From Nina Simone to Beyonce: The Quartz playlist of songs by women who rule

Rallying cry.
Rallying cry.
Image: Reuters/Brian Snyder
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The nastiness of the 2016 US presidential election has detracted attention from the fact that a woman has a chance to occupy what is arguably the most powerful post in the world.

Thankfully, the campaigning is now over. Instead of biting your nails till election results are out, we suggest you tune in to this playlist of powerful women who already rule, and give some thought to the momentousness of Hillary Clinton’s efforts.

The men and women of Quartz were inspired to put this together by a similar effort started in a private women’s Facebook group I belong to.

We hope it puts you in the mood to celebrate a historic victory for women’s rights, or helps you cope, depending on the results.

Queen Bey

It was hard to pick a single song by Beyoncé, but we settled on “Run the World”—described by Quartz reporter Ashley Rodriguez as a salute to the women and girls who, as mothers, breadwinners, and world leaders, are really the ones who set the course of society.

Not a pretty girl

After all the commentary on Clinton’s hair and dress, it’s a relief to hear Ani DiFranco singing “I am not a pretty girl, that is not what I do.”

“She’s the original righteous babe who taught us it’s way more important to be fierce than beautiful,” says Quartz reporter Ismat Sarah Mangla.


“I don’t speak German but I can if you like” is how Lady Gaga opens this song, before proceeding to sing in German-sounding gibberish.  ”It sets up the whole message of the song: Sometimes, to get ahead, women have to tell men what they want to hear so that men give them what they need,” says Quartz reporter Katherine Ellen Foley. A political statement by Lady Gaga.

Male contributions

Quartz fellow Max de Haldevang pointed out that pretty much anything by Nina Simone would be a great fit for an empowered women playlist.

And reporter Marc Bain suggested “Deceptacon,” by riot grrrl band Le Tigre. It’s hard not to get pumped up by this song.

Inspired choices

These are a few of the titles put forward by the members of the Facebook group that inspired the playlist.

Joan Jett – “Bad Reputation”

Alicia Keys – “Superwoman”

And of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without Janet Jackson’s “Nasty.”

Latin beat

Early voting suggests Latinos will play a crucial role in this election, so we’ve included two songs in Spanish.

The first, “Dignificada” (“Dignified”) is by Lila Downs. It’s a tribute to Mexican human rights lawyer Digna Ochoa, who was killed in 2001, but it’s all about women power.

The second is by accordion-playing songwriter Julieta Venegas. It’s called “Ese Camino,” or that road, and it’s a lovely reminder that regardless of what happens tonight, women have already come a long way.

Here’s the playlist on Spotify, with some additional powerful songs by powerful women that we like: