Playlist: a (limited) selection of music for feminists

James Mackay 13 November 2017

This Woman’s Work by Kate Bush

I know you've got a little life in you yet / I know you've got a lot of strength left

Kate Bush is as iconic as they come. This particular song evinces a womanhood built around both vulnerability and strength, demonstrating a resilience that has been—and continues to be—central to the feminist movement.


Cranes in the Sky by Solange

I tried to keep myself busy / I ran around in circles / Think I made myself dizzy / I slept it away, I sexed it away / I read it away

In an interview with Beyoncé, her sister, Solange describes the origins of her 2016 album, A Seat at the Table: ‘it really started with wanting to unravel some truths and some untruths.’ On this track, she does just that, in a powerful reclaiming of the narrative of female pain. Her vocals are some of the most beautiful you’ll ever hear.


Marceline by Willow

Your tears, they're cleansing all my spheres / You touch my hair, I'm playing on your bass / But we don't care, we're messing up your space

It’s a travesty that people dismiss Willow Smith as a novelty; all too often, her critics base their judgements on only the vaguest memory of having heard “Whip My Hair” back in 2010. They could not be more wrong. I love “Marceline” for the primacy it places on relationships between girls, even if one girl is a cartoon vampire queen.


Writer in The Dark by Lorde

I am my mother's child, I'll love you 'til my breathing stops / I'll love you 'til you call the cops on me / But in our darkest hours, I stumbled on a secret power / I'll find a way to be without you, babe

My favourite thing about Lorde is her propensity for unabashed emotional sincerity, and here her raw vocals have important things to say about the struggle for independence as a young, female artist.


What Is It About Men by Amy Winehouse

It's bricked up in my head, it's shoved under my bed / And I question myself again, "What is it about men?”

From her underappreciated but nonetheless exceptional debut album, “What Is It About Men” is about being, well, disappointed in men. We all need to vent at times…


Who’s That Girl? by Robyn

Good girls are pretty like all the time / I'm just pretty some of the time / Good girls are happy and satisfied / I won't stop asking until I die

Robyn is just the best. Heteronormativity is in the business of teaching men to expect and desire, and women to comply with a patriarchally violent feminine ideal. “Who’s That Girl?” is about how this ideal is total bullshit.

(Sidenote: please boycott Calum Scott’s inferior cover of Dancing on My Own, thank you.)


Girls Just Want to Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper

Some boys take a beautiful girl / And hide her away from the rest of the world / I want to be the one to walk in the sun / Oh girls they wanna have fun

We really do just want to have fun. And walk in the sun. And have fulfilling careers, and healthy, equal relationships, and free and safe abortion everywhere, and streets devoid of harassment, and education for all, and a more intersectional movement, and a socialist government. But anyway.


Formation by Beyoncé

Okay ladies, now let's get in formation, I slay / Okay ladies, now let's get in formation / You know you that bitch when you 'cause all this conversation / Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper

It’s Beyoncé. What more do I need to say?