Lists

We’re counting down the best female-led music videos of all time

Today being International Women’s Day, we’ve rounded up our top five female-led music videos that convey messages of sexual empowerment and general badassery.

Today’s top female artists are truly making waves in smashing stereotypes and celebrating sexual liberation.

From Cardi B’s WAP to Beyonce’s feminist anthem Run the World, we’ve selected our top five female-led music videos.

Cardi B "WAP" music video
Cardi B, ‘WAP’. Photo: YouTube

Beyonce – Run The World (Girls)

An oldie but most definitely a goodie. This throwback magic by Queen B from exactly a decade ago demonstrates more than just epic dance moves and an undeniably catchy beat. Run the World is a strong and unapologetic electro-pop song recognising female empowerment and celebrating the power of women uniting as a team.

“Some of them men think they freak this
Like we do, but no they don’t
Make your check, come at they neck
Disrespect us, no they won’t.”

War typically being perceived as a sign of masculinity, the video explores a battle of the sexes where women are seen as the strong and the powerful and overall, the leaders of the world.

Cardi B – WAP

Men have forever been the dominant sex when it comes to, well, sex; telling women what to do with their bodies, how they want to be sexually satisfied, and how they want them to look.

Cardi has done something quite significant through song and dance in last year’s hit song WAP by taking control. With its intense tongue-in-cheek approach, the video is both comical and deeply empowering.

“Hop on top, I wanna ride
I do a kegel while it’s inside
Spit in my mouth, look in my eyes
This pussy is wet, come take a dive

“Tie me up like I’m surprised
Let’s role play, I’ll wear a disguise
I want you to park that big Mack truck
Right in this little garage”

The Conversation perfectly described WAP as a video “complete with sexy costumes, fantastical set pieces, exotic animals, and updo hairstyles reminiscent of the very best of the 1990s… nothing short of a visual feast.”

M.I.A – Bad Girls

M.I.A’s famous 2012 song, boasting the catchy lyrics “Live fast, die young; Bad girls do it well,” was created in solidarity with the women’s liberation movement in Saudi Arabia.

The video, shot in Morocco, features women driving recklessly in beautiful costumes, with men watching them silently – an epic gender role reversal.

“Shift gear, automatic, damned if I do
Who’s gonna stop me when I’m coming through?
What we got left is just me and you
But if I go to bed, baby, can I take you?”

Saweetie – Best Friend

Saweetie and ‘best friend’ Doja Cat are approached by “another fake woke misogynist” who “thinks he’s an ally to the feminist cause.” The brief moment of toxic masculinity is quickly stopped as they comically shoo him away.

“That’s my best friend, she a real bad bitch
Drive her own car, she ‘on’t need no Lyft
In the strip club, know my girl gon’ tip
Now she twerkin’, she throw it out and come back in.”

“Beep-beep, is that my bestie in a Tessie?
Fresh blow out, skin on tan, ooh, she ready
Bitch, you look goodt, with a T at the end
I’ma hype her every time, that my motherfuckin’ friend”

The theme of ‘women looking out for other women’ is truly explored in this colourful, fast-beat music video with almost 85 million views.

Christina Aguilera – Can’t Hold Us Down

The beginning of Christina’s 2002 hip-hop track gets straight to the point:

“So what am I not supposed to have an opinion
Should I keep quiet just because I’m a women
Call me a bitch cause I speak what’s on my mind
Guess it’s easier for you to swallow if I sat and smiled”

We love this video for its epic noughties fashion, but more than anything how it centres on the double standards between men and women and the importance of women being heard, not just seen.