fbpx

25 Best Female Punk Bands Of All Time

Last Updated On:

Punk music is alive and well today, and contrary to popular belief, it’s never been the boy’s club many have thought it to be. The punk scene still gets inspiration from the riot grrrl movement of the 90s, with many of the early female punk bands coming from the same music scenes as male-led groups. Today, there are many all-female or female-led punk groups blasting out authentic sounds and making music that’s more than worth your time. 

In this article, we’ll go over the 25 best female punk bands of all time, discussing their accomplishments and how they’ve influenced music. 

1. Blondie 

A Shark In Jets Clothing (Remastered)

Blondie might have been underground for a long time in the US, but they were hit sensations in the UK and Australia. The band would help pioneer the new wave scene of the 70s in America, mixing punk and new wave with disco, pop, reggae, and rap. In total, they have sold over 40 million records worldwide, despite breaking up from 1982 until 1997. In 2006, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but you’ll probably recognize them from singles like Atomic, Call Me, Heart Of Glass, and Maria.

Next: The best bands of the ’70s (top 1970s bands list)

2. Siouxsie and the Banshees

Siouxsie And The Banshees - Spellbound (Official Music Video)

How do you be more punk than punk? You go post-punk and shatter punk conventions. Siouxsie And The Banshees did just that, producing hit album after hit album and releasing hit singles in the US and UK. On top of being poster children for post-punk, the band became one of the best pop-punk acts of the 80s. You’ll likely recognize some of their songs like Kiss Them For Me and Peek-A-Boo. If you didn’t think switching sounds once was enough, they were part of the emerging goth sound and eventually were known best for their spooky visuals and sound.

Next: The top punk bands of all time (full featured list)

3. Bikini Kill 

Bikini Kill was heavily influenced by both The Runaways and Babes In Toyland, eventually playing a major role in the riot grrrl movement of the 90s. Their shows could get really exciting, as frontwoman Kathleen Hanna was known for fighting any male hecklers in the crowd. Their debut album Pussy Whipped brought them enough success to send them on a European tour. Known for their forward-thinking, they were able to push their messages into the mainstream thanks to their standout music.

Next: Best punk songs of all time (full featured list)

4. Sleater-Kinney

Sleater-Kinney - Jumpers [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

Originating as part of the riot grrrl movement, Sleater-Kinney would go on to become a key part of the American indie rock scene and a champion of feminist ideals. Their sound was very much like other groups from Olympia, Washington’s punk and independent rock scenes. They spent time experimenting with the alt-rock movements that came out of the state, adding instruments and drawing comparisons to punk bands like Patti Smith and Siouxsie And The Banshees.

Much of Sleater-Kinney’s lyrics derive from political stances rebelling against war, traditional gender roles, and consumerism. The harsh vocals and sound they produce were intentional, trying to get their messages out and demand action from the listener.

Next: Top American (US) bands of all time

5. Patti Smith Group

Patti Smith - Gloria (Audio)

Patti Smith isn’t known as the punk poet laureate for nothing. She and her band were an influential part of the punk rock movement in New York City, finding immediate success with her debut album, Horses. A love of punk rock and talent as a poet saw many of her songs become incredibly popular and earned her a place as a distinguished songwriter. Because The Night was co-written with Bruce Springsteen and would make it to the number 13 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart

6. The Runaways

Saturday Nite Special

The Runaways were one of the only all-female punk groups to end up with a certified gold album while they were still playing. You probably know of Joan Jett, but her time as a member saw the band headline shows, just like the icons they posed as did. Cherry Bomb was their biggest hit, finding incredible success in Japan, even if it wasn’t as well-received in the US. In 1979, they broke up, leaving behind a legacy of only four years. Jett would continue as a solo act and find a lot of success, while the others all had varying degrees of success in other groups. 

7. Slant 6

Soda Pop-Rip Off

An integral part of punk’s third wave, Slant 6 delivers gutted rock and roll in a tribute to the punk bands that came before while filtering in the experiences of life since those days. Their album Soda Pop-Rip Off is considered both one of the best albums of the riot grrrl era and one of the essential albums of the 90s. The title track of the album in particular is quite good. 

