Maren Morris’ ‘Girl’ + 19 More Songs That Empower Women
Empowering messages come in different packages: Sometimes, it's Loretta Lynn singing about birth control. Other times, it's Shania Twain making everyone want to feel like a woman. Or maybe it's Kacey Musgraves embracing the fact that she "ain't pageant material."
Whatever your flavor of empowerment, country's ladies have a song for you. These 20 songs cover six decades of music, from Dolly Parton's 1967 single "Dumb Blonde" to Maren Morris' "Girl," released just a few weeks ago. Put 'em on and stand tall, you bada-- woman, you.
Plenty of people and challenges will stand in the way of your dreams -- that's just the way life goes -- but this title track of McBryde's debut album is a reminder to ignore the haters, push through the tough times and, most importantly, always believe in yourself. We can only hope the teacher who inspired this track by telling McBryde she'd never succeed as a musician was ready to eat her words after Girl Going Nowhere earned a Grammys nomination.
Clark ain't no Barbie doll; she's "a perfect mess ... nothing less or nothing more," she sings in this track, and if that's not what you're looking for, then #sorrynotsorry, move along, please. "If you want the girl next door," she sings in one of country music's best kiss-offs, "then go next door."
Underwood's empowering anthem was tailor-made for sports championships (in 2018, it opened the Super Bowl), but its message is universal. Look in the mirror and repeat after her: "I am invincible, unbreakable, unstoppable, unshakable / They knock me down, I'm back up again / I am a champion."
Pope's poppy, mandolin-tinged "I Am Invincible" is "for my girls: the fighters, the warriors." It's a reminder to never let anyone make you feel lesser than; whatever cracks run through your metaphorical walls, you are "a diamond cut to last ... a hero."
Feeling empowered is about knowing who you are and having the courage to be just that. This Dixie Chicks song is all about finding yourself -- and, also, the trio's harmonies atop that '90s country melody just make you feel good inside.
Throughout her decades in country music, Parton has been an advocate for fans of all stripes; after all, she famously modeled her look after the "town tramp," who she's often said she found beautiful, and has become an icon in the LGBTQ+ community. But back in 1968, the country legend was a brand-new artist, looking to break into the industry -- and "Dumb Blonde," showed, right from the get-go, that she "ain't nobody's fool."
"When you left you thought I'd sit / An' you thought I'd wait / An' you thought I'd cry," Parton sings. "You called me a dumb blonde / Ah, but somehow I lived through it / And, you know, if there's one thing this blonde has learned / Blondes have more fun."
With "Redneck Woman," her hit debut single, Wilson carved out a place for herself, and all of the other not-quite-picture-perfect women, in country music. Inspired by Faith Hill's "Breathe" music video, and Wilson's feelings that she could never be that sort of woman, "Redneck Woman" celebrates the ladies who are rough around the edges and like to party hard. We'll give a big hell yeah to that!
"I'd rather lose for what I am / Than win for what I ain't," Musgraves sings in the chorus of this song. "Follow Your Arrow" may be her most famous track touting love and acceptance, but we prefer "Pageant Material" for its honest self-reflection -- and its subtle reminder that beauty comes in many forms.
Shorr's breakout single is a reminder of your strength, even when you're feeling down and out, and utterly alone. "I damn sure ain't no underdog," Shorr sings. "I might fall down, but I get back up / I shine brightest when the going's tough ... You can't stop me 'cause I fight like a girl."
Sometimes, breakups are awful; other times, they're empowering. Ballerini sings of the latter in "Miss Me More," a song in which she discovers that she was longing for her old self -- the girl who wore red lipstick, loved high heels and vinyl records -- more than she was longing for that old relationship. "I forgot I had dreams, I forgot I had wings / Forgot who I was before I ever kissed you," she sings. "I thought I'd miss you / But I miss me more."
We live in a world where fitting in can seem like the most important thing, but this Alaina song is here to remind you that it's so much more fun -- and freeing! -- to be yourself, whoever that may be. "You won't make yourself a name if you follow the rules / History gets made when you're acting a fool," she sings -- the 2017 version of that famous saying from Pulitzer Prize winning historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich: "Well-behaved women seldom make history."
Lynn's 1975 single is a straightforward song about a woman reclaiming her body after spending years, as she puts it, keeping her incubator filled. "Yeah, I'm makin' up for all those years," she sings, "Since I've got the pill." Those words were radical stuff back then.
Not only is this Maddie & Tae single simple gorgeous, it also packs a wonderful message: Failure happens, and it's fine; in fact, it only teaches you new lessons.
"Keep on climbing though the ground might shake / Just keep on reaching though the limb might break," Maddie Marlow and Tae Dye sing in perfect harmony. "'Cause you can learn to fly on the way down ..."
Morris tells ABC that "Girl" began as a letter to a friend: "[I was asking], 'Why are we competing against one another? Is it ourselves? Is it this industry? Is it the world?'" she explains -- and then, she realized: "I don't think I am writing this to her. I am writing this to myself."
"Girl, don't hang your head low," Morris sings. "Don't lose your halo ... Everything's gonna be okay, baby girl."
The "girl power" runs deep in "This One's for the Girls." The Chris Lindsey, Hillary Lindsey and Aimee Mayo-penned song features McBride's two daughters, Delaney and Emma, as well as Carolyn Dawn Johnson and Faith Hill, on background vocals. The Top 5 country song (also a No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart) features a verse for almost every stage of life, each with an important reminder: "You're beautiful the way you are."
In Lambert's own words, "Vice" is about her “owning her s--t," even when it's not so pretty: “I think this song is an opportunity to just be honest and own it and say, ‘Yeah, I have some imperfections, and I live a life, and here and there I might get in a pickle,'" she says -- and there's power in that.
From 2005's Stronger Than Before, Newton-John's "Phenomenal Woman" is a simple reminder: Being a woman is dang awesome, so be proud! "I'm a woman / Phenomenal woman," she sings. "Baby, that's me."
RaeLynn's "Queens Don't" offers plenty of advice for happiness: Hating on others isn't going to make you feel better. Surround yourself with the people who lift you up. Stay strong, stand your ground, and remember how awesome you are.
"A queen's gonna rule just the way she was made / I ain't 'bout to let nobody come and take me off this throne," RaeLynn sings. "Some girls might, but queens don't."
Right from the get-go, the woman in McEntire's "I'm a Survivor" has had to prove that she's tough: "I was born three months too early / The doctor gave me thirty days," the country star sings. "But I must have had my mama's will / And God's amazing grace."
"When the deck is stacked against me / I just play a different game," McEntire continues. "I'm a survivor."
If there's a quintessential female empowerment song in country music, it's "Man! I Feel Like a Woman!" -- in part because Twain was one of the biggest superstars of all genres in the '90s. There's not a dance floor this song won't fill up, not a karaoke night that goes by without someone requesting this track. Not only is this Twain classic empowering, it's dang fun.