Earlier today, we pointed out that a lot of songs dubbed "female empowerment anthems" were actually crafted by men (hooray for using feminism as a marketing technique!). But no fear, my wonderful women. There's plenty of talented female-gendered people who actually put pen to manuscript paper (or they just used ProTools, whatever) to write songs geared toward other ladies.
Now, granted, the following examples still feature a lot of men as collaborators, but some songs—like Taylor Swift's "Mean" and Angie Martinez's "Ladies Night"—are all estrogen. There are a lot of problematic parts of the music industry, but there should always be room for these feel-good anthems. Rise up, girls!
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Writers: Thomas Barnes, Peter Kelleher, Ben Kohn, Maegan Cottone, Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jade Thirlwall
The Little Mix members had their hands all over this song, which features a ton of writers, including British talent Maegan Cottone. "Salute" takes an almost militant stance on gathering a female army, and the video is equally as badass (and nearly misandrist, if you take those man-leashes seriously).
Best lyric: "Don't need ammunition, on a mission / And we'll hit you with the truth / Divas, Queens, we don't need no man, salute"
Writers: Queen Latifah, Kier "Kay Gee" Gist Of Naughty By Nature
Queen Latifah led the campaign for men to stop calling women "bitches" and "hoes" in "U.N.I.T.Y.," where she narrated the all-too-common struggles of catcalling and domestic violence.
Best lyric: "I peeped you out the window jumping girls after school / But where did all of this come from? / A minute ago, you was a nerd and nobody ever heard of ya / Now you a wannabe... hard"
Writers: Kathleen Hanna, Billy Karren, Tobi Vail, Kathi Wilcox
Bikini Kill stands for an entire movement for women in punk, when feminism we know today wasn't exactly a thing. Hanna and crew led the way for equality in music, and "Rebel Girl" is that movement's anthem, showing that woman can be depicted in music by reversing the male gaze and building up female friendship.
Best lyric: "That girl thinks she's the queen of the neighborhood / I got news for you, she is! / They say she's a dyke but I know / She is my best friend yeah"
Writers: Lily Allen, Greg Kurstin
Lily Allen matched up with longtime collaborator Kurstin to gift the world with a sarcasm-driven bop, with lyrics that call out all the implied directives women in entertainment are supposed to follow.
Best lyrics: "Forget your balls and grow a pair of tits"
Writers: Janelle Monáe, Kellis Parker Jr., Roman GianArthur, Nathaniel Irvin III, Charles Joseph II
Best lyric: "Are we a lost generation of our people? / Add us to equations but they'll never make us equal / She who writes the movie owns the script and the sequel / So why ain't the stealing of my rights made illegal?"
Writers: Rachel Platten, Dave Bassett
This isn't a female empowerment anthem. This is an empowerment anthem for EVERYONE.
Best lyric: "I might only have one match / But I can make an explosion"
The heavy-hitters came through for this The Pinkprint highlight, with Bey and Nick creating a female empowerment anthem for the ages. SZA wrote the lyrics, with some help from Hit-Boy.
Best lyric: "Bitches ain't got punchlines or flow / I have both and an empire also"
Writers: Kelly Clarkson, Christina Aguilera, Rhett Lawrence and Matt Morris
Kelly Clarkson told the story of a feminist who fell in love with "Miss Independent," a song written with the help of Christina Aguilera. Even though Miss Independent didn't need a man, she found love in the most organic way.
Best lyric: "But she miscalculated / She didn't want to end up jaded / And this miss decided not to miss out on true love"
Writer: Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift took on her tormentors with this Speak Now track, telling them off while encouraging others to do the same.
Best lyric: "And I can see you years from now in a bar / Talking over a football game / With that same big loud opinion / But nobody's listening / Washed up and ranting about the same old bitter things / Drunk and grumbling on about how I can't sing / But all you are is mean"
Writers: Christina Aguilera, Scott Storch, Matt Morris
Aguilera teamed with hip-hop producer Scott Storch for this track about double standards. We're not sure how much involvement each party contributed, but Xtina's vision of bringing out her stronger side comes through HARD.
Best lyric: "So, what am I not supposed to have an opinion / Should I keep quiet just because I'm a women / Call me a bitch cause I speak what's on my mind / Guess it's easier for you to swallow if I sat and smiled"
Writers: Tinashe, Alexander Kronlund, Lukas Loules
Best lyrics: "Destiny said it, you got to get up and get it / Get mad independent and don't you ever forget it"
Writers: M.I.A., Danja, Marcella Araica
With a beat unlike any other and M.I.A.'s signature swag (along with a really dope video), the Sri Lankan rapper teaches us that girls don't have to play by the rules to get to the top.
Best lyric: "Take it, take it / World's bouncing like a trampoline / When I get to where I'm going, gonna have you trembling"
Angie Martinez, Lil’ Kim, Left Eye, Da Brat & Missy Elliott, “Not Tonight (Ladies Night remix)”
You didn't think I was going to make a female empowerment list and not put on "Ladies Night," did you? Sure, the hook is a Kool & the Gang sample, but the bars are all ladies. This one will go down in history.
Best lyric: "Fuck the police keep my wallet obese / Who the Windy City woman still comin' and gunnin' straight from the Chi / Tonight's the night for all the ladies, let's get high"
Writers: Kelis, Bangladesh, Todd Shaw, Sean Garrett
Even though Kelis teamed up with dudes, she BROUGHT it with this track, reminding people that a) she's a boss, b) she doesn't care for haters and c) she's taking rightful credit for everything she's accomplished. Don't forget it, k?
Best lyric: "I'm the first girl to scream on a track / I switched up the beat of the drum / That's right I brought all the boys to the yard / And that's right, I'm the one that's tattooed on his arm / I'm bossy"
Writers: Alicia Keys, Linda Perry, Steve Mostyn
Alicia Keys has a loaded arsenal of pump-up anthems (shout-out to "Girl on Fire"), but "Superwoman" touches all the right parts. She linked up with legendary ballad writer Linda Perry for this joint, and its slow crawl to an epic Alicia chorus will have you tingling with inspiration.
Best lyric: "For all the mothers fighting / For better days to come / And all my women, all my women sitting here trying / To come home before the sun / And all my sisters / Coming together / Say yes I will / Yes I can"
Join us in celebrating International Women's Day with a day full of Sister Sister, Moesha and female musicians who are running the world! It all starts Wednesday morning at 9/8c on Fuse. Find Fuse in your area with our Channel Finder.
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