8. The Slits

With the debut album Cut, which has been named one of the defining albums of the post-punk era, it’s not hard to see why The Slits would make this list. Their original stint together ran from 1976 until 1982, during which time they’d support The Clash and be included in The Punk Rock Movie. They toured extensively but didn’t release another full album until reforming in the 2000s where they produced both Revenge Of The Killer Slits and Trapped Animal.

Next: List of bands with animal names in the title

9. The 5.6.7.8’s

The 5.6.7.8’s formed when two Japanese sisters started a rock and roll quartet in 1986. Eventually, they would end up as a trio, with both sisters included, and do a lot of covers of American rock songs sung in their native Japanese. The group was relatively unknown in western music circles until they appeared on Kill Bill Vol. 1 where they’re best known for the song Woo Hoo. Rock, surf, and punk rock were defining influences for them, with the group naming Chuck Berry and the Sex Pistols as defining artists of their sound.

Next: Top musical trios of all time (full featured list)

10. X

X - Los Angeles

You can’t talk about the punk movement on the West Coast without talking about X and their formative punk rock sound. Lead vocalist Exene Cervenka was an incredible poet, using many of her own works as song lyrics for the band. While mainstream success might not have been a massive deal for them, they were still one of the most influential groups in punk rock, folk music, and Americana. Even today, they still perform, though a lot of their work has been with charities. Their biggest hit, Los Angeles, would eventually be featured on the punk rock station of the game, Grand Theft Auto V

11. The Raincoats

The Raincoats - Don't Be Mean

Inspired after seeing The Slits in concert, Ana da Silva and Gina Birch would form The Raincoats in 1977 in London. In an interview, Birch said seeing them was like finally being given permission to be in a band (paraphrasing). Slits ex-drummer Palmolive would eventually join the all-female group, and they would tour alongside Swiss band, Kleenex. Their debut self-titled album was well-received, even listed as number 20 on Kurt Cobain’s Top 50 Favorite Albums.

The Raincoats were best known for reinventing the classic rock sound with their own punk themes, never killing what came before them just tweaking it to suit their own style. Some of their best songs include Fairytale In The Supermarket, Rainstorm, and You’re A Million.

12. L7

Pretend We're Dead

If working alongside artists like Slash and performing alongside Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Rage Against the Machine isn’t enough to establish legitimacy then I don’t know what would be.

L7 was one of the best female punk groups of the 90s and had a pure kind of punk rock and grunge sound. Pretend We’re Dead was their biggest hit, bringing them the most successful time of their career. Notedly, the band is also involved with the Rock For Choice advocacy group, one that performs concerts to raise funds that cover legal expenses for victims of anti-abortion violence. 

13. The Lunachicks

The Lunachicks - "Light as a Feather" Go-kart Records

Punk doesn’t apologize and doesn’t care what you think. Neither did The Lunachicks who gained a lot of favor with fans for raunchy lyrics and exciting stage shows. Their feminist-charged evolution fought for rights and never backed down, cementing their place not only in the music industry but in the punk scene as a whole. Some of their best songs included Babysitters On Acid, Born 2B Mild, and The Day Squid’s Gerbil Died—and yes, I included the last one because that is an epic track title. 

14. Gore Gore Girls

You Lied To Me Before

Named after a 1972 B-movie horror flick that’s a play on Go Go Girls, the Gore Gore Girls were an all-female garage rock band from Detroit, Michigan. Their work would finally get them recognized and see the group featured at Little Steven’s Underground Garage Festival alongside The Strokes, The Zombies, and The Stooges. Their style of punk saw them tour across Europe, though they had fairly limited success in American markets. 

15. Babes in Toyland

Babes in Toyland - Sweet '69 (Live at Rock The Garden)

Best known for their crossover blend of punk rock and grunge, Babes In Toyland was one of the best female punk groups of the 90s. Inspired by the band Sonic Youth, the group would eventually go on to perform as their opener on a 1990 European tour. They’ve been described as having as harsh a sound as rock music can have. Their third album brought them the most commercial success and was met with great reception due to the single, Bruise Violet.

16. The Muffs

Their cover of Kids In America would go on to be featured on the soundtrack for the movie Clueless, and it’s what put The Muffs on the mainstream music map. They dominated most of the early pop-punk scene but would end up breaking up and reforming quite a bit through the 2000s. Their final album would be released in 2019, shortly after the passing of frontwoman Kim Shattuck.

