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SZA Continues to “Kill” it, and We’re Not Just Talking About Bill. Check Out This Year’s Billboard Women in Music Honorees

by Emily Lauletta

It’s that time of year again! Billboard is amping up to honor some of the greatest women artists working in music right now, and to say we’re excited is an understatement. Billboard is recognizing 8 phenomenal honorees, and we’re here to break it down for you.

SZA – Woman of the Year

A win for SZA is a win for sad girls everywhere! The most coveted honor at the ceremony is Billboard’s Woman of the Year, and this year the award is going to the queen of moody, alternative R&B, SZA. Truly, there is no one more deserving than SZA to hold this title for 2023. Her 2022 album SOS was a true chart-topper, as it was the first album by a woman to spend its first four weeks at No. 1 in a year, since Adele’s 30. Not to mention, the album gave us iconic hits such as the pop/rock-centric “F2F”, and, of course “Kill Bill”, her tongue-in-cheek tune about her plot to kill her ex boyfriend, which is a scenario I’m sure many of us have imagined (just kidding… sort of). SZA’s 2017 album CTRL immediately elevated her to icon status and gave us emotional and melodic tunes that we can relate to regardless of whether we’re feeling as cool as “Drew Barrymore” or are experiencing a case of the “20 somethings.” Her collaborations with artists such as Lorde, Rihanna, and most recently, Lizzo, are setting her up to become a music legend any day now. Though, she’s already a music legend in our eyes.

Becky G – Impact Award

Many Gen Z’rs may know Becky G best from her iconic 2014 hit “Shower,” or her role as the Yellow Ranger in 2017’s Power Rangers. But these moments are just snapshots of Becky G’s expansive career. In fact, G’s massive success as a Latin American pop artist led her to win the first-ever American Music Award for Favorite Latin Female Artist in 2020. Her newest album, Esquemas, was released in 2022, and gifted us with the hit “MAMIII” featuring G’s long-time friend and star in her own right, Karol G. Becky G has been making a more-than-noticeable impact on pop music, and we’re sure the story is just beginning for her.

Doechii – Rising Star Award

Tampa-based rapper Doechii is receiving this year’s Rising Star Award, and we’re so excited to see Doechii finally getting the attention she deserves! Doechii has been steadily gaining a loyal fan base for years now, especially since her breakout hit “Yucky Blucky Fruitcake” from her 2020 EP Oh The Places You’ll Go. She also delivered a stellar performance at last year’s BET awards.The artist performed her hit single, “Persuasive,” which actually is a collaboration between the rapper and Billboard’s Woman of the Year, SZA! Just based on the waves she’s made so far, Doechii is a star we will continue to see rise. 

Ivy Queen – Icon Award

Puerto-Rican singer Ivy Queen is receiving the coveted Icon award this year, which makes sense for the woman who is commonly referred to as the “Queen of Reggaeton.” Queen has not only been making hits since 1997, but she has continued to center the experiences of women within much of music. One of those songs is “Quiero Bailar,” in which she sings about wanting to dance and decentering the male gaze. When asked about the status of women in Urbano music in a 2019 interview, Queen stated, “I wish I could hear more empowering songs towards us. Ones that fuel us with the power we already have. We aren’t complementary things. We’re the lifeline. We need to embrace that.” “Icon” is definitely a label that Queen has earned.

Kim Petras – Chartbreaker Award

Fresh off her historic Grammy win for Best Duo Pop Performance for her single “Unholy” with Sam Smith, Kim Petras is set to receive Billboard’s 2023 Women in Music chart topper award. Kim Petras is truly the perfect recipient for this award, as she also became the first out trans artist to reach number 1 on the Billboard chart in October of 2022. Petras has also been gifting us chart-worthy hits for years now, with her hit song “Coconuts” going viral on TikTok in 2021, and her 2018 single “Heart to Break” being the perfect embodiment of bubblegum pop. We’re so excited to see what Petras does next.

Lainey Wilson – Rulebreaker Award

Lainey Wilson has been redefining what it means to be a country music star, so Rulebreaker is the perfect award to be given to the Nashville singer and actress. Her latest album, Bell Bottom Country, is filled with tunes that can be described as what she calls “country with flare.” Wilson was the most nominated artist at this year’s Country Music Awards this past November, and ended up taking home two trophies in the categories of Female Vocalist of the Year and New Artist of the Year. Wilson’s eclectic style, music, and overall persona is giving us serious Dolly vibes, who of course is also an iconic rule breaker in country music.

Lana Del Rey – Visionary Award

If Lana Del Rey had to be described in only one word, “visionary” would definitely be the one we’d pick. The “Born to Die” singer is receiving Billboard’s Women in Music Visionary Award at this year’s ceremony ahead of the release of her upcoming album, Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, which is slated for March 24th, 2023. Lana Del Rey has been defining pop music for the past decade, and her critically acclaimed 2019 album Norman Fucking Rockwell showed audiences the power and depth that pop music can hold. In fact, Lana Del Rey is such a visionary, that in 2022 NYU announced a new course that would be taught on her discography and how it connects to feminism titled “Topics in Recorded Music: Lana Del Rey.” On a totally unrelated note, does anyone know where I can find the application for NYU?

TWICE – Breakthrough Award

The South-Korean girl group TWICE is being honored at the ceremony as this year’s breakthrough artist. The group, made up of nine members, ​​Jihyo, Nayeon, Jeongyeon, Momo, Sana, Mina, Dahyun, Chaeyoung, and Tzuyu, has been performing and releasing music since 2015. TWICE released their seventh studio album (and fourth Japanese album), Celebrate, in July of 2022, along with a new EP, Between 1&2, in August. The group is also set to release another EP, Ready To Be, on March 10th 2023. With recent performances on MTV and a growing number of Instagram followers (they already have over 27 million) it’s no secret that TWICE is breaking through to new audiences.  

The Billboard Women In Music ceremony will take place on March 1st, and as if it couldn’t get any better, the ceremony is being hosted by comedian and Abbott Elementary creator and star Quinta Brunson! You can find out more about the ceremony and this year’s nominees here.

Top photo: @billboard on Instagram

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