Music

17 Of The Most Feminist Songs Of 2014

It was a good year for girl power.

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1. Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj, "Flawless (Remix)"

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Beyoncé's feminist call to arms is even fiercer with a feature from Nicki Minaj. The two women take turns explaining all the ways they stay flawless in the face of constant gossip and hate. You can say what you want, Nicki and Bey know they’re the shit and they want everyone feel the same.

Girl-power lyric: "And you can say what you want / I'm the shit (what you want I'm the shit) / I'm the shit, I'm the shit, I'm the shit / I want everyone to feel like this."

2. Maddie And Tae, "Girl In A Country Song"

Maddie and Tae's hit single "Girl In A Country Song" takes aim at bro country's chauvinistic attitudes by giving a voice to faceless fantasy girls. The girls know they're good for more than just looking good. It's time the bros did too.

Girl-power lyric: "Well I wish I had some shoes on my two bare feet / And it's gettin' kinda cold in these painted-on cutoff jeans / I hate the way this bikini top chafes."

3. Taylor Swift, "Blank Space"

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Tired of defending her music against misogynistic attacks, Taylor Swift changed tactics. Instead of calmly explaining for the thousandth time that plenty of men write about their life without being labeled crazy or fake, she wrote a song from the point-of-view of "Taylor Swift," psycho ex-girlfriend. "Blank Space" embodies sexist tropes to expose them.

Girl-power lyric: "Got a long list of ex-lovers / They'll tell you I'm insane / But I've got a blank space, baby / And I'll write your name."

4. Mary J. Blige, "Doubt"

Mary J. Blige obliterates the myth of "having it all" on the somber, reflective "Doubt." The singer looks back on her illustrious career, acknowledging the sacrifices she's had to make and the doubts she's had along the way. It's rare to hear a woman talk about ambition this way — as both fraught and rewarding — but that's what separates an artist from an icon.

Girl-power lyric: "Now you're looking at a leader / Now you're staring at a queen / You said I'll never be someone / But now I'm pulling all the strings."

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5. Colbie Caillat, "Try"

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When, as a girl, you're bombarded with messages all day, every day about how you can be prettier, skinnier, sexier, it's easy to forget that you don't have to engage. That you can be enough. Enter Colbie Caillat's "Try." The singer-songwriter takes four minutes to remind girls there is another option: You can just exist. You don't have to try. You can if you want but you don't have to.

Girl-power lyric: "You don't have to try so hard / You don't have to bend until you break / You just have to get up / You don't have to change a single thing."

6. Against Me!, "Transgender Dysphoria Blues"

Against Me!'s Laura Jane Grace condenses a lifetime of struggle to a few shatteringly specific moments on the aggressive (and aggressively brilliant) "Transgender Dysphoria Blues." The song addresses Laura's very public coming out, with the singer confronting both the bigots who refuse to see her as a woman and her own insecurities. It's the very definition of punk rock.

Girl-power lyric: "You want them to notice / The ragged ends of your summer dress / You want them to see you / Like they see every other girl."

7. Tacocat, "Crimson Wave"

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Menstruating sucks but this song doesn't. A silly bit of '60s-inspired surf rock, Tacocat's "Crimson Wave" skewers dumb euphemisms ("there are communists in the summer house") and offers listeners some good advice ("Listen to the Cramps on my stereo, turn it up as loud as it will go"). It's a pro-period pop song you'll want to listen to all month long.

Girl-power lyrics: "Call my girls see if they wanna go / take their minds off dumb Aunt Flow."

8. Janelle Monáe, "Electric Lady"

Almost a year after releasing The Electric Lady, Janelle Monae surprised everyone by releasing the title track as a single. She celebrates female empowerment over horns and hand claps, exclaiming, "We the kind of girls who ain't afraid to get down / Electric ladies go on and scream out loud." Her joy is as infectious as her hooks.

