Buzzfeed has posted a few articles regarding Feminism in 2014. I came across this article, and as someone who is always listening to music, I was surprised to have never heard of a good majority of these. Either I live under a rock, these songs are not really that famous, or maybe their “feminist message” is not ringing loud and clear. Let’s take a look (BuzzFeed annotation, followed by mine in red)

1. Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj, “Flawless (Remix)” 15M+ views

Beyoncé’s feminist call to arms is even fiercer with a feature from Nicki Minaj. The two women take turns explaining all the ways they stay flawless in the face of constant gossip and hate. You can say what you want, Nicki and Bey know they’re the shit and they want everyone feel the same.
Girl-power lyric: “And you can say what you want / I’m the shit (what you want I’m the shit) / I’m the shit, I’m the shit, I’m the shit / I want everyone to feel like this.”

My take:  So this is the iconic song with Beyoncé standing proud as the definition of Feminism flashes behind her.  I love that. Awesome.  Not much room for discrepancy about what she is trying to say there.  I love this as an example of two powerful ladies (minority ladies at that) proving their success and using it to send a message.  A++++
However, I am totally confused by this genre.  I don’t know what they are singing about for half the song: 
I’m with some flawless bitches because they be mobbin’ pretty’
Cause niggas love bad bitches that be on they grizzly
Throw that ass back I be on my frisbee
Princess cut diamonds on my Disney
Rhyming on point, but I am totally lost.  However, the chorus is pretty clear:  I’m flawless.  You’re flawless.  Women are flawless, let’s get it done.  I can get behind that.

2. Maddie And Tae, “Girl In A Country Song” 15M+ views

Maddie and Tae’s hit single “Girl In A Country Song” takes aim at bro country’s chauvinistic attitudes by giving a voice to faceless fantasy girls. The girls know they’re good for more than just looking good. It’s time the bros did too.
Girl-power lyric: “Well I wish I had some shoes on my two bare feet / And it’s gettin’ kinda cold in these painted-on cutoff jeans / I hate the way this bikini top chafes.”

My take: Another A++++.  Also not very knowledgeable about this genre, but this song is pretty clear.  Stop stereotyping/objectifying women in all these country songs.  I don’t know what BuzzFeed was thinking with that nonsensical “Girl-power lyric” because the chorus is way more important:
 
Bein’ the girl in a country song
How in the world did it go so wrong?
Like all we’re good for
Is looking good for you and your friends on the weekend
Nothing more
We used to get a little respect
Now we’re lucky if we even get
To climb up in your truck, keep our mouth shut and ride along
And be the girl in a country song

Plus the video is funny.


3. Taylor Swift, “Blank Space” 246M+ views

Tired of defending her music against misogynistic attacks, Taylor Swift changed tactics. Instead of calmly explaining for the thousandth time that plenty of men write about their life without being labeled crazy or fake, she wrote a song from the point-of-view of “Taylor Swift,” psycho ex-girlfriend. “Blank Space” embodies sexist tropes to expose them.

Girl-power lyric: “Got a long list of ex-lovers / They’ll tell you I’m insane / But I’ve got a blank space, baby / And I’ll write your name.”

My take: Meh.  I don’t know how I feel about this song.  I’ll admit to a Taylor Swift bias, but I don’t really see this song screaming #3 Feminist song.  Seems more like a mediocre song with a whole lot of retrospective meaning dumped on it.  Lyrics are meh, video is meh, someone please explain to me how that is a “Girl Power Lyric.”

4. Mary J. Blige, “Doubt” 41K views

Mary J. Blige obliterates the myth of “having it all” on the somber, reflective “Doubt.” The singer looks back on her illustrious career, acknowledging the sacrifices she’s had to make and the doubts she’s had along the way. It’s rare to hear a woman talk about ambition this way — as both fraught and rewarding — but that’s what separates an artist from an icon.

Girl-power lyric: “Now you’re looking at a leader / Now you’re staring at a queen / You said I’ll never be someone / But now I’m pulling all the strings.”

My take: I would say a solid B.  The song is simple, but a true testament to her journey and her struggles.  The song is more about individual fortitude than anything about feminism, (hence only a B), it just seems more powerful because it comes from a black women.  Regardless, you go girl!

5. Colbie Caillat, “Try” 34M+ views

When, as a girl, you’re bombarded with messages all day, every day about how you can be prettier, skinnier, sexier, it’s easy to forget that you don’t have to engage. That you can be enough. Enter Colbie Caillat’s “Try.” The singer-songwriter takes four minutes to remind girls there is another option: You can just exist. You don’t have to try. You can if you want but you don’t have to.

