Tag Archives: #lyricalladypower

Nicki Minaj gets you ready for office stalking

25 Mar

OK biddies. If you haven’t listened to Nicki Minaj, keep reading. Don’t stop til you get enough. If you have uncertain or negative feelings toward rap, or if you get pretty pissed about how ladies are presented in that kind of music, you better stay, too. Let me blow your mind.

Well, let Nicki do it.

Now that I’ve raised unrealistic expectations, I’m going to bring them down by reminding you of the song you have probably heard by Nicki that isn’t 100% pro-lady – Roman’s Revenge. It’s a pretty awesome song that gets stuck in your head and makes you yell one liners (MANNING, ELI!), but it’s tainted with Eminem’s sick and twisted “Ima tie you up and pee on you” bullshit.

But! But. Don’t let that single fool you. Nicki’s Pink Friday is a fantastic lady album, and I’m going to prove it to you by  raving about the first track, “ I’m the best.”

First off, this is the kind of song I want to wake up to every. single. day. I want this song to play while I’m biking to work, when I’m in an elevator, when I walk through my office doors. That way, I’m fully motivated to stalk through the halls, giving everyone looks like WATCH ME I’M ABOUT TO CRUSH YOU. Or something. I don’t really want to crush anyone.

You relate, right?

Hmm. Ok, well the song is also about saving the girls, another reason it’s a must-have on a lady’s i-pod. (I’m looking at you, Maureen.) Let’s take a look at some of the lyrics:

now the whole album back you ain’t gotta skip a track
i ain’t gotta get a plaque, I ain’t gotta get awards
i just walk up out the door all the girls will applaud
all the girls will commend, as long as they understand
that i’m fighting for the girls, that never thought they could win
cause before they could begin you told’em it was the end
but I am here to reverse the curse that they live in
got two bones to pick, I ‘ma only choose one
you might get addressed on the second album once
which means you can breath, til I motherfuckin say so
to all my bad bitches, i can see your halo

OK, so even if you don’t need a theme song to stalk around at your office, YOU CANNOT HATE THIS SONG. It’s for the girls! It’s for girls who wear halos! It’s for girls who are thrown down by society! What feminist can say no? Not you. Definitely not you.

Now that you are convinced, it’s time for a BONUS ROUND!

Nicki pays tribute to her mama in the song (and in the album’s notes, where she writes to her mama: “You told me all things were possible. You supported me unconditionally.”). I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a mama like that. I am pro-mama. And Nicki is too – she bought her mama a house! Just another reason to love/relate to Nicki.

Anyway. Let’s review – Nicki helps us stalk around and feel powerful. She wants to save the girls and give them all halos. And she loves her mama, which is why she bought her a house/couch (nice rhyme, Nicki!).

Really, what’s not to like?

This post is brought to you by Rachel, who is quite threatening in her office.

Your shake is like a fish

24 Mar

God. Alanis Morrissette.

Her album Jagged Little Pill (1995) was a staple in my 9-year-old life. My older sister was a senior in high school, and she had an Alanis poster on her bedroom wall. Here I was, pumping her cassette tape in my walkman, which was perpetually on my hip (it had one of those belt clips – baller), singing awkwardly to songs while making up the words I didn’t understand. I think my family threatened to leave me on the curb during our family road trip to Alaska. I looked like Taylor Hanson. But, you know, the nine-year-old version.

This album resurfaced for me in college, when I started getting more into Woman Rock. I cursed the universe that Lilith Fair no longer existed. (But it has returned! Who wants to go with me this summer!) There was a period of time in college when every time I got into my boyfriend’s car to drive to his house I would automatically reach for his zune (I know!) and put on Jagged Little Pill. And I sang. I know that Alanis Morrissette is like, cliché feminist chick rock music, but it feels so good. It feels so good to turn it up and belt it out. Who cares if you can’t yodel like Alanis. And I mean, come on, look at her. That long hair – that long jacket. Its so 90’s and its fucking awesome.

