Music has an incredible power. With major and minor chords combined in a series of creative variegations, notes and tones, ones mood can be altered at the drop of a hat. Senses, stimulated; hidden alter egos boosted and memories lovingly aroused like honeysuckle. Music is a universal language that does not require translation, because through the power of beats and rhythms, we’re able to communicate across cultural and linguistic boundaries; expressing ideas and sharing notions alike. Beyond this, from a scientific perspective, psychological studies have shown that music can lift our moods, combat depression, improve blood flow in ways similar to statins, lower levels of stress-related hormones such as cortisol, and ease pain. And when the World Health Organisation approximates that depression affects more than 350 million people globally (and of all ages), why not utilise this free medicine and blast out the speakerphones the shake the world to its core?
In the words of the great and late Aretha Franklin: “Music does a lot of things for a lot of people. It’s transporting. It can take you right back, years back, to the very moment certain things happened in your life. It’s uplifting, it’s encouraging, it’s strengthening.”
What is astounding to most is that within the music industry, despite the female voice being so potent across radio stations and streaming services, there is an astounding divide of 70% male to 30% female ratio. Seems odd, doesn’t it, when you come to think of the likes of Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Beyonce… just to name a few. Further statistics to shock your brain into a frenzy: Across the three creative roles within the music industry highlighted within a study that women only make up 21.7 percent of artists, 12.3 percent of songwriters and 2.1 percent of producers.
IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY...
It also in 2019, that just five days ahead of the infamous Grammy awards, a hashtag burnt like wildfire through the technological hemisphere: #GrammysSoMale. Trending for good reason, this was stimulated after the general public began to realise that the nominees of the biggest awards (Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Best New Artist and Producer of then Year) all indicated that men are vastly overrepresented at the ceremony. From a production perspective now, the gender ratio of male producers to female music producers is approximated at around 47 to 1. Only 10.4% of nominees between 2013 and 2019 were women. Women were most represented in the Best New Artist category at 41.1%, which is still below the equilibrium we all crave and should be seeing by now.
A question that you could ask yourself, and a controversial one at that, is whether (when it comes to powerful music, lyrics and meaning)… who comes up top trumps? The topic of gender and emotional expression seeks to identify the differences between women and men and the various ways in which they express their emotions. Stereotypes are certainly powerful, and men and women from various vultures have been shown to accept the western stereotype that women are more emotional than men. Specifically, women are believed to experience and express discrete emotions such as happiness, fear, disgust, and sadness more than men… so when this observation is applied to the music industry, could it be that women generally generate more emotive and powerful music than the ‘big burly bloke’?
On the next few pages, allow me to introduce you to the LAITMYLK POWER PLAYLIST - a series of songs and artists whose music ignites the enigma in our eyes, the vigour in our veins and the boss mode in our brains.
Play on, ladies, play on. ♥︎
ARTIST: LANA DEL REY
SONG: Money Power Glory
This song exudes female power; quite literally stating that “I’m gonna take you for all that you got”. Del Rey talked about writing "Money Power Glory" in a track by track commentary of Ultraviolence, the song at a time when she felt really frustrated because she felt like all that anybody within the music industry was going to allow her to accomplish and attain was just money and power… when she wanted to top that sundae off with a cherry of Glory. in the form of infamy, rather than fame. She described the song as "a sarcastic response whilst in a sardonic mood…” to the media. She wanted to explore irony and bitterness, and did it with a triumph.
ARTIST: ARETHA FRANKLIN
SONG: R E S P E C T
When you think of Aretha Franklin, you should think of her belting out the word "respect" letter by letter. Franklin's quintessential song is sung from the perspective of a woman who feels confident and self-assured in what she has to offer her partner. It's bold. It's strong. It's the anthem we should all sing when we need to feel a boost of confidence. Franklin’s version of “Respect” is about a young, confident, independent woman telling her man that she does everything he wants from her and doesn’t see any why he disrespects her. According to her, all she demands from him is nothing short of “respect”. Aretha’s version went on to become one of the most famous female empowerment anthems of all time
Before she woke up flawless, Beyoncé woke up mad. That’s how she later explained the controversial six-minute song experiment called Bow Down/Been On, which was later reengineered into ***Flawless, with the song’s original back half replaced by a TEDx talk snippet from author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a rap from Beyoncé, and an instantly viral refrain about rising in the morning looking perfect. This spoken word segment reads: We teach girls to shrink themselves / To make themselves smaller / We say to girls / “You can have ambition / But not too much / You should aim to be successful / But not too successful / Otherwise you will threaten the man”/ Because I am female / I am expected to aspire to marriage / I am expected to make my life choices / Always keeping in mind that / Marriage is the most important / Now marriage can be a source of / Joy and love and mutual support / But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage / And we don't teach boys the same? / We raise girls to see each other as competitors / Not for jobs or for accomplishments / Which I think can be a good thing / But for the attention of men / We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings / In the way that boys are / Feminist: the person who believes in the social / Political, and economic equality of the sexes”. If this doesn’t speak power, honey, I don’t know what does.
