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Girl Powered: Awesome Songs About Women
There's more to March than pollen and college basketball. It also happens to be women's history month. And even though many people have mixed feelings about months that only celebrate one group or culture, they have their purpose.
And to me one way to really affect history is to listen to music. I love music for so many different reasons and learning about life in different eras is definitely one of them. To be honest, I do not listen to a lot of music prior to the mid twentieth century. Not because I am biased to modern history (I am in many ways) but I just happen to relate better to music closer to my era.
A song to me is like a great poem or essay. It can tell you so much in so little time. Great songs paint pictures and share stories. It's definitely the way oral history gets passed these days. And with that in mind, I really wanted to create a women's history month playlist of songs that really stirred dialogue about women and women's issues. Some you may know and others you may not. But either way, I hope this sparks your interest about women's history in a new way.
Martina McBride Independence Day
Martina McBride is one of the icons of modern country. Her voice is powerful and dynamic and her delivery is the same. I am not as familiar with her music as I could be but hearing her sing, I can easily see why she is so popular.
The song is about a battered wife essentially getting independence from her abusive husband by burning the house down with him in it. The song caused a stir for answering domestic violence with even more violence.
But it was necessary in getting people to pay attention to the real trauma of domestic violence. This song was important in not only winning awards but drawing attention to something that people were too quick to sweep under the rug.
No Doubt Just a Girl
If you remember the 90s like I do, there are several things you remember quite fondly. I remember TGIF, recess, and awesome music. One group that definitely got my attention was No Doubt. I thought Gwen Stefani pretty much looked like Barbie if she had better hair and a quirky sense of humor. Not only that, but she was the only girl in a group full of guys, one of whom included her ex-boyfriend.
But what really made me relate were songs like Just a Girl. This song is pretty much making fun of all of the dumb things some people say that girls cannot do. And it says it in the best tone ever. If I could list songs I wish I were smart enough to write, this would definitely be one of them.
If anything research has refuted some of the myths Gwen Stefani addresses like women driving late. Women are much better drivers than men. And I have the facts to prove it. And the whole thing about girls being pretty and petite is not always true. Some of us are chubby, tiny, athletic, lanky, silly, but you can't put us in one box. And we're definitely not defenseless as women are outpacing men in getting a college education among other things.
But I'm quite sure Gwen wasn't thinking about any of this back in the day. All she wanted to say was say stop treating me differently simply because I am a female. And to this day, we are still saying the same thing. However, if it was not for Gwen we would not have such a cool anthem.
What a Girl Wants Christina Aguilera
Before you laugh at me for picking this song, you must understand where I am coming from. If it was not for this song, a whole movement of girl power may not have happened in the early 2000s post-Spice Girls era of music.
People do not give Christina Aguilera enough credit for being an artist in favor of women's rights. And while this song on the surface is a simple pop ditty about a young girl in love, it also addresses the facts that her boyfriend is attentive to what she needs in a relationship. This was a notable departure for most teen songs since they usually focused on the girl changing to fit the guy's needs.
And while there are many other songs Christina Aguilera has sang about female empowerment such as "Can't Hold Us Down", this song is most memorable for going to #1. I also enjoyed how the phrase became a phenomenon, even sparking a movie of the same name in 2003 starring Amanda Bynes.
This song is not the biggest and best of what women's empowerment through music stands for but you have to admit it is one of the catchiest.
This song is awesome but I am sure you are wondering why I put this on the list. I think this song struck a blow for women in a different sort of way. Creep is about a woman in an unsatisfying relationship who decidedly cheats on her unfaithful boyfriend.
While I would never condone infidelity, this was the first time I really remember women not taking being cheated on for granted. And in all honesty, in most relationships it seems like there is an eye for an eye mentality.
I do not honestly think TLC wanted to tell all women to cheat if they felt like they were being wronged but I think for the most part it was telling them to realize their needs in a relationship are just as important if not more than a man's needs.
And if that includes cheating, so be it. Besides, women know how not to get caught.
Big Girls Don't Cry Fergie
Every time I hear this song, I remember why I enjoy listening to Fergie's voice. She may spend way too much time talking about humps but there's that moment where she really breaks through and pulls you in.
"Big Girls Don't Cry" has to be one of my favorite songs of the past ten years. It's simple, raw, and real. I could hear the vulnerability in Fergie's voice from the first note. And in a lot of music that is rare.
While many people are quick to judge the song based on the title alone, the truth is it is nothing like the Four Seasons' song of the same title. Fergie is talking about something a lot of women have to do, move on.
And while she particularly is moving on from a relationship that seemed productive, she is also talking about getting her life together. It's very personal and very insightful. If I had to guess, Fergie probably lived the words of this song more than anything which is why it is so powerful.
Independent Women Part 1 Destiny's Child
This song is essentially self-explanatory as are most Destiny's Child songs. At the point in time it was released it not only marked the final incarnation of DC3 but also the beginning of the Charlie's Angels franchise in the 21st century. The collaboration obviously paid off big time for both groups.
I love this song because they emphasize not depending on anyone but yourself to get what you need out of life. It's not talking about denying help but more so rebuffing the idea that women particularly need a man to provide.
And while this message was being spread it also did not hurt that young girls grew up and took these words to heart. I know I did.
Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam featuring Full Force I Wonder If I Take You Home
Did you know this song was actually written by a group of young men in the mid 1980s? In fact, Full Force had this song in mind after putting together Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam with lead singer Lisa Valez. They were so impressed with her voice and strong personality, they wanted to create an anthem for her.
Indeed they did. "I Wonder If I Take You Home" became a crossover smash and a generational statement for a group of young people coming of age in the confusing early AIDS era.
The message of the song is simple in questioning if spending the night really means you're in love or your a flavor of the moment? It was sampled by the Black Eyed Peas among many others.
Doo Wop (That Thing) Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill was her own force in the 90s as part of hip-hop group The Fugees and appearing in movies like Sister Act 2, she took it to another level when she went solo with her 1998 debut album This Miseducation of Lauryn HIll. The first single from the album hit with a bang, debuting at number one.
Doo Wop (That Thing) essentially the best type of advice from friend to friend. She advises that instead of giving a man everything he wants, to take it slow and know who you are. It's a powerful message that still resonates today.
However, Lauryn was so insightful, she also talked to men who are prone to fall for women who are just as manipulative.
Whether or not you have relationship troubles, this song has become an essential summertime jam for everybody.