I was watching the new interactive Robyn video for "Don't Fucking Tell Me What to Do"—clever concept: you can add your own entry to Robyn's list of things that are "killing her" by adding a #killingme hashtag to your tweet. Click here to see more, but warning, the video made me nauseous; lots of spinning geometric thingies—and I started thinking about various lady anthems that encourage listeners not to feel bad about their lives. As you can guess, listening to "Don't Fucking Tell Me What to Do" can be an empowering experience, with lines like:
Can't sleep, it's killing me/My dreams are killing me/The TV is killing me/My talking's killing me
Let go, you're killing me/Ease up, you're killing me/Calm down, you're killing me/My god, you're killing me
Don't fucking tell me what to do, do!/Don't fucking tell me what to do, do, do, do, do!/Don't fucking tell me what to do!Don't fucking tell me what to do, do!
So I decided to share some of my favorite "Don't sweat it! You got this!" anthems with you.
Bag Lady - Erykah Badu
One day, all them bags gon' get in your way. I shook my booty to this song many a time before I realized that it is actually an anti-consumerist anthem packaged in the most compassionate older-sister-pep-talk-lecture I've ever heard.
Favorite part of the video: the way Erykah pushes at the frame of the video to make it bigger—because we all need our space, man.
Favorite line: Letitgoletitgoletitgo/Letitgoletitgoletitgo.
Don't Rush Me - Jean Grae
This one is like a list of all of my neuroses, set to really great music. As an anthem, it works in almost the opposite way from "Bag Lady," in that Grae shares all her bad moods:
I know I'm overly sensitive when it comes to, well/Just about everything/And I'm so hardheaded, I don't need your help/.../Like I don't ever want to breathe if it requires assistance/Just, just shut down my system
My gear fetish clearly needs an accountant
Creepin' on a come up at thirty soon/But lookin' twenty ooh/The food catches up to you now plenty/Attendin' christenin's of my best friend's children/And then askin' who's next
In other words, she gives us a laundry list of all the ways in which she is inadequate, from not making enough money, to being down on herself. But the point of the song is that in spite of all her shortcomings, (or because of them?) she finds a way to be kind to herself. She sees that she's on her journey, even if it's hard:
I yell too much, get stressed too quick/But the best thing about it, I can change that shit/And still remain who I came down to Earth to be
What I love most about this song is how comforting it is. Whenever I have a bad day where I feel bad about myself for feeling bad about myself, (oh I know you have them too) I put on this video.
Favorite part of the video: Well, this is one of the greatest injustices of modern music—Jean Grae is not a huge star, hence no video for this song! Even with lyrics like that! We ought to start a campaign to change that.
Favorite line: (this is actually the whole chorus) I know I'm on the right path/To who I'm gonna be at last/Don't rush me n****/I know I'm wrong and right/At the same time, both I'm the dark and light/And they say life needs everything to live/At the same time I got everything to give/Just don't rush me/Don't rush me
Tell me this is not a serious anthem.
Let It Go - Keyshia Cole, Missy Elliott
Ok, so this may seem like a strange choice. But while "Bag Lady" is all about getting a pep talk from a fierce elder, and "Don't Rush Me" is about commiserating with a good friend, "Let it Go" is about getting a really good piece of advice from an unexpected source—maybe the person in line next to you for the bathroom at the club. Because if you set aside all the girl-on-girl in-fighting that goes on in this song (and really, that's mostly just Lil' Kim's part), it's actually about how you shouldn't worry about people who don't know how to treat you, because hey, you're better than that.
Favorite part of the video: the opening dialogue between Keyshia and Missy -
Missy: Girl look, why you looking like that, again?
Keyshia: Seriously Miss, I cannot deal with these insecurities. This dude is really stressing me out, I got too much I'm trynna do. I really need to let it go.
Missy: Ok, you know what, I don't even need to hear the story. I'm gonna take you to this club round the block because I got my new Chanel jacket...here we go!
Keyshia: Is Kim coming?
Missy: We gonna go pick up Kim. Let it go for real!
I like this dialogue because they're both super cute; and because in one minute they basically demonstrate the profound essence of true friendship—you take your friends out for a good time so they can finally let go of all the junk that hurts them.
Favorite line: (You can also substitute the pronouns to make it less heteronormative. I enjoy doing that.)
And if you only knew/You would/Do what you had to/Finally see that, finally get the chance to see that/You need to get [that] if he don't wanna/Love you the right way he ain't gonna/...
If he ain't gonna love you/The way he should/Then let it go/If he ain't gonna treat you/The way he should/Then let it go
I have too many runner-ups for great "Don't sweat it! You got this!" anthems. What are some of yours?