrene and had male members playing the instruments.
  • Finnish metal band Battle Beast has had two female vocalists: Nitte Valo from 2008-2012, Noora Louhimo since then. Both of them sing in a distinctive raspy screech most of the time.
  • NYC club rock quintet Mother Feather takes a Two Girls to a Team approach, with Ann Courtney on lead vocals, and Elizabeth Carena on backing vocals and keyboards. The guitarist, bassist, and drummer are men and don't sing.
  • Another I Am the Band example is The Motels, which, according to one Pop Up Video episode, consists of lead singer Martha Davis, and "various male members" who had "passed through" at various points in the group's history.
  • Wir sind Helden had Judith Holofernes.
  • Metric has Emily Haines.
  • His Name Is Alive have had multiple vocalists, all of them female. The most well-known ones are Karin Oliver, Lovetta Pippen, and current frontwoman Andrea Morici, though they've had half a dozen other guest vocalists in their time.
  • Vocalist Julie Christmas has been the sole female member in each of her projects, those being the sludge metal band Made Out of Babies, the post-metal band Battle of Mice, and her collaboration album with Cult of Luna.
  • Michigan grindcore band Cloud Rat have Madison Marshall, though you may not be able to guess just from listening to them.
  • Canadian black metal band Sortilegia have Anastasia, also known as Koldovstvo or Sylvus, though again you may not be able to tell her gender just from listening to them.
  • The drone doom band Monarch has Emilie, also known as Eurogirl.
  • This was common among second-division Britpop acts. The best known:
    • Sleeper, consisting of singer Louise Wener and three guys whose name nobody ever remembered. For several years afterwards, male instrumentalists in female-fronted bands were commonly mocked in the British music press as "Sleeperblokes".
    • Catatonia, consisting of singer Cerys Matthews and a bunch of guys.
    • Echobelly, initially with singer Sonia Madan as the only female member. Subsequently, some of the male instrumentalists were replaced by women. Guitarist Debbie Smith joined around the time of their commercial breakthrough and was a prominent member through their peak years, but the reformed group in The New '10s conforms to the trope.
    • Powder, consisting of Pearl Lowe and some guys.
    • Republica, more dance-influenced than most Britpop, but still fitting the pattern.
    • Salad; for the first few years, singer Marijne van der Vugt was the only female member, although female guitarist Charley Stone later joined.
    • Theaudience, comprising five men and the pre-Breakup Breakout Sophie Ellis-Bextor.
  • Skunk Anansie: while not Britpop but funk-metal, they were active in the same era and were known for having singer-guitarist Skin as the only female member.
  • Vancouver-based Power Metal band Unleash the Archers has a female lead vocalist in Brittany Slayes, with occasional growls as accent from the guitarists. Brittney is a mezzo and tends to sing in a noticeably deeper register than most female metal vocalists, sometimes compared to a Gender Flip of Ronnie James Dio. She is also on record as disliking the term "female-fronted metal" because it doesn't actually tell you very much about what genre a band belongs to or what it might sound like.
  • Heavy blues-rock band Alabama Shakes consists of singer/guitarist Brittany Howard and three male musicians.
  • Fictional example: The Electric Mayhem, the house band on The Muppet Show has the female lead guitarist Janice and is otherwise male. (Unless you count Trumpet Girl, who joined them in the orchestra pit but was usually not portrayed as part of the band itself.)
  • The best-known inversions:
    • Jack White, during his tour to promote Blunderbuss, performed alternate gigs with an all-male band, the Buzzards, and an all-female band, the Peacocks.
    • Prince's last backing band, 3RDEYEGIRL, were all women.
    • When Farin Urlaub of Die Ärzte began his solo career, he recorded everything himself, but as this was vastly impractical for a tour, he put together a band … and all of them are female, making them the Farin Urlaub Racing Team. The trio of male brass players accompanying them are actually another band called The Busters.
    • The Fun Boy Three toured and recorded their second album with an all-female six-piece backing group.
  • The experimental black/doom/death metal band Thaclthi have Giulia Warrior, also known as Thaurx and Doomed Warrior. Yet another case where it's nearly impossible to tell the vocalist is a woman just by listening, as her vocals are mostly deep, cavernous death growls.
  • 1960s British pop band The Honeycombs put an unusual spin on this with an all-male lineup and a female drummer in the person of Honey Lantree.
    • Another band of The '60s, the New York-based One-Hit Wonder Brooklyn Bridge ("Worst That Could Happen"), had 11 members: 10 men (including four singers) and keyboardist Carolyn Wood.
  • Highway 101 has always had a female lead singer in an otherwise male band. The most famous one was Paulette Carlson, who was later replaced by Nikki Nelson and then Chrislynn Lee.
  • Baillie & the Boys: Kathie Baillie and two men (one of whom was her husband).
  • Wild Choir (Gail Davies' side project) had her has the only female member.
  • Gloriana had Rachel Reinert as the lead vocalist. The first album also had a few turns by Cheyenne Kimball, who quit before the second.
  • Country band Trick Pony was fronted by female lead vocalist Heidi Newfield.
  • The Wilkinsons was fronted by Amanda Wilkinson. They were also a Band of Relatives, as the other two members were her brother Tyler and their father Steve.
  • The New York-based pop/rock band Against The Current (probably best known for "Legends Never Die", the theme for the 2017 League of Legends World Championship) is fronted by Chrissy Costanza.
  • Became the case for Pigbag when Angela Jaeger came aboard.
  • The Chilean Band Toon of Los Pulentos has Nea as the main voice for the band, while his brother Barry acts as the second voice.
  • Corinne Drewery of Swing Out Sister.
  • Against Me! has Laura Jane Grace, a Transgender woman, as the lead singer.
  • British noise rock band Th' Faith Healers has lead singer Roxanne Stephen.
  • How to Destroy Angels, with Mariqueen Maandig on lead vocals.
  • Marissa Dattoli of Crystalyne.
  • The slightly misleadingly-named Girls At Our Best, fronted by Judy Evans.
  • Sonia Fernandez Velasco of Caravan Palace
  • While she is principally the band's guitarist, Reba from Code Orange is also known for occasionally singing clean vocals, and such songs featuring her have achieved popularity beyond the usual fans of the band.
  • BLAST! And trapnest from the anime/manga "Nana" are the perfect representation of this trope. Nana Osaki is the Black Stones singer vocalist with a very dramatic life, the same for Reira (Trapnest)
  • Ukrainian band Demerdzhi is fronted by lead singer Dana Khayetska. Downplayed somewhat since lead guitarist Vlad Koval also sings and is the band's songwriter.
  • Oh Yeah! Cartoons had a fictional example in the short "The Feelers", where the titular insect rock band's lead singer Mitzi Moth was female and the other bandmates (a guitar-playing mosquito named Mo Skito, a bee bassist named Stinger and a drumming ant named Max) are all male.
  • Grindcore band Cretin has Marissa Martinez, a trans woman as lead singer and guitarist.
  • Heavy Metal band Cab Ride Home has Danica Roem as frontwoman and occasional guitarist, while the rest of the band are guys.


Video Example(s):


WT and Xzibit - "And We Run"

In probably the only time this ever happened in symphonic metal, "And We Run" from Within Temptation's 2014 album Hydra has guest vocals from L.A. rapper Xzibit, especially on the bridge of the song.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / AWildRapperAppears

Media sources: