Broadway’s Top 10 Girl Power Songs

Ms Mojo
Top 10 Best Girl Power Broadway Songs
VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton
WRITTEN BY: Isabelle Brown
September 30, 2023

Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Best Girl Power Songs from Broadway Musicals.

For this list, we’ll be looking at musical numbers that best celebrate female independence, confidence, and strength.

Which show tunes do you listen to when you want to feel empowered? Let us know in the comments below.

#10: “I’d Rather Be Me”
“Mean Girls” (2017)

The musical adaptation of the 2004 high school movie includes an empowering number performed by Janis in the second act. Following the Burn Book debacle, the rebellious student takes a stand in front of her peers. She commits to being true to herself, even when it doesn’t please others. Her message inspires many of the other girls at the assembly, who end up joining Janis in song. The tune is great both in the context of the show, as well as on its own. With its uplifting melody and assertive lyrics, listening to it always gives us a boost of confidence.

#9: “Rose’s Turn”
“Gypsy” (1959)

This eleven o’clock number from a beloved mid-century book musical goes hard. It comes at a turning point for the lead character, Rose. Having grown apart from both of her children, the show mom is finally able to admit her own desire for the spotlight. The song is full of spunk, with a constantly changing melody, tempo, and volume. It expresses a myriad of emotions, from frustration to confidence to desire. Many iconic female actresses have performed the bawdy tune, including Bette Midler, Patti LuPone, and Bernadette Peters. Although we may not sound as good, singing along makes us feel like a powerhouse Broadway star.

#8: “The Schuyler Sisters”
“Hamilton” (2015)

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s famous show based on the life of a founding father includes a song reminiscent of Destiny’s Child and TLC. It introduces sisters Angelica, Eliza, and Peggy Schuyler as they explore downtown Manhattan, singing in three part harmony. The women take control of the stage, supported by a group of backup singers and dancers. Angelica in particular exudes girl power, shutting down Aaron Burr and calling out Thomas Jefferson. Overall, the number is full of excitement and confidence. An empowering solo is always great, but girl groups are on another level.

#7: “Take Me or Leave Me”
“Rent” (1996)

Performed by Maureen and Joanne in the second act of Jonathan Larson’s beloved show, this duet is a favorite among Broadway fans. In it, the on-again, off-again couple get into an argument before breaking up once more. They call into question each others’ personality traits while defending their own. Maureen embraces her charisma while Joanne takes pride in her responsible nature. Although the two women are in conflict, the song feels generally empowering as the women articulate what they like about themselves, which is something we could all benefit from doing now and again.

#6: “Don’t Rain on My Parade”
“Funny Girl” (1964)

Act one of the biographical musical closes with an empowered solo from the lead character, Fanny Brice. Determined to live life to the fullest, she refuses to let anybody or anything get in her way. Belting is a staple of girl power songs, and this tune is built for it. Of course, we can’t talk about “Funny Girl” without mentioning Barbra Streisand, who originated the role of Fanny on stage and screen. She’s been deemed the “Queen of the Divas,” and her vocal style continues to influence contemporary music. Female icons Mariah Carey, Adele, and Whitney Houston are just a few of the vocalists who have been compared to the Broadway star.

#5: “Cell Block Tango”
“Chicago” (1975)

Five of the six merry murderesses of the Cook County Jail find themselves behind bars after they decide to take extreme action against the men in their lives. While we don’t condone their choices, we love the independence, confidence, and strength demonstrated by the women in this number. The interlaced spoken bits performed by each of them are full of sass, and there’s plenty of dancing to accompany the singing. The all-female chorus gives serious girl group vibes, and we’re here for it. This is the perfect song to play when we’re not in the mood to be messed with.

#4: “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going”
“Dreamgirls” (1981)

Usually girl power embraces female independence, but we think this impassioned torch song embodies many of its other important aspects. It demonstrates female determination and desire. The number shows Effie fighting to stay in her romantic relationship with music manager, Curtis.

Facing his decision to break up, she is at once devoted to and defiant of him. The tune is traditionally sung by a woman with incredible vocal skill. It was performed by Jennifer Holliday in the original Broadway production, and later by Jennifer Hudson in the musical film. With plenty of vocalizations and opportunities for improvisation, it’s a show-stopping and empowering solo.

#3: “Defying Gravity”
“Wicked” (2003)

For Elphaba, a challenging moment becomes a transformative one when she finds empowerment within herself. Faced with adversity, the misunderstood woman literally rises above the rest of the Emerald City and decides to try things her own way. While the rest of the city condemns the so-called wicked witch, Glinda offers her support, vocally and emotionally. The end of the song is especially powerful, full of belted and sustained notes. Going into intermission, this Act 1 closer’s message is inspiring and hopeful. Singing along makes us feel as powerful as the Wicked Witch of the West herself.

#2: “Six”
“SIX” (2017)

It was hard to pick just a single tune from this contemporary retelling of Tudor history. The empowering songs “Get Down” and “I Don’t Need Your Love,” led by Anne of Cleves and Catherine Parr respectively, were strong contenders. However, in the end, we picked a number that features the six wives singing in tandem. In the show’s finale, the women rewrite their collective histories to be better than the ones they got. They imagine becoming free of Henry VIII’s oppressive control and forming a band.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Watch What Happens,” “Newsies” (2011)
Katherine Psyches Herself up to Take a Chance in her Career

“Right Hand Man,” “Something Rotten” (2015)
Bea Knows She’s Capable of Giving More in her Marriage

“I’m Here,” “The Color Purple” (2005)
This Song Is a Reminder to Find Love & Satisfaction Within Ourselves

“Big, Blonde and Beautiful,” “Hairspray” (2002)
“Motormouth” Maybelle Gives a Lesson on Body Positivity & Self-Love

“The Lioness Hunt,” “The Lion King” (1997)
There’s Nothing Quite as Empowered as a Pride of Lionesses on the Hunt

#1: “So Much Better”
“Legally Blonde” (2007)

This act one finale celebrates Elle’s academic and professional achievements. It also serves as a turning point for her character. After months of non-stop studying, the law student is rewarded when she sees her name on the list for Callahan’s internship. Having set out for Harvard in order to get a guy, she finds reaping the benefits of her hard work to be even more satisfying. Emmett, the Greek Chorus, and Elle’s mom via cell phone demonstrate their support by celebrating with her. The song radiates the new intern’s joy and excitement. She takes pride in her own accomplishments, and it’s a reminder that we should do the same with ours.

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