Girl-power lyric: “You don’t have to try so hard / You don’t have to bend until you break / You just have to get up / You don’t have to change a single thing.”

 
My take: B+ and great video!  This is also a simple song, I’m thinking a hit with 8th graders, but it has a great overall message.  That Girl Power Lyric is the one I would have chosen … for all the superficial changes you may make, you should still love you… because you are worth it!

6. Against Me!, “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” 152K views

Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace condenses a lifetime of struggle to a few shatteringly specific moments on the aggressive (and aggressively brilliant) “Transgender Dysphoria Blues.” The song addresses Laura’s very public coming out, with the singer confronting both the bigots who refuse to see her as a woman and her own insecurities. It’s the very definition of punk rock.

Girl-power lyric: “You want them to notice / The ragged ends of your summer dress / You want them to see you / Like they see every other girl.”

My take: A-.  Much more of a rock/roll style song, very powerful.  BuzzFeed description is an accurate description, she is asking for equality same as anyone else.  I would add two more lines that go with that Girl Power Lyric:
They just see a faggot.
They’ll hold their breath not to catch the sick.

7. Tacocat, “Crimson Wave” 100K views

Menstruating sucks but this song doesn’t. A silly bit of ’60s-inspired surf rock, Tacocat’s “Crimson Wave” skewers dumb euphemisms (“there are communists in the summer house”) and offers listeners some good advice (“Listen to the Cramps on my stereo, turn it up as loud as it will go”). It’s a pro-period pop song you’ll want to listen to all month long.

Girl-power lyrics: “Call my girls see if they wanna go / take their minds off dumb Aunt Flow.”

My take: This song is funny and amusing, quite catchy actually.  But I am not quite sure how writing a euphemistic song about periods makes great strides for the feminist movement. Maybe just the existence of a song about periods says something?  I am not feeling particularly motivated about conquering the world.

8. Janelle Monáe, “Electric Lady” 2M views

Almost a year after releasing The Electric Lady, Janelle Monae surprised everyone by releasing the title track as a single. She celebrates female empowerment over horns and hand claps, exclaiming, “We the kind of girls who ain’t afraid to get down / Electric ladies go on and scream out loud.” Her joy is as infectious as her hooks.

Girl-power lyric: “We the kind of girls who ain’t afraid to get down / Electric ladies go on and scream out loud.”

My take: Finally a song I already heard!  Mostly because L is a big Janelle Monáe fan. Solid A+.  Funky song, super fun, Electric ladies do what you want. I’m in. Maybe not super deep, but an feel good message.

9. Mary Lambert, “Secrets” 7M+ views

Singer-songwriter Mary Lambert cuts through the clichés and gets to the hard truth of self-acceptance: It’s messy business! Letting go of the shame and guilt that society heaps on women who don’t conform to the very narrow skinny-straight-sane ideal isn’t easy. But, as Mary’s confessions make clear, there’s power in publicly embracing everything that makes you different.

Girl-power lyric: “I know I’m not the only one who spent so long attempting to be someone else / Well I’m over it.”

My take: A-.  Obvious good message: self acceptance, man.  Otherwise, I am not overwhelmed enough to bump it up to A+.

10. Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande, “Get On Your Knees” 448K views

There’s a lot to love about this ode to sexual agency from pop superstars Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande — Ariana’s dismissal of Nice Guys in the chorus, Nicki’s explanation of her fondness for fancy lingerie (“Got a bow on my panties, because my ass is a present”), the way the beat goes from murky to sweet and back again — but, mostly, it’s refreshing to hear two women reject objectification and assert their status as sexual subjects.

Girl-power lyric: “I want you on all fours / And before I let you walk, you gotta show me how you crawl / If you want it all.”

My take: I have always been confused by the Nicki Minaj-over-sexualization-to-prove-a-point theme. I am not quite buying it. As one commenter wrote:
 
Its basically about domination and claiming a woman’s position is higher than a man’s. I don’t understand how placing yourself or a gender over the other is of use to anyone. And Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande or whoever wrote these lyrics does so by using sex as a tool. It’s degrading yourself to the level of a primal animal who uses sex as a weapon, a tool or a way to dominate. Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj sings about making another person work for them and do as they say, acting like the bosses over another person and rewards this person with sex. This isn’t feminism and it sure isn’t honorable. Making another person do as you say and rewarding them with sex is lowering yourself to a the level of a primal animal.  

How is sex-as-a-tool promoting equality?

