Take Me As I Am – Mary J. Blige
I will say it right now: Mary J. Blige has got a VOICE! I mean, seriously. As a trained singer, I respect this woman’s gift. She has power, vulnerability, attitude, inspiration, pain, complexity, spirit, and so much more in her singing. To pair THAT voice with THIS song: brilliant.
Written by producer Ron Fair, Ezekiel Lewis, Candice Nelson, and singer Keri “don’t hate [her] ’cause she’s beautiful” Hilson, this pop/R&B ballad shows multiple dimensions of female strength and resilience – from conquering self doubt and having real standards, to displaying vulnerability without fear and without losing rational thought, to growing in spite of (or because of) obstacles faced, and more – and it is an inspiring song, despite the melancholic tonality of most of the instrumentation and vocal lines. Why? Because in addition to all I’ve already shared, this song inspires women not to alter who they are for someone else! Be better for yourself, by all means, but don’t mold yourself to be something that you’re not to satisfy someone else. There ARE people out there who love others for who they are, not who they’re “expected” to be. Find them instead!
“Take me as I am, or have nothing at all…”
That’s What Makes You Beautiful – One Direction
Yes, another boy band has made this list. That’s because this collection of cuties sing one of the happiest, pop-iest, and sweetest songs of the last few years…
“Baby you light up my world like nobody else; the way that you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed! But when you smile at the ground it ain’t hard to tell you don’t know (oh oh), you don’t know you’re beautiful…”
But this song isn’t just about cute boys noticing the shy girl… it’s about respectable, young men who wish to inspire girls they KNOW are great to see that they are great for themselves. With lines like “You’re insecure… don’t know what for. You’re turning heads when you walk through the door. Don’t need make-up to cover up; being the way that you are is enough…” and “if only you saw what I could see you’d understand why I want you so desperately…” coming out of these sweet voiced young heartthrobs, to me, it shouldn’t be hard to see why I chose this as an empowering song for women. I think it is especially suited to young women, but ALL women can draw strength from it’s message of loving oneself.
Written by Savan Kotecha, Rami Yacoub and Carl Falk (credit: Wikipedia), this song truly is one ridiculously catchy and inspiring piece of music.
The Climb – Miley Cyrus
This power country/pop ballad was the first single released from the soundtrack for Disney’s Hannah Montana: The Movie and since it’s release, it has been an inspiring anthem for many people, especially for young women and girls. It talks about learning from your mistakes and failures, knowing that what you learn on your journey is more important than the destination anyway, and gaining wisdom from all your experiences so that you can continue to strive for your dreams.
“There’s always gonna be another mountain; I’m always gonna wanna make it move!
Always gonna be an uphill battle… sometimes I’m gonna have to lose. It ain’t about how fast I get there; ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side… it’s the climb…”
It’s a beautiful, inspiring, and empowering song for people everywhere, and definitely for women. I personally love it and used to have my students learn it when I taught in public schools, because I think that young people need to know that they may have “failures,” and that they may get knocked down, but that they can learn from it all and emerge wiser and stronger.
The Greatest Love of All – Whitney Houston
I don’t know what it was about Whitney that just made her OWN every cover song she ever did, but it probably had something to do with her powerhouse voice. This song is no exception. It was originally performed and recorded by others, but when Whitney Houston lent her vocals to the track, it took things to a whole other level, and helped make it a well-known, inspiring and empowering song, not only for women, but for everyone!
“The greatest love of all is easy to achieve. Learning to love yourself; it is the greatest love of all…”
I can’t tell you how much those words paired with Whitney’s voice changed my own life, but I can tell you that I HAD to include this song on my list of inspirational and empowering songs for women. HAD to. So… maybe that says enough.
The Middle – Jimmy Eat World
“Just be yourself. It doesn’t matter if it’s good enough for someone else.”
A lot of these songs in this last group seem to have this theme of self love, being oneself, and not letting other people change you. But this one had to make the list too, because, honestly… it’s a pop/punk/rock jam I simply cannot resist. I think some of you know what I’m talking about!
I love dancing around by myself, singing along joyously with this inspirational and empowering song so much! It’s kind of ridiculous just how much, but I don’t mind at all.
“It just takes some time, little girl, you’re in the middle of the ride! Everything, everything will be just fine. Everything, everything will be alright, alright!”
The Voice Within – Christina Aguilera
Written by Christina Aguilera and Glen Ballard, this inspirational pop ballad has such depth, vulnerability, and strength, due in part to the lyrics and musical arrangement, but also due to Aguilera’s powerful vocal performance. It is truly a beautifully crafted, inspiring song.
