Happy International Women's Day!
The last year has undoubtedly been one of the most significant years in recent times for Women. (That's right - the capital 'W' is intentional and will remain so in the rest of this article!) With the #metoo movement spreading like wildfire and the 'Time's Up' campaign gaining steam, Women are today at the front and center of one of the most powerful socio-political movements of the time.
And what better way to celebrate the day than with music! So we at Meaww went ahead and curated a playlist of 10 songs titled 'Grrl Power', a 33-minute dive into a wide-ranging, cross-genre playlist featuring female artists from all parts of the world. It's a mix of up-and-coming artists, iconic game changers and genre-defining tracks across the last half decade. Listen to the playlist below, followed by a brief track-by-track breakdown.
1. Heart - Barracuda (1977)
When hard rock was a game dominated almost exclusively by men, Heart (led by sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson) flipped that perception upside down on its head with their 1977 track Barracuda. Upon its release Barracuda became an instant hit in the U.S., peaking at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100. The opening riff has today gone down as one of the most iconic riffs in rock history, making it unchallenged contender to start the playlist off, setting the tone at the far extreme of rock, but just a notch below metal.
2. The Runaways - Cherry Bomb (1976)
The 1976 punk-influenced hard rock single by the all-girl band the Runaways continues the nostalgia of the playlist before foraying into other eras. Composed by rock legend Joan Jett, along with Kim Fowley, the band's then-manager, the song was apparently quickly written just for former lead singer Cherie Currie to audition for the band because the band members could not perform the song she originally chose to sing!
3. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Heads Will Roll (2009)
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs would be nothing if not for leading lady Karn O's emphatic stage presence and arena-gripping voice. Well, maybe not nothing but certainly half the sheen would be gone. At number 3 on our playlist is the single 'Heads Will Roll' from their 2009 LP, 'It's Blitz!', the song that went on to become one of the biggest party anthems of the late 2000s.
4. St. Vincent - MASSEDUCTION (2017)
Described as the "culmination of years of writing, with songs crafted from voice memos, text messages, and snippets of melodies that came to Annie Clark while traveling the globe,” the self-titled track from Annie Clark aka St. Vincent’s latest LP takes the spot at no. 4. Her previous effort, 2014’s eponymous ‘St. Vincent’ won her a Grammy for Best Alternative Album, making her the first the solo female performer in 20 years to win a Grammy in that category.
5. Courtney Barnett - Nameless, Faceless (2018)
At no. 5 is Australian singer/songwriter Courtney Barnett’s latest single, ‘Nameless, Faceless’. Simply because nobody else can write a jangly opening verse that almost manages to empathize with self-important trolls and then savagely eviscerate them in a hard-charging chorus armed with a brutal Margaret Atwood quote (“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them”).
6. SZA - Broken Clocks (2018)
SZA's disembodied voice haunts the airy trap-soul of 'Broken Clocks', which features at no. 6 on our playlist. Originally scheduled for release in late 2015, SZA's debut LP Ctrl, was delayed by SZA's experience of "a kind of blinding paralysis brought on by anxiety," and finally released this year and smashed all expectations. The only person who was angrier than us about SZA not picking up a single Grammy for it was SZA herself! There's no way we're leaving her out of our playlist too!
7. M.I.A. - Paper Planes (2007)
Not since Pink Floyd's 'Money' has the sound of a cash registered been so integral to a song, and so popularly recognized by music lovers around the world. With a sample from 'The Clash' and its first-of-a-kind mixed media chorus, M.I.A took the reverie of a robbery to new heights on her 2007 single, 'Paper Planes', which is undoubtedly one of the most instantly recognizable tracks of the 2000s.
8. Florence + The Machine - Kiss With a Fist (2008)
With a song that misled audiences around the globe by blending love, psychological extreme states and apparent physical violence, Florence + The Machine dropped a million jaws with this garage-rock feel track in 2008. Florence herself had to clear the air about the controversial song saying, "Kiss with a Fist" is NOT a song about domestic violence. Sometimes the love two people have for each other is a destructive force. But they can't have it any other way because it's what holds them together, they enjoy the drama and pushing each other's buttons. The only way to express these extreme emotions is with extreme imagery, all of which is fantasism and nothing in the song is based on reality.
9. The Breeders - Cannonball (1993)
Kim Deal emerges from the wreckage of alt-rock heroes the Pixies with her twin sister, Kelley, on guitar and a freewheeling, grungy, bighearted mess of a song. "Cannonball" was one of the weirdest radio hits of the 90's – or any decade before it. A weirdness that we chose to embrace with open arms this Women's Day, making it the penultimate track on our playlist.
10. Edith Piaf - La vie en rose (1947)
Ending the playlist with a blast to the past is 'La vie en rose', the most famous song by French cabaret legend Edith Piaf. An autobiographical ballad on love, loss and sorrow, it's less of a song and more of an indelible mark on modern pop culture. If you haven't watched it yet, do check out the Oscar-winning movie of the same name by Olivier Dahan starring Marrion Cotillard as Edith Piaf.
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