Girl-power lyric: "We the kind of girls who ain't afraid to get down / Electric ladies go on and scream out loud."

9. Mary Lambert, "Secrets"

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Singer-songwriter Mary Lambert cuts through the clichés and gets to the hard truth of self-acceptance: It's messy business! Letting go of the shame and guilt that society heaps on women who don't confirm to the very narrow skinny-straight-sane ideal isn't easy. But, as Mary's confessions make clear, there's power in publicly embracing everything that makes you different.

Girl-power lyric: "I know I'm not the only one who spent so long attempting to be someone else / Well I'm over it."

10. Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande, "Get On Your Knees"

There's a lot to love about this ode to sexual agency from pop superstars Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande — Ariana's dismissal of Nice Guys in the chorus, Nicki's explanation of her fondness for fancy lingerie ("Got a bow on my panties, because my ass is a present"), the way the beat goes from murky to sweet and back again — but, mostly, it's refreshing to hear two women reject objectification and assert their status as sexual subjects.

Girl-power lyric: "I want you on all fours / And before I let you walk, you gotta show me how you crawl / If you want it all."

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11. Elliphant and MØ, "One More"

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It's a shame platonic love has long taken a backseat to romantic entanglements in pop songs because Elliphant's exploration of female co-dependency is both incredibly moving and catchy as hell.

Girl-power lyric: "Let's do what we / Always used to do / Stupid around like two fools."

12. Charli XCX, "Body Of My Own"

Charli XCX's "Body Of My Own" is the rare masturbation anthem that treats self-pleasure as something other than an amusing diversion. The pop-punk prom queen is not just into herself between boyfriends, she actually prefers her own touch to that of a man's. Go Charli, get yours — literally.

Girl-power lyric: "I'm into myself, don't need you / 'Cause I can make it feel just like I'm hanging on / Yeah, I can do it better when I'm all alone."

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13. Meghan Trainor, "All About That Bass"

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"All About That Bass" isn't perfect but the quibbles about Meghan Trainor's "skinny bitches" put-down and emphasis on the tastes of men miss something important: This year a song that celebrates curves and body diversity spent eight consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. That's a win for women of all sizes.

Girl-power lyric: "I see the magazine workin' that Photoshop / We know that shit ain't real / C'mon now, make it stop."

14. Fifth Harmony, "BO$$"

Like "Independent Women, Pt. I" before it, there will be a generation of women who point to "BO$$" as the moment they became feminists. With the ladies of Fifth Harmony espousing the virtues of financial independence and strong female role models, this song is basically Girl Power 101.

Girl-power lyric: "Working for the money 'cause that's what my mama taught me / So your ass better show me some respect."

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15. Lorde, "Yellow Flicker Beat"

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Written from the perspective of fictional teenage badass Katniss Everdeen by actual teenage badass Lorde, "Yellow Flicker Beat" is like feminist inception. The synth-heavy ode to survival follows Lorde-as-Katniss as she declares war on all the people who have tried to abuse and intimidate her.

Girl-power lyric: "But I got my fingers laced together and I made a little prison / And I’m locking up everyone who ever laid a finger on me / I’m done with it."

16. Miranda Lambert, "Bathroom Sink"

While it’d be nice to always wake up looking and feeling ***flawless, the reality is a lot of women struggle with their appearance. And then struggle with the idea of struggling with their looks. It’s a shame cycle that country superstar Miranda Lambert captures perfectly on this twangy rock ballad.

Girl-power lyric: "But regret has got a way of starin' me right in the face / So I try not to waste too much time / At the bathroom sink."

17. Little Mix, "Salute"

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The patriarchy got you down? Get your killer heels, sneakers, or pumps, or lace up your boots, because this military-inspired banger from British pop quartet Little Mix will inspire you to keep fighting the good fight.

Girl-power lyric: "You think we're just pretty things / You couldn't be more wrong / We're standing strong, we carry on."