Music empowers, entertains, and helps listeners transcend pain. One song can bring its listeners together by expressing feelings and emotions that many are unable to articulate. The Pixel Project believes in the power of music to heal, inspire, and send a strong message about violence against women. This is reflected in our Music For Pixels campaign through which we collaborate with various artistes around the world.
For 2016, our selection spans different genres and decades to ensure that everyone can find a track to be inspired by. And if our list fails to inspire, it is our sincere hope that you find the soundtrack to your life nonetheless, as everyone needs a set of songs they can relate to in times of adversity.
It’s time to stop violence against women. Together.
Written and compiled by Rebecca Dean
Song Number 1: Church Bells – Carrie Underwood
Carrie Underwood’s “Church Bells” follows the story of a woman, Jenny, who fights her way out of an abusive relationship. Jenny starts as a free spirit, who meets and marries a wealthy man, who turns out to be abusive. By the end of the song, Jenny fights back, escaping the relationship in any way she can.
Song Number 2: Control – Janet Jackson
In “Control”, Janet Jackson solidifies her control over her words, actions and life. Control is an anthem for the independent woman. “Got my own mind / I wanna make my own decisions / When it has to do with my life / I wanna be the one in control.”
Song Number 3: Family Portrait – P!nk
In “Family Portrait”, P!nk is a child growing up in an abusive household. She pleads with her parents “I’ll be so much better, I’ll do everything right / I’ll be your little girl forever / I’ll go to sleep at night,” believing the anger and fighting is her fault.
Song Number 4: Fight Like a Girl – Kalie Shorr
Kalie Shorr’s “Fight Like a Girl” is a female empowerment anthem taking back what it means to do things “like a girl.” Whereas in modern society “like a girl” is used as an insult, Shorr shows that being a girl is what makes her unstoppable. “You say I canʼt, well darling watch me / You canʼt stop me / Cause I fight like a girl”
Song Number 5: Follow your Arrow – Kacey Musgraves
Kacey Musgraves’ “Follow your Arrow” is an anthem for women to be true to themselves – despite what limits society puts on them. Musgraves begins the song by criticising society’s stereotypes of women, with lyrics like “If you save yourself for marriage / you’re a bore / If you don’t save yourself for marriage / you’re a whore-able person.” Musgraves then encourages women to follow their heart and make themselves happy, no matter which path it takes them down.
Song Number 6: How Come, How Long – Baby Face and Stevie Wonder
In “How Come, How Long”, Baby Face and Stevie Wonder speak to bystanders of abusive relationships. The protagonist of this story “tried to give a cry for help”, but those around her made excuses – “nothing was wrong as far as we could tell / That’s what we’d like to tell ourselves.” In the end, the woman was killed by her abuser. The song ends with the singers encouraging everybody to “look for the signs” in order to potentially save a life.
Song Number 7: I Get Out – Lauryn Hill
In “I Get Out,” singer/songwriter Lauryn Hill sings about breaking free of the chains of an abusive relationship. Once forced to compromise, Hill recognises the cycle of abuse and is determined to be free. “You say “love” then abuse me / You never thought you’d lose me / … / Cause now I’m choosin’ life, yo / … / That’s how I choose to live.”
Song Number 8: I’m Coming Out – Diana Ross
In “I’m Coming Out”, Diana Ross sings about being unapologetically true to herself. She encourages the listener to be confident in their personalities and be proud of the person they are.
Song Number 9: Just a Girl – No Doubt
Inspired by her family’s overprotective nature because she is a woman, “Just a Girl” was written by Gwen Stefani in 1995. “Just a Girl” is a satirical take on the limitations placed on women and girls because of their genders. Stefani uses lyrics such as “‘Well don’t let me out of your sight / Oh, I’m just a girl, all pretty and petite” to exemplify the negative stereotypes placed on women in today’s society.
Song Number 10: Love Me – Katy Perry
Katy Perry’s “Love Me” is an empowering song for those struggling with insecurities, especially when in a romantic relationship. Here, Perry realises that loving herself is necessary in order to maintain a happy, healthy relationship. “So now, I don’t negotiate with insecurities / They’re gonna have to take a back seat / I know I have to love myself, the way I want you to love me”
Song Number 11: Not To Blame – Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell’s “Not to Blame” tells a story of a man who abuses his partner, driving her to suicide, and people’s reactions to the abuse. With powerful lyrics such as “Your buddies all stood by/ They bet their / Fortunes and their fame /That she was out of line /And you were not to blame” Mitchell highlights the victim blaming that still occurs in today’s society.
Song Number 12: Q.U.E.E.N – Janelle Monae
Q.U.E.E.N was described as a “declaration of independence” by Paste Magazine in 2013. With lyrics including “They call us dirty ‘cause we break all your rules down / And we just come to act a fool, is that all right / They be like, ‘Ohh, let them eat cake,” / But we eat wings and throw them bones on the ground” Monae’s Q.U.E.E.N is designed to question society’s stereotypes and expectations of women.
Song Number 13: Remedy – Adele
While Adele’s “Remedy” was written for her son, it is a powerful ballad reminding women to be there for themselves, and for those they care about. The lyrics, including “When the pain cuts you deep / When the night keeps you from sleeping / Just look and you will see / That I will be your remedy” empower women to look inside themselves to find the strength to survive even the harshest of situations.
Song Number 14: Sit Still, Look Pretty – Daya
In this female empowerment anthem about women with their own dreams and goals, Daya sings lyrics such as “This queen don’t need a king” and “this gal right here’s gonna rule the world” After releasing Sit Still, Look Pretty, Daya told Entertainment Weekly “It’s important for young girls to know that they don’t have to act a certain way or depend on someone for happiness. They can find all of that within themselves.”
Song Number 15: The Voice Within – Christina Aguilera
In this empowerment anthem, Christina Aguilera encourages girls to trust themselves in the face of challenges and adversity, just “like your oldest friend, just trust the voice within / Then you’ll find the strength that will guide your way.”
Song Number 16: Where is the Love? – Black Eyed Peas
“Where is the Love” confronts the anger, hatred and violence in the world, including topics such as discrimination, gang violence and more. Though written in 2003, the lyrics were rewritten in 2016 to reflect the current state of the world.