Famous American Lyricists & Songwriters

How often have you been glued to a random song, shuffling and re-shuffling it, just because you relate to its lyrics so well? Lyrics are to a song what soul is to a body — it is the quintessence of good song. Music, irrespective of its genre, needs its poet. It is this lot of musical scribes who makes any song click with the crowd or make it sound so insanely good. Lyrics are how a layman relates to a song, given that music isn’t everyone’s ball game. All said, writing lyrics is a tricky business. Picking the right words that correctly communicates the feelings of a lyricist’s heart even while perfectly fitting into the tunes and beats of a song can be arduous. Good lyrics read like fine poetry, and many Neil Young or Bob Dylan fans would consider them no less than Shakespeare or Wordsworth. If you cherish great lyrics, you will love going through the biographies, trivia and facts of America’s famous lyricists and songwriters we have listed here for you.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Eminem

Eminem.
21
Famous As: Rapper, Songwriter
Birthdate: October 17, 1972
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Saint Joseph, Missouri, United States

Amongst the biggest rappers of all time, Eminem gained worldwide popularity with the release of albums like The Slim Shady LP and The Marshall Mathers LP. His subsequent albums became huge successes further making him a bigger sensation and one of the bestselling music artists of all time. His fame greatly inspired other white rappers to succeed in popular music.

 2 Prince

Prince.
4
Famous As: African-American Singer
Birthdate: June 7, 1958
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States
Died: April 21, 2016

Singer-songwriter, dancer, and musician, Prince is is widely regarded as one of the greatest musicians of his generation. He was considered a guitar virtuoso and could also play several other instruments. With worldwide sales of over 150 million records, he is ranked among the best-selling music artists of all time. He was also well known for his flamboyant persona.

 3 Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton.
6
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: January 19, 1946
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Locust Ridge, Tennessee, United States

Multifaceted personality, Dolly Parton is a singer, songwriter, record producer, actress, author and businesswoman and is known mainly for her work in country music. She has received various accolades and awards in her very successful singing career spanning several decades and has composed over 3,000 songs. She has also worked in several movies and is a prolific songwriter.

 4 Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash.
4
Famous As: Country Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: February 26, 1932
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Kingsland, Arkansas, United States
Died: September 12, 2003

Johnny Cash, the American singer, songwriter and actor, was known for sorrow, moral suffering and redemption themes in his music. His genre was country, rock and roll, blues, folk and gospel sounds and he is one of the best-selling artists of all time. Cash had issues with drinking and drug abuse. Later he was diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease.

 5 Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain.
11
Famous As: Singer-songwriter & Musician
Birthdate: February 20, 1967
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Aberdeen, Washington, United States
Died: April 5, 1994

Gaining fame as a member of the rock band Nirvana, singer-songwriter and musician Kurt Cobain was often heralded as a spokesman of Generation X. He is considered to be one of the most influential musicians in the history of alternative rock. He enjoyed tremendous professional success, but his personal life was troubled. He died of suicide at just 27.

 6 The Notorious B.I.G.

The Notorious B.I.G..
5
Famous As: Rapper, Songwriter
Birthdate: May 21, 1972
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: New York City, New York, United States
Died: March 9, 1997

The Notorious B.I.G. was a rapper and songwriter and is considered one of the best ever. His debut album Ready to Die in 1994 was critically acclaimed. He was murdered in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles in September 1996. His album Life After Death was released two weeks after his death. 

 7 Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan.
4
Famous As: Singer & Songwriter
Birthdate: May 24, 1941
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Duluth, Minnesota, United States

Singer-songwriter and author, Bob Dylan, is widely regarded as one of the greatest songwriters of all time. Active in the music industry for almost six decades, he is a major pop culture icon who introduced a range of political, social, and literary influences to pop music. He is a Nobel laureate and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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 8 Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder.
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: May 13, 1950
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Saginaw, Michigan, United States

American singer and songwriter, Stevie Wonder, is one of most influential and the best-selling musicians of all time. That Girl, Gotta Have You, I Just Called to Say I Love You, Part-Time Lover and Happy Birthday are some of his chartbuster songs. He has won many awards and accolades, including 25 Grammy Awards.

