Women have ruled the country charts for decades by singing about far more than just love and heartache. Singers such as Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn have paved the way for female artists to sing about a wide variety of topics, including birth control, equal rights and the trials of single motherhood.
The Boot celebrates the legacy of women in country music with this list of the Top 10 Girl Power Country Songs.
Twain embraces her inner feminist in this Grammys-winning single. Insisting that "the best thing about being a woman is the prerogative to have a little fun," the Canadian superstar spends a night out on the town with her female friends, reminding any men they encounter that they "don't need romance / We only wanna dance / We're gonna let our hair hang down."
Lambert's upbringing as the daughter of two private investigators who took in battered women is part of the inspiration for this fiery tune. Promising to greet her abusive partner with a loaded shotgun while she "wait[s] by the door and light[s] a cigarette," she'll greet the guy on his homecoming from jail with a lesson on "what little girls are made of: gunpowder and lead." The Texas native says she thought about stories of women her parents housed when writing this song.
Newton-John was well into her 50s when she recorded "Phenomenal Woman," which makes the song all the more meaningful. Lyrics such as "It's the fire in my eyes / And the flash of my teeth / The swing of my waist /The joy in my feet" prove she carries the same invincible spirit as when she graced movie screens all over the world as Sandy in the 1978 flick Grease. The cancer survivor included this song on her Stronger Than Before album, with proceeds benefiting cancer research.
"Somebody's Hero" is the anthem for every mother who tries to do it all -- and what mother doesn't? "She's somebody's hero / A hero to her baby with a skinned-up knee / A little kiss is all she needs," O'Neal sings of the heroine, who proves just as nurturing to the woman who taught her how to be a great mom: "She's somebody's hero / A hero to her mother in a rockin' chair / She runs a brush through her silver hair." The Aussie-born singer included her own little girl in the accompanying video.
This feisty single reminds the men in our lives that turnabout really is fair play. With its laundry list of offenses that are generally deemed appropriate only for the male gender -- including losing track of time while drinking beer, leaving clothing scattered throughout the house and prioritizing a ballgame over your significant other -- this song went to the top of the charts.
The most controversial tune that Lynn ever recorded, "The Pill" earned the country icon both praise and criticism because of its lyrics hailing the benefits of birth control: "All these years I've stayed at home while you had all your fun / And every year that's gone by, another baby's come / There`s gonna be some changes made right here on Nursery Hill / You've set this chicken your last time 'cause now I've got the pill," Lynn sings in the 1975 hit. "The Pill" was banned by several radio stations, but also credited for reminding women of the availability of birth control during an era when the very subject was considered taboo.
Underwood had a hand in writing this song, which chronicles a girl's life from infancy to motherhood. With lines such as, "And now, he's wrapped around her finger / She's the center of his whole world / And his heart belongs to that sweet, little, beautiful, wonderful, perfect all-American girl," this song is at least partly autobiographical for the wholesome country music sweetheart. (A fun sidenote: Darius Rucker has been known to cover this song in his live shows!)
Parton calls out all men who live a double life in the title track of her 1968 album. Through the song's lyrics, the country icon boldly tells her significant other, who is questioning her previous relationships, "Just let me tell you this / Then we'll both know where we stand / My mistakes are no worse than yours / Just because I'm a woman." In an era when women still largely stayed home while men enjoyed more social freedom, Parton showed exceptional bravery in recording this feisty tune.
"I'm a Survivor" not only became one of McEntire's numerous Top 10 hits, it also was the theme song for her hit TV show, Reba, which ran on the WB network from 2001 to 2007. Singing about all the ways she has survived, including being "a baby girl without a chance" and a "single mom who works two jobs," McEntire used "I'm a Survivor" as a way of showing support for hard-working women everywhere.
McBride is accompanied by her two oldest daughters and gal pals Carolyn Dawn Johnson and Faith Hill on this fun song, which touts the virtues of being a woman of any age. Whether it's the 13-year-old in high school, the 25-year-old living on her own for the first time or the 42-year-old missing her youth, McBride encourages her female fans to soldier on in the face of adversity with this song.