“Female” quickly became one of country music’s best-selling hits upon its release in 2017. Its influential lyrics and unique delivery impacted an entire genre of music where females are historically underrepresented and frequently objectified. This song goes deeper than just its lyrics. Through its delivery by all artists, you can tell that the song is extremely meaningful. Though the lyrics are uplifting and empowering all women, the delivery of the song shows its importance in society. The progression leading up to the chorus, up to the energy put into performing the chorus as well as the third verse emphasizes the meaning of this song and how important it is when it comes to female empowerment in our society. In this Third Listen, we will analyze the original release of “Female” by Keith Urban as well as covers, specifically Talia Scott’s.

In terms of vocal delivery in the original release of “Female” by Keith Urban, the song starts off slow, where Keith Urban askes a series of rhetorical questions that touch on common slanders used against females today. He begins by singing over the soft melody, “When you hear somebody say somebody hits like a girl / How does that hit you? / Is that such a bad thing?”  Immediately after, he adds, “When you hear a song that they play sayin’ you run the world / Do you believe it? / Will you live to see it?” By asking these questions at the beginning of the song is quite interesting and does a great job at challenging the listener to really think about a female’s true place in society. Listeners might think to themselves that when they or someone says, “You hit like a girl!” in a negative connotation, it really isn’t such a bad thing as many females can pack a better “punch” than most men. By posing these rhetorical questions, Keith Urban encourages the listener to ask their own rhetorical questions, maybe even asking themselves “Who really runs the world? Is it girls? Why can’t they run the world? How are females any different from men?” However, shortly after posing these questions, the melody speeds up and additional instruments are added for dramatic effect. Keith Urban begins to describe everything that a female could be, by singing “Sister, shoulder, daughter, lover, healer, broken halo / Mother nature, fire, suit of armor, soul survivor, holy water / Secret keeper, fortune teller, Virgin Mary / Scarlet letter, technicolor, river wild, baby girl, woman, child.” And then, finally, he sings the word “Female” with an emphasis and style that hasn’t been heard before in the song. By doing this, I believe Keith Urban is emphasizing a female’s place in society, which could be anything as he beforementioned.

Upon further research on YouTube, virtually all fan covers are done by female artists. It becomes apparent that there is something about this song that really empowers female artists to want to add their own spin on “Female.” The female artists don’t change any of the words, but their body language changes drastically in the chorus of this song which is supported by the word “female.” When delivering the chorus, one will find the female artist smiling while singing the entire chorus, but especially on the word “female.” I believe this song really makes females proud to be, well, female. The lyrics are attempting to break the stereotypes of females in society and these female artists are proud to support the movement through this song. For example, in Talia Scott’s cover, she starts the song off slow and quiet, but in the chorus and as the song progresses, her voice sounds more upbeat, she smiles more, and the song seems more “open.” Her delivery, through her voice and body language, throughout the entire video, makes it apparent that this song is extremely meaningful to her. At the 2:13 timestamp and forward, you can tell how happy the lyrics make her, and you can tell she is putting her heart into the cover. She opens her arms wide and it’s clear that this song has played an impact on all of the women who hear it. (Not to mention how catchy and great the tune is in general!)

These covers & Keith Urban’s vocal delivery help me to better understand the song & lyrics function as such a meaningful text and commentary in society and in the country music industry. This song, sung by both Keith Urban as well as other artists like Talia Scott, demonstrates how this song is meant to uplift and empower women, especially today and within the past few years. Representation of women being shown in a more positive light (versus their objectification in other country songs…) makes it such a meaningful song. Going beyond the lyrics through delving into the delivery of the song both by Keith Urban and Talia Scott truly shows how this song has such a strong message that was definitely in need of being delivered, especially within the country music industry and in the current world.