15 Popular Songs That Are Actually Feminist Anthems

Female empowerment from the artists who do it best.

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Here's a wild thought: Why not celebrate International Women's Day every day? Give yourself an extra dose of empowerment by listening (and singing along) to these 15 popular songs—both new and throwbacks—that are a direct ode to the strength of women. We call them our girl power ballads.

"Sorry Not Sorry" - Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato's 2017 single from her album Tell Me You Love Me sends a reaffirming message to all women who have ever felt like they had to apologize to a partner who did them wrong. "Baby, I'm sorry (I'm not sorry)."

"M.I.L.F. $" - Fergie

Following a painful divorce, Fergie dedicated this iconic single to all of the badass mothers out there—including celebs like Chrissy Teigen, Kim Kardashian, Alessandra Ambrosio, and Ciara who make a cameo in the music video. "I been working all week, now where the hell is my drink? / Hair and nails is on fleek / All my girls on fleek / 'Cause we I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T / Do you know what that means?"

"Hey Girl" - Lady Gaga ft. Florence Welch

Lady Gaga pays tribute to her late Aunt Joanne with a full album of feminist ballads, including this slow pop song featuring Florence Welch. "Hey girl, hey girl, we can make it easy if we lift each other Hey girl, hey girl / We don't need to keep on one-in' up another / Hey girl, hey girl Hey girl, hey girl If you lose your way, just know that I got you." Need we say more?

"Bodak Yellow" - Cardi B

"Bodak Yellow," otherwise known as the song that put rapper Cardi B on the map, immediately makes you want to head to the bar with all of your girlfriends in your red bottoms. Nothing says feminism more than a group of women hanging out and lifting each other up.

"Flawless" - Beyoncé ft. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Who can forget this single from Beyoncé's 2013 self-titled album? "I took some time to live my life / But don't think I'm just his little wife / Don't get it twisted, get it twisted / This my shit, bow down, bitches." Beyoncé proving yet again that women should live their lives how they want, doing whatever they want, no matter what a man might say.

"Praying" - Kesha

Kesha has publicly opened up about the years of sexual harassment and abuse she endured from music producer Dr. Luke. Her heart-wrenching battle is on full-display in this single from her album Rainbow and shows women they're not alone.

"Hard" - Rihanna

Rihanna's here to prove that nothing can stop her or any woman who's "tougher than a lion" with her 2009 hit. (Yes, that's almost 10 years ago.) "They can say whatever, I'mma do whatever / No pain is forever, yup! You know this / Tougher than a lion, ain't gon' need to try it / I live where the sky ends, yup! You know this."

"I Love It" - Icona Pop ft. Charli XCX

The core of feminism, after all, is owning the right to like what you like and do what you want to do—and not apologize for it. And so we say together in this 2012 pop dance song, "I don't care, I love it."

"Miss Independent" - Kelly Clarkson

You forgot about this iconic number, didn't you? The 2003 song from Clarkson's first album, Thankful, hits home for a lot of women who fall in love and refuse to lose themselves or their values along the way.

"Run the World (Girls)" - Beyoncé

If the title didn't give it away, Beyoncé is living proof that a woman can run the world. Let's also talk about the line, "Strong enough to bear the children, then get back to business." Boom.

"Hollaback Girl" - Gwen Stefani

With this song, Gwen Stefani is, quite literally, "getting everybody fired up"—and that's just one example of how she's been leading the feminist pack with empowering anthems since her No Doubt days.

"No Scrubs" - TLC

This throwback tune has sentiments like "I don't want your number" and "I don't want to give you mine," which still ring true 20 years later—when women are still always expected to be interested. Newsflash: We aren't.

"Wannabe" - The Spice Girls

The classic hit that may or may not be played at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding (Mel C has since denied the rumors, but you know, dreams) has made the feminist cut since its debut in 1996. "If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends," because friends are forever, duh. And then, "If you wanna be my lover, you have got to give. Taking is too easy, but that's the way it is," because #equality.

"Who Says" - Selena Gomez & The Scene

If you're ever in need of a pick-me-up, blast this in your room on repeat for hours. Gomez dismantles the flawed idea of perfection with her firm emphasis on the idea that you can be anybody you want to be—and that she's beautiful—in this upbeat ballad.

"Bad Girls" - M.I.A.

After all, bad girls all girls do it well.


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Rachel Epstein

Rachel Epstein is a writer, editor, and content strategist based in New York City. Most recently, she was the Managing Editor at Coveteur, where she oversaw the site’s day-to-day editorial operations. Previously, she was an editor at Marie Claire, where she wrote and edited culture, politics, and lifestyle stories ranging from op-eds to profiles to ambitious packages. She also launched and managed the site’s virtual book club, #ReadWithMC. Offline, she’s likely watching a Heat game or finding a new coffee shop.