As you probably already know, last Wednesday was International Women’s Day (or should I say, womyn’s day) — a day for celebrating and empowering womyn, while acknowledging and generating discourse on how to change structural barriers. If there is one exemplary way for womyn to empower ourselves, it is music. Music, just like any form of art, is a weapon for the oppressed. The womyn I chose to feature on this playlist have wielded this tool successfully — and hit the target right on the mark. From indie, to hip hop, to electronic, these womyn are resilient. Each one of these songs inspires and empowers me in a different way, and I hope they do the same for you. So without further ado: ladies/womyn/people all across the world, hold onto your seats, and get ready for some (intersectional) grrrrrl power.
- “Girl Gang” – Leikli47
This song was a no-brainer way to kick off this playlist. If the title isn’t explanatory enough, this song oozes with female badassery. With a power chorus featuring an ensemble of female vocals, Leikli47 gets me hoppin’, and I mean HOPPIN’ with this hip-hop banger.
“If you try to shut us down/ We’ll show you just how we get down/ And just to even up the score/ We’re coming, kicking down your door” &
“Do you know all the shit we gotta overcome?/ But that ain’t stopping nothing / Me and my girls on top, straight stunting.”
- “Greedy” – Ariana Grande:
Grande expresses her high demands for sexual pleasure in this stunner pop piece. Before spring break I saw Grande in concert and had the pleasure of seeing her perform this song. Let me tell you, seeing a 5 3” womyn strut around stage in a bikini top and demand an orgasm is nothing less than a spiritual experience — just wait till you hear the beat drop in that second chorus: Spiritual. Experience.
“I don’t need a phone call/ Got nothing to say/ I’mma tell you when it’s over/ Got no games to play/ You know that I’m coming tonight/ I know I’m coming tonight/ I just need to get this out the way”
- “Q.U.E.E.N.” – Janelle Monae, feat. Erykah Badu
This song has been a personal favorite of mine for years now, and I’m sure this rings true for many black womyn. Black womyn have historically been left out of conversations on gender inequality — Monae and Badu come together to strike a crack in the doubly thick glass ceiling. Also, the final verse at the end of this song is probably one of the best things ever.
“Hey brother can you save my soul from the devil?/ Say is it weird to like the way she wear her tights? (but I like it)/ And is it rude to wear my shades?/ Am I a freak because I love watching Mary? (maybe)” &
“Mixing masterminds like your name Bernie Grundman/ Well I’mma keep leading like a young Harriet Tubman/ You can take my wings but I’m still goin’ fly/ And even when you edit me the booty don’t lie/ Yeah, I’mma keep singing and I’mma keep writing songs/ I’m tired of Marvin asking me, “What’s Going On?”/ March to the streets ’cause I’m willing and I’m able/ Categorize me, I defy every label”
- “Go Off” – M.I.A.
M.I.A is no stranger to political activism when it comes to her music, and is no stranger to womyn power anthems. She strikes again with this synthy, headstrong number off of her latest album, AIM.
“So I stay way up on a level/ Like my name is Neymar and you know I’m not normal/ There is no competition/ I’m gonna talk and you gonna listen/ I’m on ten like men, even better than them.”
Bonus: this playlist really wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t include M.I.A.’s Bad Girls. It’s one of her most popular songs for a reason — sexual prowess and communal girlhood — this song is everything a badass bitch track should be.
“Looking in the rear view swagger going swell/ Leaving boys behind cause it’s legal just to kill/
Shift gear automatic damned if I do/ Who’s gonna stop me when I’m coming through/ What we got left is just me and you/ But if I go to bed baby can I take you?”
- “Can’t Pin Me Down” – Marina and the Diamonds
This saucy and satirical song asks the question “Do you really want me to write a feminist anthem?/ I’m happy in the kitchen cooking dinner for my husband.” It is obvious that this song stems from a place of rage and discontent, which is what makes this song so anthemic. After all, that’s where most of the best art comes from.
“You can paint me any colour / I can be your russian doll / But you ain’t got my number / No, you can’t make me small”
- “Cherry Bomb” – The Runaways
Let’s be real, it would be an affront to girl power if I didn’t include this classic 1970s rock anthem.
“Bad nights cause’n teenage blues/ Get down ladies you’ve got nothing to lose/ Hello Daddy, hello Mom/ I’m your ch ch ch ch ch cherry bomb/ Hello world I’m your wild girl/ I’m your ch ch ch ch ch cherry bomb”
- “Goddess” – Banks
There’s nothing quite like a womyn putting a sleazy ex-lover in their place. Banks lets this guy know she’s overcome it all, and she doesn’t want him back – ‘cause she’s a goddess.
“Now you gotta deal with this glitch on your shoulder/ Fuckin’ with a goddess, and you get a little colder/ Yeah, it’s colder, colder/ Fuckin’ with a goddess, and you get a little colder” &
“Finally surfaced above the downs/ Feeling her boldest, she came around/’Cause she’s a goddess/ Finally saw this”
- “Back Up” – Dej Loaf
Pitchfork.com, an online music magazine, describes Dej Loaf’s as “the rap equivalent of a well executed eye-roll”, and this track certainly does not disappoint. Heavy on attitude and sex appeal, this song delivers on every single line.
“You don’t know me, I’m too clean, I’m too holy, bitch I’m godly/ I only go for real niggas who don’t brag ’bout what they bought me/ Cause they know I got a bag, gotta fuck me up some commas” &
“See the difference with me, I never needed niggas, ever/ I’ll leave ’em where I met ’em, I ain’t trippin’ off no extras”
- “I’m in Control” – AlunaGeorge
I really wanted to include an EDM song in this list, because EDM appears as such a male dominated genre. However, as shown by AlunaGeorge and several other womyn making EDM (many of them womyn of color), womyn are serving amazing electronic tracks. This beat heavy number is laced with vocals from Jamaican dancehall artist Popcaan adding a dancehall lift to the dizzying beats . AlunaGeorge is certainly in control.
“If you’re picking up my call/ Gotta tell you once you know that I’m in control/ I’m in control/ Don’t you know I want it all?/ Put your hands against the wall/ I’m in control, I’m in control”
- “Don’t Hurt Yourself” – Beyoncé
You didn’t really think I could make it through this list without including the fertility goddess herself. There are no words to aptly describe the brilliance of this song — it is cutting, fierce, probably makes all men tremble — it is everything I aspire to be.
“And keep your money, I got my own/ Keep a bigger smile on my face being alone/ Bad motherfucker, God complex/ Motivate your ass, call me Malcolm X” &
“Blindly in love, I fucks with you/ ‘Til I realize I’m just too much for you/ I’m just too much for you” &
“When you hurt me, you hurt yourself/ Don’t hurt yourself, don’t hurt yourself/ When you love me, you love yourself/ Love God herself.”