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The 5 Essential Albums That Got Me Through Girlhood

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

TW: Brief alluding to sexual assault. “Asking for it.”

Girlhood, the ever-evolving phase of a woman’s life where there is tremendous growth accompanied by great accomplishments, heartache, and everything in between. While juggling school, friendships, love, and identity, teenage girls are expected to gracefully weave through life with a smile on their faces, without faltering once. You are constantly trying to keep up with what everyone else wants you to be (parents, school, etc.), instead of focusing on who you really are. You must always be positive, happy, obedient — it’s exhausting! 

As a frustrated and angry teenager, there was really only one place I could turn to let the angsty emotions out: music! Not only does music aesthetically sound good, but relating to an artist who has gone through the same emotions you are going through has really impacted me. There’s not a single phase in my life that I don’t associate with specific albums and songs. There is so much comfort in knowing you aren’t alone in your human experience, and musical artists can serve as role models for an otherwise lost and lonely teenager.

Without further ado, let me introduce you to my top five albums that got me through girlhood. 

Fake it Flowers by Beabadoobee

My absolute favorite holy grail album! If Fake It Flowers has a million fans, and I am one of them. If Fake It Flowers has one fan, I’m still there. If Fake It Flowers has none, sorry to say I’m no longer with you. As a die-hard Beabadoobee fan (with a bee tattoo in her honor on my arm), I can easily say this album has been a staple for me ever since it was released. The musical representation of adolescence, Fake It Flowers captures the magic, anger, grief, and excitement of being a teenage girl. 

The leading track, “Care,” is the perfect opener that inspires a dance party in your room within seconds. The second track, “Dye It Red,” might be my favorite. Ever had a boy tell you what you could and couldn’t do? Listen to this song and free yourself from that weirdo!

My next favorite song from this album has to be “Yoshimi, Forest, Magdalene.” Ever been so head-over-heels in love with a boy that you already named your future kids? Me too! This playful noisy number is guaranteed to have you dancing around your room like you’re 13 again.

Because I can’t write a two-thousand-word dissertation on why this album is awesome, I’ll lead you with three main tracks you should listen to: “Sorry,” “Dye It Red,” and “Care.” 

Live Through This by Hole

Learn how to say “no” with Live Through This by Hole. One of the angrier albums on my list, this album is perfect to scream your emotions to. With songs that convey feminine rage in its purest form, Live Through This chronicles the lead singer’s (Courtney Love) outrage against society. From songs about body image, faking being perfect, and learning how to say no, Live Through This dares you to live through the feminine experience. In the words of Hole, “Was she asking for it? Was she asking nice?… Did she ask you twice?”

The three main tracks I highly recommend you listen to are: “Violet,” “Jennifer’s Body,” and “Rock Star.”

Life by The Cardigans

Oh, how I love The Cardigans! A Swedish band’s nineties classic, you can’t go wrong with The Cardigans. The album features themes of jubilant playfulness, feeling “sick and tired,” defiant, as well as hopeful for the future. With upbeat and quaint instrumentals accompanying angelic vocalist, Nina Persson, you are sure to find a song that suits your mood.

One of my top tracks from this album, “Tomorrow,” features curiously optimistic instrumentals as Persson sings about the uncertain positivity of life as she’s far away from a loved one. In the words of Persson, “Morning is a sugar kiss.” Perfect for the long-distance girls, you get the feeling that maybe, just maybe, tomorrow will be better.

Through girlhood, you may experience a few heartbreaks. It doesn’t get any easier, but having music to lean on during that time can feel like a cozy blanket comforting you through the dark. In moments you think nothing could be worse, listen to “After All…”

I could not end my review of Life there without talking about “Hey! Get Out of My Way!” As my favorite track on the album, this song is perfect for feeling unstoppable in your feminine power. Not feeling that guy that limits your potential? Do as Nina Persson does and tell him to get out of your way!

