Top 17 Anthems for Women's Empowerment
Music from your favorite record store can instantly lift moods and boost spirits. Sometimes simply hearing the lyrics to a favorite song can inspire you to keep moving forward or change paths completely.
From pop to country and soul to R&B, here are a few of the greatest songs that we at Victola think have been influential in uplifting women over the years. These top female artists know how to write lyrics and perform songs that wholly embrace women’s empowerment with their anthem music.
#1 Alicia Keys - Superwoman (2007)
Soulful songstress Alicia Keys is known for her piano-playing prowess and powerhouse lyrics. Her song “Superwoman” from her Element of Freedom album delivers affirmation, allowing every female to identify as a “superwoman” at any life stage. The song is about showing up and honoring the strength of women and their united power. Keys has held a commanding presence over her image from the start of her career. Even as she’s gone on to achieve numerous awards and expand her talents in other arenas, you can always expect her to be in charge of every decision.
#2 Sara Bareilles - Brave (2013)
Sara Bareilles recognizes 2012 as a personally destructive year, a time when she had to confront some of her greatest fears and dark past. As a result, she emerged as a newly empowered musician and put forth her album, The Blessed Unrest, which features her signature song, “Brave.” With lyrical beauty and depth, it’s become a popular hit and part of the core of anthem music.
#3 Christina Aguilera - Fighter (2002)
In 2002, Christina Aguilera switched from her traditional teen pop style and showed a more complex version of herself personally and musically. “Fighter” was one of the main tracks embodying women’s empowerment of the time. However, her entire album Stripped showed a grittier side to her image, with other anthem music, including “Beautiful” and “The Voice Within.” Aguilera has always been known as one of the most inspiring performers of our time with her vocal range and nonconforming actions.
#4 Katy Perry - Roar (2013)
As another fighter-type anthem, “Roar” by Katy Perry has a sing-along chorus that topped the airwaves in 2013 when the single was released from her third studio album, Prism. While Perry is mostly known for her eccentric performances and cheeky lyrics, “Roar” emerged as an anthem for women’s empowerment for females young and old.
#5 Beyonce - Hold Up (2016)
Through her artistic visual album Lemonade, Beyonce walks through the storytelling of women’s empowerment as seen through several different lenses. The second track, “Hold Up,” emerged as anthem music for any woman wanting to take back their power. The boldness of her lyrics and the range of her sound led to widely-held critical and commercial acclaim.
#6 Aretha Franklin - Respect (1967)
The “Queen of Soul” delivered her signature hit, “Respect,” on I Never Loved a Man The Way I Love You in 1967, and it’s been revered as quintessential women’s empowerment anthem music ever since. Though the song was written by Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin flipped the original version to embody a feminine approach to the lyrics. Combined with her confident vocals and performance of the song, “Respect” became a rallying cry among women’s and civil rights movements.
#7 Taylor Swift - The Man (2019)
Taylor Swift started her career as a crossover artist from country to pop with sweet singles about boy crushes and silly times hanging out with her friends. As she’s matured, so has her music. “The Man” is featured on her seventh studio album, Lover, which debuted in 2019. Swift sings how she would behave without having to explain herself if she were a man. Over the year, Swift has emerged as a feminist icon, most notably fighting for ownership over her early music.
#8 Lizzo - Juice (2019)
Lizzo offers modern-day women the same kind of motivation and uplifting attitude of artists past. An icon in body positivity, her song, “Juice,” from her debut major-label studio album, Cuz I Love You, delivers a catchy melody that immediately makes you want to move. Her lyrics inspire women to own and be comfortable with who they are, regardless of shape or size. It also solidifies her position as an ally for other women as amplified through the song’s line, “If I’m shining, everybody gonna shine.”
#9 Dolly Parton - 9 to 5 (1980)
Fans of all genres and genders can appreciate the musical greatness of Dolly Parton. Deemed one of her most beloved hits, “9 to 5” is anthem music for women who are trying to evolve past the ho-hum, 9-to-5 workday and embrace their ambition, passion, and create a new way of living. She sings, “Well you got dreams and you know they matter/Be your own boss, climb your own ladder” in a way that sums up the core of women’s empowerment. The single is off her twenty-third solo album, 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs, as well as on her Greatest Hits collection.