 9 Jay-Z

Jay-Z.
4
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: December 4, 1969
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Jay-Z is an American rapper and songwriter and is one of the world's best-selling music artists. His debut album Reasonable Doubt was hugely successful in 1996 and since then he has gone on to release many more acclaimed and successful albums. He has been charged with assaulting a record executive and was given a three-year probation sentence in January 2000.

 10 Stevie Nicks

Stevie Nicks.
6
Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: May 26, 1948
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Phoenix, Arizona, United States

Stevie Nicks is a songwriter and vocalist with the British-American rock band, Fleetwood Mac. She also performs solo and is known for her unique voice. She has numerous hits to her credit and her records have sold in millions. She has won many awards, including the Grammy and was named one of the 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time by the Rolling Stone magazine.

 11 Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish.
33
Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: December 18, 2001
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California

A young singer and songwriter who rose to international fame while still in her teens, Billie Eilish is blessed with a soprano vocal range and an ethereal voice. Already the recipient of numerous accolades, including five Grammy awards, she was named in Time magazine’s  inaugural "Time 100 Next" list in 2019.

 12 Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson.
4
Famous As: Musician, Activist
Birthdate: April 29, 1933
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Abbott, Texas, United States

An accomplished musician and one of the most popular names of the late 20th century American country music, Willie Nelson garnered fame with his albums Shotgun Willie, Red Headed Stranger, Stardust and Always on My Mind. The multiple Grammy award winning musician, who continues to record even today, has also appeared in numerous films and authored a number of books.

 13 Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye.
4
Famous As: Singer, Musician
Birthdate: April 2, 1939
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Washington, D.C., United States
Died: April 1, 1984

American singer Marvin Gaye is one of the most successful black artists ever and his albums have sold in millions. His success reached great heights with the 1972 song What's Going On. The 1982 single Sexual Healing was the biggest hit of his career and was a chartbuster. He was tragically shot dead by his father after a family altercation.

 14 Bruce Springsteen

Bruce Springsteen.
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: September 23, 1949
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Long Branch, New Jersey, United States

Considered one of the greatest rock stars, Bruce Springsteen’s catalogue of songs over many decades is unparalleled. His fame skyrocketed in 1975 after the release of his third album, Born to Run, and it reached dizzying heights with his seventh album, Born in the USA, in 1984. He was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.

 15 Billy Joel

Billy Joel.
6
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: May 9, 1949
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: The Bronx, New York, United States

Popularly known as the Piano Man, Billy Joel is a singer-songwriter and musician. Having sold more than 150 million records worldwide, Billy is one of the best-selling musicians of all time. He is also America's third best-selling solo artist and the sixth best-selling recording artist. He is also known for his multiple relationships with popular women.

 16 Tom Petty

Tom Petty.
4
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: October 20, 1950
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Gainesville, Florida, United States
Died: October 2, 2017

A rock icon and creator of sprit-lifting songs, Thomas Earl Petty was one of the defining musicians of the 1970s and the lead vocalist and guitarist of the band Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Writing songs and creating music up till his last breath, Petty is noted for positivity and self- liberation themed songs, a rarity in rock music.

 17 James Brown

James Brown.
4
Famous As: Musician, recording artist, producer, dancer, bandleader
Birthdate: May 3, 1933
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Barnwell, South Carolina, United States
Died: December 25, 2006

Referred to by honorific nicknames, such as Godfather of Soul, James Brown was a prominent figure of 20th century music. A progenitor of funk music, Brown influenced the development of many music genres. An inductee of the Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame, Brown is ranked seventh in Rolling Stone magazine's 100 Greatest Artists of All Time list.

 18 R. Kelly

R. Kelly.
5
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: January 8, 1967
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, United States

One of the best known R&B artists, R Kelly, who’s sung many chart-topping songs and has sold millions of records, has been accused of sexual abuse by many women. He and is facing several state and federal charges in the US. He was arrested in July 2019 on charges of sex trafficking and child pornography.

