5 min read
We know listening to the lyrics of today’s catchiest pop songs can be cringe-worthy. All that singing about “I want you right now” and “I’m going to give it to you…” ack! We talk with girls in our after-school program a lot about empty and, worse, demeaning lyrics, and how disturbing they can be. We also celebrate songs with uplifting lyrics that make girls feel more powerful. Each summer, we ask our youth advisory board to curate a best-of, girl-power playlist, with lyrics that can be sung loud and proud. This summer, tune into our 23-song MG Girl-Power Playlist, Vol. 2. Below our our youth advisory board’s top picks.
Maisie K.: “Clay” by Grace VanderWaal
I love that this song is all about how you can’t change who you are, even if people make fun of you. Grace is a 13-year-old who won “America’s Got Talent,” and she writes all of her own songs and accompanies herself on the ukelele. Her music videos are really creative, and she never dresses “sexy” or acts older than she is. All of her songs have a message about self-empowerment, friendship, and love. Grace is a really positive influence on girls and women because she got famous by being exactly who she is, and she never changed herself to please others.
Shira M.: “Unstoppable” by Sia
I picked this song because of these lyrics: “I’m unstoppable/ I’m a Porsche with no brakes / I’m invincible / Yeah, I win every single game / I’m so powerful / I don’t need batteries to play / I’m so confident”. I love that this song tells girls they can be powerful and confident.
Annie S.: “How Far I’ll Go” by Alessia Cara
Even though it is from “Moana,” an animated kids’ movie, this song has an amazing message for girls of all ages. It’s about daring to do whatever you want and being confident in yourself, and standing up for what you believe in, even when there is pressure from other people or society. Lastly, it’s about having the bravery to achieve and discover new things that no one has ever done before. Overall, this song’s theme of being yourself and realizing your potential is really empowering and encouraging.
Sasha K.: “Seventeen” by Alesia Cara
I chose this song because it talks about growing up and looking at the past in an empowering way. She also gives non-judgmental advice about getting older.
Sofia: “Never Give Up” by Sia
I first heard this song at the end of the film LION, after Saroo Brierly had succeeded in locating his long-lost family in rural India. He had been separated from his mother as a young child and spent most of his childhood living on the streets, dealing with poverty, crime, trafficking, and, above all, loneliness. When he was five years old, he was finally adopted by a family in Australia. As he grew up with his new family, he always wondered about the life that he had been robbed of, and set out in search for his mother, a journey that would take him years. Going off only a flicker of his early childhood memory, he is able to locate his hometown and his mother, who had spent her life wondering what had become of her son. This triumphant anthem is not only empowering enough to get anyone through a difficult time, but the way it is used in the film makes it a testament to mothers and children everywhere. It also speaks to the importance of perseverance and bravery, and every time I listen to it, I am constantly reminded of Saroo’s difficult yet fulfilling journey.
Sola A.: “A Belle to Rember” by Hayley Kiyoko
This song is a very upbeat song with positive lyrics, stating that she’s over people that hurt her in the past, and it’s their loss, because she’s “a belle to remember.”
Risa C.: “Nobody Ever Told You” by Carrie Underwood and “Unwritten” by Natasha Beddignfield
These two songs are are a perfect pair because they are about being yourself and not being afraid to say what you want to, when you want to.
Kavita P. (YAB volunteer): “Try Everything” by Shakira
Too often, girls are taught to be perfect and boys are taught to be adventurous. This song is the best and most upbeat ode to failure. It’s a whole new take on the old “failure is not an option” idea; rather, failure is essential to success! I’m taking it as my personal anthem. And hearing this message from a Lebanese Latina superstar is icing on the Waka Waka 🙂
Angela S. (Program Coordinator): “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten.
I love this song because is all about recognizing and celebrating your strength and the power you have to take control of your life and live out loud. I love running and I have always thought of running as a way to fight back and challenge my body to new limits – sort of like a metaphor for all the other challenges I go through in my life. In the end, I think it represents internal strength and the power we have as women to rely on ourselves and be our own champions.
Michelle C. (Executive Director): “Soy Yo” by Bomba Estereo
The lyrics, which are in Spanish, are all about staying true to who you are and not listening to critical voices telling you that you’re not good enough. My favorite line is, “I keep singing with all the doors open,” because it doesn’t matter what others think of our singing; it just matter that we sing because it makes us feel good. If you haven’t seen the video, watch it on YouTube; it’s brilliant.
Get to know our youth advisory board, who curated this list.
Looking for more music inspiration? Check out our MG Girl-Power Playlist Vol. 1.
Here are more tips on how girls can navigate the complicated messages of media.
This piece was orignaly published on MEDIAGIRLS.ORG and is republished here with permission. Michelle Cove is the Executive Director of MEDIAGIRLS®, a nonprofit organization that teaches girls how to critique the way girls and women are portrayed in pop culture with an emphasis on creating empowering content.
She is also an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and author whose projects have been featured on numerous national platforms including “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” Katie Couric’s talk show “Katie,” “The Today Show,” The Washington Post, and The New York Times.
Visit www.mediagirls.org to learn more.