Fight Like A Girl: 17 Socio-Political Songs For The Woke Young Woman
Here's some music to help you find your voice and use it for good.
Pop stars are a dime a dozen, but pop stars who use their music to make a political statement? Those are a rarer breed. Here, we've rounded up 17 female artists who aren't afraid to make a stand with their music and create some of the most memorable political songs of today.
Queer singer-songwriter Zolita's third single "Fight Like a Girl" is a feminist power anthem for the #MeToo age, featuring lyrics like "My body, my choice, my rights, and my voice (can't grab me by the...)".
Rina Sawayama's brand of pop sounds sweet and sticky on the surface, but with sharp lyrics that raise issues about being a woman of colour in music and social media. "I wanted to repurpose the bubblegum pop mould of Britney and N'Sync and write about something political," she told The New York Times in one interview.
In "Take Me as I Am", Rina sings about pop music's lack of Asian representation, and how her mere presence in the industry is a political statement in and of itself.
Possibly one of the most outspoken political artists in this day and age, M.I.A. wrote "Borders" in two hours — the fastest she's ever written a song. Though lyrically simple, the imagery in its music video is incredibly powerful, making us take a long hard look at our views on immigration and why we value some lives more than others.
Leaving behind the drug-crazed antics of 2013's Bangerz, Miley Cyrus in Younger Now is chill and mellow. Because of that, it's not exactly the record you'd expect to find political songs of today, but in the final track "Inspired", she sings about being a force for positive change, ending with a slightly ominous note:
But how can we escape all the fear and all the hate?
Is anyone watching us down here?
Syrian-American artist Mona Haydar released "Hijabi" to address misconceptions about Muslims in America. “It’s about tearing down the invisible structures that oppress women in ways most of us don’t even realize. Hijab, pregnancy — none of it holds me back,” she told Buzzfeed in an interview.
A sweet little acoustic melody almost hides the subversive message in Singaporean artist Anise's song "Pulp Fiction", which tackles censorship, a sensitive topic in the Little Red Dot.
MILCK is an answer to society's pressures on women to shut up, smile, and "act like a lady". The song was so powerful that on the Women's March on Washington in January 2017, it was used in several demonstrations, making it one of the most iconic political songs of today.
The follow-up to "No Tears Left to Cry", which was about how Grande coped after the Manchester bombing at her concert last year, "The Light Is Coming" is about finding positivity in spite of all the bad — a message we all need to hear right now.
Not one to shy away from politics, Lady Gaga does it again with "Angel Down", a song about the murder of Trayvon Martin — the Florida teen who was shot by a policeman.
The chilling lyrics go:
Shots were fired down the street
By the church where we used to meet
Angel down, angel down
Why do people just stand around?
"I was overwhelmed by the fact that people just stood around and didn't do anything about it and that the justice system continues to over and over again not seek justice for these families," she said in a Beats 1 interview with Zane Lowe.
Though not that recent, this catchy little ditty remains relevant to this day. Though it was originally written for George W. Bush, Allen has since rededicated it to other adversaries, like Piers Morgan and Theresa May.
The second single from Monae's album Dirty Computer, "Django Jane" is a hip-hop track with lyrics that tackle women's rights and being marginalised as a black woman in American society.
In an interview with The Guardian, she said, "Black women and those who have been the 'other', and the marginalised in society — that's who I wanted to support, and that was more important than my discomfort about speaking out."
For many, "privilege" is a dirty word that they refuse to acknowledge. Perry's song "Chained to the Rhythm" is just about those people who live cushy, comfortable lives without a care for the world that's falling apart around them.
So comfortable, we're livin' in a bubble, bubble
So comfortable, we cannot see the trouble, trouble
In this ode to sex and vaginas, SZA sings about female power and women seeing their worth and taking ownership of their bodies.
Real n*ggas do not deserve pussy
Meaning it's more, you see right through walls
Ain't talkin' about pussy
Meaning you deserve the whole box of chocolates
Come at me
Forrest Gump had a lot goin for him
Never without pussy
Coldplay's "Yellow" is far from being one of the political songs of today, but this Mandarin cover of Coldplay's hit debut single has totally transformed its meaning. Used in the climax of Crazy Rich Asians, this rendition reclaimed the word "yellow" — a word often used derogatorily against Asian Americans.
Being woke means being mad, as Solange sings about in this song about being a black woman in America.
I ran into this girl, she said,
"Why you always blaming?"
"Why you can't just face it?"
"Why you always gotta be so mad?" (Be mad, be mad, be mad)
I got a lot to be mad about (Be mad, be mad, be mad)
When you first listen to it, Santigold's first song in her 2016 album 99¢ sounds like just another feel-good song about loving yourself, but upon closer examination, it becomes evident that it's a song against today's selfie culture.
Ha ha, funny me, life of the party, VIP
Got so much flavor, put me on the buffet
Look at them, look at them liking me
Last — but definitely not the least — of our list of political songs of today is this song that co-writer Jack Antonoff described as "a real civil rights anthem at a time when there are no civil rights anthems and there's a giant need for civil rights anthems."
Bareilles was inspired to write this song after witnessing a close friend struggle to come out.
Don’t run, stop holding your tongue
Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is
What are your favourite political songs of today? Leave them in the comments below!