The term feminist music does conjure up memories of Lilith Fair for me. As I go down the list of songs, I hope they conjure up feelings of empowerment or just a feeling in your soul of being authentically true to your path.
First up is a personal favorite from my era, Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.” It may have been written by Otis Redding, but the “Queen of Soul” made it an anthem for women all over the world, by turning the original intent upside down.
Nearly 30 years after “Respect” was released, another Queen stepped up in Queen Latifah, with her song U.N.I.T.Y., which called out those who would try to tear ladies down.
Next, I want to mention another 60’s classic, “You Don’t Own Me,” by Leslie Gore. It came out in 1963 and served as an anthem for the second wave of the feminism movement and beyond. The defiant song was covered by Joan Jett, memorably in “The First Wives Club, belted out in the 1996 chick flick. This song withstands the test of time. Jett also famously shouts out “Bad Reputation” to her adoring fans.
Now, this one was controversial, to say the least, when it came out; “The Pill” by Loretta Lynn, who had seven siblings and six kids of her own. “I’m tearin’ down your brooder house / “cause now I’ve got the pill.” It was her defiant words to the husbands who treated wife’s like a farm animal. Cultures finally began to shift.
Destiny’s Child and Beyoncé’s crew have released several songs that address the theme of female empowerment. “Independent Women Part 1,” admonishes potential domineering dudes: “Try to control me, boy, you’ll get dismissed.” Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls),” has become an anthem for today’s girls.
“Q.U.E.E.N” by Janelle Monáe and Erykah Badu is a bad ass video. This power duo shows it’s okay to be provocative, vulgar and seductive in the face of judgement on this funky collab, which ends on a powerful rap from Monáe on equality.
“I Will Survive” has become the chant since 2016. And Gloria Gaynor says now is not the time to stop and to use it as a motivator for getting through the dark times we’re in.
I love Alicia Keys and her “Girl on Fire” is the confidence boost we need sometimes. And then there’s Dolly Parton, whose spitfire attitude, gave us “9 to 5,” that celebrates working women and calls out capitalist patriarchy even today.
The list goes on and on and depending where you look, there are many more not listed. Lady Gaga, Cardi B, Lizzo, “Milck’s ballad “Quiet, sung at women’s marches around the globe.” I picked the ones that resonated with me. If you need a pick-me-up, find a song to brighten your day. Music sooths the soul when things seem to be falling apart. So, chill to a tune or two and breath.