Vevo Celebrates International Women’s Day: Staff Picks
To celebrate International Women's Day, we've highlighted our favorite inspirational female artists and their exceptional music videos that have made an impact on ourselves and the music industry.March 8, 2018
For International Women’s Day, and as part of our wider social media campaign for Women’s History Month, we’ve asked global Vevo staffers to shout out their favorite female artists. Each pick includes a video and an explanation as to why they’ve made such a personal impact.
From Missy Elliott championing body-positivity to Joan Jett proving women can be rock gods to Kelis’ anti-slut shaming to St. Vincent disproving stereotypes left and right, the list is impressive and empowering. With that, here are 25 fierce music videos from some of the most inspirational female artists out there. Is your favorite on the list?
Be sure to watch all of the videos in our Inspirational Female Artists – Staff Picks playlist.
Kelis – Caught Out There
Kelis is the mother of today’s R&B experimentalists, and her hardcore-inspired debut single, “Caught Out There,” was a generational revelation. On it, she’s Rihanna rapping before Rihanna rapped, and in the video she’s a style icon and an intersectional, anti slut-shaming advocate who Takes Back the Night. – Anupa Mistry
“Caught Out There” is a song by Kelis from her 1999 debut, ‘Kaleidoscope.’ The video and song are empowering for women. It’s not just about being lied to by an ex, but about standing up, being confident, and speaking out when something is wrong. And fighting for change. In this video, she is not to be messed with. She stands for having the self-worth and confidence to say anything you want. Yell it! – Gabrelle Corbett
Madonna – Vogue
Madonna will always be one of the most inspiring female artists. She arrived more than 35 years ago and has never stopped pushing boundaries with her music, lyrics and style. She’s a true global icon for feminism, self-expression and women’s empowerment.
I love this quote from her Billboard Music Awards’ speech: “But to the doubters and naysayers and everyone who gave me hell and said I could not, that I would not or I must not — your resistance made me stronger, made me push harder, made me the fighter that I am today. It made me the woman that I am today.” – Alessia Rundo
Janelle Monáe – Cold War
Janelle Monáe is an incredibly talented artist, actress and outspoken activist who fights against injustice and consistently breaks down norms of femininity. The raw emotion and captivating simplicity of this music video, directed by Wendy Morgan, still gives me chills to this day. It remains one of my all-time favorites from a daring, fierce female artist. – Colleen Corkery
Erykah Badu – Window Seat
Erykah came on the scene in 1996 as the first of the neo-classic soul artists with a heightened level of introspection and a conscious effect that transmitted through her music. Before everyone was “woke” and measuring “vibrations,” Erykah was connecting us to ourselves. With this song and video, she pushed the lines even further, disrobing as she walked the path that led to JFK’s death in her hometown of Dallas. This mother of three revealed it all: her bravery, her freedom and her femininity. – Phindile Kekana
Missy Elliott – The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)
Watching Missy Elliot videos today has the same impact on me as it did when I was kid because Missy is an icon. Her production, lyricism, style, visuals and choreography consistently raised the bar across the board and cemented her status as a pioneer in hip-hop. (I read somewhere that Michael Jackson once asked her to teach him how to rap). Missy rose to superstar status because she repeatedly rejected the expectations placed before her. Instead, she carved out a lane for herself, championing body-positivity, sex-positivity, and supporting other female artists along the way. P.S. Check out her Instagram any time you need a pep talk. – Priya Minhas
Joan Jett – I Hate Myself for Loving You
Some call her the Queen of Rock-n-Roll or the Godmother of Punk, but whatever you want to call her, there’s no denying she changed the way people viewed women in music. Dressed in leather with a don’t-give-a-f&ck attitude, Joan broke barriers and was a true pioneer. After I saw this video I wanted a black leather jacket. – Amy Levin
Beyoncé – Formation
“Formation” epitomizes the phrase “Black Girl Magic.” The lyrics and the video both run deep with symbolism. Beyoncé pays homage to and reclaims Black features and pieces of Black culture like braids and natural hair, which she and her daughter gloriously don in the video. “Formation” is also a promotion of Black activism and empowers Black women to “slay.” She beautifully features Black women of all shades in her video hitting some of best choreography we’ve seen in a Beyoncé video, on point and perfectly in sync. Imagery, wardrobe, choreography, camera, lighting – everything is perfectly on point. – Jasmine Smith
Janet Jackson – Control
Before Beyoncé, before Rihanna, there was Janet – a woman who combined femininity with raw emotion and toughness. She endured real struggles in life, and through her music she was able to tell the world her story and empower other women to take “control” of their choices. – Debbie Chertock
St. Vincent – Birth in Reverse
St. Vincent – My favourite risk-taker and badass chameleon. She hits back against the stereotypes pushed on women in music because of their gender. For me, 2014 was a big year of discovery both personally and socially – I had been working heavily in male-dominated guitar music. This track and performance really inspired me to assert myself, take control and be whoever I wanted to be. “Birth in Reverse” is the track that really cemented St. Vincent in the mainstream as someone to make you question the society we live in. – Hazel Berry
Bonnie Raitt – Something to Talk About
When I was five, my dad played this record all the time. My mind was further blown when I watched Ms. Raitt play the guitar with a full a band behind her in this music video – that’s when I realized women could be rock stars, too, and I wanted to be one. – Lindsay Sanchez
Alanis Morissette – You Oughta Know
This song and video 1000% captured my angsty teenage heart when it came out. Alanis’ lyrics, especially from this song, were a good reminder for me to be fierce, especially in tough times. – Annie Shapiro
Lauryn Hill – Doo-Wop (That Thing)
Lauryn Hill made a mark for females in music when she released one of the most influential albums of our times ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.’ Although she wasn’t the first, she married both hip-hop and R&B, creating a sound that resonated with men, women and children all over the world. Her feminist rhymes flow softly, but were strong enough to assure people had to listen. Hill had a way of establishing conscious hip-hop lyrics, and wrote about things people were maybe scared to do at that time. She was never afraid to be herself, and that’s why she’ll always be someone I aspire to be like. – Hanaa Cali
Janelle Monáe ft. Erykah Badu – Q.U.E.E.N.
