Music is healing, bonding, moving and empowering – especially when there’s a song that speaks to your emotions and makes you feel like you can take on any challenge. Such is the appeal of a girl power anthem: timeless, catchy and just as much fun to listen to the 200th time as it was the first. From pop queens to show tunes, we’ve rounded up our favourite girl power anthems. Sing them in the shower, dance to them around your living room (or the club) and let the lyrics remind you that you can conquer anything you need to. (Note: some songs are explicit).
‘Woman’, Kesha ft. The Dap-Kings Horns
“Don’t buy me a drink, I make my money,” Kesha sings in her wildly empowering 2017 hit ‘Woman’, about which Kesha wrote: “I just really f–king love being a woman and I wanted an anthem for anyone else who wants to yell about being self-sufficient and strong. (Yes, men, this song can be for you, too).” Kesha is a living and breathing reminder of overcoming adversity with grace: in addition to battling anxiety and an eating disorder, she’s used her music to help her cope through her very lengthy, personal and very-public legal case against Dr. Luke, her former producer. Also worth a listen? Kesha’s Grammy-nominated ‘Praying’, another stellar, powerful anthem (you may need tissues).
‘Sexy Getting Ready Song’, Rachel Bloom, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
This hilarious TV show is all about feminism and empowerment, spoofing rom-coms and ultimately proving that heroine Rebecca Bunch doesn’t need a man for happiness and fulfilment. The musical numbers are among the show’s most entertaining feature, and the ‘Sexy Getting Ready Song’ in the series’ first episode is what gets viewers hooked: it’s a parody of the often-tortured submissive beauty process women put themselves through before a date. As Nipsey Hussle (RIP) says midway through: “This is horrifying, like a scary movie or something. Like some nasty-a** patriarchal bulls**t.” Listen when you’re ready to go out – and decide not to shave your legs.
‘Good As Hell’, Lizzo
This utterly addictive 2016 song should be played repeatedly whenever you need some affirmation that you’re just great the way you are. We also love Lizzo’s body-positivity in general. “I’m not going to be able to please everyone with my outward appearance,” she told Jameela Jamil on iWeigh Conversations. “Someone’s always going to have a critique, someone’s always going to have some negativity to say about me. So all that matters is what I think of it. And I had to go so deep inside myself and look in the mirror. Looking in the mirror and accepting what’s in the mirror is very, very difficult. And right now, I love it every time I look in the mirror.”
‘Not A Pretty Girl’, Ani DiFranco
Required listening for any girl who has ever been through the confusing and constantly stressful scenario that is school. Ani DiFranco’s angsty punk poetry beautifully captures that feeling every girl wishes she could have: feeling strong, and not wanting her appearance to define her. “I am not a pretty girl. That’s not what I do. I am no damsel in distress and I don’t need to be rescued,” she sings.
‘Beautiful’, Christina Aguilera
Not just a song that celebrates the beauty in all of us, this also makes it onto the list for being an LGBTQ anthem, which positively portrays members of the LGBTQ community in the video and won Christina a GLAAD media award. The singer dedicated the 2002 song to “anyone who’s been discriminated against or unaccepted, unappreciated or disrespected just because of who [they] are.”
‘Thank U, Next’, Ariana Grande
Not only is 2018’s hit ‘Thank You, Next’ a girl power anthem about why we’re better off without our exes, but the accompanying music video pays homage to our favourite comedies like Legally Blonde, Mean Girls, Bring it On, Clueless and 13 Going On 30. Needless to say, we’re obsessed – and empowered.
‘Bad Girls’, M.I.A.
M.I.A. always wears her politics on her sleeve: 2013’s ‘Bad Girls’ is a free-spirited anthem that showcases the singer’s solidarity with Saudi Arabia’s Women To Drive movement. Yes, it does kind of make us want to be in The Fast & The Furious.
‘One Life To Live’, Phyllis Dillon
“Win or lose, this is my game to play. Right or wrong, I play it my way. And if I make mistakes, it’s my own heart that breaks, I’ve got to find my way of life, myself, alone,” the Jamaican reggae singer with the incredible voice croons. A reminder to live life unapologetically.
‘Sheela Na Gig’, PJ Harvey
This girl power anthem reminds us to “wash that man right outta my hair.” It also teaches us that sheela na gigs are ancient pseudo-erotic carvings of naked women found all over Europe, which is a fun convo starter to drop at your next dinner party.
‘Flawless’, Beyoncé ft. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This 2013 single samples a speech from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which reminds us exactly what a feminist is: “Feminist: the person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.” Amen to that.
‘Ex-Wives’ and ‘Six’, Six cast
The musical with one girl power anthem after another? Six, which retells the story of Henry VIII’s ex-wives through the lens of a feminist pop group. We predict every song will be your new favourite girl power anthem – try the two ensemble songs to start and get excited as these forgotten women reclaim history. Or should we say herstory?
READ MORE: Inspiring mantras all girls need to hear
‘Salute’, Little Mix
This girl power anthem is for when you need a reminder to slay everyday.
‘Cornflake Girl’, Tori Amos
Tori Amos was our 90s girl-power hero. Cornflake Girl – upbeat as it sounds – is really a song about the horrors of female genital mutilation. It also speaks of female friendship and betrayal.
‘Run The World (Girls)’, Beyoncé
Just in case you forget who really runs the world.