The song “Right Through You” is one of my total faves – and I love this song because it so embodies and brought to mainstream the attitudes and sentiments of the riot grrl movement (those crazy third-wavers) – bands like Bikini Kill and Bratmobile. “Right Through You” is such a power ballad. It’s filled with all the tingly goodness of hurt, vulgarity, confrontation, and vindication – everything that embodied 90’s alternative music. so. satisfying.

Get out your cigs & silky dresses! It’s Nina Simone time.

23 Mar

I’m convinced: whatever Nina Simone touched turned to gold and melted to butter.  The thickness and weight of her voice alongside her raw lyrics and musicality is unmatched. A classically trained pianist, a storyteller, and an eccentric social/cultural/political icon of the civil rights and black power movement (one of her first—and one of my favorite–political anthems: Mississippi Goddam), Simone is one of the most dynamic musicians of the 21st century.

I have to admit: there are times when Nina Simone leaves me feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes there’s too much piano, too much richness, bitterness or, I don’t know, just too much. But ‘The Other Woman’ feels perfect every time.

(By no means does this song represent the breadth of Simone’s politically charged or feminist-centric tunes. If you’re looking for her take on race, gender, (in)equality, independence, etc. etc. see: Four Women or her cover of Sinatra’s My Way.)

‘The Other Woman’ is slow and careful and seeped in delicate loneliness (I just want to wear a long silky dress and smoke cigarettes when I hear this song). The steadfast and strong image of womanhood presented in Simone’s own behavior and her other works feels absent in these verses.  What’s left is a short, simple melody about a perfectly curled, manicured woman left lonely and waiting.

The lonesome queen.

And while this may not be the most empowering of positions, it taps into a feeling that I think is fully human.

This post is brought to you by Ellen, who would like some French perfume, but would not like to be the other woman.

G. L. A. M. O. R. O. U. S. (You saw this coming…)

23 Mar

Ok, so I have a dilemma. I’m a woman, I work at a women’s organization, I support female equality and yet according to my iPod, I can’t stand to listen to female voices. Out of the 100+ artists on my iPod, only about 10 are female.

Oops.

Do I get extra points if I can name all of them in one fell swoop? Fiona Apple, Adele, Feist, Eisley, Stars, Sara Bareilles, She & Him, Rilo Kiley, Tegan & Sara, Metric, and (totally not embarrassed to admit) Kelly Clarkson.

I should be ashamed of the lack of female representation on my iPod, but I’m not. My tolerance is quite low for females creating music that is often really shitty and mainstream (Friday girl). I didn’t say non-existent, just low.

Of course there is a slew of independent female artists that I could listen to, but don’t. I own up to it: I like dudes.

That being said, sometimes it’s really hard to get motivated to do squats and lift weights when all I’m listening to is whiny indie boys and their guitars.

Insert pop divas. I recently downloaded some popular made-by-ladies tunes that I keep on auto-repeat at my gym.  Among them:  ‘Hollaback Girl,’ by Gwen, ‘Single Ladies,’ by Beyonce, and ‘Glamorous,’ by Fergie, the artist who has now dominated my ‘most recently played’ list.

Do I sip champagne in First Class? No.

Do I make hit records? No.

Am I on the covers of magazines? No.

Is my life working at a nonprofit, and being a college student/wife /mother glamorous? Hell no.

And I don’t even know what ‘flossy’ means….

So why do I love and relate to a song I would otherwise cringe at? Three words. Keep. It. Real.

“Wear them gold and diamonds rings, all them things don’t mean a thing… I be on the movie screens

Magazines and bougie scenes…I’m not clean, I’m not pristine, I’m no queen, I’m no machine…

I don’t care, I’m still real.”

I could be an elitist and scoff at the obvious grammatical errors of the lyrics, point out the fact that Ludacris makes a better actor than rapper, and mention that Fergie isn’t really that great of a singer/entertainer (see:Superbowl). Or I can just be real and admit I like the song; it reminds me of what matters in life and most importantly, it gets me moving on the Stairmaster.

