Empowering Music to Take Into the New Year

It’s time to take a look through 2018’s hottest singles ‘with a message.’

Fall in Line – Christina Aguilera ft. Demi Lovato

Marking her major return to music, Aguilera teamed up with Lovato to deliver perhaps the strongest vocal collaboration of 2018. ‘Fall in Line’ as Aguilera describes, aims to noisily shatter the shackles that constrain, restrain and seek to silence women. Rumoured to relate to their past as Disney child actors with imagery directly mirroring Lovato’s stage performance in Camp Rock, the haunting visuals of this track highlight the scrutiny and control female performers are subject to. Directly addressing her fans, Aguilera tweeted this song is for “anyone who’s ever felt silenced and repressed, the truth seekers and bold thinkers… may you liberate your voice and break the mould, never back down, and never fall in line.”

Nina Cried Power – Hozier ft. Mavis Staples

Whilst not mirroring his previous commercial success, Hozier’s “Nina Cried Power” is anthemic in its own right. Inspired by artists unapologetic about using their voice as a form of political activism, Hozier appropriates this single as a means of protest. A gospel choir coupled with the soaring vocals of Hozier and Staples, ensure the incredibly powerful chorus is unapologetically loud: “And I could cry power / Power has been cried by those stronger than me / Straight into the face that tells you to rattle your chains / If you love bein’ free.” Written with a goal “to credit the actuality of hope, solidarity and love found in the human spirit at a time when their opposites were being given a mainstream platform 24/7” this single is the soundtrack for any revolution.

Kelly – Kelly Rowland

Despite her commercial success as a solo artist, the unparalleled fame of her former bandmate, Beyonce, has left Rowland somewhat in her shadow. However, the independently released “Kelly” reminds us that Rowland is a star in her own right. Packed with attitude and grit, the chorus: “Kelly got class/ Kelly got ass/ Kelly’s got a man/ Kelly pop tags /Kelly got flex / Kelly got wheels/ Kelly got drip, Kelly got a stash/…” is unapologetically loud. Encouraging women to feel comfortable in their own skin and celebrate their successes, Rowland insists “Kelly ain’t humble no mo’.” However, this fierce single is far from cocky – instead the playful track is a response to the lack of recognition of Rowland’s musical accomplishments, acting as a reminder for all women to never downplay their value.

Sin in your Skin – Aidan Martin

Despite its minimalist arrangement, the unparalleled emotion expressed in Martin’s vocals ensure this single is hauntingly beautiful. In ‘Sin in Your Skin’ Martin delivers a chilling narration of ones suffering within a relationship wrought with toxicity. Delivered with poignancy and passion, the message from this track is not one of self-pity, regret or indeed desperation. Instead, the soaring vocals of the chorus “I’m running, and I’ll never stay, I’m never gonna take the pain, baby you got sin in your skin” gives the listener the strength and agency to love themselves and never sacrifice their self-worth for others.

Queen – Jessie J

Released from her four-part album R.O.S.E and reflecting a major divergence from Jessie’s vibrant pop roots, ‘Queen’ establishes itself as an empowerment anthem for ALL women. Inspired by the perpetuation of body-shaming rhetoric in the media, Jessie explains this track “isn’t just another song…this is a way of thinking and a mantra we all deserve.” The more nuanced form of expression, the vocal restraint and the minimalist production, together convey Jessie’s message more noisily than her traditional powerhouse vocals ever could. The message you ask? It’s simple… “stop feeling like you’re not enough, stop feeding into the haters, stop and give yourself some love.”

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