16 Powerful Anthems for the #MeToo Age

Music Lists Stella Donnelly
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16 Powerful Anthems for the #MeToo Age

In the year following the spark that started the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, women have joined their voices together. Women, and men, have filtered their rage into protests, movements, campaigns and art. They’ve penned essays, casted votes and written songs. But women have never been silent: the 2016 election and proceeding women’s movements have only amplified our voices.

Almost exactly a year after The New York Times and the New Yorker published reports of sexual assault allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, thus setting off the #MeToo movement, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford testified against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who she accused of sexually assaulting her in high school. The day of the hearing, and Kavanaugh’s resulting confirmation, were painful to witness for so many survivors. In times like these, protest art can feel especially vital. The women on this list have each crafted their own kind of testimonies, songs detailing emotional abuse, sexual misconduct and just blatant mistreatment. Some of these songs are rage-induced, blistering protests; others are uplifting anthems about sisterhood and resistance or self-love ballads. These songs—some old, some new—document everything from sexism in the music industry to personal anecdotes of sexual abuse. They span genre and style, but each was written by a strong woman with something to say.

1. Stella Donnelly: “Boys Will Be Boys”

Australian singer/songwriter Stella Donnelly packs more political punch into two verses, a chorus and an outro than many writers could manage in a dozen thinkpieces. She grabs the classic defense “Boys will be boys” by the scruff and reckons with the extremely problematic sentiments behind it, all while telling a story that’s equal parts painful and hopeful. “Would ya blame your little sister / If she cried to you for help?” Donnelly asks. Released in November 2017, just a couple months after the allegations against Harvey Weinstein surfaced, the track’s accompanying video is an added protest. “The video itself was intended to express the burden of victim blaming and sexual assault on the victims themselves as the mundane aspects of life go on,” Donnelly wrote. —Ellen Johnson

2. Kesha: “Praying”

Kesha became one of the main faces of the #MeToo movement in music, and though the role was thrust upon her, she bravely took the torch and made women proud. After her former producer’s alleged abuse, she appeared graceful and triumphant for a performance of her #MeToo anthem, “Praying” at this year’s Grammys alongside Camila Cabello, Bebe Rexha, Cyndi Lauper and others. Despite her long, hard and noble fight and understandable disgust and frustration, this track is unwavering and will steadfastly shake you to your core. —Lizzie Manno

3. Margo Price: “Pay Gap”

A #MeToo anthem doesn’t have to be a blatant protest. Though this track doesn’t directly focus on sexual assault or misconduct, it does critique another long-persisting issue: the gender pay gap. Progressive country crooner Margo Price has had enough, and she dishes out some major truths about gender inequality—and the long-standing mistreatment of women. Over a classic honky tonk sway, Price sings, “I want to know when it will be fixed / Women do work and get treated like slaves since 1776.” We want to know too, Margo. —Ellen Johnson

4. Fiona Apple: “Sullen Girl”

On “Sullen Girl,” Fiona Apple sums up what it’s like to be taken advantage of by men, and she does so with such eloquent, sophisticated beauty. On the stirring piano track, she documents the reality and aftermath of being sexually violated (“But he washed me ‘shore / And he took my pearl / And left an empty shell of me”) and learning to not let that experience define her. Someone give this woman a sword. —Lizzie Manno

5. Camp Cope: “The Opener”

Melbourne-based trio Camp Cope’s biting punk track “The Opener” starts like a typical breakup song: “Tell me you never wanna see me again / And then keep showing up at my house.” But as the track progresses, it morphs into an intense, overt call for gender equality in the music industry. Lead vocalist Georgia Maq has a guttural reaction to the sexism her band has faced as she yells, as loud as she can, “Yeah, tell me again how there just aren’t that many girls in the music scene.” —Ellen Johnson

6. Amanda Palmer & Jasmine Power: “Mr. Weinstein Will See You Now”

The subject matter and aura of Amanda Palmer and Jasmine’s Power’s collaborative single, “Mr. Weinstein Will See You Now” is about as blunt and chilling as it gets. Palmer and Power trade vocals amidst majestic keys and cascading strings as the track chronicles the horrendous, abusive exchanges between Harvey Weinstein and innocent female work colleagues. 100% of the track’s Bandcamp proceeds are going to the Time’s Up legal defense fund. Purchase it here. —Lizzie Manno

7. Courtney Barnett: “Nameless, Faceless”

Probably one of the most talked-about #MeToo anthems this year, Courtney Barnett’s “Nameless, Faceless” vocalizes so well every woman’s fear: “I wanna walk through the park in the dark,” she sings, then citing a tactic many of us have, unfortunately, utilized before: “I hold my keys / Between my fingers.” She also quotes The Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood in her three-minute diss track of both a nasty internet troll and the patriarchy: “Men are scared that women will laugh at them / Women are scared that men will kill them.” —Ellen Johnson

