By Logan Hampsey
Hi there! Welcome to another edition of my music column On a Good Note. March is Women’s History Month, a time where we recognize and appreciate strong, heroic female figures throughout history. So, in honor of that I will be examining some music created by accomplished female artists that have not only paved the way for other female artists, but do so by standing up for other women and motivating them. I have a mix of some older songs as well as some songs from the last few years, and what I think this does is show that no matter how much time has passed, female artists still talk about the same issues in the world.
- Beyoncé – Run the World (Girls) (2011)
- This multi-award winning singer has proven herself over the course of her musical career that she is not afraid to bring up feminist aspects in her songs. As a black female artist given the platform she has, she feels as though she should be a voice for women of any race or color. In this song, Beyoncé energetically boosts female empowerment in a way that is almost military-like in the sense that she is commanding these bold lyrics and there are background vocalists that are responding back. It feels much like a song that you would hear entering a women’s rally. It may not be Beyoncé’s most well-known song, but it is definitely one of her most women empowering songs.
- Katy Perry – Roar (2013)
- This artist may not have won a Grammy yet, but she has won over the hearts of many fans, especially women. Katy Perry has always written motivational and inspirational songs, and although anybody can listen to these songs and relate to them, I feel like women can really learn from Katy Perry’s more uplifting music, like Roar. This song is about keep getting back up and always standing up for yourself and I feel like women have generally all been doing that in more recent times. Women are getting less and less afraid to demand respect from people, especially men and this song just shows how women’s involvement in this movement is getting stronger.
- Aretha Franklin – Respect (1967)
- Originally performed by Otis Redding, Respect used to be a completely different song. When Aretha Franklin covered the song and brought her own spin to it, it instantly became a huge hit. Debatably her most popular song, it is widely thought it was originally her song because of how well known her version is. This song can be seen as more powerful coming from a female’s perspective, especially during the time of its release with all of the social movements going on. Respect has a part when she is spelling out the word respect. Doing this in a song, especially one with such a strong meaning, can be really impactful and memorable. This song can be seen as the epitome of feminism due to the fact that a black female artist is standing up for herself and not giving in to white male society, and is in fact demanding the same respect as those white males, maybe even more.
- Christina Aguilera – Fighter (2002)
- It may be sonically very different from her past works, but Fighter is one of Christina Aguilera’s most recognizable songs, and with good reasoning. In this song, she reclaims all the damage done by a man and she ends up learning how she is stronger than before and he should watch out. The sound of this song makes it sound like she is writing to herself and finally reading it to the man who wronged her. This song came out earlier in this singer’s career, and her stance on feminism and standing up for other women has only grown over the years.
- Lady Gaga – Born This Way (2011)
- Many know Lady Gaga for her music and her outrageous outfits, but those who know her a bit more know that she is very involved with social activism, feminism, and much more. She has built her career off of incorporating music with various relatable lyrics for women, LGBTQ+, any ethnicity, any race, etc. Born This Way is the perfect choice for an inspirational song that is sonically appealing, speaks out to minority groups, and maintains Gaga’s style. Gaga will always find a way to make her music catchy for fans, as well as displaying messages of female empowerment and more. She is not afraid to call it as she sees it and make those uncomfortable conversations comfortable.
- Madonna – Express Yourself (1989)
- Being one of Madonna’s most well known songs, it is also a song full of female empowerment. She is credited with being one of the first female artists to resist the patriarchy as she did and push the industry for females to come. This was huge at the time of its release because women were still avidly promoting female empowerment and this song spoke to those who felt like they have been viewed as “second-best” to a man. A lot of Madonna’s music displays messages of doing what’s best for oneself, not letting a man control you, and being the best version of yourself you can be. The feminist qualities being preached by the singer is what makes it stand out from Madonna’s other female empowering songs.