Lest you read my previous article, “The 8 Worst Pop Songs For Women, By Women This Year,” and think I’m just a cranky feminist miser (only sometimes), I also wanted to celebrate the women who created positive female-powered anthems this year. From Rachel Platten to RiRi, Adele to Alessia Cara, these ladies gave pop music more of what it really needs: women singing about more than A) how hot they are, B) how good they are in bed, or C) how sad they are without a man.
1. “Love Myself” by Hailee Steinfeld
If any song is going to get stuck in my head for weeks on end, I’m happy to have it be this self-love anthem. At first when I heard this song I was like, “aw, what a cute song about empowerment,” and then I listened to the lyrics more closely and realized sweet little Hailee also wanted us to take it literally. Do you, babe!
2. “FourFiveSeconds” by Rihanna and Kanye and Paul McCartney
I still can’t bring myself to cite “Bitch Better Have My Money” as “good for women,” but there is no doubt that Rihanna crushed it with the album teaser singles this year. “FourFiveSeconds” is a soulful song that feels raw and emotional thanks mainly to Rihanna’s stunning vocals. The lyrics encompass much of the feeling of 2015, from apathy to rage to resignation and pain. Personally, it’s my favorite Rihanna song ever.
3. “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten
I know people call this song cheesy, and I also know those same people are the ones using it to motivate them on a ten-mile run. Seriously, watch Rachel perform a duet of this song with a 16-year-old ovarian cancer survivor and tell me this song isn’t great for humanity. If this song doesn’t get you psyched about life I worry for you.
4. “Here” by Alessia Cara
Alessia Cara was definitely one of my favorite additions to the pop music scene this year. The girl is 19 years old and already has one of the coolest voices on the radio. Better, her breakout single, “Here,” proves that a girl talking about feelings other than, “Look how hot I am, you definitely want to have sex with me, please have sex with me,” can climb the charts. I have so many favorite parts of this song, but here’s one: “Honestly I’d rather be / somewhere with my people we can kick it and just listen / to some music with the message (like we usually do) / and we’ll discuss our big dreams / how we plan to take over the planet.” I have no doubt.
5. “Hello” by Adele
This isn’t even so much for the lyrical or musical content as it is for the fact that this song marked the return of Adele. And if that’s not good for women, I truly don’t know what is.
6. “Feelin’ Myself” by Nicki Minaj feat. Beyonce
If you were pissed to find both Nicki and Queen Bey on my worst songs of 2015 list, take comfort. This collaboration is an anthem for the thousands of tiny apartment bathrooms full of women getting ready to go out (and realizing that’s the most fun part).
7. “She Used To Be Mine” by Sara Bareilles
If you have yet to hear this song, you’re welcome. It’ll break your damn heart. The best part about it, though, is that it’s the lead track from Sara Bareilles’ new musical, Waitress. Yes, Sara Bareilles wrote a musical—a funny, emotional stage adaptation of the 2007 Keri Russell movie. It premiered this year in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and will be moving to Broadway in 2016. Trust me, you’ll want to get tickets as soon as possible.
8. “Sax” by Fleur East
This song had better start burning up the charts in early 2016, because my God. It is both fantastically ridiculous and ridiculously fantastic. It’s pretty much the female version of “Uptown Funk,” and excuse me I need to get up and dance now.