8. Lynzy Lab: “Scary Time”

Almost instantly, an original song posted on YouTube by Lynzy Lab—a young, unknown singer—went viral for its perfect encapsulation of why the #MeToo movement is necessary. With just a ukulele and vocals, Lab sings of the universal female themes of being afraid to go home alone at night or leave your drink unattended, the anger that men feel inconvenienced by consent, the backlash that women receive from alleging abuse by men and many other everyday occurrences that are unavoidable obstacles for women. In every single line, Lab preaches to the chorus of women who have been dealing with sexist bullshit—ranging from subtle discrimination to criminal behavior—like this for far too long. —Lizzie Manno

9. Soccer Mommy: “Your Dog”

Few opening lines this year have shook and scorned like, “I don’t wanna be your fucking dog / that you drag around.” The story of being trapped in an abusive relationship is not an easy one to swallow, and Soccer Mommy’s Sophie Allison doesn’t sweeten any of the details. “Your Dog” is honest and painful and necessary, a massive “back off” to every man who’s ever emotionally or physically abused. —Ellen Johnson

10. Miya Folick: “Deadbody”

One of the singles from Miya Folick’s debut album, Premonitions—which is out now—is the fierce, empowering “Deadbody.” The track’s military-style drum beats mesh with her gritty, deep-throated vocals, but instead of venting anger, she emerges like a resilient warrior, clear-headed as ever to inform her abuser that he hasn’t won and that she will never be silenced. Hearing this song makes me want to put on war paint and attempt to dismantle the patriarchy in a single night. —Lizzie Manno

11. Cardi B feat. SZA: “I Do”

This bad-bitch-bop from Cardi B’s 2018 debut Invasion of Privacy is more a love-letter-to-the-self than social outcry, but it’s still a product of a woman’s exhaustion. “I Do” is Cardi B’s way of saying “I’m done explaining myself,” and in doing so she speaks on behalf of all women who’ve ever been told to shut up. Cardi B does not need a man to make music (or do anything else), and heaven help the fellow who tries to stand her way. SZA anchors the song with the nonnegotiable chorus: “I do what I like.” —Ellen Johnson

12. Tomberlin: “I’m Not Scared”

Sarah Beth Tomberlin, a.k.a. Tomberlin, dropped her gorgeous piano ballad, “I’m Not Scared,” earlier this year from her debut album, At Weddings, and it’s a stark look into the physical, mental and emotional intricacies of abusive relationships. Her flowing, calming vocals and the rich strings contrast her painful memories as she sings lines like, “I’m not scared of you this time / And when you pick up the phone I’ll stay on the line / And I’ll do more than breathe this time.” Toxic behavior manifests itself in many different forms, and Tomberlin’s hymn depicts the toll it takes on the body, mind and soul. —Lizzie Manno

13. Natalie Prass: “Sisters”

There’s been no shortage of sisterly solidarity since the 2016 election, and Natalie Prass’ response to the now-infamous “nasty woman” comment diffuses any claims of dirty-feminist-muck and just asks women to stick together. A supremely catchy R&B tune, “Sisters” would make as great a Girl Scouts’ mantra as it would a Women’s March protest cry. Prass reminds us it’s ok to be a “bad girl” and how important it is to “Keep your sisters close.” —Ellen Johnson

14. Lady Gaga: “Till It Happens To You”

Co-written by Diane Warren for the 2015 documentary, The Hunting Ground, Lady Gaga’s soaring “Till It Happens To You” paints a picture of pervasive sexual assault against women, particularly on American college campuses—the subject of the film. She hammers down the idea that you shouldn’t dismiss or judge people who are alleging abuse unless you’ve gone through the same traumatic experience, and she does so in relatable terms, with a fire in her belly and undeniable conviction. —Lizzie Manno

15. Noname: “Self”

From Noname’s surprise sophomore release, Room 25, “Self” is the Chicago rapper’s documented questioning of everything that’s absurd in 2018 and a breakdown of what it’s like to wade through the music industry as a woman rapper. “Y’all really thought a bitch couldn’t rap huh?” she asks. —Ellen Johnson

16. Dessa: “Fire Drills”

After listening to Dessa’s “Fire Drills,” all I can imagine is a packed-out audience with their jaws dropped and the ability to hear a pin drop. The rapper, poet, public speaker and Doomtree member describes the unfair worries and instances that inherently come with being a woman, and she doesn’t pull her punches while addressing horrible men who perpetuate this environment (“Tell patient zero he can have his rib back”). —Lizzie Manno

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