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Women Are (Finally) Making a Music Comeback in 2017


For the most part, women’s presence this year on the charts has been underwhelming. In fact, no woman managed to top the Billboard Hot 100 since Sia’s “Cheap Thrills” from August 2016 until Taylor Swift’s catchy new single “Look What You Made Me Do.” She was able to de-throne the song of the summer, “Despacito” from the top spot. It seems as though the iconic moment has started a chain reaction, as women are finally making their mark on the 2017 charts.

While it seemed like ages since a woman had a chart-topping single before Swift, Cardi B’s undeniably catchy and confidence-boosting anthem “Bodak Yellow” overtook the title within weeks. Cardi B is only the second female rapper to top the charts without a feature, the first female rapper to top the Hot 100 since Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” in 2014 and the first Latina to do so since Shakira’s 2006 hit “Hips Don’t Lie.”

While “Bodak Yellow” overtook “Look What You Made Me Do” in one of the most intense fights for the top spot in recent memory, the outpouring of support that both women received for their accomplishments makes the feminist inside all collegiate women rejoice. Swift ended up sending her flowers as a congratulations, and other infamous female rappers such Lil’ Kim, Missy Elliot and Nicki Minaj applauded her as well.

In addition to breaking boundaries in the music industry and rallying some major girl power, Cardi B has proclaimed that her lyrics are completely intended to empower all women. While some have criticized her for not being a real feminist, she clarified in an Instagram video, “At the end of the day, I’m gonna encourage and support you and tell you yes…keep on going.”

Another artist that caused activist-related controversy in the past, recently released a new album that shook up Billboard’s rankings. Miley Cyrus released Younger Now, which abandons her past rock and rap personas to touch back to her roots as a country-pop artist. In an interview with Billboard, she admitted that her past work was solely made to broadcast her “political movements.” Now, she hopes to retouch with the country fans that she may have lost on her artistic journey.

While her many identities as an artist have caused controversy, as many saw her rap-influenced music as cultural appropriation, her repeatedly reinvented identities and embrace of sexuality is something that many feminists support.

Out of the four singles that Cyrus released as promotion for the album, “Malibu” was the only one to reach Billboard’s Top 10. Another strong single was “Inspired,” a song that she wrote as a tribute to Hillary Clinton, another popular feminist icon.

Cyrus continued her underlying feminist messages with her other single “Younger Now.” She said in an interview with NPR, “I think when you are a teenager, young adult, you’re trying so hard to be cool or to prove something or to be something away from who you’ve been as a kid. And I guess as I’ve gotten older — what Younger Now says is, even though it’s not who I am, I’m not afraid of who I used to be.”

This theme of being yourself and loving your identity is a huge stretch from the music that Miley was producing a few years ago, and she is appealing to the young female audience that she lost contact with in the past.

Yet another young female artist and fellow feminist icon, Demi Lovato released her new album Tell Me You Love Me on the same day as Cyrus. Her promotional single “Sorry Not Sorry” reached the Billboard Top 10 to strengthen the powerful female presence on the charts. She continues themes of female sexual empowerment through her new album, as it is virtually a summary of millennial dating culture, as well as the perks and downsides of embracing sexuality from a strong female’s perspective.

While 2017 has been relatively quiet for female artists, the past month has brought us some incredible new girl-power anthems. Now, many young women are looking forward to seeing if other female artists put out more great work.

Morgan is a University of Maryland freshman studying broadcast journalism and dance as a double major. She hails from Warren, New Jersey and has always enjoyed expressing herself creatively through dancing and writing. She is also a longtime reader of Her Campus. When she's not doing school work or writing, you can almost always find her waiting in the ridiculously long line outside of Chipotle, listening to Drake, or binge watching Netflix.
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