Five Girl Power Anthems

Scott Wallace
17th Nov 2015

With every year that passes, more and more women come to dominate the musical landscape, which of course gives us more and more amazing girl power anthems. Girl power anthems are about body positivity, confidence, sexual expression and independence. Here are five of the best to make you feel terrific inside and out. 

Janet Jackson – “Control” (1986)

Nearly thirty years on, the pounding beats and strident delivery of Janet Jackson’s third album Control are as powerful as ever. Opening the record and the title track with a firmly voiced monologue, Jackson says “this time I’m gonna do it my way.” Stepping away from the fluffy pop she had been previously releasing, “Control” is a defiant statement of intent for a woman taking control of her life, her career and her image. 

Madonna – “Express Yourself” (1989)

Appearing on Madonna’s masterpiece Like a Prayer, “Express Yourself” is a soulful Motown-inspired jam that is probably the most exuberant thing that she ever recorded. Over horns and springy funk guitars, Madge urges woman to take control of their relationships, “Don’t go for second best!” “Express Yourself” is about women being empowered, rather than subjugated, by the men in their lives and made to feel like a queen sitting on a throne. Its message is simple, but the power of the groove cannot be denied.

The Spice Girls – “Say You’ll Be There” (1996)

The Spice Girls’ major selling point of “girl power” seems pretty vague, but one thing you can easily pinpoint about the UK fivesome is that a strong sense of friendship was one of their top priorities. “Say You’ll Be There,” a sweet piece of R&B-scented pop doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but when that chorus hits, it’s a moment of arms-around-shoulders joy in the company of your best gal pals. The song’s music video too, complete with questionable fashion choices, is a campy bit of badassery inspired by sexploitation flick Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

Missy Elliott – “Work It” (2002)

“Girls, girls, get that cash / If it’s nine-to-five or shakin’ ya ass.” It’s hard to find a mainstream rap hit that’s as body positive, sex positive and straight-up powerful as Missy Elliott’s iconic “Work It.” In the song’s incredible video, Missy is so fierce that she literally cries bees, while she celebrates her curves and her feminine power over a classic hip-hop beat cribbed from Run-D.M.C. Its lyrics are often abstract and a little bit ludicrous, but “Work It” is like a manifesto of the strength of femininity in the 21st Century.

CHVRCHES – “Gun” (2013) 

Lauren Mayberry, lead singer of Scottish trio CHVRCHES has openly spoken out about feminist issues, including shutting down boorish male hecklers who try to objectify her. Often, that side of her comes through in the band’s gargantuan electro-pop creations, particularly “Gun,” on which she turns heartache into strength, assuring a former partner that she won’t lie down and take it anymore. “Hide, hide - I have burned your bridges / I will be a gun, and it’s you I’ll come for.”