To conclude my mini-review of Life, here are three songs you have to know: “Hey! Get Out of My Way!,” “Gordon’s Gardenparty,” and “Sick and Tired.”

Speak Now by Taylor Swift

My album list would be incomplete without the irreplaceable pop star, Taylor Swift. When it comes to all her albums, Speak Now resonates the most with my own girlhood. Featuring fast and upbeat drums and electric guitars, Speak Now unleashes your inner teenage girl through Swift’s incredible ability to convey powerful emotions through her lyrics. From feeling the sparks flying from potential love, to standing up for yourself against bullies, Speak Now is a treasured album by many teenage girls around the world.

My absolute favorite song on Speak Now, and arguably one of my favorite Taylor Swift songs ever, is “Enchanted.” The track takes you back to the magical moment in time when you first meet a love interest. Everything is magical, and you two feel like the only ones in the room. May it be a classroom or prom, “Enchanted” is perfect for feeling like a total teenage princess.

On constant repeat throughout my girlhood is “Mean.” People can be pretty mean, and sometimes for reasons you don’t understand. It hurts to hear what others have to say at times, and it can just be plain petty! Shake it off and listen to “Mean.”

If you want a song to make you cry, just listen to “Never Grow Up.” Seriously! It works like a charm for me. Ever get scared of being out in the world by yourself, without your parents to comfort you? Whether you’re a freshman in college experiencing a major life change or a few years into your college experience, life can feel like it’s going way, way too fast. Take an aural journey through adolescence in “Never Grow Up.”

 If you have not listened to Speak Now (Taylor’s Version), it’s a good idea to start with these songs: “Speak Now,” “Enchanted,” and “Better Than Revenge.” Honorable mention: “Long Live!”

GUTS by Olivia Rodrigo

I know, I know. “This album just came out,” you might be thinking. But it’s so good that I had to include GUTS in my list. With tracks like “all-american bitch,” “pretty isn’t pretty,” and “teenage dream,” GUTS is the epitome of girlhood. 

I believe GUTS is so successful because it dares to be vulnerable and exposes the mind of a teenage girl. It’s not perfect, but it’s real. Starting the album off strong with our lead track “all-american bitch,” I absolutely love how she sings about all the societal expectations placed upon women. We have to be “built like a mother and a total machine,” “forgive and forget,” and not get “angry when [we’re] pissed.” Women have to be “eternal optimists” who are sexy, smart, classy, perfect… the list goes on and on. We are told to fit into a box that is not realistic or human, and taking the power back feels as freeing as it is fun!

Next up, we have the classic “ballad of a homeschooled girl.” Growing up with pretty bad social anxiety, I often felt like I messed up constantly in day-to-day conversations, that I was constantly embarrassing myself and saying the wrong thing. “Ballad of a homeschooled girl” captures the total angst and frustration felt when your social skills may not be where you want them to be.

My favorite track on the album, “pretty isn’t pretty,” is a thematically dark song that fools you with its upbeat instrumentals. I resonate so much with this track because it feels like there is always a new beauty standard to reach. Endless makeup products, trends, plastic surgery— there will always be something you can point out as flaws, and at times it feels like you can’t keep up. Pretty never feels pretty enough, so why does it matter?

GUTS has to be among my favorite albums of this year. Top tracks to listen to are “all-american bitch,” “ballad of a homeschooled girl,” and “making the bed.”

These five albums have empowered me nonstop through my girlhood and adolescence. Although girlhood is difficult, it is such a unique and special time of learning and growing, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I hope you can take a song or album with you that will empower you as much as they empower me.

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Karolyne Lugo is a third year Instrumental Music Education major with a focus on violin at FSU. Aside from being a staff writer and serving on the social team for Her Campus, she is also a part of multiple organizations on campus. Karolyne is a member of Alpha Omicron Pi, the University Philharmonic Orchestra, and serves as the secretary for NAfME's collegiate chapter at FSU. In her free time, Karolyne likes to read and listen to music!