 19 Tina Turner

Tina Turner.
4
Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: November 26, 1939
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Nutbush, Tennessee, United States

Known as the Queen of Rock 'n' Roll, Tina Turner is one of the best-selling recording artists of all time and has had a very long and successful career. Let's Stay Together, What's Love Got to Do with It, Private Dancer and Golden Eye are some of her chartbuster songs. She is also a songwriter and has acted in films too.

 20 Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly.
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: September 7, 1936
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Lubbock, Texas, United States
Died: February 3, 1959

Musician and singer-songwriter Buddy Holly was a central figure of mid-1950s rock and roll. Born to a musical family, he learned to sing and play the guitar as a child. He began his career as a teenager and found much success within a short period. Sadly, he died in an aircraft crash when he was just 22 years old.

 21 Carole King

Carole King.
4
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: February 9, 1942
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Manhattan, New York City, New York

Carole King is an American singer-songwriter. As a songwriter, King has contributed immensely to the success of other singers and is widely regarded as one of the most successful female songwriters of the 20th century. In 2013, she became the first woman to be honored with the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

 22 Sam Cooke

Sam Cooke.
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: January 22, 1931
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Clarksdale, Mississippi, United States
Died: December 11, 1964
The King of Soul Sam Cooke is best remembered for his hits A Change is Gonna Come, You Send Me, and Wonderful World. He began singing gospel as a child and later joined The Soul Stirrers. He was shot and killed by a motel manager in Los Angeles. 

 23 Hank Williams

Hank Williams.
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter, Musician
Birthdate: September 17, 1923
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Mount Olive, Alabama, United States
Died: January 1, 1953

Musician Hank Williams is widely considered one of the most influential and significant American singer-songwriters of the 20th century. Hank Williams influenced several singers, such as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash, and Charley Pride to name a few. Since his untimely death at the age of 29, many artists have released tribute albums honoring Hank Williams.  

 24 Glenn Frey

Glenn Frey.
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: November 6, 1948
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States
Died: January 18, 2016

American singer, songwriter and vocalist, Glen Frey was the co-founder of the extremely famous rock band of the 1970s—Eagles. The band delivered hit albums like Hotel California before disbanding after a decade. The six time Grammy award winner then enjoyed a successful solo career with hit songs like Smuggler’s Blues and The Heat Is On before re-joining his band.

 25 Jim Morrison

Jim Morrison.
10
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: December 8, 1943
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Melbourne, Florida, United States
Died: July 3, 1971

Considered the prototypical rock star, Jim Morrison remains one of the most influential singer-songwriters, almost five decades after his death. Jim influenced the counterculture of the 1960s as he embodied the hippie counterculture rebellion. Due to his erratic performances and wild personality, he is regarded as one of the most iconic frontmen in rock history.

 26 Diana Ross

Diana Ross.
4
Famous As: American singer
Birthdate: March 26, 1944
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan, United States

With several prestigious honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, under her belt, Diana Ross is one of the most popular and influential singers of all time. In 1976, Billboard named her the Female Entertainer of the Century. She has influenced popular artists like Madonna, Beyoncé, and Michael Jackson.

 27 Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell.
4
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: July 20, 1964
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Seattle, Washington, United States
Died: May 18, 2017

Singer, songwriter, and musician Chris Cornell rose to fame as the lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist for the bands Soundgarden and Audioslave. One of the key figures of the 1990s grunge movement, he also had a successful solo career. Unfortunately, he suffered from depression and died of suicide at the peak of his career.

 28 Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry.
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter & Guitarist
Birthdate: October 18, 1926
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Died: March 18, 2017

Chuck Berry was an American singer-songwriter. Referred to as the Father of Rock and Roll, Berry is credited with pioneering rock and roll music. He is also credited with influencing the attitude with which the rock music lifestyle is usually associated. Also revered for his guitaring skills, Berry is often included in lists like the Greatest Artists of All Time.

 29 Loretta Lynn

Loretta Lynn.
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: April 14, 1932
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Butcher Hollow, Kentucky, United States

Loretta Lynn is an American singer known for her groundbreaking contribution to country music. In a career spanning six decades, she has released multiple gold albums and has won Grammy Award thrice. Apart from being the most decorated female country singer, Loretta is also the only female Academy of Country Music (ACM) Artist of the Decade (the 1970s).

