Since its June 23 debut, fans and critics have been especially captivated by the music on Netflix’s latest hit, GLOW. Pitchfork even commended it for escaping ‘80s soundtrack clichés. With a mix of tracks from era staples (“Invincible” by Pat Benatar and “We Don’t Get Along” by The Go-Go's) and oft-overlooked artists (songs by Ill Repute and The Jetzons make appearances), the show is a perfect time capsule of its 1985 setting.
It’s worth noting that several members of the ensemble forged their own music careers. In fact, Kate Nash, who plays the saucy Rhonda “Britannica” Richardson, saw her debut album, 2007’s Made of Bricks, top the U.K. Albums Chart. Cast member Jackie Tohn, known as Melrose on the show, had a stint on American Idol, and the "elderly" Rosenblatts -- played by Kimmy Gatewood and Rebekka Johnson -- are part of The Apple Sisters, a musical comedy act that has opened for Ingrid Michaelson. With all this talent, we can only hope a musical dream sequence is being prepped for season two.
To capture the empowering essence of the show -- and to capitalize on the ensemble’s obvious musical interests -- we asked the women to help us create a GLOW-inspired playlist. From Nina Simone and Nicki Minaj to Starship and the Spice Girls, the ladies picked memorable songs from their youth, empowering anthems from their favorite females and tracks that helped them get into character for the show.
Kate Nash (Rhonda "Britannica" Richardson)
Spice Girls, "Wannabe"
I’ll never forget when I first saw this music video premiered on TV. I feel like time froze, and so did I. I had a swimming lesson so I made my mum record their Top of the Pops performance for me. I must have watched that tape a hundred times. It spiced up my life and I never looked back. This song is about female friends holding you accountable and making you an advocate for yourself. It’s how I live my life and has given me the tools to get through any hardship I’ve ever faced.
Hole, "Miss World"
I love Courtney so much. She’s just wild and outspoken and poetic. Live Through This will always be my favourite record of all time. When I hear this song it’s like fire goes off in my belly and I suddenly remember that I can always rely on myself to get what I need. Pain doesn’t have to break you or stop you, and music has your back.
Samantha Fox, “Naughty Girls (Need Love Too)”
I listened to this song pretty much everyday whilst filming to help me get into character. Rhonda is so sweet, but because it’s the 80’s, she’s considered quite naughty -- basically because she has so much confidence in herself. She’s very free and is living in the moment, which is my ultimate goal in life. I have no idea how she achieved it. I really look up to her. People can underestimate Rhonda but she’s simply carefree, going after what she wants and embracing life. She doesn’t judge others, she’s kind and she puts herself out there. The essence and vibe of this song is extremely Rhonda. It's 'naughty" and "sexy" but it's also pretty sweet, simple and innocent. I think that sums her up.
Jackie Tohn (Melanie Danielle "Melrose" Rosen)
Indigo Girls, "Joking"
There's nothing more empowering for a teenage girl to see than two badass women who write their own songs, play their own instruments, make amazing records and put on incredible live shows.
Patty Griffin, "Change"
As a guitar playing singer-songwriter, it was Patty Griffin who inspired me to pick up a guitar for the first time.
Madonna, "Where's the Party"
Melrose likes to have a good time. Maybe too good a time.
Sydelle Noel (Cherry "Junkchain" Bang)
Michael Jackson, "Heal the World"
The song talks about togetherness of all race, culture, and religions. Something we definitely need right now.
Nina Simone, "Feeling Good"
One of my favorite female artists is Nina Simone. I connect to her music in a different way every time I listen. I love “Feeling Good.” It makes me feel happy, makes me cry, makes me feel sexy --I just love that song!
Destiny's Child, "Survivor"
Truthfully, this song speaks to all of what Cherry Bang is and has gone through. She was an out-of-work stunt woman looking for her big break and couldn't really find anything until GLOW came around.
Britt Baron (Justine Victoria "Scab" Biagi)
Kate Nash, "Foundations"
Growing up, this song was my anthem. It’s all about standing up for yourself when someone is taking advantage of you and knowing your self worth. I would blast this song whenever I was going through a hard time or needed a pick me up. It’s so crazy that I can now call Kate my friend. 13-year-old me would be beside herself.
Nicki Minaj feat. Beyoncé, "Feeling Myself"
As a woman, there are all these expectations to be kind, polite, agreeable -- and if you are ever outspoken or strong-willed there is always this fear of backlash. I remember watching a speech where Nicki said, "For all the women here, stop feeling like you shouldn't speak your mind cause somebody's gonna call you a bitch. Speak your motherf--king mind." I thought, “yes!”’ She is so bold, fearless, confident, and just completely herself.
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, "Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)"
I think Joan Jett is a huge inspiration and role model for Justine. Her hair cut was completely inspired by Joan Jett. The song is about the need to be touched, wanted, appreciated, and seen. Justine is this badass punk rocker who doesn't take shit and marches to the beat of her own drum -- but also, behind the black eyeliner and tough girl exterior just deeply wants to be loved and accepted. I feel like this is a song that Justine would be blasting on her walkman.
