Any great celebration needs great musical accompaniment. Ask any butterscotch-coloured childish gremlin arch-conservative politician whose requests to have anyone of substance play his inauguration refused so many times they have to eventually settle for 3 Doors Down, just so they can have something going in the background.
What follows is our International Women's Day Playlist which features some our favorite female performers and their experiences as women. All the artists on this list are role models whose forthright and positive attitude to gender, race and sexual orientation are inspirational. In short, they are all certified Nasty Women!
Gloria Gaynor: I Will Survive
An anthem detailing one woman’s discovery of personal strength in the wake of a devastating break-up, this song is also an international gay anthem and one hell of a dance-able song. No playlist is complete without an old-school disco number.
Eartha Kitt : I Wanna Be Evil
I first heard this at a burlesque show and I’ve still never heard a more subtly subversive song. Eartha Kitt was an outspoken civil rights advocate and an active member of the women’s international league for peace and freedom. She was fiercely anti-war and spent much of her time raising awareness about youth poverty in the inner cities. Later in her career she became a supporter of LGBT rights as well. She’s an amazing role model and definitely worth celebrating on international women’s day.
X-Ray Spex: Oh Bondage! Up Yours!
"Some people think little girls should be seen and not heard but I think, oh bondage, up yours!" So begins a truly great punk anthem, a feminist rallying cry and a rage against consumerism. Poly Styrene is one of the greatest punk vocalists ever, belting out this song in her own inimitable style and making the sex pistols look soft. Bonus points for having a saxophone in a punk band.
Aretha Franklin: R.E.S.P.E.C.T
This song is the finest moment in the Blues Brothers. There. I said it. That already makes it one of the best songs ever. Rolling Stone says it the 5th best song ever. I say it’s all you’re asking. For a little respect when you come home.
Bonus Video: Watch Aretha Franklin make President Obama cry with a live performance of ‘you make me feel like a natural woman’. Yes, it’s that good.
No Doubt: I’m Just A Girl
Being a punk-ska fan myself, No Doubt stands as a highpoint of the genre. An ode to a woman’s struggle against society’s norms and how to break them, this song has so energy yet so much mocking sarcasm and bite in the lyrics it’s downright essential listening for International Women’s Day. Gwen Stefani went on to be a bona fide international superstar and female pop icon. She is involved with numerous charities raising money for children’s health and education, especially in Japan after the Tsunami in 2011.
Destiny’s Child : Survivor
Last but not least, Beyonce and Destiny’s Child sing about surviving and thriving in the face of adversity. It’s one of the great R&B dance classics and coming from a genre not generally known for it’s enlightened attitude to women, that’s no small achievement. Between TLC, Destiny’s Child and Salt ‘n’ Pepa thank god that there’s always been great women fighting their corner in the male dominated world of R&B and music in general.
Bonus: Peaches (nearly any song, but for the purposes of this playlist, Dick In The Air.)
‘Ladies’ have been told to shake all of their various body parts around in thousands of songs for decades. So fellas, it’s your turn. Let’s see you wave it around literally and not figuratively for a change. Uncomfortable? You should be.
Love this playlist? Check out my International Womens Day art piece and blog post HERE. It is all about saying what you want and doing what you want and being proud of who you are.
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Jewellery and earrings and lapel pins and handbags are not going to change the world! They are just things. Things we wear and things we own and like. But still just things. But what if the things we own are full of meaning? What if they can change the way someone feels about something?