What is more empowering than blasting songs that makes you feel like a badass as you’re walking down the street? More than just irresistible beats, often it is the lyrics that make a song more empowering than others. I have made a playlist on Spotify of songs that my girls and I can relate to and feel like powerful women. Here are five of the songs:
Salute - Little Mix (2013)
Released in 2013, “Salute” is an extremely catchy song that makes you want to put on a military uniform and salute your women role models. Mixing chants of “Salute!” and “Attention!” with harmonies, this song is a perfect anthem for your girl squad.
The song begins with a call for women to stand strong together and support one and another:
Ladies all across the world listen up we're looking for recruits. If you're with me, let me see your hands, stand up and salute. Get your killer heels, sneakers, pumps or lace up your boots. Representing all the women: salute, salute!
And it went on to state that women are not objects to look at:
You think we're just pretty things, you couldn't be more wrong. (We're standing strong, we carry on). Knock us but we keep moving up (we're moving up, yeah). Can't stop a hurricane, ladies it's time to awake (yeah!)
Jadi Wanita (Becoming a Woman) - NonaRia
NonaRia is an Indonesian all-women jazz trio that was formed in 2012. The name is short for “Nona-nona ceria” which means “cheerful ladies”. They released this song for Kartini Day in mid-April earlier this year. The song has a very cheerful and playful jazz swing sound, complete with feel-good lyrics that can make your day. Here they are telling the story of modern women in Indonesia where now they have the freedom to choose their style and also their careers. Short but sweet, “Jadi Wanita should” be added to your playlist!
Most Girls - Hailee Steinfeld (2017)
This has probably been my most played song in 2017 because of how much I love the lyrics. Although the beat and sound effects in the song may be a little bothersome to some, but that year most songs adopted that techno/electronic sound, so it did become hit. To me though, it was the song’s straight jab to the tired remark “You’re not like/I’m not like most girls” that does it.
Some girls feel best in their tiny dresses. Some girls? Nothing but sweatpants, looking like a princess. Some girls kiss new lips every single night, they're staying out late ‘cause they just celebrating life.
The point is different women live different lives and it is perfectly okay:
You know some days you feel so good in your own skin but it's okay if you wanna change the body that you came in. 'Cause you look greatest when you feel like a damn queen. We're all just playing a game in a way, trying to win at life.
Guys Don’t Read Sylvia Plath - Grrrl Gang
Grrrl Gang is a local indie Indonesian band starring Angee as the lead vocalist and guitarist, Akbar in bass and Edo with guitar. Angee said this the song was an homage to Sylvia Path and other women in the United States or the United Kingdom at a time when they were expected to stay home and raise children. She also said that she has never met a man who read Sylvia Path and actually understood what it meant, thus the idea behind the song title.
Other favorite lyrics:
I’ve been stripped off my identity, what else do I have left? I close my eyes and I see nothing. I open them and all is born again.
Like A Girl - Lizzo
Lizzo has recently become an icon of powerful hip hop songs for body positivity and women empowerment. I started listening to Lizzo after falling in love with a scene in a Netflix original called Someone Great. Here in the scene, the main character was going through her breakup but everything felt better as she sang along to Lizzo’s Truth Hurts with her best friend. Since then I’ve been acquainted with her other songs, including “Like A Girl.”
Woke up feelin' like I just might run for President. Even if there ain't no precedent, switchin' up the messaging. I'm about to add a little estrogen. Buy my whip by myself, pay my rent by myself, only exes that I care about are in my fucking chromosomes. I don't really need you, I'm Macaulay Culkin home alone. Bad bitch, diamonds in my collarbone.
She pays tributes to other powerful women:
Chaka Kahn, through the fire, light the kerosene. Lauryn Hill told me everything is everything. Serena Willy showed me I can win the Wimbledon. Put me on a pedestal, bet on me, bet I will.
The most powerful parts though were the chorus and the bridge, where she gives a positive twist to the usually sexist remark “like a girl””
Find me up in Magic City bustin' hundreds by the bands and I throw it like a girl. Hangin' out the 750, feelin' bossy in my city 'cause I run it like a girl. I work my femininity, I make these boys get on their knees now watch me do it. Look it, I’m a do it like a girl.
Also read about gender biases in literature.