*Divas according to my mental state at the time, not to their objective contribution to the musical canon.
  1. 1.
    MADONNA: Birth to early 90s.
    So much lace. So much black leather. So much Isla Bonita Like a Prayer Papa Don't Preach realness. The compass for my childhood fashion and bad girl sensibilities. (I know, we weren't pushing very far.)
  2. 2.
    MARIAH: Early 90s to puberty aka 1995ish.
    The first CD I remember owning. The first voice I wanted to live inside of. The first liner notes I memorized. The first song I imagined being in love to (Always Be My Baby). The primer for my romantic imagination (maybe that's what went wrong?!).
  3. 3.
    ALANIS/JEWEL/FIONA: 1995ish to 2001
    Alanis was angry. Fiona was depressed. Jewel was plaintive. Did a girl need anything more than this trifecta to fuel the angst of her teenage years on Maui? I think not. I knew every fucking word to every fucking song on every fucking album. And I still (fucking) do.
  4. 4.
    SHAKIRA: 2001 to 2007ish
    This Colombian chica came on the scene rubbing dirt on herself and dancing with horses and telling interviewers how her high school classmates used to laugh at her and call her "goat-voice" and I adored her immediately. Refused to listen to anything but her music in her native tongue. It's not the same in English. It's just not.
  5. 5.
    BEYONCÉ: 2007ish to present
    Beyoncé makes me cry. Like, just thinking about her existence makes me cry. She has helped to open the bandwidth within which women can be creative and expressive and bad-ass and multivalent in infinite ways. I could say a million things but that's pretty much the most important.
  6. 6.
    BONUS: Last year for my birthday I went to the Beyoncé and Jay-Z concert and I stood up for three hours straight and pretty much forgot I had a body and was just bathed in the light of Queen B and it was amazing and here is a picture of how my face looked the entire time.