Playlists, the mix tapes of the modern era
Music has the ability to empower a listener just as much as it does the artist who wrote it. Whether it's a job interview, an extra set of squats at the gym or just a day where you're not quite feeling yourself, music offers motivation like no other medium.
Everyone needs some time off from their busy and hectic schedules. While it can be difficult to find that time to escape, music can help you boost your life force by leaps and bounds. It can make you travel to those places and corners of your life that even you weren’t aware of.
With that in mind, we've put together a list of 40 songs to help inspire people who want to live their lives as loudly and authentically as they choose. Each track celebrates strength, resilience and confidence which enables you to strut your stuff whilst letting your inner light shine.
Headphones at the ready...
1. "Q.U.E.E.N." - Janelle Monáe & Erykah Badu
Before Janelle Monáe became an award-winning actress, she sang and danced alongside the legendary songstress Erykah Badu when they collaborated in the now iconic Q.U.E.E.N. music video. Speaking about the track, Monáe explained that Q.U.E.E.N. is actually an acronym for Queer, Untouchables, Emigrants, Excommunicated and Negroid which was written for those who have been ostracised and marginalized by the world we live in.
2. Don't Touch My Hair - Solange ft. Sampha
Solange's third studio album, A Seat at the Table pays tribute to her identity as a black woman and empowers fellow black women along the way, especially with songs like this one, which expresses the frustrations of being disrespected as a person of color
3. Express Yourself - Madonna
Originally written as a feminist anthem about independence, Madonna's 1989 dance-floor standard has since become synonymous with self-love and holding oneself in high regard. The song's lyrics directly address women and urge them to not settle for men who don't treat them like the queens that they are. In the years following the song's release, it has been embraced by Madonna's gay fans around the world and has simultaneously become an anthem of personal expression and female empowerment.
4. I'm Coming Out - Dianna Ross
The disco legend inspires us to not just make an arrival, but to also announce it in the most glamorous way possible.
5. Sissy That Walk - RuPaul
Sissy That Walk is by no means RuPaul's first musical message of self-love and empowerment. "Pick myself up, turn the world on its head," the song opens against a dance-ready beat. And for those who may belittle and tear down others, Mama Ru has one thing to say (besides "you better work"): "Unless they paying your bills, pay them bitches no mind."
6. Bad Reputation - Joan Jett
In a music industry dominated by guitar-wielding men, Joan Jett fought the patriarchy with her rock star anthems. She expressed as much in Bad Reputation; her debut solo single taken from her seminal album of the same name.
7. Born This Way - Lady Gaga
In one of the loudest love letters to the LGBTQ community in music history, Lady Gaga assures all her fans that no one is excluded from her love. The song's message of unapologetic self-love and self-expression has since become a cornerstone for the contemporary queer rights movement; the song itself has become a staple of pride parades around the world.
8. Nasty - Janet Jackson
After Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton "such a nasty woman" in the 2016 election, Jackson's 1986 hit's Spotify plays increased by 250 per cent, becoming an unofficial theme song for the incident. "Nasty boys don't mean a thing," Janet sings, but nasty women, on the other hand, get sh*t done. Also, a moment for the artwork.
9. No Scrubs - TLC
A song that speaks to any woman on the planet who has ever had to suffer the intense discomfort of being catcalled. It's the signature song of the 90s and soundtrack for millennials everywhere.
10. I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor
First released in 1978, this iconic tune was Gloria Gaynor's first and only mainstream number one. It sold 14 million copies globally and remains an important song within the disco era - as well as an important song among feminists and the LGBT community.
To keep the empowerment going, listen to our full empowering playlist on Spotify.
Main Image by Daniel Fontenele