10 Essential Bad-Girl Anthems


We will never cease to be amazed by Robyn, even though we have kind of lost track of how many albums she released last year (15? 32?). Now, she’s found the time to work with Savage Skulls and Douster on a wonderful video for the song “Bad Gal” (which was a bonus track on Body Talk Pt. 2). It is weird and great and we love it.

“Bad Gal” got us thinking about all the other immortal bad-girl anthems we’ve rocked out to over the years. There are many. But the ten we’ve listed after the jump are our favorites. Leave your picks for what we left out in the comments. If we get enough great suggestions, we’ll round up ten more songs next week.

Joan Jett — “Bad Reputation”

From the Runaways’ “Cherry Bomb” to “I Love Rock ‘n Roll,” Joan Jett may well have recorded more bad-girl anthems than anyone in the world. And while they are all fantastic, “Bad Reputation” is in a class by itself for its complete and utter failure to give a fuck. If we were the type to tattoo ourselves with lyrics, we might just go with this one: “I don’t really care if you think I’m strange/ I ain’t gonna change/ And I’m never gonna care about my bad reputation.”

Bikini Kill — “Rebel Girl”

The riot grrrl movement produced more bad-girl anthems than we could even begin to enumerate. But the mother — or should we say awesome big sister — of them all was Bikini Kill’s “Rebel Girl,” an ode to the toughest, revolutionary feminist bitch in town.

Salt-n-Pepa — “None of Your Business”

Every bad girl’s got haters. Salt-n-Pepa wrote the definitive song on the subject, with what is perhaps the best sign-off of all time: “The moral of this story is, who are you to judge? There’s only one true judge, and that’s God. So chill, and let my father do his job.” Few ladies could get away with looking like liberated bad-asses while mud wrestling, as in the video above. Too bad Salt had to go find God or whatever.

Hole — “Teenage Whore”

There’s laying all your cards on the table, and then there’s beginning the first song your first album with the words, “When I was a teenage whore.” Courtney Love, of course, went on to hold the title of music’s Queen of TMI for over 20 years. But at least she was never ashamed.

Patti Smith — “Gloria”

This song may not exactly be about being tough or strong, but it is about taking responsibility for your own damn self. And anyone who has the guts to kick off her musical career with words, “Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine” deserves her spot on this list.

Lil Kim — “How Many Licks?”

Paeans to female sexual fulfillment are hardly in short supply these days, but we would be hard pressed to find a hit as catchily explicit as this one. What really clinches its bad-girl cachet, though, isn’t the porn-y stuff so much as moment when Kim says, “This verse goes out to my niggas in jail.”

Sleater-Kinney — “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone”

The rallying cry of the lady rocker, “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone” is about wanting becoming a Ramones-style (or Thurston Moore-style) icon, with all the swagger and fan love that entails. The awesome thing is, it totally worked out. Sleater-Kinney really were the queens of rock ‘n roll. Now, who’s going to write “I Wanna Be Your Corin Tucker”?

Labelle — “Lady Marmalade”

Lady Marmalade was the original bad girl. Two things to note here: 1. As much as we love Missy and, of course, Kim, when we say “Lady Marmalade,” we do not mean the Moulin Rouge version. This song belongs to Labelle. 2. Please watch the video above, because Patti, et. al., are wearing perhaps the most wonderful costumes we have ever seen.

Liz Phair — “Fuck and Run”

“Fuck and run/ Even when I was 17/ Fuck and run/ Even when I was 12.” Jeesh, Liz Phair. You win, OK?

Amy Winehouse — “Rehab”

They tried to make Amy Winehouse go to rehab, but instead she kept drinking and smoking crack (right?) and wrote this epic, Motown-inspired hit about it. And then, eventually, she did go rehab, which must have been the biggest gift a New York Post headline writer ever got. But the important thing is this veritable manifesto of womanly debauchery.