If you’re anything like me, your phone will have a million different playlists specially curated to match your mood, no matter what. Our playlists say a lot about us. I have a soundtrack for being sad, needing motivation, working out, feel-good songs, bath time, driving; you name it, I’ve got it. A category often forgotten about, however, is “feminist bops”; essential listens for women. It was hard (almost impossible) to narrow it down, but here are my top 10 songs for empowered women.
10. Run the World (Girls)- Beyonce
Does this one even need an explanation? Queen Bey did it again, representing the women. With lyrics like, “Make your check, come at they neck, disrespect us, no they won’t” and “how we smart enough to make these millions, strong enough to bear the children, then get back to business”, Bey sings about women as we really are, super heroes with no limits.
9. Like a Girl- Lizzo
Lizzo is the ultimate self-love guru as she encourages us all to believe in ourselves throughout this song, whilst celebrating other amazing women for their success. With reference to Serena Williams, Chaka Khan and Lauryn Hill, Lizzo reminds us that women should be celebrated for their talents and achievements rather than beauty (although these women truly are beautiful inside and out). She has also written some of my favourite lyrics ever, “Woke up feelin’ like I just might run for president, even if there ain’t no precedent, switchin’ up the messagin’, I’m about to add a little oestrogen” and “only exes that I care about are in my fucking chromosomes”. Love it.
8. The Man- Taylor Swift
The entire premise of Taylor’s song ‘The Man’ is so important and, after the way she has been portrayed in the media, the song packs even more of a punch. It’s true- women are slated and cancelled for doing things that men do on the daily. This song perfectly calls out the double standards in the entertainment industry (and life in general). “What’s it like to brag about raking in dollars, and getting bitches and models, and it’s all good if you’re bad, and it’s okay if you’re mad? If I was out flashing my dollars, I’d be a bitch not a baller, they’d paint me out to be bad, so it’s okay that I’m mad.”- yes, it’s absolutely OK to be mad. I’m mad too.
7. Woman- Kesha
Whenever I achieve something I worked hard for, this is something I want to scream from the top of my lungs. “I’m a motherf**kng woman!”. Kesha has spoke openly about the inspiration for this song being Donald Trump’s vile “grab em’ by the pussy” comment which repulsed women everywhere, including her. She said, “That made me infuriated, as a hardcore feminist”. At least one good thing came from that comment- this song! I am here for it, and all the F-bombs.
6. Just Fine- Mary. J. Blige
This song is the ultimate reminder of how good it feels to be content. Blige considers that there are ups and downs in every day, but there’s always something to feel good about. One thing we can have control over, is how we feel about ourselves. The greatest message I take from this song is that of self-love. We can achieve anything when we love ourselves- mind, body and soul. We all deserve to get to the point where we’re like… “So I like what I see when I’m looking at me when I’m walking past the mirror. Don’t stress through the night, at a time in my life, ain’t worried about if you feel it.”.
5. U + Ur Hand- Pink
“I’m not here for you’re entertainment, you don’t really want to mess with me tonight… just keep your drink and give me the money, it’s just you and your hand tonight”- ladies, who else can relate? Not only is this song an absolute bop but I find the lyrics hilarious. If you’ve never listened to this song, you have full permission to stop reading right now and go listen. I feel heard. It should be compulsory for women out on a ‘girls night’ to listen to this before heading to the bar- reminding us that we have every right to say ‘no’ without trying to rationalise it. No is no, even for something as ‘innocent’ as a drink or a dance.
4. Independent Woman- Destiny’s Child
You guessed it, it would be immoral to miss Destiny’s Child off this list. The ultimate girl gang we all want to be a member of. My Nanna introduced me to the film ‘Charlies Angels’ during a sleepover, which means she also introduced me to this song. It may have felt insignificant at the time, but having kick-ass role models like the Charlie’s Angels and listening to lyrics like this, I was taught that I don’t need to depend on a man for anything. It’s not just the little boys who are ‘strong’ and ‘brave’. “Try to control me, boy, you get dismissed, pay my own car note and I pay my own bills, always fifty-fifty in relationships”. If I ever have a daughter, you know she’ll be listening to this song.
3. Just a Girl- No Doubt
I love that Gwen Stefani didn’t intentionally write this song as a feminist anthem- but that’s exactly what is has become. She speaks her mind through her music and in doing so, has given us all a platform to sing along and rant about how simply being a girl leads to people trying to confine us and shut us down. “Oh, I’m just a girl, all pretty and petite, so don’t let me have any rights… cause I’m just a girl, I’d rather not be, they won’t let me drive late at night”. OK, sorry, but I’m glad Stefani’s parents didn’t let her go driving late at night if this really is the entire inspiration for this song.
2. Can’t Hold Us Down- Christina Aguilera and Lil Kim
There is so much greatness in this song, I’m not sure I can do it justice with such a short summary. Christina and Kim call out misogyny from women being coined a “bitch” for speaking her mind whereas men are deemed ‘confident’ to the double standards of sexuality, “the guy gets all the glory the more he can score, when the girl can do the same yet you call her a whore”. They touch on language used commonly every day to minimise women’s ability- such as telling people to “man up” to represent strength and remind us that it wasn’t too long ago that men were taking women’s ideas and advertising them as their own. I wonder how many pieces of artwork, books, songs, inventions and discoveries were actually the work of women, yet we’ve grown up attributing them to a man? This is actually a song directed toward men, to remind them that we are just as worthy and deserve to be respected. We are not “to be seen and not heard”- we have every right to speak out loud. Together, they can’t hold us down.
1. Hard Out Here- Lily Allen
It has to be said that Lily Allen is a genius. Her music is so easily deemed ‘controversial’ when in reality she calls people out on things others are frightened to- because patriarchy still exists. In numerous interviews about this song Allen talked specifically about the male-dominated music industry and how controlled women in the public eye truly are. She raises awareness of the immense pressure on all women to be ‘thin’ to be accepted and how, despite wanting to discuss these things publicly for so long, she was called “mouthy” and told people wouldn’t take her seriously or they’d laugh at her. Making a stance against double standards, stereotypical gender roles, objectification of women and reclaiming language often used against us; she has smashed it. After listening to this song so much, my boyfriend & I now naturally say “grow some tits” instead of “grow some balls”. Lily Allen battling internalised misogyny in households everywhere since 2013.
So there we are, my top 10 songs for empowered women! Add them to your music library and play them loud whenever you need a reminder that you are enough.