Kimmy Gatewood (Stacey "Ethel Rosenblatt" Beswick)
Alanis Morissette, "You Oughta Know"
This used to play on loop when hanging out with my fellow theater nerds. I don't think I understood all of the messaging behind it at the time, but it made me feel better when I was heartbroken.
Loretta Lynn, "The Pill"
I mean, holy crap -- a song about birth control?! Yes, Loretta! If you think about when this song was written, it's kind of unbelievable. It tells women they have a choice and I think that's direly important, even today.
Mötley Crüe, "Looks That Kill"
I imagine Stacey blasting this song and sweeping up hair in the salon. And, like most girls at the time, Stacey thought Vince Neil was singing it directly to her, and will play it walking down the aisle on their wedding day. Also, Dawn and Stacey have pretty killer looks.
Rebekka Johnson (Dawn "Edna Rosenblatt" Rivecca)
Deborah Galli, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"
I would make my parents sit through endless living room dance recitals while giving it my all to the title track from my favorite movie. What's more empowering than a song that gives a girl permission to just be herself and have a blast?
This song makes me want to lift weights to the beat while fighting the patriarchy in a fabulous black leather jumpsuit. Listen, Beyoncé may be an obvious favorite but that's because she's just so emotional, powerful and cool.
Van Halen, "Jump"
Dawn loves a head-banging rock song. She'd probably jam to this while she and Stacey literally bang their heads into a wall. This gem has just the right amount of cheese factor for Dawn's personality and wardrobe.
Kia Stevens (Tammé "The Welfare Queen" Dawson)
Eurythmics, "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)"
I challenge anyone to listen to this song and not feel empowered. Between the beat, the vocals and the cautionary tale of keeping your head up in the face of potential predators, this song was my power-pellet growing up.
Alanis Morissette, "Hand in My Pocket"
This song empowers me in a most unexpected way. It makes me feel that it's all right not to have all the answers. Alanis has orchestrated the soundtrack to my life which is why she is my favorite.
The Four Seasons, "December 1963 (Oh What a Night)"
Tammé is full of surprises. She's definitely has had some experiences that you wouldn't expect her to have just by looking at her. She grew up in a time of great racial tension and strife yet always managed to reach for the stars.
Britney Young (Carmen "Machu Picchu" Wade)
Starship, "Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now"
This is me and my sister's anthem -- we even danced to it together at her wedding. It always reminds me that we are on a mission, and nobody is going to stand in the way of us accomplishing our goals. We support each other and there is nothing we can't do.
Aretha Franklin and Eurythmics, "Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves"
This song is so empowering, and it celebrates all women being independent, and declaring that we don't need anyone but ourselves and our sisters to succeed in this world. I love Aretha Franklin, her voice is powerful, soulful and she has been singing female anthems since the very beginning of her career, giving a voice to women everywhere.
Whitney Houston, "Didn't Know My Own Strength"
I think this is a fantastic song for Carmen! She always wanted to be a wrestler but she was stuck in the shadow of her father and brothers who never wanted her to follow her dreams. She finally stands up to them and I think she surprises herself by finding this courage to tell them this is her dream and this is what she wants to do. This song is all about self-encouragement and perseverance against the obstacles you may face.
Sunita Mani (Arthie "Beirut the Mad Bomber" Premkumar)
Lauryn Hill, "Doo Wop (That Thing!)"
As a 12-year-old, I didn't really understand the meaning of "that thing," but I loved how this song was in the voice of a tough-loving friend talking to you about respecting yourself. "Don't be a hard rock when you really are gem/ Baby Girl, respect is just a minimum!"
Nina Simone, "Ain't Got No, I Got Life"
There are so many ladies I love, it's hard to choose one. This song's build gives me chills. Nina Simone is one of my favorites because she is an artist who lives, breathes, and moves through music. All encompassing for better or worse, she is an undeniable, powerful gift to us.
Michael Sembello, "Maniac"
Arthie craves the wrestling context to really come alive. Wrestling is her chance to be seen, and to give in to that primal performance instinct she doesn't get from her pre-med life, where she knows she doesn't quite belong.
Gayle Rankin (Sheila the She-Wolf)
Spice Girls, "Wannabe"
Every woman, man, child should be able to feel respected and empowered by the people around them. That song is fundamentally about respect. I love that. And girl power!
Chvrches, “Down Side of Me”
Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches, Laura Marling and Cyndi Lauper are a couple of my favorite women. They are complex and intelligent writers. They are able to expose the full experience of what it is to be a human, not just one desirable -- or otherwise --side.
The Smiths, "Please, Please Please Let Me Get What I Want”
She's looking for the same thing we all are. It's a very personal and special song to me. And Kathryn Gallagher's "I Wanna Wear a Dress." It's an insanely beautiful poem about being a girl.