The summer after second grade, I watched Spice World on VHS nearly everyday. I played it over and over in my living room, dancing wildly around to its soundtrack of ‘90s pop feminism and body ownership. My skinny, freckled eight-year-old form flailed, contracted, thrashed to the demands anyone would have to meet if they wanted to get with me.
After its stint bringing a near ridiculous amount of self-worth to my living room, “Wannabe” has since become an emblem of female empowerment. Most recently, it was covered by Project Everyone to draw awareness to goals for equality for women and girls. Far from being the only feminist anthem to score the coming of age of my generation, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Missy Elliot, TLC, Destiny’s Child among others all released songs that blazed empowerment and self-ownership, both in body and economics, albeit with varying acceptance from the carpool crowd.
Who has taken up the mantle of creating anthems of empowerment and feminism in 2016? The playlist below features artists of diverse genres letting people know who run the world.
A few tracks from the playlist
With haunting vocals and rumbling guitar riffs, Mitski shares the all-too-familiar feeling of trying to be someone you’re not for a relationship and the ultimate failure that comes from the attempt. The song builds to indignance and self-acceptance of who she is and her Japanese-American heritage with the chorus: Your mother wouldn’t approve of how my mother raised me. But I do, I finally do. And you’re an all-American boy. I guess I couldn’t help trying to be the best American girl.
Throwing off societal pressures in a track that is as angsty as it is empowering, All in Your Head is an anthem of not fitting the mold. In an interview with Noisey, Alice MK said “”On a daily basis, we’re barraged by images and ideas about how to look, how to live, and what to think. ‘All in Your Head’ celebrates shedding these limiting pressures in exchange for lives spent valuing our intrinsic worth and discovering our uniqueness.” The track is the ultimate power breakfast to fuel your day of smashing societal norms.
In what has to be the highest form of flattery a feminist rock track can get, Shirley Mason tweeted “I wish I had written ‘Smile More.’” Play this one as your cat calling bullshit antidote on your walks about town.
Blk Girl Soldier is both an ode to the strength of black women and a call out of society’s devaluing of their lives. In acknowledgment of multiple generations of continuing struggle to be visible and valued, Woods names activists like Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman while including lines like “last century, last week” to draw attention to current crises. The song ends on a note of strength: It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.
Author: Kate Ida
Kate is the co-founder of femchord. She combines a love for music and a masters in gender policy in her work.