Coming off the hot heels of the launch of Katy Perry’s brand new music video for “Roar,” I was inspired to create a Top Ten list of music videos that make me feel like I could take over the world, if my soundtrack dictates it so. In a world where women and men are constantly bombarded by patriarchal videos and images, it has always been refreshing to see artists speak at high volume through their music, spreading a clear message that women are strong in our own clever, sexy, intelligent, wicked, and wonderful ways. In no particular order:
1. MADONNA, “HUMAN NATURE” (1995)
One of my all time favorite dance videos, Madonna moves into some serious BDSM imagery with tight black vinyl outfits, whips, restraints, and strong boxed in dance moves in this music video with lyrics that suggest anyone that has a problem with her or her antics can quietly screw off. She is not sorry for being who she is and isn’t afraid to show in in the role of dominatrix, a profession many women daydream of being in their day to day lives as a position of ultimate power.
2. M.I.A., “BAD GIRLS” (2012)
Used in the film “Heat” starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, in an era where women are continually fighting for their voices to be heard, this music video pushes the envelope worldwide by featuring Saudi women dressed in men’s clothes performing stunts on hot cars in the desert, wielding guns and filing nails. MIA is a compelling artist with her lyrics echoing personal experiences from being a Sri Lankan refugee and an all around cool and refreshing voice in the music industry, in which the presence of South Asian women is virtually non-existent in the West.
3. KATY PERRY, “ROAR” (2013)
Continuing to be a strong voice for girls and women everywhere, Katy Perry aces the image of a strong and independent woman that loves to have fun in her environment as a “Jane” to her failed “Tarzan/Explorer.” Like Snow White, she romances the wild around her and takes over as a Bettie Page type Jungle Queen. I love this video all around and Katy will dominate once again as the biggest pop superstar on the planet.
4. THE RUNAWAYS, “CHERRY BOMB” (LIVE IN JAPAN, 1977)
Bad ass, edgy, in your face, young, and hot. The Runaways dominate in this live video suggesting that f* you mom and dad, I’m out of here and I’m not afraid to be who I am. Rock n’ Roll indeed.
5. NANCY SINATRA, “THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR WALKIN’ ” (1966)
Thank the Universe for the 1960’s in fashion, glamour, and women fighting for women. Nancy Sinatra pushes the envelope with this subtle sexy and strong message of “Don’t even think about taking me for a ride.” Hit the road jack! (side note: I actually met Nancy last year at a restaurant job where I wasn’t allowed to wear fancy shoes. On that particular day I decided to say screw it, I’m wearing my tall black leather go-go boots. And in she walked….).
6. CHRISTINA AGUILERA, “FIGHTER” (2002)
Dark, awesome, and a great message to all masochists that thanks for attempting to hurt me, but all you’ve done is create a monster. And I’m perfectly happy to be that monster because I’m going to kick your ass with my awesomeness that you helped create.
7. TLC, “AIN’T 2 PROUD 2 BEG” (1992)
The safety-pinned condoms, over-sized soother necklaces, and giant neon hats were no distraction from the strong messages of ultimate female power-trio, TLC in the early ’90s. I found them each highly inspiring as a strong and edgy group, daring to wear the baggiest of baggy clothes and shoving what you think of them off because it ain’t no thing.
8. DESTINY’S CHILD, feat. Da BRAT, “SURVIVOR” (2001)
A wild and strong message for women who just got out of a stressful and hard relationship, Survivor evokes a feeling of “I’m ready to move on and be better without you.” Destiny’s Child was all around a very positive group for women and Beyonce continues holding that torch with her solo career, inspiring women all over the world to be cool, be professional, and it’s okay to be sexy in your own way “cause my momma taught me better than that.”
9. JANET JACKSON, “RHYTHM NATION” (1989)
Evoking sci-fi, “Blade Runner”-esque imagery, soldier-like uniforms, and bold dance moves that shake you to your core, Janet Jackson evolved into Rhythm Nation busting on the seems as a tough, serious, and commanding woman who is clearly the one in charge. I always imagine myself stomping through the streets owning the world around me when I listen to this song. Thank you Janet for making me strong!
10. EN VOGUE “FREE YOUR MIND” (1992)
While this video focuses more on the topic of racism, it is highly empowering for people perceived as stereotypes and are treated with prejudice in the world around them. As women, En Vogue always encompassed the image of strength, fierceness, and determination with a boldness rivaled only by Janet Jackson. The choice of using a lit up fashion runway strutting down towards the camera with attitude, black clothing, boots, and a live band gives us a clear statement of “Don’t f*ck with me” that I live by day to day.
All of these groups and artists inspired me to be the woman I am today. A few runner ups: Alanis Morissette “You Oughtta Know,” and Joan Jett “I Hate Myself for Loving You.” These songs continually make me feel good about who I am and I hope the next generation of women will find their selves much faster than I did, as pop music continues to feature strong women at the forefront. Thank you for allowing me to be who I am with no shame, no fear, and absolutely, no regrets.
-Satu Runa, actress, writer, producer, and singer/songwriter.