ARTIST: LADY GAGA
SONG: FREE WOMAN
The entire album of Chromatica was written by lady Gaga in a state of deep depression, traumatic processing and radical acceptance for her chronic illness(es) of both mental and physiological struggles. Through her torment, a dance tech album was birthed from the womb of music that would erupt us all with old school techno vibes. Bring back the rave as we scream the lyrics: No-one knows me yet, not right now / I'm still something if I don't got a man / I'm a free woman. With an array of dance-pop vibes that sound very light and teeny dreamy… the pervading messages behind many of the songs lyrics are actually incredibly gritty and heartfelt. Listen to this when you want to truly jam out and dance your heart out, then suddenly need a box of Kleenex and a mega sized Galaxy chocolate bar.
ARTIST: ARIANA GRANDE
ALBUM: THANK U, NEXT
SONG: THANK U, NEXT
With the unmistakable breathy, sensuous and high pitched notes of Miss Grande, this song encapsulates everything a woman needs during a breakup: the power to not give a shit and literally say: thank you… next. What this song does that other breakup, sob songs that others simply cannot compete with is the fact that it pays tribute to the exes she has had, without being a bitch about it. That alone is an ode to the power a female possesses and should maintain as an individual. The ability to reflect and remain poised as they recognise they don’t need a man, but similarly, can appreciate them when or if they swan their way.
ARTIST: NICKI MINAJ
ALBUM: LIVE FROM THE KITCHEN
SONG: 5 STAR REMIX
Although this isn’t strictly a ‘Nicki Minaj song’, her featuring verse is one that just boosts the ego, and metamorphosizes you into THAT bad bitch who is grinding, hustlin’, workin’, twerkin’… you get the idea. The lyrics, though mildly self absorbed and heavily materialistic scream the ability for a woman to simply say out loud what it is they want and how they’re gonna get it. Own it, rap it, do what you want with it. Me personally? I’m making it a morning mantra before I leave the house: “I just had an epiphany, I need to go to Tiffany’s / I don't need help, I pay the bills on time / I ain't sleepin' when I say I'm in my dream car”.
ARTIST: BRITNEY SPEARS
ALBUM: GREATEST HITS
SONG: MY PREROGATIVE
I don’t need permission, make my own decisions - the most iconic lyric by Britney Spears by far, in my humble musical opinion. The opening lyrics of this song are frank and to the point, which only accentuates Britney’s female power and, well, her prerogative as the song is so fittingly titled: “They say I'm crazy / I really don't care / They say I'm nasty / But I don't give a damn”. So, be like Britney: don’t give a damn and just do what tf you wanna do, ladies!
ARTIST: MADISON BEER
ALBUM: AS SHE PLEASES
A smooth luscious track that literally tells anyone fucking with you to… well, drop dead. You say you can't live without me / So why aren't you dead yet? / Why you still breathing? (why, why?) / And if you say you can't live without me / Then why aren't you dead yet? The tone of the song is actually very relaxing and quite delightful, it’s the lyrics that have the sombre seduction to it. Madison, though an evident Ariana inspired and newly hatching… is definitely a golden egg who is full of kinder surprises that are empowering, female fuelled and totally vibe-able
ARTIST: MILEY CYRUS
ALBUM: MOTHER’S DAUGHTER
SONG: MOTHER’S DAUGHTER
Not everyone can stomach Miley Cyrus. After starting her ladder to fame as the doe eyed Disney starlet, into a twerkin don’t-give-a-shit-let’s-have-a-sesh fierce young woman, I can’t say I don’t NOT understand… but in the same breath, she is a 28 year old with a lot of power on her platform. She said in an interview herself that there reached a point in her life where she ‘felt ridiculous’ playing Hannah Montana… and that takes balls to say. On her own volition, she broke her contract, left the Disney world and became a hardcore hottie. “I don't want to be perfect, but I do want to be a role model. My mom always tells me that imperfections equal beauty. All of us are imperfect”. Mother’s Daughter stands for being independent. For being your mother’s blood and body. For carrying on generational beauty and for being a freak and proud of it. “I’m a Nile Crocodile, a Piranha”… in other words: don’t fuck with me, bitches.
SONG: NEEDED ME
Yes, I’m throwing another Rihanna song in your face, and for good reason. In this song, Rihanna details the story of a guy she had a casual affair with. She depicts herself as being independent and not really interested and not really interested in having a deep emotional connection with her partners. “Didn’t they tell you I was a savage… fuck your white horse and a carriage” Rihanna takes no prisoners here. She blatantly calls out this lover saying YOU needed ME - not the other way around. In a world where men have dominated females for too long, Rihanna’s flipping the coin over and serving cheque after cheque of casino queen quality.
ARTIST: CARDI B
SONG: I LIKE IT
Cardi is known for being rather um… outspoken? She’s outrageous. There is no other way to put it, and to be honest, I don’t think she’d like a lesser description. From less than humble beginnings (a proud pre-stripper), Cardi in this song talks of materialism and very little else. “I like dollars, I like diamonds, I like stunting, I like shining / I like going to the jeweller, I put rocks all in my watch”… you get the idea. Cardi gives us a sneak peak into the guilty-free cosmos of wanting it all, and having it.