The theme of the song is much like that of The Greatest Love of All and Hero, the first as performed by Whitney Houston, the second, Mariah Carey. It’s about that “voice within,” that great love that one can only find within oneself…
“When there’s no one else, look inside yourself. Like your oldest friend, just trust the voice within… Then you’ll find the strength that will guide your way; if you will learn to begin to trust the voice within…”
These Boots are Made for Walking – Nancy Sinatra
Oh, Nancy Sinatra, you saucy girl! I love you! And I love you in your boots, telling it like it is!
“Yeah, you keep lyin’ when you oughta be truthin’… And you keep losing when you oughta not bet. You keep samin’ when you oughta be a changin’… Now, what’s right is right, but you ain’t been right yet!
These boots are made for walking and that’s just what they’ll do! One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you…”
What more needs to be said? This empowering song for ladies shows that it’s okay to have standards and that it’s okay to stand up for yourself! Being a woman doesn’t mean that you have to accept substandard or inferior treatment from anyone! Don’t forget it!
This One’s for the Girls – Martina McBride
I mean… the song title alone kind of makes this song perfect for the list, right? But beyond that, this truly is an inspirational and empowering song for women.
It checks in with ladies at ages 13, 25, and 42, to see how we grow as we age, and it shows how, deep down, “we’re all the same inside, from 1-99…”
As a woman, you are never alone! There are other women out there who understand you, who empathize with you, and who love you, even if you’ve never met! That is very inspiring to me.
Titanium – David Guetta ft. Sia
This song is one of the songs that actually inspired me to put this list together; it has been a major comfort and inspiration for me in dark moments that I’ve had to get through recently.
Not only is it a beautiful song and melody, with beautiful lyrics, but it is sung by Sia, who has an uncharacteristic way of delving into my soul with her voice, without even knowing me personally…
I used to not love the “anthem-dance/house” approach that David Guetta took on this track, but somehow when I was relating it to my life more, something about those builds and drops and those massive hooks just spoke to me on a different level suddenly.
But let’s talk about one of the biggest reasons I love this song and had to have it on this list:
Belting out “I’m bulletproof, nothing to lose – Fire away, fire away! Ricochet; you take your aim… Fire away, fire away! You shoot me down, but I won’t fall: I am titanium! You shoot me down, but I won’t fall: I am titanium!” at the top of my voice when I need that kind of emotional release is one of the greatest things that I have ever discovered for myself. I suggest you try it too; it feels amazing.
True Believer – E-Type
This uptempo, inspirational, Eurodance/pop jam is a great song to inspire and empower women. It can be interpreted in many ways, but what is not left open for interpretation are it’s infectious dance beats and mood boosting melodies! Seriously… I DARE you to try to be unhappy while listening to this song! I’m pretty sure it’s impossible.
“I’m a true believer! I’m with you through the night. You’re my inspiration in life! I’m a true believer; so don’t give up the fight! You’re my inspiration in life!”
I’m a “true believer” in the inspirational powers of this song!
Try – Colbie Caillat
This beautifully empowering, simple, yet deep, ballad is about not trying to be someone else in order to make others happy. Sure, Colbie Caillat sings the word “try” more times in this song than I think I have ever heard the word used in one place in my life (something like, 55 times?), but I kind of look at it as her really hammering the idea in. You shouldn’t have to “try” to be yourself – you just BE yourself.
The most important question this song poses to women is “do YOU like you?” THAT is much more important than fitting in, being popular, or getting ahead as someone you’re not. And that is an empowering message, always.
U + UR Hand – Pink
This edgy pop/rock tune almost didn’t make the list, but it is just so darn relatable, isn’t it? Not to mention that when it was released, it was so supposedly controversial that some radio stations refused to play it. When you get people ruffled up like that, you know you’re doing something right!
Pink definitely gets something right in how she totally has a certain group of men pegged. This is not ALL men, mind you. This is just SOME men. And I think everyone knows some or has encountered some of these… men. (I use the term loosely…) Those ones who harass you, won’t let up, don’t understand that “no means no,” get mad at you for being beautiful (as if you can help it, hello?); those ones drunkenly slobbering on you all night, spilling drinks on you, and insisting that they will “watch your drink for you!” (Wink!) You know, THOSE men.
But Pink puts them in their place and tells them what to do with their sexual urges, and I love her for it! It is empowering for ANY person who has had to deal with one of these dudes for real and it can serve as a warning for anyone who hasn’t yet.
