"He Thinks He'll Keep Her," Mary Chapin Carpenter
Mary Chapin Carpenter paints the picture of a woman who seems to achieve the white picket fence myth--the only problem is that she gets nothing in return from the husband she dotes on. In the end? She divorces him for new horizons. "She said, 'I'm sorry, I don't love you anymore.'"
Takeaway: Take risks for independence.
"Just Because I'm a Woman," Dolly Parton
Besides writing the working woman's anthem ("9 to 5"), Dolly Parton exposed inequality and asserted her womanhood in "Just Because I'm a Woman." Watch this video to hear the strength in her voice (and some incredible mile-high hair).
Takeaway: "My mistakes are no worse than yours just because I'm a woman."
"Goodbye Earl," Dixie Chicks
Before they took a stand against President Bush, the Dixie Chicks wrote a story about Mary-Ann and Wanda, two best friends who decide to kill Wanda's abuser. The music video includes young Jane Krakowski, a farmer's market dance party, and zombie Earl.
Takeaway: Domestic violence is never okay. Ask for help when you need it (National Domestic Violence Hotline).
"Before He Cheats," Carrie Underwood
In a turn for the badass, America's sweetheart Carrie Underwood gets aggressive and unapologetic in "Before He Cheats." Not only does she take a baseball bat to her cheating boyfriend's car, but her wrath causes all the windows in the town to burst out of their frames.
Takeaway: Recognize anger, find an outlet.
"Gunpowder & Lead," Miranda Lambert
If you want to get over a breakup while driving in your car, Miranda Lambert is the girl to turn to. She strides into bars and takes control, and when she gets crossed, she gets revenge. In "Gunpowder & Lead," she describes exactly how she'll be seeking retribution for an abusive, cheating boyfriend. It involves a shotgun. Also check out "Kerosene."
"Follow Your Arrow," Kacey Musgraves
At this year's Grammys, Musgraves beat Taylor Swift for Best Country Album and Best Country Song of the year. While she sings with a familiar country twang and guitar, she bucks tradition with lyrics like, "Make lots of noise/kiss lots of boys/or kiss lots of girls/if that's something you're into" and "If you ain't got two kids by 21/You're probably gonna die alone/Least that's what tradition told you."
Takeaway: "You might as well do whatever you want."
"Girl in a Country Song," Maddie & Tae
Two 19-year-old girls have pointed out everything that's wrong with country music tropes. Speaking out against sexism, the pair's lyrics go, "Now we're lucky if we even get/To climb up in your truck, keep our mouth's shut and ride along/Down some old dirt road we don't even wanna be on." Cut off shorts and bikini tops begone, these girls are looking for something bigger--like an upcoming album.
Takeaway: Write about whatever makes you mad, and make it a hit.