 30 Lil Nas X

Lil Nas X
17
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: April 9, 1999
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Lithia Springs, Georgia, United States

Montero Lamar Hill, better known as Lil Nas X, soared to fame with his US Billboard Hot 100 charter country rap track Old Town Road. The gay singer initially became viral for his comedy videos on Facebook and Vine and then soared to fame on Spotify.

 31 James Taylor

James Taylor.
4
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: March 12, 1948
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Five-time Grammy Award-winning folk singer James Taylor is best known for his hits You've Got a Friend and Fire and Rain. One of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, he has sold over 100 million records worldwide and has also won the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

 32 Billie Joe Armstrong

Billie Joe Armstrong.
5
Famous As: Singer, Musician, Guitarist
Birthdate: February 17, 1972
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Oakland, California, United States

Billie Joe Armstrong is an American musician and record producer. He is credited with co-founding and popularizing the rock band, Green Day. As a guitarist and vocalist, he has also contributed immensely to the success of the punk rock band Pinhead Gunpowder. In 1997, Armstrong founded Adeline Records to help support contemporary bands; the record company was closed in 2017.

 33 Neil Diamond

Neil Diamond.
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter & Musician
Birthdate: January 24, 1941
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York, United States
Neil Diamond has sold more than 125 million records and has had 10 Hot 100 and Adult Contemporary chart-topping singles. The Lifetime Achievement Grammy-winner was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His song Sweet Caroline was preserved in the National Recording Registry for being culturally relevant.

 34 Quincy Jones

Quincy Jones.
8
Famous As: Musician, Conductor, Producer, Arranger, Composer, Film Composer
Birthdate: March 14, 1933
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: United States

Regarded as one of the most popular and influential jazz musicians of the previous century, Quincy Jones is known for his work with other legendary artists like Michael Jackson and Frank Sinatra. As the first African-American to find success at the Academy Awards ceremony, Quincy has influenced a host of black musicians and songwriters.

 35 Fergie

Fergie.
6
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: March 27, 1975
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Hacienda Heights, California, United States
Fergie soared to fame as part of the hip-hop group Black Eyed Peas, which has delivered hits such as Boom Boom Pow. She was initially a child star in Kids Incorporated. She has also released solo hits such as Big Girls Don't Cry and owns a line of fragrances. 

 36 Sean Combs

Sean Combs.
6
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: November 4, 1969
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Harlem, New York, United States
Three-time Grammy-winning hip-hop legend Sean Combs, known to fans as Puffy, Puff Daddy, or Diddy, started off as a talent director with Uptown and then launched his own record label. His debut album, No Way Out, was certified 7Xplatinum, and his song I'll Be Missing You topped the Billboard charts. 

 37 Khalid (Singer)

Khalid (Singer).
5
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: February 11, 1998
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Fort Stewart, Georgia

Khalid is an American singer-songwriter whose work in Logic’s hit single 1-800-273-8255 earned him a nomination at the Grammy Awards. He has also received prestigious awards, such as Billboard Music Awards, MTV Video Music Award, and American Music Awards. In 2019, he was named in Time magazine's list of 100 Most Influential People.

 38 Don Henley

Don Henley
4
Famous As: Singer, Composer, Musician, Drummer, Pianist, Songwriter
Birthdate: July 22, 1947
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Gilmer, Texas, United States

 39 Lisa Marie Presley

Lisa Marie Presley.
6
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: February 1, 1968
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Memphis, Tennessee

The only child of the legendary singer and musician, Elvis Presley, Lisa Marie Presley fought her addiction with drugs during her teens and later launched herself as singer-songwriter with her debut album To Whom It May Concern. It was followed by two more commercially and critically successful albums. Lisa Marie Presley has also earned appreciation for her numerous philanthropic work.

 40 John Legend

John Legend.
7
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: December 28, 1978
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Springfield, Ohio, United States

John Legend is a singer, songwriter, actor, film producer and theatre director and his song All of Me from his fourth studio album was a Billboard Hot 100 number-one hit. He has released a host of successful albums. He has also won many awards, including an Oscar and a handful of Grammys. He is also an actor and a TV personality.