“I’m not here for your entertainment. You don’t really want to mess with me tonight.
Just stop and take a second; I was fine before you walked into my life… ’cause you know it’s over before it began. Keep your drink just give me the money – it’s just you and your hand tonight!”
U.N.I.T.Y. – Queen Latifah
“U-N-I-T-Y… U-N-I-T-Y…” It’s just so catchy!! But that’s not why it’s on the list. (Well, not entirely…)
This reggae-infused, hip-hop track was written in response to the ways that big time male rappers of the time were boasting about and promoting derogatory views towards women in their music, and how it was affecting those who consumed the music in their daily lives. Queen Latifah, truly a Queen of Queens, couldn’t stand by and let her ladies be degraded and demoralized in the ways that those male rappers were doing. Nor could she let women in the real world think that inferior treatment of women by men was okay.
So she came out with power, strength, and attitude askin’ “who you callin’ a b*tch!”
And she empowered women everywhere.
Unwritten – Natasha Bedingfield
It’s never too late for a fresh start or second chance – each day can be that opportunity!
“Today is where your book begins… the rest is still unwritten.”
In Natasha Bedingfield’s beautiful, bubbly, pop song, she inspires hope and empowers people to “live your life with arms wide open,” “release your inhibitions,” and yes, even to make mistakes! Because mistakes help one to learn and grow and be grateful for success!
“We’ve been conditioned to not make mistakes, but I can’t live that way!” she sings. I can’t live that way either, and that is a big reason why this song makes the list of inspirational and empowering songs for women.
Video – India Arie
This song of self love is also a lesson for others who have not yet embraced self love, to stop letting outer, superficial things dictate how they feel about themselves and determine who they are, instead of just loving themselves and BEING who they are.
“I’m not the average girl from your video and I ain’t built like a supermodel, but I learned to love myself unconditionally because I am a queen!I’m not the average girl from your video; my worth is not determined by the price of my clothes… No matter what I’m wearing I will always be India Arie.”
(I often would sing nobody else but me instead of “India Arie” when I heard this to relate it more to myself. I hope she wouldn’t mind too much. I doubt it, since in the lyrics she literally tells people to love themselves! I think she would be happy that her song helped me gain confidence and love for myself!)
Wannabe – Spice Girls
The Spice Girls were huge in America right when I was in middle school and high school, and believe me, they had a HUGE impact on me! The fashion, the attitude, the music, the feminine power – I loved it all! My personal favorite Spice Girl was Ginger, but I also really enjoyed Scary (because I thought her voice was cool. I never understood the obsession with Sporty Spice’s singing, honestly. I mean, she’s obviously talented, it just wasn’t my personal favorite of the bunch…)
Anyway, now that I am done getting sidetracked, I can get back to why I included this Spice Girls jam on the list of inspirational and empowering songs for women…
Well, first of all, it starts right out with strong females telling us all that they will TELL us what they want. Bam! Right out the gate, the Spice Girls hit with attitude, confidence, and Girl Power!
As the song progresses, we see that it is important to get in good with a gal’s friends, because, after all, for many women, their girlfriends (or guyfriends) are their families, their soulmates, and their loves, and often, they have a lot of significant-other type responsibility in these women’s lives. So if you cannot connect with these people, you are going to be out of luck.
I think that this song is very empowering for women because not only does it show that the Spice Girls don’t want to settle for less than the best for themselves AND their loved ones which is inspiring in itself, but through the song, they are also looking to empower and inspire other women to also not settle for less than the best for themselves and their loved ones.
Girl Power indeed!
We R Who We R – Ke$ha
“You know we’re superstars! We are who we are!”
This catchy dance/pop tune is all about embracing who you are, loving yourself, and having fun in life! To me, those are definitely inspiring and empowering messages for women!
This song, to me, also addresses how people judge others and shame them, even if they are doing nothing to hurt others, just because they are perceived as different, even if they happen to have more in common with the “judge” than ever first perceived in the end. Sound deep? It is. Which, admittedly, was a bit of a surprise for me…
But the song does address these deep issues; in very subtle ways though… for example, as Ke$ha is singing about what she’s wearing (ripped stockings, glitter) and about how she’s “sick and sexified,” she also mentions that she has Jesus on her necklace. Yes, a party girl who is a Christian and loves Jesus. Ke$ha shows that they do exist and that they should be proud!
