Girl groups and soloists suffer the hardships of being women. So, it’s no wonder that female K-pop icons are determined to redefine the status quo.
Every female K-pop artist is subjected to harsh standards—conforming to the industry’s perception of beauty, going through difficult diets, and performing at their best even during their time of the month.
As we celebrate women’s month, we’ve listed our fave 15 K-Pop songs by girl groups and female soloists, with reasons why they celebrate girl power.
(For full versions of some song previews, sign in to your Spotify account.)
I by Taeyeon
Taeyeon, aka Girls’ Generation’s powerful main vocalist, empowered her fans that they’re “born to fly” with I. The song talks about finding the light in tough times, encouraging listeners to rise in adversity.
Ugly by 2NE1
Don’t be fooled with the song’s chorus where 2NE1 says “I wanna be pretty.” It’s a direct jab at society’s harsh standards of beauty pressuring women to look a certain way.
Maria by Hwasa
An empowering female anthem, Maria is a self-written and self-composed song by Mamamoo Hwasa. It highlights the criticisms she received throughout her career, with a hopeful message of turning a crisis into opportunity.
Wannabe by ITZY
Staying true to ITZY’s brand of girl power, Wannabe is another empowering addition to their discography. The song talks about living your own life, no matter what other people say.
I Don’t Need a Man by Miss A
Despite its title, I Don’t Need a Man doesn’t talk about needing a man romantically. The song is about how a woman can take charge of her own life, such as paying the bills, treating herself, and living comfortably.
Yes, I Am by Mamamoo
Yes, I Am is another middle finger at beauty standards where Mamamoo sings about being a confident woman despite their flaws. The music video features the members being unbothered queens, showing off their “flaws” as a form of strength.
No by CLC
CLC tells society to “look somewhere else to fit your tastes” if a woman without a “red lip, earrings, high heels and handbag” is not beautiful. It also shows them being proud of their former cute image since it built them into who they are now.
AH YEAH by EXID
Girl groups and female soloists are not spared from sexualization and being an object of the male gaze. EXID is no exception. AH YEAH describes how men purposefully ignore a woman when she’s feeling uncomfortable from unwanted attention.
La Di Da by Everglow
Everglow “got no time for haters” with this retro-inspired hit that showcased their vocal and dancing abilities at their best. The song is the girl group’s response to critics and their determination to set their course.
Chica by Chungha
If you’re experiencing moments of self-hate, perhaps Chica can teach you to love yourself more. This song helps you to “let the world know what you’re all about.”
HWAA by (G)I-DLE
A poetic reference to the four seasons, HWAA talks about “building a fire that will overtake ice” in adversity. The song was composed and written by (G)I-DLE Soyeon, along with the group’s other iconic hits.
Woman by Boa
K-Pop veteran Boa criticizes the common worldview of being “feminine” with Woman. It’s an underrated hit that tells women to “not be deceived” by certain standards and to break free.
Miss Korea by Lee Hyori
K-Pop diva Lee Hyori declares that every woman is worthy to be “Miss Korea” with this jazzy hit. Due to its popularity, it has been covered by many K-pop female icons such as Sistar Bora and former Girls’ Generation member, Jessica.
Lady’s Room by Red Velvet
There’s nothing more empowering than being surrounded by a group of supportive women who raise you. Lady’s Room is a perfect example that it’s possible for women to love and support each other.
Queen by TWICE
TWICE tells their fans that they’re a queen with this calming yet sultry hit. It’s one of their God-tier b-sides since it shows the girl group’s transition in a classy way. Fun fact: this was written by the group’s lead rapper Dahyun.