Music can help us transcend our pain in a way that not many other art forms are able to. Music makes us feel less alone in our struggles because it often expresses how we feel in ways we cannot 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 ongoing Music For Pixels campaign through which we collaborate with various artistes around the world. This past summer, we held The Music For Pixels Summer Charity Concert, a 12-hour music marathon concert on Google Hangout which featured 23 artists from 5 countries.
This year’s 16 selections of Songs About Violence Against Women and Staying Strong and Positive, are from 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 none the less, 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 Samantha Carroll
Call To Action: Help us reach the $25,000 fundraising milestone for our Celebrity Male Role Model Pixel Reveal campaign this holiday season by giving generously to our “16 For 16” fundraiser (which also includes #GivingTuesday)! Find out more and donate to get awesome book and music goodies at http://is.gd/16DaysGT2015
Song Selection Number One: Anthem – Leonard Cohen
“There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in.” Be unwavering in your conviction that everything will be all right and accept that perfection doesn’t exist – this is what Cohen is telling us with Anthem, a song that is as timeless as it is profound.
Song Selection Number 2: Black Eyes, Blue Tears – Shania Twain
With lyrics like “Definitely found my self-esteem / Finally I’m forever free to dream / No more cryin’ in the corner / No excuses no more bruises”, Canadian Country-Pop superstar Shania Twain’s Black Eyes, Blue Tears is a track that every survivor can rock out to, it’s a fierce and contains an authoritative NO! to abuse.
Song Selection Number 3: Extraordinary Machine – Fiona Apple
When Fiona Apple croons: “Be kind to me, or treat me mean / I’ll make the most of it, I’m an extraordinary machine”, she isn’t saying that she’ll take cruelty on the chin, she’s stating that she’s (to quote Marianne Williamson) powerful beyond measure. It is only with an attitude of pure tenacity that we can rise up after a devastating fall.
Song Selection Number 4: Fight Song – Rachel Platten
We all have what Platten calls “wrecking balls” inside our heads. This is especially true for anyone who has faced abuse and has had to deal with diminished self-esteem as a result. Fight Song could be a metaphor for whatever it is that helps us recover and gives us hope and strength to bravely face another day.
Song Selection Number 5: His Daughter – Molly Kate Kestner
Kestner’s His Daughter is a heart-breaking ballad about a young girl who witnesses the unhealthy, abusive relationship of her parents and how it shapes the rest of her life. Children – particularly young girls – who have grown up in an environment where they have been subjected to domestic violence will relate to this song.
Song Selection Number 6: Just Because I’m a Woman – Dolly Parton
Country music isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but there’s no denying that it is a great genre for storytelling. What Dolly Parton has given us with Just Because I’m a Woman is a relatable and candid understanding of what it is like to be a woman in an unequal, gender stereotyped society. “My mistakes are no worse than yours / just because I’m a woman.”
Song Selection Number 7: Note to Self – Jake Bugg
Here’s an idea that many women may well be able to relate : as women, we sometimes forget how much we’re capable of, or we never learnt what we were capable of. Jake Bugg has a novel idea: write a note to yourself, say the things to yourself that you’ve always wanted to hear someone else say to or about you. Bugg’s Note to Self reminds us that we need to be self-compassionate.
Song Selection Number 8: Salute – Little Mix
This track is a wonderful call to solidarity amongst women. There is strength in supportive sisterhoods and Little Mix captures that perfectly when they sing: “Representing all the women, Salute!” Little Mix’s audience is primarily young girls and what better a message to spread than one of female empowerment.
Song Selection Number 9: Sister – Andrew Belle
Andrew Belle’s Sister is about the way a sibling tries to understand the abuse hia sister is going through. “He tried to kill you / and you allow it.” The sibling sees all sorts of amazing qualities in her sister and can’t quite wrap her head around why or how she ended up in such a hostile situation. Many survivors of abuse feel at some point that everyone deems them ‘stupid’ for being with an abusive partner. Sometimes we forget that there are people in our lives, like the sibling in Belle’s song, who hold us in high esteem.
Song Selection Number 10: Til It Happens to You – Lady Gaga
[TRIGGER WARNING: May be distressing to survivors of rape and sexual assault] Written by Gaga and Diane Warren for the documentary The Hunting Ground, which turns the spotlight on rape on college campuses in the U.S., Til It Happen to You is a raw and emotionally charged ballad. The music video – directed by Catherine Hardwicke – is harrowing and intentionally provocative but drives home the reality of young women being assaulted and intimidated in educational environments.
Song Selection Number 11: Unpretty – TLC
Through TLC’s anthem Unpretty, we get to understand how a boyfriend or spouse can coerce us into believing we have physical flaws that need correcting. The pressure of it all can leave us with little to no self-esteem. “My outsides look cool / My insides are blue / Every time I think I’m through / It’s because of you”.
Song Selection Number 12: Welcome to My Truth – Anastacia
“Through it all / I’ve hit about a million walls / Welcome to my truth, I still love” Compassion is how we heal and learning to love again is part of that process. The love that powerhouse Pop artiste Anastacia refers to in this song isn’t one of a romantic nature, it is a love steeped in empathy and benevolence. Don’t let your abuser sully all that is still beautiful and sacred to you.
Song Selection Number 13: What it feels like for a Girl – Madonna
Madonna addresses misogyny and the stereotypical roles women are meant to play in society and focuses on the skewed notion that femininity or possessing feminine qualities, makes a person weak. What it feels like for a Girl opens with dialogue by the character Julie, from the film The Cement Garden: “Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short, wear shirts and boots. ‘Cause it’s OK to be a boy. But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading. ‘Cause you think that being a girl is degrading. But secretly you’d love to know what it’s like… Wouldn’t you? What it feels like for a girl.”
Song Selection Number 14: Whole Damn Year – Mary J. Blige
What happens to your relationship with men when you have been violated by a man? Can you enter into a romantic relationship with a man again and will you ever be able to trust that he won’t abuse you? These are the themes of Mary J. Blige’s Whole Damn Year. “Gon’ take a long, long year for me to trust somebody.”
Song Selection Number 15: Yesterday is Gone (My Dear Kay) – Lenny Kravitz
In Yesterday is Gone, Kravitz addresses a woman named ‘Kay’. While we, the listeners, may not know who Kay is or what predicament she is in, the encouragement and wisdom the lyrics express is inspiring. “You can’t get nowhere / Staying at home and crying / You can’t go on living in the past / The one thing constant is that there is always change”
Song Selection Number 16: Young Hearts Run Free – Candi Staton
In 1976, Staton delivered this message of autonomy, and we’re still dancing to it today. This song was written after Staton come through an abusive relationship herself and is a bold anthem about free love and independence. “I’m gonna love me, for the rest of my days / Encourage the babies every time they say / “Self-preservation is what’s really going on today””