#10 Maren Morris - Girl (2019)
Likely influenced by Dolly Parton, modern-day country star Maren Morris created a musical melody about lifting yourself back up when you’re feeling down. Her hit song “Girl” put her on the musical map and Billboard called it a “feminist anthem, encouraging women to honor their true selves despite society’s rules.” The Girl album was her successful follow up to her debut album Hero, which reached number one on the Top Country Albums chart.
#11 The Highwomen - Redesigning Women (2019)
Maren Morris also lends her vocals to the female country group, The Highwomen, which also combines the talents of Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, and Amanda Shires. Their hit “Redesigning Women'' off their self-titled album speaks to the expectations put on women by society and how they’re able to do it all despite the pressure. Their whole focus when creating the group and music was to bring strong women together and honor female representation within the music industry.
#12 Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Want to Have Fun (1983)
Cyndi Lauper’s lead single off her debut album, She’s So Unusual, has been a longstanding crowd pleaser and feminist anthem. “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” is an iconic chorus of 80’s pop. It uses the lightheartedness of the music and lyrics to talk about recognizing equality for women with regards to societal norms pertaining to their responsibilities and expectations.
#13 Shania Twain - Man! I Feel Like a Woman! (1999)
Canadian country singer Shania Twain talks a lot about love on all of her albums, but she starts off her best-selling Come On Over record with a tune about self-appreciation. “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” is one of her many 90’s, radio-friendly hits that has made the list for many women’s empowerment songs ever since. It’s less of a rebellion against norms and more of a way to appreciate her female friendships and simply do things that make her feel good.
#14 Alanis Morissette - You Oughta Know (1995)
The 90’s grunge sound of Alanis Morrisette’s Jagged Little Pill album was catapulted to success by the buzz around her song, “You Oughta Know.” The song was inspired by a bad breakup with a fellow celebrity, but instead of drawing on sadness as the main emotion, anger was the theme that drove the track. The lyrics and sound gave the listener a sense of agency, which led to this hit being listed as one of the top women empowerment anthems of the time.
#15 Andra Day - Rise Up (2015)
Andra Day’s raspy vocals take us back to the time of Billie Holiday and other soulful female legends. Her inspiring “Rise Up” track off her debut album, Cheers to the Fall is inspiring and poetic, all at once. The lyrics talk about “moving mountains” and rising up despite being “broken down and tired,” which can be interpreted both physically and mentally. It’s a song of redemption and powerful anthem music for women today.
#16 Madonna - Express Yourself (1989)
As an artist known for turning the tables of gender stereotypes, Madonna is an icon of women’s empowerment with decades’ worth of songs that have allowed her to reinvent herself time and time again. “Express Yourself” off her ‘80’s Like a Prayer album had her singing about women setting higher expectations for men in relationships. She sings, “Second best is never enough/You’ll do much better, baby, on your own.”
#17 The Chicks - Not Ready to Make Nice (2006)
The Chicks speak their truth on their track, “Not Ready to Make Nice” from their Taking the Long Way album. As anthem music for women who refuse to back down in the face of adversity, it calls for females to stand firm in their convictions without regrets. Echoing the sentiments of other songwriters and lyrics covering women’s empowerment, it delivers a bold representation of honoring women and their ability to stand strong.
Music That Makes You Feel Inspired
Here at Victrola, our undying passion may be music, but what we’ve come to learn is that it’s not just music, but also the people that are doing the listening, which includes every woman out there. We believe women deserve to feel strong and empowered because they are strong and powerful. The words and stories in the songs listed above will act as a reminder to that. From Alicia Keys’ song Superwoman to Beyonce’s career defining record Hold Up, you’ll feel as though the world is in your fingertips just waiting for the taking.
While this list of music only skim the surface of the types of melodies that make women feel inspired, they most definitely get the job done. Verse by verse the uplifting messages reinvigorate a once somber mindstate to allow a woman to be full of life and assurance. The success of these artists’ work has resulted in multiple best-selling albums and countless hit singles. Building a record collection that includes some, if not all, of these industry leading talents starts here.
Learn more about some of the greatest female artists in international music and discover more anthem’s at Victrola’s record store.