2017, you sure put up a tough fight. Even though I think most could have predicted this would be a year for the books, there is no way anyone could have foreseen the amount of crazy plot twists that unfolded. On those days when life felt impossible and I could feel the world falling apart, I would turn on the radio, open up my favorite Spotify playlist, or search for comfort in a SNL live performance.
Of the trending singles that found themselves permanently ingrained in my brain over the past 11 months, I found solace in the power, confidence, and resilience I heard from female performers dominating the charts year round. For your uplifting pleasure, I present my favorite pick me ups of 2017.
1. "Woman" by Kesha
Off of Kesha’s comeback 3rd album, "Woman" is an empowerment song that proudly proclaims, “I’m a motherfucker.” The song’s contagious party vibe will leave every woman who’s ever received unwanted attention when out screaming, “Don’t buy me a drink, I make my money.” Writing the song with her two male co-writers, Drew Pearson and Stephen Wrabel, Kesha believes the song is symbolic of the support that is and can be by provided by men in the name of feminism.
2. "Bad Mood" by Miley Cyrus
When listening to this song for the first time, I assumed it was just another break-up track. It wasn’t until I listened to the lyrics a bit more closely that the frustration in her voice began to make sense. Developing into much more than a string of melodies over a lover’s quarrel, Cyrus’s “Bad Mood” hints at an anger derived from an issue much larger than herself with lyrics such as “The glass ceiling’s gonna break… I’m not sure how much more it can take”, and an anticipated change on the horizon as she proclaims, “I’ve had… enough.”
3. "Angel" by Fifth Harmony
The song looks down on a lover for stereotyping women as either a persona of pure innocence or rebellious trouble, and then becoming disappointed when he/she realizes their partner is more complex. With lyrics like, “When you look at me, what do you see?/ Open your eyes, I’m more brilliant than you’ll ever be,” Fifth Harmony’s message is loud and clear: a woman is more than a stereotype.
4. "I Did Something Bad" by Taylor Swift
My personal favorite off of Swift’s newest album, reputation, “I Did Something Bad” is an unapologetic celebration of the reputation the singer has acquired for dating many men and targeting those that attempt to oppress her. As the public continues to condemn her behavior, she in turn challenges them, daring them to “light [her] up” like a witch at the stake.
5. "Sorry Not Sorry" by Demi Lovato
The confidence spewing off of Demi’s carefree summer anthem was a pleasant tune to hear blasting out of every car’s window during evening traffic. All power, no apologies.
6. "Bodak Yellow" by Cardi B
Aside from making every woman magically transform into a different person when it comes on, "Bodak Yellow" is responsible for doing so much more. The first to overtake Taylor Swift’s comeback “Look What You Made Me Do” single off the top spot of the Billboard’s Hot 100, Cardi became the first female rapper to hit No.1 independently since Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop(That Thing)” in 1998. Finding her own audience, Cardi was able to make her name known through “Bodak Yellow” without catering to a male or white audience. Much like most other women on this list, she dares to develop her success off of the very reputation she is so often condemned for.
7. "New Rules" by Dua Lipa
Taking a different approach from most songs that deal with heartbreak, Lipa creates a set of rules not just for herself, but every woman (or anyone in a relationship, really) that needs a supportive voice of reason in the times of weakness that follow a hard breakup. The message behind the song: you shouldn’t have to go back to someone who couldn’t accept you for who you are the first time around.
8. "It Ain't Me" by Selena Gomez
With a new mature stance, Gomez drew a definitive line on the status of a toxic teenage relationship that remained ongoing in her young adult life. As the entire world continued to weigh in on whether Gomez should (and should still) get back together with her old flame, she revealed the story behind the relationship that was destroyed over a partner’s alcoholism, with a painful interrogation to her ex-lover that asks, “Who’s gonna walk you through the dark side of the morning?/ Who’s gonna rock you when the sun won’t let you sleep?/ Who’s waking up to drive you home when you’re drunk and alone?” In the end, she alone makes the choice on whether to stay with someone that couldn’t change for the better of their future, announcing: “It ain’t me.”
9. "Most Girls" by Hailee Steinfeld
The song itself criticizes the cliche stereotype used time and time again in books, movies, and male fantasies of the girl that deviates from whatever is considered the norm for women. Steinfeld fights back against the cliche “compliment” that states, “you’re not like other girls,” by pointing out that it further implies behaving like a woman is somehow wrong or not commendable. Through her music video and song lyrics, Steinfeld makes an effort to show that women, in fact, are not all alike, and it is that individuality in roles and personalities (regardless of whether it is considered mainstream or not) that she admires and respects rather than condemns.
Listen to the playlist here...