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Leading Female Artists in the Pop Industry and Their Empowering Narratives

WRITTEN BY Macy Roberts

Clean – Taylor Swift

1989 is commonly regarded as one of the most iconic pop albums of all time. Most of the songs on the album are just that — fun, timeless pop songs — but the closing track is a little more serious in nature. 

“Clean” includes underlying metaphors about addiction, so its meaning can apply to many different circumstances. For instance, while the song was originally inspired by the sense of freedom felt after accepting the end of a relationship, a performance of “Clean” is shown after Swift shares her experience with winning a sexual assault case in Miss Americana.

As humans, we tend to compare our experiences with others and have our feelings invalidated over someone “having it worse,” but we all reserve the right to grieve over our own hardships without feeling guilty. Taylor Swift’s “Clean” describes how challenging it can be to come to terms with grief, but how once we do, it is one of the most purifying sensations imaginable. 

Jealously, Jealousy – Olivia Rodrigo

At only 18, Olivia Rodrigo is one of the most influential artists in the modern pop industry. There are many motivational anthems on her 2021 debut album SOUR, but the song “Jealousy, Jealousy” is particularly relatable, as it’s about the difficulty we experience in being content with who we are when other people seem to have it better. 

Given that Rodrigo herself is an incredibly talented and beautiful individual, by listening to her lyrics we understand that practically everyone struggles with self-love and acceptance no matter how perfect their life looks on paper. “Jealousy, Jealousy” is a fun, catchy song to listen to casually, but also a great reminder that we aren’t alone in feeling like we’re far from perfect. 

Once we accept there is no such thing as perfect, we can relieve ourselves of the stress that results from chasing the idea. Then, we can adopt the much healthier philosophy that frames our imperfections not as faults, but as wonderful representations of the beauty in humanity. 

Boys Will Be Boys – Dua Lipa

Future Nostalgia resulted in critical acclaim for modern pop superstar, Dua Lipa. The album produced six successful singles, though there’s one non-single that stands out in particular when contextualizing the album using a feminist lens. 

“Boys Will Be Boys” discusses the normalization of women being overly cautious in an effort to avoid dangerous interactions with strangers. Lipa sings “we hide our figures” and “smile, a way to ease the tension so it don’t go south,” then recites the commonly referenced “boys will be boys” phrase while, in contrast, “girls will be women.”

Essentially, Lipa’s song exposes how society pressures women to be complacent rather than hold men accountable for their actions. It’s crucial that powerful women use their platforms to shed light on issues like these that typically get overlooked in normal, everyday conversation.

Through “Boys Will Be Boys,” Dua Lipa establishes herself as an admirable figure to draw inspiration from when considering how we can begin pushing past discomfort ourselves and speaking on issues that have been historically swept under the rug.