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Women in History Spotlight: Women in Pop

A woman lighting up the world with her impact.

FRISCO, TX- March celebrates the women in history who claimed success in their careers despite facing prejudice and obstacles. Women in the pop industry have faced disadvantages in a previously male-dominated sector under the public spotlight. Nevertheless, several prominent women have risen to the challenge and gained global recognition. 


Lady Gaga has faced various challenges with mental health through which she developed self-knowledge and stayed true to herself. She started taking piano lessons at four and then studied at New York University’s Collaborative Arts Project 21 program. Gaga wrote music under a pen name for years before catching the eye of Vincent Herbert. She released her debut album The Fame in 2008 with song producer RedOne. Unfortunately, Gaga faced obstacles in getting her music heard live. 


In an interview with The Independent, she recounted how she struggled to get radio airplay. “They would say, ‘This is too racy, too dance-oriented, too underground. It’s not marketable,'” she said. “And I would say, ‘My name is Lady Gaga. I’ve been on the music scene for years, and I’m telling you, this is what’s next.’” She showed just that when she got her first GRAMMY nomination the next year for “Just Dance.”


In an interview with Glamour in 2017, she explained how she wants to see women, especially in entertainment, win while being able to claim their authentic femininity.” I hope to see women thriving and happy, loving what they’re doing, and being in control and powerful of what they create,” she explained. “As much as we all love the fashion and the makeup and glamour, this isn’t a beauty pageant. It’s about the heart and the drive and the work.” 


 In 2018, she signed on to be the lead actress in Bradley Cooper’s remake of “A Star Is Born” while also being the songwriter-producer for the soundtrack. Billboard said the release was an immediate success, debuting at the top of the Billboard 200 Albums chart and making Lady Gaga the first woman with five No. 1 albums in the 2010s. 


During her 2018 ELLE Women in Hollywood event, Lady Gaga gave an inspiring speech after sharing her story as a survivor. She explained how being a woman in Hollywood means she has a platform.” I have a chance to make a change. I pray we listen, believe, and pay closer attention to those around us in need. Be a helping hand. Be a force for change,” Lady Gaga said. Showing the impact of her speech, she became the first person in history to win a GRAMMY, Oscar, BAFTA, and Golden Globe in a year. 



The first Black woman to top Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart with “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM,” Beyonce became the first female musician for her first seven studio albums debut at No.1 in the United States with RENAISSANCE. Through her music,  Beyoncé dedicated much of her work to women empowerment and exploring her Black experience, from Destiny’s Child’s “Independent Women, Part 1” to 2011’s “Run the World (Girls)” and her 2016 album, Lemonade.


Since the beginning, Shakira has used her powerful performances to uplift other women. Celebrating her new album, “Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran” or “Women Don’t Cry,” Shakira brought massive success and influence that has paved the way for Latin artists in the international market with her 2001 album “Laundry Service.” Five years later, she broke the record for the most-played pop song in a week with “Hips Don’t Lie.” Her lyrics often emphasize self-reliance, independence, and female strength like in “She Wolf.”


In 2020, she co-headlined the Super Bowl LIV halftime show next to Jennifer Lopez, celebrating Latin culture in front of more than 100 million viewers. It’s now the most-watched halftime show on YouTube, with more than 308 million views.


A household popular name, Taylor Swift has become one of the biggest names in pop history. She won her first four Grammys in 2010. She has since achieved 11 gramophones- including three for Album of the Year (the most a female solo artist has in GRAMMY history). When she accepted her second Album of the Year trophy at the 2015 Grammy Awards, she addressed her speech to young women in the audience.


  “There are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success…” she said. “But if you just focus on the work and you don’t let those people sidetrack you, someday…you’ll look around and know that it was you and the people who love you who put you there. And that will be the greatest feeling in the world.”  


 Taylor Swift’s accomplishments show her massive influence as a role model in the pop industry as the first entertainer in history to receive the title of Time’s “Person of the Year” in 2023.  She was named Woman of the Decade by Billboard and Artist of the Decade by the American Music Awards in 2010. As of 2024, she has won 324 awards from an impressive 1,252 nominations across various platforms. She has the most Video of the Year wins at the MTV Video Music Awards and has been awarded the Global Recording Artist of the Year by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry four times. 


The recent breakout star Olivia Rodrigo wants to uplift the young girls she sees in herself. When she accepted “Billboard’s 2022 Women of the Year” award, she spoke to the young girls who write songs from their bedroom floors. “I’m constantly moved by your vulnerability and your creativity and bravery. I promise everyone here today is working to make this world and this industry a better place for you.” Upon performing “Deja vu,” she said, “[e]very woman here today is working to break down those barriers and change the narrative and support each other.” 


Rodrigo has woven many feminist messages within her songs in the “Sour” album. “Good 4 U” allows Rodrigo to express her feelings about getting over her ex in a healthy form of self-care. “Jealousy, Jealousy” represents the feelings of young women as they see photoshopped and filtered pictures of “perfect” women online. Rodrigo expresses the shared experience of women grappling with self-worth after seeing unrealistic photos on social media. “Brutal” alludes to the Marxist feminist theory about the limitation of women with the workers’ exploitation through capitalism. Lastly, “Hope Ur OK” features themes about community and intersectional feminism while recognizing the importance of identity and shared experiences.


Another famous pop star Ariana Grande has clearly expressed her feminist views with the double standards that the industry constantly shows. During a radio interview, Ariana was asked to choose between her cell phone or makeup and you can see her astonishment.


“Is this men assuming that that’s what girls…have to choose between? …I have a long list of things I’d like to change…[i]ntolerance, meanness, double standards, misogyny, racism, sexism…” she said. “That’s what we need to focus on.”


In a different interview on Amp Radio, she showed she is always willing to stand up for female rights when asked her opinions on Kesha’s court trial with Dr. Luke.


“The incredible double standard that we [women] face on a daily basis, in the industry and just in the world, it’s shocking…” she said. “…If I’m …passionate about [something], I’m willing to take the brunt for fighting in what I believe in and my fellow women are…something… I will always be… the first to speak up [for]…”


 Finally, Madonna promoted support for women through her billboard hit “Material Girl,” which encouraged women to establish themselves and stand up for what they want by showing that she is a woman who owns herself and what she wants for herself. 


This was an important message to women in the 1980s with the widely accepted idea of a “traditional family.” The concept of choosing a man authentically teaches her young audience the true values in life with a nonmaterialistic relationship. This encouraged women to be less submissive to men and make their own decisions without materialistic incentives.


Her song “Express Yourself” became a hit as it promoted feminist ideals to the youth and challenged the stereotypes of the time by letting women know they can take control of their own lives and don’t need to obey the patriarchy.  Women can have self-reliance and they should not compromise themselves for a man.


 In conclusion, women in the pop industry have faced numerous challenges and stereotypes throughout history. Still, female pop icons have broken barriers with their undeniable dedication and resilience with global recognition as musicians, using platforms to empower women everywhere. Their success stories inspire young women and remind the importance of perseverance and staying true to oneself during March’s Women’s History Month.       

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About the Contributor
Medha Shah
Medha Shah, Social Media Manager
Hello, I’m Medha, a  junior at Centennial High School. This year, I'm the social media manager who handles Titan Times Instagram posts, and it's my second year in the Newspaper. Other programs I’m involved in are Orchestra, Astronomy Club, and Science Olympiad. I like writing, reading, gaming, and listening to music in my free time. My dream job is to be an astrophysicist.