One of HBO‘s most fascinating, female-centric, and socially provocative shows came to a dramatic conclusion last night–Big Love. If you were a fan of the life stories of the sister wives (Barb, Nicki, and Margene) and their daily turmoils, we aren’t going to spoil the ending for you.
What we can divulge is that Season Five was wearing away at the thematic threads that have been evident since we got over the shock of televised polygamy and understood the matriarchal storyline of the show. Critics and the creators Mark Olsen and Will Scheffer all say that Big Love “has always been a feminist show.”
Accordingly, we’ve compiled a list of our Top Ten Favorite Female-Empowerment Songs that might have gotten Barb through her quest for independence and equality, Nicki through her struggle with abuse, and Margene’s youthful journey towards feminine identity.
10. “Jar of Hearts”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Christina Perri[/lastfm]
Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts” isn’t your typical song above love, consequence, or remorse.
It subtly highlights the co-dependency that women can experience with their masculine counterpart. Perri powerfully replies to the lover on whom she once depended, “I hear you’re asking all around/If I am anywhere to be found/But I have grown too strong/To ever fall back in your arms.”
9. “Love Song”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Sara Bareilles[/lastfm]
Sometimes, as women, the world expects us to be the sweet, sappy romantic ones. Sara Bareilles’ “Love Song” makes a plea against forced sentiment or the expectation that women have to do something to keep a man around.
We all know what it’s like for this to be expected of us or being forced by ultimatums, as expressed by Bareilles’ lyrics, “I’m not gonna write you a love song/’cause you asked for it/’cause you need one, you see/I’m not gonna write you a love song/’cause you tell me it’s/Make or break in this/If you’re on your way/I’m not gonna write you to stay.”
8.”Just A Girl”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]No Doubt[/lastfm]
In the ’90s, Gwen Stefani of No Doubt sung her syrupy sweet punkish-anthem “Just A Girl” with a kind of femininity missing in an era of Lilith Fair and riot grrrrls.
It was exactly what was needed to spawn a whole entire generation of women who spoke up against gender stereotypes, embracing their girlish natures, but also verbalizing their disdain of being treated like objects: “Take this pink ribbon off my eyes /I’m exposed /And it’s no big surprise /Don’t you think I know /Exactly where I stand /This world is forcing me /To hold your hand.”
7. “Independent Woman”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Destiny’s Child[/lastfm]
Over the years, Destiny’s Child and Beyonce Knowles have written a lot of power anthems for women, but the one that sticks out to us most is “Independent Women.”
In an age where gold-digging is popular concept, Destiny Child’s lyrics encouraged women to make their own way and demand equality: “Tell me how you feel about this/Try to control me boy you get dismissed/Pay my own fun, oh and I pay my own bills/Always 50/50 in relationships.”
6. “Bitch”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Meredith Brooks[/lastfm]
Meredith Brooks decade-old hit was a perfect song reflecting the many different sides of women–not just the wife, daughter, or lover.
Brooks’ song aptly titled with the female-centric pejorative, “Bitch,” gave new meaning to having an uncompromising attitude as a woman–despite societal expectation: “So take me as I am /This may mean you’ll have to be a stronger man /Rest assured that when I start to make you nervous /and I’m going to extremes /tomorrow I will change /and today won’t mean a thing.”
5. “Silent All These Years”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Tori Amos[/lastfm]
Piano mistress and emotional chantuese, Tori Amos, has written many songs about the travails (and blessings) of being a woman.
One such song is “Silent All These Years,” a heart-wrenching story of losing your identity to a man, but how your voice remains, “Cause sometimes/I said sometimes/I hear my voice/And it’s been here/Silent All These Years.”
4. “A Woman’s Worth”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Alicia Keys[/lastfm]
Alicia Keys has always kept it classy and stayed away from paparazzi scandal. One might argue that this is because treats herself–and therefore encourages others–with grace and respect.
One of the “keys” to Keys’ career have been her female-positive sing-a-long anthems, which includes her song “A Woman’s Worth” with lyrics like “‘Cuz a real man knows a real woman when he sees her/And a real woman knows a real man ain’t afraid to please her/And a real woman knows a real man always comes first/And a real man just can’t deny a womans worth.”
3.”You Oughta Know”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Alanis Morissette[/lastfm]
When “You Oughta Know” by Alanis Morissette originally came out, it was considered provocative, if not shocking.
For a mainstream hit, the song had incredible amounts of unfiltered rage, mostly how Morissette felt towards her unfaithful lover: “And I’m here to remind you/Of the mess you left when you went away/It’s not fair to deny me/Of the cross I bear that you gave to me/You, you, you oughta know.”
2. “Human Nature”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Madonna[/lastfm]
Madonna has been an iconic figure for female-empowerment.
Her independent, expressive nature is a wonderful model for female-ambition and her song “Human Nature” (which dropped jaws at the time of its release) is a lyrical testament to why women shouldn’t repress their desires or opinions: “You wouldn’t let me say the words I longed to say /You didn’t want to see life through my eyes /[Express yourself, don’t repress yourself] /You tried to shove me back inside your narrow room /And silence me with bitterness and lies.”
1. “Man! I Feel Like A Woman”-[lastfm link_type=”artist_info”]Shania Twain[/lastfm]
Country-sweetheart, Shania Twain, isn’t afraid to tell a man how it is and one of her most infamous female-centric songs is “Man! I Feel Like A Woman.” Much like Madonna’s song, Twain is encourages female expression, even if that means going “crazy” a little.
It’s a perfect female-empowerment going out song: “I’m going out tonight-I’m feelin’ alright/Gonna let it all hang out/Wanna make some noise-really raise my voice/Yeah, I wanna scream and shout/No inhibitions-make no conditions/Get a little outta line/I ain’t gonna act politically correct/I only wanna have a good time.”
- What are some of your favorite female-empowerment songs and what did you think about the last season of Big Love and its finale? Let us know in the comments!