Guzzling green beer, watching flowers bloom, “madness” we can actually deal with. Setting our clocks ahead so 4pm doesn’t feel like midnight. There’s so much beauty and wonder to the month of March, it’s hard to contain one’s excitement over it.
Well, given the pandemic, it is quite easy to contain excitement, considering everything else is being contained. Still though, this month has a lot going for it — and not the least of which being because it’s Women’s History Month.
Let’s take a minute to celebrate.
The proverbial glass ceiling has been shattering into shards with every new day and ticking minute; we have our first-ever female Vice President in office in Kamala Harris, more and more men — those with wandering eyes, mouths, and text-trigger fingers — are being held accountable for their exploitative actions, songs like “WAP” dominate the airwaves globally, and much to the chagrin of male critics, Phoebe Bridgers can smash a guitar just like Mr. Townshend.
Yep, women run this month, and when there’s music being created as powerful as this small handful of songs below (curated by this dude… points to self), you can pretty much go ahead and chalk all the other months up to women as well. The following are songs by women, for women, and they’re for everyone else too; especially if you have to ask.
Here’s a link to our full community playlist, feel free to add your own favorite tracks to celebrate Women’s Month. Ours are already in there, and we’ll dive into our choices below.
There are of course a plethora of tracks that celebrate femininity, we’ve selected nine (plus some bonus ones) that emblazon the notions of self-worth, self-love, and self-expression. And you can help us fill out the rest. You’ll find some omissions here, but it’s important to note “Respect” and “I Will Survive” were written by men. With that, let’s “work that…”
Mary J. Blige – “Work That”
Mary J. Blige is a lyrical, vocal, and acting force, and so many songs by the Grammy Winner and Oscar nominee would fit here, but one resonates — especially this year. “Work That” is a celebration of being who you are and not letting others get in your way or your head. She co-wrote the song in 2007 for her eighth album, Growing Pains. A modest hit when it came out, the song has achieved legendary status now. When she was campaigning, and even at her victory speech after being elected, Vice President/then-Senator Kamala Harris used the song as her main entrance theme. With lyrics like “I hear you been running from the beautiful queen that you could be becoming” and “it’s okay…show yourself some love” it’s easy to see why this track hits the core of our identities and ambitions.
M.I.A. – “Bad Girls”
M.I.A. is a lyrical gangsta. The British rapper born Maya Arulpragasam released some of the best songs in the 2010s, and this killer track off her 2013 effort Matangi stands out for its lyrical bombs and catchy, boisterous sonic sound. Spewing lines like “world’s bouncing like a trampoline…when I get to where I’m going, gonna have you trembling” to a Middle Eastern beat, this song is a giant middle finger to men in power, or those who think they’re in power, and female empowerment from the ground up.
Helen Reddy – “I Am Woman”
Back in 1972, Helen Reddy stepped up, roared, and soared. There are few songs as ferocious as this Aussie’s anthem, which appeared off her debut album I Don’t Know How to Love Him. A game changer, which Reddy co-wrote and fought hard to have released, this ditty was massive, reaching number one and selling over a million copies. There’s a reason why this classic roared back on top of the Australian sales chart following her passing last year. Little has changed. We need to still hear the words: Strong. Invincible. Woman.
Beyoncé – “Run the World (Girls)”
“Invincible” is a good word to describe this track and its performer alike. Beyoncé is no stranger to dropping songs that celebrate womanhood and “girl power.” Both “Independent Women” with Destiny’s Child, and her own single “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” could have easily defined this list, but “Run the World” is iconic. If we ranked songs for their stories, this might assuredly be at the top. This song arguably earned Queen B her crown, and was fierce in every way. This modest hit off her 4 album is also easy on the ears (read: catchy AF), with a “Pon de Floor” sample and lyrics that bash you over the head to a pop beat. Unapologetic, immediate, and confident, this is a timeless anthem for women of every generation.
Liz Phair – “6’1”
Any track off Liz Phair’s groundbreaking Exile in Guyville could make this list, but we’ll rock with this song that rips into men who think women are objects and look down at them — “And you sell yourself as a man to save but all the money is not enough.” Yep, at just five-foot-two, Phair and her songs loom large, wreak of confidence, and have an unmatched edge.
Cyndi Lauper – “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”
This She’s So Unusual pop classic by Cyndi Lauper is lauded for its likability, the fashion trends its singer unleashed as a result, and the silly music video that almost all but epitomizes the 1980s in full. But this is a deceptively powerful song where a woman isn’t just asking for a fun night out — she’s screaming out that she just wants to be treated like men do. Lauper wanted to “be the one to walk in the sun” away from boys that “take a beautiful girl and hide her away from the rest of the world.” It’s the big sister to No Doubt’s “Just a Girl,” which could also quite easily make this list.
Khia – “My Neck, My Back (Lick It)”
Men sing about having their sexual desires fulfilled on one out of every four or five song — especially in a confidence-driven genre like hip-hop. That’s what made Khia’s 2001 song so revolutionary and inspiring for younger generations of female rap artists. Over the course of this song’s nearly four-minute existence, the rapper states explicitly that she wants to be pleasured. Would there be a “WAP” by Cardi B without this explicit club classic? Probably. But game recognize game. The song is a banger.
Lizzo – “Juice”
This song oozes of confidence and self-love. It’s the ultimate high five song that pumps (wait for it) you up. Did I really make a Hanz and Franz reference here? Yes, but it ain’t my fault that I’m out here getting loose. The once-in-a-generation, multi-talented, and charismatic Lizzo co-wrote this hit — the first single off her Cuz I Love You full-length — that celebrates being your authentic self and aging like fine wine and being the “whole damn meal” too.
Soccer Mommy – “Your Dog”
Some might say Soccer Mommy (Sophie Allison) is carrying Liz Phair’s torch — both lyrically and melodically. Like Phair, Soccer Mommy’s songs have a ’90s alt-indie aesthetic built in, and the music itself isn’t a battle cry or rally cry. They are simple songs with brutal lyrics contrasted nicely with pop-sensible music so it packs a punch that hits you even when you may not be aware it’s hitting you. This lead single off her Clean LP finds the artist giving a voice to other women who are or were in bad relationships. “I don’t want to be your f—king dog that you drag around.” Performed subtly with a message that’s so immediate and impactful — she’s no prop you just “show off.”
That’s gonna do it for our short list, here are some more songs to listen to this month. And remember to add your favorites to our community Spotify playlist here.
Nine more songs to consider:
- Ariana Granda – “God Is a Woman”
- Joan Jett & the Blackhearts – “Bad Reputation”
- Lesley Gore – “You Don’t Own Me”
- King Princess – “P*ssy Is God”
- Janelle Monáe (feat. Grimes) – “Pynk”
- Bikini Kill – “Rebel Girl”
- Alicia Keys – “Girl on Fire”
- Soland (feat. Sampha) – “Don’t Touch My Hair”
- Miranda Lambert – “Gunpowder & Lead”
- Chaka Khan – “I’m Every Woman”
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