icona popThis Is… Icona Pop
Icona Pop
2013, TEN/Big Beat

Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo met at a party one night in 2009. A few weeks later, they formed Icona Pop. They bring those palpable soul-sister vibes to their first album: There’s “Girlfriend,” a poppy retooling of Tupac’s “Me and My Girlfriend” that’s about loving a best friend instead of a romantic partner. Also? A little ditty you might have heard of called “I Love It,” a fierce ode to ditching an ex in a way that feels more like cracking open a piñata full of candy than dismantling a relationship. The ride-or-die platonic love is clearest in “We Got the World,” which gives the brush-off to anyone who won’t let a pal’s freak flag fly. Hjelt and Jawo’s music is made for you and your friends to scream along to. Put this record on at your next slumber party and no one will sleep. —Hazel

TLCOoooooohhh… On the TLC Tip
1991, LaFace/Arista

TLC’s debut introduced an all-girl space like no album before it. The trio wore baggy clothes, talked frankly about (safe) sex, and championed female agency. This record was an invitation into that world, aka the “TLC Tip.” The lyrics communicate autonomous power—heck, even the song titles do (see: “Bad By Myself,” “This Is How It Should be Done,” and “Depend on Myself”)—but it’s clear that T-Boz, Chilli, and Left Eye also found strength in each other. If you’ve ever wondered how TLC became one of the most successful girl groups of all time, listen to this record. —Chanel

ramones maniaRamones Mania
1988, Sire

This compilation of the Ramones best-known songs, along with some B-sides and unreleased tracks, is a great introduction to the band—and pop punk in general. It’s also the perfect soundtrack for hanging out with your best friend(s). I know because my BFFs and me have listened to it in cars, cranked it in bedrooms and basements, and filled whole houses with the chant, “Hey, ho, let’s go.” There are a couple of slower tracks (like “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend”), but for the most part, this is upbeat, “Bop ’Til You Drop”–type mania. Play it with your crew and pogo yourselves silly. —Stephanie

chrome sparksMy Heart
Chrome Sparks
2011, self-released

My Heart is the kind of album that’s easy to get lost in. It’s full of hypnotic, dreamy melodies and good vibes. Each song blurs into the next in a way that puts me into a hazy sort of trance. It’s an experience that borders on magic, you guys. I recommend listening to it from start to finish, preferably on a night drive, when nothing else is distracting you and everything seems possible. —Mads

Girls at Our Best!
1981, Happy Birthday

This album is more than just a dedication to fun. It’s also about breaking down notions of how girls can and should find pleasure. I love the part of “Fast Boyfriends” when singer Jo Evans croons, “I hope you don’t think I’m a freak / That I always have to fall in love once a week.” But really, she doesn’t seem to care what we think about her ever-changing cast of beaus. Throughout the record, it’s friendship that comes out on top. “Holding hands with my best friend, don’t have to wait till dark,” she sings in “Pleasure,” an anthem for girls who do what they want, even if it’s “bad.” Evans gets that a girl is at her best when she has her best friend’s hand in hers. —Hazel

green dayAmerican Idiot
Green Day
2004, Reprise

In seventh grade, nothing spoke to me as loudly as Green Day’s epic and conceptual comeback album American Idiot. I loved its brash guitars and pounding drums and Billie Joe Armstrong’s affected whine, but the record’s main appeal was “Jesus of Suburbia.” In the song, Jesus is one of several runaways who leave their broken homes and dull suburban lives for a city that they can try to find something better to believe in. Their stories are told in LONG, multi-act songs about love, addiction, and devotion. For me, the album was a personal escape from my own suburban angst. In 2009 it was adapted into a musical, and I highly recommend the cast recording, too—the harmonious vocals make the already-complex songs even grander. —Brittany

MONo Mythologies to Follow

2014, Chess Club/RCA Victor

Before we left for different colleges, this album brought my best friend and I together in a way that no other could have. These songs will always remind me of her, no matter how far away we are from each other. Even when Mø’s lyrics hint at breakups or vulnerability, there is a constant flow of invigorating girl power. Her words are playful, suspenseful, and sultry all at once, with lines like, “Warrior, your venom is erotic but wrong. I know the void’s been evil, but songs are still on the radio, to go, to let us know we’re not alone.” —Mads

bikini killPussy Whipped
Bikini Kill
1993, Kill Rock Stars

Bikini Kill’s debut record is full of blood, spit, and venom. It’s one of my most favorite albums to listen to when I need to feel empowered, or to scream along to when I’m in need of serious anger/frustration/rage release. But it’s also a study of female friendships. “Alien She” may be about an internal struggle, but it helped me end things with a long-time friend, and “Rebel Girl” is the theme song to my very best friendship. “For Tammy Rae” is a softer, sweet song about wrapping your arms around your BFF and pretending to own the world. The whole record is a reminder of how essential girl love is, heart-wise. —Stephanie

rilo kileyThe Execution of All Things
Rilo Kiley
2002, Saddle Creek

My best friend and I were lost once. Our hearts were being torn to shreds at the exact same time, so we holed up in my room, usually sobbing. Everything stung, but we found relief in each other and the painfully relatable songs of The Execution of All Things. This album wasn’t just our soundtrack: It was a capsule that contained our fears and dreams. Jenny Lewis’s sweet voice sang about our struggles while simultaneously serving as a source of borrowed hope. We treasured this record as something that resonated with us individually, and together. It came to symbolize that tumultuous time, so much so that I can still text my friend today and say, “I’m listening to the The Execution of All Things, and she’ll know what that means. Before long, she’ll be calling to see that I’m OK. —Meagan

fliesCry Is for the Flies
Le Butcherettes
2014, Nadie Sound

When I push play on Cry Is For the Flies, and the song “Burn the Scab” starts, I feel like I should leave a note telling my loved ones that I won’t be back for a while. It’s an emotional, punk-rock adventure. Le Butcherettes’ sound is bewitching, and singer Teri Gender Bender’s lyrics have an understated beauty. She is like a mystical poet, laying her heart and mind out for the world to see. Cry Is For the Flies plays with my heart strings perfectly. (It also features guest appearances by Shirley Manson and Henry Rollins.) I’m gonna say it—this is my pick for THE album of the year! –Bianca ♦