Oh, and thanks to Fergie Ferg, I learned how to spell glamorous. That’s the real reason this is my female power ballad.

This post brought to you by Maureen.

I got no strings on me

22 Mar

Picture this: a fat five-year-old with a frizzy mane of curly hair, strapped into the backseat of a dinky Toyota, shouting “I’m sayin’ I’m not ready for any person, place, or thing to try and pull the reigns in on meeeeeeeeeeee! Sooooooooo! Goodbyeeeee….”.

It must have been hilarious for my mother, who, to appease my young musical taste, was relegated to only  listening to Pittsburgh’s Oldies music station. (She also taught me to love and sing along to nearly every Billy Joel and Elton John song- shout out to Uptown Girl, my other fave at the time!)

I didn’t really know what decade I was in; my favorite musicians included Lesley Gore, the Four Seasons, Aretha, the Shirelles (damn, I should have just made a playlist, eh?), and many more regulars on 94.5, but by far, Different Drum stands out as an all-time favorite song of mine and one that speaks to my development as a feminist and the evolution of feminism in America.

The 60’s of course were a turbulent time, in which society was learning to fully realize its laws.  On paper, men and women, black and white were equal and free, recognized citizens of the USA.  But old habits die hard. Soon those pesky social norms that kept inequality alive and well became the target of second wave feminism and the civil rights movement, both of which have come to characterize the time period.

Different Drum, first performed by Linda Ronstadt in 1967, can be understood as a pop culture representation of the sexual revolution, the movement coinciding with second wave feminism, which began the slow process of allowing women the freedom to enact their ‘equality.’ Different Drum’s lyrics portray a fiercely independent woman who refuses to compromise her dreams for the sake of a man, a woman who refuses to abide by the tired old relationship standards that would confine her.

In my opinion, one of the best things about this song (besides that fucking ill harpsichord solo!) is that it was originally written and performed by men, yet only became a hit once being picked up by the Stone Poneys.  I think this small fact has a lot of relevance – if you think about Different Drum coming from a man’s perspective the lyrics are representative of traditional gender norms and assumptions — they portray a man who must free himself from a clingy, self-conscious, weepy woman who wants to condemn him to marital doom.  That this song climbed to the top of the charts when sung by Linda is a testament to  growing acceptance of female empowerment in this country and a growing willingness to redefine gendered boundaries.

Ok, now I’d like to return to the aforementioned dirty Toyota. What meaning did this song have for a little girl in the early 1990s?  When I listened to Different Drum, I heard the echoing voices of the women’s movement telling me, “You can be anything you want — don’t let anyone or anything stop you!”  This message briefly resulted in a fantasy of becoming the first female Steeler (black and yellow! black and yellow!), but mostly, it encouraged me to dream of how awesome I would be when I grew up and inspired me to achieve such awesomeness all on my own.

So, happy Women’s History Month and thanks to Linda and the many other ladies whose influences lead me to a life fueled by pure girl power.

This post is brought to you by Alexa, who hopes her five-year-old self would be proud of her first blog post!

I’m a free bitch, baby.

21 Mar

 

When we all decided to write about female power ballads or songs by strong female artists, I knew I wanted to write about Lady Gaga.  Yes, indeed, I am one of the millions completely enthralled with her.  I recently saw her in concert and easily the best performance of the night was… Continue reading

It’s Lyrical Lady Power Week, folks. Get pumped.

21 Mar

Prepare yourselves, lovely readers, for a week of fierce female music!

That’s right, your favorite Mislabeled writers and some new & upcoming regulars are focusing on our favorite lady songs. Whether it’s a female power ballad, a pro-woman dance song, or just a strong lady beltin’ it out, we’re here to tell you what we’re rockin’ out to and how cool it is to embrace lady power in the arts.

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