One of my favorite genres of music to listen to is ’80s music—partly for the nostalgia, but also because there are so many songs with just the right blend of melodrama, heart, and badassery to motivate me, whether I’m muddling through daily chores or out for a run. Certain songs are more empowering than others, and they’re almost all by women. This is no coincidence. These were the artists I listened to most when I was a kid. They inspired me then and still inspire me today.
Here’s my playlist:
1. Diana Ross, ‘I’m Coming Out’
2. Pat Benatar, ‘Love Is a Battlefield’
3. Joan Jett, ‘Bad Reputation’
4. Donna Summer, ‘She Works Hard for the Money’
5. Irene Cara, ‘Flashdance…What a Feeling’
6. Tina Turner, ‘We Don’t Need Another Hero’
7. Cyndi Lauper, ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’
8. Laura Branigan, ‘Gloria’
9. Heart, ‘Never’
10. Madonna, ‘Papa Don’t Preach’
The word “feminist” was not something we used in the ’80s to brand these women rockers, but as far as I’m concerned, they totally were feminists. They were women unafraid to speak (sing, actually!) their truths. They didn’t need to hide their power. And they inspired a generation of girls to grow up and do the same.