Updated: Mar 20, 2021
March is Women's History Month! Let's celebrate some musicians, shall we?
Pictured from left to right: SZA, Rina Sawayama, Angèle, Janelle Monàe, Aretha Franklin, Sevdaliza
From Brussels to Detroit, the topic of female empowerment in music has continued to gain momentum over the years, fostering a stellar collection of multi-language hits from around the globe. With enough music to last a lifetime, we'll dive into just 6 essential tracks to add to your playlist this month. Put your headphones on, because there's no better time to celebrate these brilliant artists than the present!
Balance Ton Quoi
Brussels-based French-Belgian singer Angèle Van Laeken challenges the double standards of vulgarity in media and the ability to refuse disrespectful men in the bright, flouncy "Balance Ton Quoi." "Balance ton quoi", meaning "balance your what?," references the French hashtag #BalanceTonPorc, a colloquial term meaning "to challenge one's aggressors." This hashtag is the French equivalent of the #metoo campaign in the United States, carrying the volume of millions of women's voices worldwide.
Comme des Garçons
London-based Japanese singer Rina Sawayama draws parallels to how “the boys" act in the bassy pop jam “Comme des Garçons.“ Her lyrics allude to the hyper-masculine demand of acting "confident" in day-to-day life and the strength to shed those conceptions when having fun as yourself. Her single is a tribute to the early 2000s hits that began her journey to true self-love.
American singer and actor Janelle Monàe packs a punch in "Django Jane," an explosive anthem for women everywhere. They regale their rise to fame, dedicating their success to the women in their life. Daring bigots to challenge their own misconceptions, the lyrics cover every base from racism to misogyny to classicism, flourishing mic drops after each bar.
Doves in the Wind
American singer Solána Rowe, known as SZA, lays the facts bare in her slow jam "Doves in the Wind." SZA‘s lyrics paint men that perceive women as solely sexual objects as rabid, animalistic caricatures, amusingly contrasting a languid, lo-fi rhythm. Her tongue-in-cheek commentary on men's dependency on women for gratification may be uncomfortable for some but overall serves as a humorous interlude to more sober tracks in Ctrl.
Gole Bi Goldoon
Netherlands-based Dutch-Iranian singer Sevdaliza performs a heart-rending cover of Googoosh's "Gole Bi Goldoon." Singing in her native language of Farsi, Sevdaliza regales a poetic, lonely tale of a relationship described in the passage of years. Each season is punctuated by her lover's words, "there cannot be a flower without a vase." The stigma that a woman cannot leave a harmful relationship due to forced dependency and psychological manipulation evokes a narrative of genuine despair.
Do Right Woman, Do Right Man
Iconic Detroit-based singer, actress, and activist Aretha Franklin levels the sexes in her blues record "Do Right Woman, Do Right Man." This 1967 feminist single demands men treat women exactly as they wish to be treated themselves; without respecting a lover there exists no need for reciprocation. "She's not a plaything," she says, "She's flesh and blood just like her man."
Remember to celebrate the women in your life not just this month, but every month.