11. Elliphant and MØ, “One More” 1M views

It’s a shame platonic love has long taken a backseat to romantic entanglements in pop songs because Elliphant’s exploration of female co-dependency is both incredibly moving and catchy as hell.

Girl-power lyric: “Let’s do what we / Always used to do / Stupid around like two fools.”

 
My take: I am not really sure what this song is about, but I don’t think it is quite “platonic love” as Buzzfeed suggests.  Even if it is about loneliness and desperation, this does not really belong on a list of Feminist songs. Catchy though.
 
 

12. Charli XCX, “Body Of My Own” 12K views

Charli XCX’s “Body Of My Own” is the rare masturbation anthem that treats self-pleasure as something other than an amusing diversion. The pop-punk prom queen is not just into herself between boyfriends, she actually prefers her own touch to that of a man’s. Go Charli, get yours — literally.

Girl-power lyric: “I’m into myself, don’t need you / ‘Cause I can make it feel just like I’m hanging on / Yeah, I can do it better when I’m all alone.”

My take: Maybe I am confused about feminist music, but I have the same opinion about this as the period song.  The existence of a song about female masturbation = empowerment?  I suppose there are lots of songs about men’s pleasures, but I am not feeling particularly interested in this song.

13. Meghan Trainor, “All About That Bass”

“All About That Bass” isn’t perfect but the quibbles about Meghan Trainor’s “skinny bitches” put-down and emphasis on the tastes of men miss something important: This year a song that celebrates curves and body diversity spent eight consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. That’s a win for women of all sizes.

Girl-power lyric: “I see the magazine workin’ that Photoshop / We know that shit ain’t real / C’mon now, make it stop.”

My take: I’m skipping the whole whirlwind of discussion about this song.

14. Fifth Harmony, “BO$$” 35M+ views

Like “Independent Women, Pt. I” before it, there will be a generation of women who point to “BO$” as the moment they became feminists. With the ladies of Fifth Harmony espousing the virtues of financial independence and strong female role models, this song is basically Girl Power 101.

Girl-power lyric: “Working for the money ‘cause that’s what my mama taught me / So your ass better show me some respect.”

My take: This song is catchy, and is an obvious feminist song.  They chant confident and boss… sounds good.  Some commenters claim that the singers should be more clothed in their video (wonder what their reaction to Anaconda was).  I’d give it a B at best.  Good message, but mediocre song.

15. Lorde, “Yellow Flicker Beat” 13M views

Written from the perspective of fictional teenage badass Katniss Everdeen by actual teenage badass Lorde, “Yellow Flicker Beat” is like feminist inception. The synth-heavy ode to survival follows Lorde-as-Katniss as she declares war on all the people who have tried to abuse and intimidate her.

Girl-power lyric: “But I got my fingers laced together and I made a little prison / And I’m locking up everyone who ever laid a finger on me / I’m done with it.”

My take: I love Lorde, but is a Katniss-motivation-revenge theme song really feminist?
 

16. Miranda Lambert, “Bathroom Sink” 252K+ views

While it’d be nice to always wake up looking and feeling ***flawless, the reality is a lot of women struggle with their appearance. And then struggle with the idea of struggling with their looks. It’s a shame cycle that country superstar Miranda Lambert captures perfectly on this twangy rock ballad.

Girl-power lyric: “But regret has got a way of starin’ me right in the face / So I try not to waste too much time / At the bathroom sink.”

My take: Another solid song about self acceptance.  Again, I’m not sure this song is specific to feminism, but it still has a good message. I prefer her lines:
Glamour at it’s finest
Just means someone’s hidin’
From their own reality
And the mirror at their bathroom sink

17. Little Mix, “Salute” 32M+ views

The patriarchy got you down? Get your killer heels, sneakers, or pumps, or lace up your boots, because this military-inspired banger from British pop quartet Little Mix will inspire you to keep fighting the good fight.

Girl-power lyric: “You think we’re just pretty things / You couldn’t be more wrong / We’re standing strong, we carry on.”

My take: A++++ for feminism man.  Pretty much the entire song is a Girl Power Lyric. But again more contention about the video and whether women in tight black clothing represents strong and powerful women.  
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Get your killer heels, sneakers, pumps or lace up your boots
Representing all the women, salute, salute!
So what do we do with this list. Some are YES FEMINISM, some are YES SELF ACCEPTANCE, some are random, and some don’t belong on here at all.  What order is this list in?  Maybe I am confused about what feminism is, maybe the writer and culture-at-large is too.  If this is an accurate representation of the feminist community… we are in trouble.
 
Opinions?  What songs would you have put on here?
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