Tunes on Tuesday #5

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For this week’s Tunes on Tuesday, we made you a special. Added to the Girls go BOOM playlist are 5 songs which you could describe as Riot-Grrrl-before-Riot-Grrrl. Here are some magnificent classic songs to remind us that empowered girls have been with us for longer than pop culture often cares to remember.

1. Aretha Franklin – Respect

Originally written and recorded by soul and R&B legend Otis Redding in 1965, the legendary Aretha Franklin spun Redding’s amorous plea on its head, creating a resounding proto-feminist anthem that persisted through the second and third waves of the movement. ReRe’s powerful and confident declaration about not handing her man something without getting “her propers” continues to empower.

2. Eartha Kitt – I want to be evil

Fiery feline Eartha Kitt sang a 1953 gem that declared she was tired of being “prim and proper,” bored with the tender and “unspoiled” ways society painted her. She wanted to express all of her emotions, not just the ones that were “pretty.” Catwoman said it, now spread it.

3. Nancy Sinatra

While the feminist movement was taking shape, Nancy Sinatra’s pop hit was stomping through early 1966. The singer wasn’t afraid to give a deadbeat guy his walking papers, proving there were strong, sassy, independent women who refused to hold a torch for unworthy men.

4. Wanda Jackson – Hard Headed Woman

Sung by Elvis, 1958’s “Hard Headed Woman” was an anti-feminist statement about a woman being a “thorn in the side of man.” Performed by pioneering rocker Wanda Jackson, however, the song took on a theme of empowerment. Her spirited arrangement shatters its message completely.

5. Lesley Gore – You don’t own me

One of the earliest and best “Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me” lyrics. Gore’s declaration that she’s not anyone’s possession gets straight down to business: “You don’t own me/ I’m not just one of your many toys/ You don’t own me/ Don’t say I can’t go with other boys/ And don’t tell me what to do/ Don’t tell me what to say/ And please, when I go out with you/ Don’t put me on display, ’cause/ You don’t own me.” Half a century later, her lyric is just as relevant and relatable as it ever was.