Both Janelle Monáe and Erykah Badu have been voices for women empowerment since before they started their careers. “Q.U.E.E.N” is an anthem for women, or anyone who doesn’t feel truly accepted by society, preaching that you should be able to do what you want to do and be who you want to be, proudly. “Categorize me, I defy every label…” – Frederique Vroom
PJ Harvey – Down By The Water
For over three decades, English singer-songwriter PJ Harvey had shown the music industry and her fans that a woman can thrive and establish herself as a creative, sensual, honest and uncompromising artist in an indie rock world dominated by men. I first discovered her on MTV with the video “Down by the Water,” and I couldn’t believe such a petite and frail figure could exude so much sexuality, control and fierceness by simply hushing the words “Little fish, big fish, swimming in the water…” Since that moment, her voice and unconditional attitude have been haunting my life and making me believe anything is possible for women who hold their ground. – Emmylou Prevett
Rihanna – Where Have You Been
Everything about Rihanna inspires me! She’s fierce, unapologetic and carries that confidence in whatever she does. “Where Have You Been” will forever put me in a good mood, not just because of the upbeat song, but because, like everything RiRi does, she looks like she’s having the best time. – Janely Fernandez
Spice Girls – Say You’ll Be There
If it’s past 11pm and the Uber as an AUX cord, I’m most likely playing this song and singing (or yelling) it with or without my girlfriends. Spice Girls! Girl power! They go hand-in-hand. – Hailey Rovner
Destiny’s Child – Say My Name
“Say My Name” was already one of my favourite songs from ‘The Writing’s On The Wall’ (also one of my fave albums of all time) and then this video happened. Joseph Kahn is my hero largely based on this! I also just generally love Beyoncé. From writing this song at 18, to using her voice for so much good and so much empowerment and so much celebration of feminism and black culture, her accomplishments continue to inspire me. She’s an amazing woman. – Safiya Lambie-Knight
Lana Del Rey – Video Games
The first time I saw this video I stopped in my tracks. The LA backdrop and Lana’s silky voice had me hooked. “Video Games” was unlike anything I’d heard before. This was my intro to the goddess that is Lana Del Rey. All of her videos and songs since have been nothing short of inspiring. And, she went to Fordham. Go Rams! – Gabriela Prisciandaro
Janet Jackson – Rhythm Nation
Janet Jackson unequivocally dominates the art of the music video. The iconic dance moves, the imaginative locations, the perfect casting… it creates this inclusive world where she is the epitome of strength and vulnerability in one. The music is timeless and crazy relevant today (just listen to the beginning of this video). Thank you, Ms. Jackson, for standing up for those who cannot, and for making us feel like we are on the journey with you. That journey led me to working for the home of music videos: Vevo. I’m especially grateful! – Parul Chokshi
Whitney Houston – I Wanna Dance with Somebody
There’s something about Whitney’s powerful voice that inspires me to feel confident throughout my day. Whenever this song comes on, I feel an immediate sense of excitement. This song often comes on when I’m with a group of girlfriends, and its power immediately forces us out of our conversations and even our seats to sing along in unity. – Ally Giordano
P!nk – Try
Strong woman? Yes! Badass? Yes! Emotional? Absolutely! All of these descriptors apply to P!nk. And, don’t forget her incredibly athletic performances – she’s a complete artist! She believes in being true to yourself, and that everyone is truly special.
“Try” is a mid-tempo ballad about the ups and downs of an imperfect relationship. P!nk performed this single during the 2014 Grammys show on a sparse set with only one other dancer, but she didn’t need any extra flash. Instead, she focused on creating a real work of art so the audience could truly focus on the performance.
Singing words like that live, while applying the perfect peaks of emotion that P!nk is known for, is inspiring. Doing so while in engaged in an athletic pas de deux, complete with lifts, is breathtaking! She reminds us that not all artists are ‘American Idol’ sheep 🙂 – Natalie Serebryakova
Lady Gaga ft. Beyoncé – Telephone
It’s always inspiring when two strong women work together. And when it’s pop stars like Lady Gaga and Beyoncé, it feels truly empowering! I love everything about this iconic music video: the story, the dance moves, the incredible outfits and most of all, the chemistry between Gaga and Queen Bey. – Cristina Bedon
Dua Lipa – New Rules
This was, 100%, the girl power jam of 2017. Every time I watch the video, I’m inspired to have a girl’s night with my friends. – Karly Wilhelm