Beats. Grooves. Anthems. The heartbeat of humanity, music fuels us and allows us to express our love, desires, passion, fear and rage.
As we approach the last few weeks of lockdown here in Melbourne, here’s a feminist playlist that travels across time and space to carry you through the highs and lows.
Diana Ross by Harry Langdon
I’m Coming Out – Diana Ross
The queer classic holds a really special place in my heart. Apparently inspired by three drag queens exiting a New York club dressed like Ross, the song also references her departure from Motown Records. Applicable to every instance of newfound freedom, this gem pronounces our unapologetic selves for “the world to know”.
Honourable mention: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun – Cyndi Lauper
Lady Gaga via @ladygaga
Born this Way – Lady Gaga
Another queer anthem, ‘Born This Way’ is all about self-empowerment and being yourself no matter who you are. A song for everyone, especially marginalised and traditionally excluded folks, to let go of what society says about you and to embrace who you are.
Honourable mention: Shake it Out – Florence and the Machine
Tracy Chapman – photographer unknown
Talkin Bout a Revolution – Tracy Chapman
The song that hardly needs an introduction – this legendary 1988 song calls for revolution and could not be a better soundtrack for the current moment. The perfect tune to rise up to – can you hear the “whispers” too?
Honourable mentions: What’s Up – 4 Non-Blondes
On Self Love
Thelma Plum – Warner Brother Music Australia
Homecoming Queen – Thelma Plum
Gamilaraay singer Thelma Plum sings of her struggles of growing up in Australia, outside the mainstream and conventionally accepted, and growing up to “be your own homecoming queen.”
Honourable mention: Good as Hell – Lizzo
Read more: So You’re Social Distancing – Here Are Our Top Tips
Alanis Morissette by Terry O’neil
You Oughta Know – Alanis Morrissette
Not only one of the best break-up songs but also the best tune to rock out to when you feel angry about anything. Upon its release and ever since, the song is hailed a feminist anthem for rebellion.
Honourable mention: Bad Reputation – Joan Jetts and the Blackhearts
Nina Simone by Jack Robinson
Feeling Good –Nina Simone
Sampled and covered many times over, Nina Simone’s cover of Feeling Good is iconic. A song about beauty, liberation and joy. It’s release in the midst of the civil rights movement cemented the song as a number for freedom from oppression.
Honourable mention: Pynk – Janelle Monae
Lesley Gore – photographer unknown
You Don’t Own Me – Lesley Gore
A song about refusing objectification and demanding independence, ‘You Don’t Own Me” is a masterly tune calling us to claim our autonomy and agency.
Honourable mentions: Independent Woman – Destiny’s Child
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Gwen Stefani – photographer unknown
Just a Girl – No Doubt
A sarcastic challenge to the stereotype of girls as meek and helpless, calling us to never underestimate girl power. Written by Gwen Stefani, the song rallies against society’s devaluation of girlhood.
Honourable mentions: Man! I Feel Like a Woman – Shania Twain
Fiona Apple – photographer unknown
Ladies – Fiona Apple
From her latest album that came out this year, “Ladies” by Fiona Apple is a masterpiece about unconventional sisterhood. In it Apple details her love for women, dedicated to the “good women like you” that she “won’t get through” to. Also Fiona Apple in general is an icon.
Honourable mention: Love and Justice – Kavisha Mazzella & The Victorian Women’s Trust (VWT)
Aretha Franklin – Getty Images
Respect –Aretha Franklin
R.E.S.P.E.C.T. from the queen herself! This 1967 timeless classic imploring us to never settle for anything less. The song has created a legacy and is a key sound for the feminist movement.
Honourable mention: Woman’s World – Okenyo
This is just a taster of all the incredible feminist music out there! Lift yourself up to where you belong with the melodic genius of luminaries from all walks of life. Rock out, slow dance, punch the air and challenge your music library to do more.
Listen to the playlist on Spotify.
Still thirsty? Check out Lily Allen, En Vogue, Margret Roadknight, Le Tigre and Christine and the Queens.
Sanduni Hewa Katupothage
Sanduni is a body and a soul: a human. She is interested in arts, science, social justice and spirituality. She also loves lemonade and cupcakes.