Feminist Pop Songs

I recently found myself (surprisingly) listening to the radio in the car on my way across town.

I usually prefer to listen to audiobooks as I drive, or to my own playlists.

I try to keep my exposure to advertising to a bare minimum, so I avoid listening to the radio. I often find that top 40 charts rarely contain music that I enjoy listening to.

Call me an old lady if you like, but 1D, Bieber, Taylor Swift, and the like are not my favorite artists to listen to. By far.

I also dislike the common themes that seem to be omnipresent in top 40 music; getting drunk, casual sex, and misogyny abound, and I don’t like to support the popularity of these things.

This week, however, I was pleasantly surprised with what fell upon my ears.

I was so surprised to be smiling when listening to these songs. I found myself thinking “man, that’s really good.” Most shocking, I was excited about the message that I heard in these songs.

This is not a blog post debating the moral standing of these artists, or of any artists, for that matter. I’d just like to share these little glimmers of happy in the pop world with you!

“No” by Meghan Trainor

The first time I heard this song, I thought it was obnoxious. But then I listened to the words… and it was suddenly ok that it was obnoxious.

This is one of the awesome girl power songs that have come out in recent years.

I love the message of this song– through example, Meghan is showing us that we CAN stand up for ourselves.

It’s acceptable today to reject male attention. We are not required by social norms to feel “special” or “grateful” for their gaze on us. This song proves that.

We are also affirmed in our experience┬áthat persistence can be annoying and rude. “If that boy ain’t giving up,” we know that we can STILL say no.

I’m sure that most adult women understand these things through the wisdom of experience. But little girls listen to this music. Their ears are the most important, and these are lessons they need to learn.

This song is talked about as a “great women’s anthem” with a “female-forward message.”

It may be obnoxious, but it’s an annoying song that I would allow my little child to listen to without reservation.

Take that how you will.

Edit: Since writing this, I have heard a famous radio announcer introduce the song in various annoyingly misogynistic ways.

Example A: “Meghan Trainor, if a guy came up to you with a thousand dollars I bet you would talk to him THEN wouldn’t you??”

Example B: “Ladies, if you don’t get approached at the club or the bar this weekend, blame Meghan Trainor. She has totally destroyed our confidence!”

Clearly, this song is having an impact. Woot!

“Dangerous Woman” by Ariana Grande

Cue looks of disbelief.

Yes, this song is “raunchy” and performed by a playboy-bunny-imitating artist. This “shouldn’t” be a shining moment for feminism… and yet, in some ways, it totally is!

This definitely isn’t my favorite song in the world. However, lines like these are great for the independent-minded girl:

“Don’t need permission
Made my decision to test my limits
‘Cause it’s my business, God as my witness
Start what I finished
Don’t need no hold up
Taking control of this kind of moment
I’m locked and loaded
Completely focused, my mind is open”

“Nothing to prove and
I’m bulletproof and
Know what I’m doing”

It’s also just really empowering to hear a pop star sing about feeling powerful– sexually or otherwise!

I think we all have a little dangerous woman in us sometimes. Ariana encourages us to love that side of ourselves.

“Team” by Iggy Azalea

This is a rather straightforward addition to this list.

Iggy is clear and repetitive that she relies only on herself and is fine with that, thanks.

Most of the lyrics are a bit jumbled and don’t really make much sense analyzing, but the chorus could be the feminist anthem.

“Baby I got me
And that’s all I need
Baby I got me
Only friend I see
Playing on my team
Is someone like me
Watch me while I do my thing”

An independent woman who don’t need no man, indeed.

“Here” by Alessia Cara

Just based on this song, this girl would totally be my best friend.

Sorry for the disappointment to all you college kids out there, but… I hate parties. Always have, maybe always will. I’ve been to the odd one that I enjoyed, but for the most part they’ve all been obnoxious and definitely not my choice of activity.

While this song is not strictly within a feminist agenda, I love that it “allows” us to be “abnormal.”

It’s ok to hate going to parties. It’s ok to want to leave. It’s ok to feel annoyed at the drunk idiots who won’t leave you alone.

“I would rather be at home all by myself not in this room
With people who don’t even care about my well-being”

I could have written those words myself.

Life is too short to be suffering “over this music I don’t listen to.”

We are allowed to prefer more stimulating conversation and meaningful connection with people who actually care to know us outside of a drunken stupor.

“But honestly I’d rather be
Somewhere with my people we can kick it and just listen
To some music with the message (like we usually do)
And we’ll discuss our big dreams
How we plan to take over the planet”


If the radio’s going to be on, and if the bars HAVE to be playing top 40 music… then I guess I’m a little encouraged now by what messages will be pounding through our brains.

I hope you enjoyed this post by #feministmandi! More soon to come. ;)

“Don’t feel stupid if you don’t like what everyone else pretends to love” –Emma Watson