Another example comes in the chorus “Tonight we’re going hard! Just like the world is ours – we’re tearing it apart…” The idea to me is that they are tearing apart these ideals and standards and judgments that people use against each other and embracing life instead. Very empowering.
What a Feeling – Irene Cara
This inspirational jam has been inspiring me personally for years! We sang it in choir in middle school, and it always stuck with me. Especially these words:
“Take your passion, and make it happen!”
Women can do anything we set our minds to; we cannot forget this!
As if this song wasn’t inspirational enough in it’s lyrical content, even it’s music feels inspiring and empowering! That 80’s power! Seriously though, there is something amazing about getting ready for an audition or an interview or something and listening to this song! Brilliant!
What a Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong
This beautiful musical masterpiece is a song that can literally bring me to tears – tears of happiness, sadness, strength, pain, inspiration… I will honestly say that, in my opinion, this song may be one of the greatest songs ever written.
Then there’s Louis Armstrong’s voice… There is no other voice like it. The man was truly one of a kind. And on this song, his voice adds tenderness, depth, vulnerability, and wisdom that is otherworldly. It’s like he knew all of the answers to life’s big questions and he was trying to relay them to us through the sweet vibrations of his rich, sensual voice.
Now, this song is not just inspiring and empowering for women, but for all people. But I still just had to include it.
“I hear babies crying; I watch them grow. They’ll learn much more than I’ll ever know… And I think to myself… what a wonderful world…”
What Makes You Different Makes You Beautiful – Backstreet Boys
It’s not about fitting in to be loved – it’s about being loved for who you are and loving yourself, for ALL the things that make you beautiful.
“What makes you different makes you beautiful!”
That includes flaws too! Everything that makes up who we are makes us into the beautiful beings that we are.
And how nice is that message coming out of the mouths of the men of the Backstreet Boys, hm?
Who Says – Selena Gomez
This catchy, bubbly pop song is all about setting aside what the haters say and loving yourself and your life!
“You’ve got every right to a beautiful life!”
So stop listening to all of these “judges.” They have their own issues to work out! Just work on you and be empowered by what Selena is singing at ya instead!
You Don’t Own Me – Lesley Gore
Believe it or not, this song was pretty revolutionary for it’s time, when women were expected to be the “perfect” girlfriends, fiancees, and wives and not “get around”… and honestly, it is still very relevant today!
It is about how women are not property to be used and shown off and toyed with (“You don’t own me. I’m not just one of your many toys…”) but instead wonderful creatures who need to be treated with respect in general and especially in relationships! (It also shows that respect shown should be reciprocal.)
“Don’t tell me what to do, don’t tell me what to say, and please, when I go out with you, don’t put me on display. I don’t tell you what to say, I don’t tell you what to do, so just let me be myself, that’s all I ask of you!”
It was inspiring and empowering when it first hit the airwaves and it is still inspiring and empowering today!
You Gotta Be – Des’Ree
This song is full of great advice for women. From listening to wise words from your elders, to reading books and gaining knowledge, to accepting that you cannot stop the world from turning, no matter what pain or distress you are suffering, the amount of helpful guidance Des’Ree provides in this song is large and diverse indeed!
One of my personal favorite lines from the song is this one:
“Listen as your day unfolds, challenge what the future holds – try to keep your head up to the sky…”
I like it because it inspires me to look at reality and be aware of what’s going on in the world, challenge ideas and authority, and yet keep an overall positive outlook. Sounds empowering to me!
You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me – Cher
This is another one of the songs that really inspired me to create this list, because it is such a powerfully moving, inspiring, and empowering song. Written by Diane Warren and performed by Cher for the major motion picture Burlesque, this modern light rock power ballad inspires those who feel broken, beaten down, mistreated, neglected, or like failures to pick up the pieces, stand strong, and move on because they still have so much to offer in this life.
“I’ve been brought down to my knees and I’ve been pushed way past the point of breaking – but I can take it! I’ll be back… back on my feet. This is far from over; you haven’t seen the last of me. You haven’t seen the last of me.”
You’re Still You – Josh Groban
This song is inspiring and made the list because it shows the power of the people who love us.
Loving yourself and living your best life is easier done when you are surrounded by loved ones who appreciate you and believe in you. Even if those people change roles (romantic relationship to friend for example), those are people who truly love you for you, and you know who they are!
“I look up to everything you are. In my eyes, you do no wrong. And I believe in you,
although you never asked me to…”
So surround yourself with love and show those you love how much you appreciate them and all the ways that they inspire and empower you…