17. Red Aunts

The Red Aunts produced a raw and rugged brand of music that some people only thought would come from male punk groups by mixing punk and garage rock together into a distinctive sound. What’s really cool about them is that none of the members had any musical training or band experience; they got some help, found a musical direction, and made the best of it.

A lot of their songs can be described as powerful, aggressive, and perfect for screaming out your energy at the end of a long and frustrating day. Freakathon in particular melds screech, thrash, and angst into a fun and fast-paced style of music that any punk rocker is going to have a blast listening to. 

18. Bratmobile

Bratmobile - Cool Schmool (from Pottymouth)

Another pioneer of the riot grrrl movement, Bratmobile was noted for being a “fake band.” In the beginning, the duo of Molly Neuman and Allison Wolfe contributed to Girl Germs, which saw them asked to perform with Bikini Kill and Some Velvet Sidewalk. They admitted to the others they weren’t actually a band but ended up playing their first show anyways after writing their first five songs. Eventually, they would go on to release three studio albums and work on a number of compilation albums including Kill Rock Stars

19. The Donnas

The Donnas - Take It Off (Official Video)

Angst, especially the teenage kind, is one of the elements you’ll see most often in punk music. The Donnas were absolutely chock full of it, unleashing a mix of 70s hard rock and punk on the world that landed them an Atlantic Records contract. The group formed through a shared love of rock and roll, with all four friends buying in and making the music they loved most. Instead of focusing on pure rage, they go about everything in a fun kind of way, which is evident in songs like You’ve Got A Crush On Me and Take It Off.

20. White Lung

White Lung - Date Night (Official Video)

White Lung was one of the only female-fronted punk groups to find their start in the mid-2000s. Pitchfork and Rolling Stone both gave them great reviews, making them one of the best-known indie bands for quite a while. Their music is mainly inspired by the riot grrrl movement but features hardcore and post-punk themes. While they haven’t released an album since 2016, they still perform regularly today.

21. Mortality Rate

Forming in 2016, Mortality Rate dropped their debut album Sleep Deprivation, and never looked back. The band is firmly rooted in the hardcore punk scene and is one of the best live shows you can catch. If you’re looking for one of their newest songs, check out either You Were The Gasoline from 2019 or Rosemary from 2022. 

22. Hey Violet

Hey Violet - I Can Feel It (Offiical Musci Video)

Starting out in 2008, Hey Violet’s unique sound has always let them stand out in the pop-punk scene. You expect the edgy lyrics from a punk group, but they combine them with some of the catchiest melodies you’ll find in the genre. Ever had a relationship end because of an immature partner? Check out their single Guys My Age because it’s probably going to describe exactly how you were feeling when you ended things. 

23. Lolita No. 18

Riding On The Rocket | Lolita No. 18 at 2022 SXSW Music Festival

This Japanese band seamlessly blends punk and goth styles to create a ridiculously intriguing sound you won’t find almost anywhere else. Combine that with cartoonishly high-pitched vocals, and you’ve got one of the best Japanese bands to crossover since they formed in 1989. Their most recognized single is probably Rockaway Beach, and not only will it make it hard for you to not get up and dance, but it’s also the perfect example of their distinctive style. 

24. Hole

Hole - Miss World (Official Music Video)

Punk is known for an in-your-face attitude, oft-shouted vocals, and typically some sort of message that needs to be delivered. Fronted by the late Courtney Love, Hole does all of those things so well that they became one of the best female punk bands of the 90s.

While a lot of groups on this list had underground success, their Live Through This album sold 1.6 million records in the US alone. Everything about them is relatable, from songs like Celebrity Skin, which discusses the pressure to be perfect to songs that address sexual exploitation and abuse. 

25. Dream Wife

Dream Wife - Sports!

Dream Wife is relatively new to the scene, forming in 2016 when they released their self-titled EP. They’ve toured across most of Europe, the US, and the UK, opening for The Vaccines, Sunflower Beam, and The Kills. They bring a blend of pop, punk rock, and indie rock to the table that saw them named to Rolling Stone’s list of The 13 Best Things We Saw at Lollapalooza in 2018. Even Billboard writers label them as one of the best live rock bands to emerge in recent years.