8 Power Anthems From K-pop’s Most Badass Women
From CL to MAMAMOO, Jessi and AleXa, here are eight songs we’re going to have on repeat this International Women’s Day
This International Women’s Day we’ve curated a playlist featuring some of South Korea’s most badass women in music–rappers, vocalists and groups, rookies and legends alike. With most of the tracks written and/or produced by the artists themselves, they’re unapologetic in their celebration of female strength, independence, sexuality and drive, spanning a variety of genres including EDM, hip-hop and dream pop.
“Lip & Hip,” HyunA
This badass pop star has never shied away from owning her confidence and sexuality. “Lip & Hip” is HyunA’s declaration to the world that she knows exactly who she is and doesn’t plan on letting society’s judgement eyes stop her from being herself. Often considered ‘too bold’ for a female idol, HyunA breaks the barriers society puts around women’s sexual freedom and bodily autonomy. The track is also a metaphor for puberty, sex and coming-of-age–all a healthy part of any adult’s life.
“Who Dat B,” Jessi
This deadly rapper is the definition of self-made who rose to the top thanks to unwavering faith in herself and “Who Dat B” is an outline of that journey. Jessi is wholly unapologetic as she brushes off hateful words and ‘scandals’, lifting herself by listing her accomplishments and holding her head high. The track also encourages the listener to stay strong, stop listening to haters and never give a damn about what people think: “I have no desire to adjust myself/To people I’m uncomfortable with, I’ll just be a bitch/TV, variety, ads, pictorials, album/Concerts, events, tours, I’m a busy body.”
“안해(I QUIT)180327,” CL
Hailed as one of the most badass women in K-pop, rapper and singer CL made her much-awaited return to the scene last year with an EP titled In the Name of Love, consisting of nine confident and emotional tracks. Rumoured to be directed at her former label YG Entertaintment, “I Quit” is an anthem about the power of self-confidence and standing up for your own happiness. The track is built of simple bass guitar riffs to keep the focus on the lyrics, which state, “I am not yours, No/Gonna live my life my way/I quit/I’ve always been good without you/Who are you pointing fingers at/Thought you were better, but you’re cheap.” The video is equally simple and powerful with various dancers translating the lyrics into sign language.
“Do Or Die,” AleXa
Despite still being a rookie, AleXa has cemented her place in K-pop’s flourishing sphere with her unique concept and bold attitude. Her latest release “Do Or Die” is about never giving up and fighting to make your dreams come true. The music video is a visual feast of action, dynamic choreography and post-apocalyptic science fiction themes that aren’t common among female idols.
“Hip” celebrates the power of femininity while also pointing out how the media places an uncomfortably close lens on female celebrities, painting them in an unflattering light if they step out of the rules society sets for them. In the video the members of MAMAMOO take up jobs considered ‘unconventional’ for women (president, boxer, director, badass rockstar, etc) and ace their way through them, balancing more socially ‘acceptable’ roles like motherhood equally. The message is clear: They can do it all and don’t need anyone’s approval.
“Lalalay” is a carefully crafted commentary on the way today’s society revels in tearing women apart through vicious anonymous online comments and slander. Sunmi makes a clever play with the Korean title of the song “날라리 (Nallari)” which means ‘delinquent’ or ‘party animal,’ to say that even though that’s what people often call her, it does not bother her in the least. In fact in the video, many people who were shown to point fingers at her end up copying her, unable to get her out of their minds, showing it is hypocrisy and jealousy that led to their hateful behavior.
As we have previously mentioned in our list of 2019’s best K-pop music videos, (G)I-DLE’s music video for “Lion” is a victorious celebration of female power. The six members consider themselves lions as they embark on their mission to take the music industry by storm. Written by the group’s leader Soyeon, “Lion” is a warning, telling listeners to not make the mistake of underestimating (G)I-DLE because they plan on breaking the mold female artists are usually forced into; “I’ll bite off your useless courtesy/We tear down your suffocating prejudice/Who would dare to stop me Who would dare to control me/Careful, with my sharp claws/I create a new path no one has attempted before.”
Often considered the queen of Korean hip-hop, Yoon Mirae is a legendary rapper and singer-songwriter known for her honest and powerful lyricism. “KawiBawiBo” which refers to the game ‘rock, paper, scissors’ in Korean, is a metaphor for Yoonmirae’s role as an artist–to bring hip-hop’s three main principles peace, love and unity to the fore. She also celebrates the fact that she is a female artist who is able to do this, when most of the time women aren’t taken seriously in the music industry. “Peace, I’m a scissor, I’m all for peace/But if you rashly come at me, I’ll peacefully lay you down/Rock, raise our fists up, fists above the head/You undermine me cuz I’m a woman, I Mother Nature beat ya/Paper! Fan your hands, up and down/Now I’m gonna steal all the applause, terror.”