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December 15, 2013 9:17 AM Morning music: Beyonce’s brand-new feminist anthem

By Kathleen Geier

A few days ago, Beyonce, without previous warning, dropped a brand new album called Beyonce. I haven’t heard the whole thing yet, but word is that it is strongly feminist-themed.

“Flawless,” a song from the album that’s in the video below, does not disappoint on the feminist tip. It has some of the most forthright feminist lyrical content I have ever heard in a pop song. The recording includes a sample of a moving speech about feminism by Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. You can find a transcription of the Adichie sample here and her entire talk here. I can imagine, especially for a young girl, that stumbling upon Adichie’s words in this context could be extremely powerful.

Looking at contemporary pop music generally, it’s also well worth noting that virtually all of the most interesting, alive, well-crafted Top 40-type pop music around today is being made by women. Besides Beyonce, there’s Gaga, Taylor Swift, Adele, Janelle Monae, Nicki Minaj, Pink, Lorde, and Katy Perry. They write their own songs and they frequently make innovative videos as well. Top 40 is sounding better these days than it has in years, and we have women to thank for it. For whatever reason, few male pop artists are stepping up with anything as good. But with women as dynamic as Beyonce around, they’re hardly missed.

UPDATE: I just noticed that the video I originally posted was taken down from YouTube. I didn’t realize it hadn’t officially been released yet. I’m replacing it with a video of the same song that, unfortunately, is not complete — it’s only a 30-second excerpt. Do try to track down the complete song and listen to it when you get a chance — it’s a stunner.


Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee

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