 41 Barry Gibb

Barry Gibb.
4
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: September 1, 1946
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Douglas, Isle of Man

A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees is known for his versatility. Barry ranks second on the Guinness World Records list of successful songwriters and has gifted his fans cult classics of pop/disco music of the 1960s and 1970s, such as Stayin’ Alive.

 42 Tom Waits

Tom Waits.
4
Famous As: Singer, Composer, Actor
Birthdate: December 7, 1949
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Pomona, California, United States

Tom Waits is a musician and songwriter. His lyrics, which are delivered in his trademark gravelly voice, often focus on the underbelly of society. His story of being born in a middle-class family to becoming one of the greatest songwriters of all time serves as an inspiration to many. He has also influenced several musicians and attained a cult following.

 43 Missy Elliott

Missy Elliott.
4
Famous As: Rapper
Birthdate: July 1, 1971
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Portsmouth
Four-time Grammy-winning rapper Missy Elliott, known for her chartbusting tracks such as Get Ur Freak On, was ranked fifth on Billboard’s 100 Greatest Music Video Artists of All Time list. She was initially part of the R&B group Sista and then collaborated with Timbaland in the collective Swing Mob

 44 Kenny Rogers

Kenny Rogers.
6
Famous As: Singer-Songwriter
Birthdate: August 21, 1938
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Houston
Died: March 20, 2020

Kenny Rogers was an American singer-songwriter. He is among the best-selling musicians of all-time list, having sold over 100 million records. His songs and albums remain influential among country music lovers. A multi-talented personality, Rogers was also successful as an actor and entrepreneur; he was the co-founder of the Kenny Rogers Roasters chain of restaurants.

 45 Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard.
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: April 6, 1937
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Oildale, California, United States
Died: April 6, 2016
Country singer Merle Haggard initially gained fame performing with The Strangers. He had several brushes with the law in his younger days, before he launched his music career. His songs reflected the angst of the working class. He won several accolades, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

 46 Jerry Garcia

Jerry Garcia.
5
Famous As: Musician
Birthdate: August 1, 1942
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: San Francisco
Died: August 9, 1995

Jerry Garcia had an illustrious 30-year career as the lead guitarist and vocalist of the rock band the Grateful Dead. Rolling Stone ranked him 13th on their 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time list. He was known for his improvisations, participated in many side projects, and released several solo albums.

 47 Troyal Garth Brooks

Troyal Garth Brooks.
4
Famous As: American singer-songwriter
Birthdate: February 7, 1962
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States

Troyal Garth Brooks is an American singer-songwriter. Having sold over 170 million records worldwide, Brooks is one of the best-selling musicians in the world. He is also the best-selling solo albums musician in the US. Also known for his charitable activities, Garth Brooks established the Teammates for Kids Foundation in 1999, which provides financial support to charities for kids.

 48 Bo Burnham

Bo Burnham.
4
Famous As: Comedian
Birthdate: August 21, 1990
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Hamilton, Massachusetts, United States

Comedian, musician, actor, and filmmaker Bo Burnham started his career as a YouTuber. The funny content he posted soon gained him attention and opened up more opportunities in the entertainment industry. Since then, he has released a few albums and has appeared in many TV shows. His first film as a director was released in 2018.

 49 Madonna

Madonna.
4
Famous As: Singer-songwriter
Birthdate: August 16, 1958
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Bay City, Michigan, United States

Often called the Queen of Pop, Madonna is considered one of the most popular and influential personalities in popular culture. Having sold more than 300 million records, she is the best-selling female musician of all time. Often featured in lists like the Greatest Artists of All Time, Madonna serves as an inspiration to many musicians, singers, and songwriters.

 50 Akon

Akon.
4
Famous As: Singer
Birthdate: April 16, 1973
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Akon is one of the most successful R&B, hip hop and rap singers in the world. His albums Trouble, Konvicted, Freedom, El Negreeto and Akonda have many chartbusters songs. He has also founded record labels Akonik Label Group, KonLive Distribution and Konvict Mizik. He courted controversy in 2007 for an onstage act involving simulated sex with a 15-year-old girl.