Most musicians are more known for their catchy hooks and dance-worthy beats than they are for lyrical content. Still, there are a few artists who have used their voice to speak out about the political and social injustices around them. Some chose to do so subtly, speaking on society and government in general, while others take on individual politicians directly. I may not agree with every single word, but there are 10 songs that have always stood out to me, when it comes to the sticky topic of politics, in terms of musicality and blunt honesty.
The presidential election is officially one week away, and early voting has been going on for weeks now. In honor of this, check out my favorite politically driven songs and be sure to share yours below !!!
U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday
U2 created this controversial tune about Bloody Sunday, an incident where 26 protestors were shot in Derry, Northern Ireland. It’s lyrics are pretty timeless, however, and can be meaningful during any war.
And the battle’s just begun
There’s many lost, but tell me who has won
The trench is dug within our hearts
And mothers, children, brothers, sisters
Green Day – American Idiot
Billie Joe Armstrong has always been known for speaking his mind. He criticizes America’s hegemonic culture and the ideas pushed through media in the popular tune.
Don’t want to be an American idiot.
One nation controlled by the media.
Information Age of hysteria.
It’s calling out to idiot America.
NOFX – Regaining Unconsciousness
An interesting critique about how we as people tend to “stay out of it” when the government or society as a whole is silencing a group that we don’t belong to.
Now with our conversations tapped
and our differences exposed,
how ya supposed to love your neighbor
with our minds and curtains closed?
We used to worry ’bout big brother,
now we got a big father and an even bigger mother.
Michael Jackson – They Don’t Care About Us
Michael Jackson wasn’t known just for his dance moves, but for the messages that his music portrayed. “They Don’t Care About Us” is an angry tune about social injustices. Oh, and I love the music video.
Tell me what has become of my rights
Am I invisible because you ignore me?
Your proclamation promised me free liberty, now
I’m tired of bein’ the victim of shame
They’re throwing me in a class with a bad name
I can’t believe this is the land from which I came
You know I really do hate to say it
The government don’t wanna see
But if Roosevelt was livin’
He wouldn’t let this be, no, no
Pink – Dear Mr. President ft. The Indigo Girls
In the words of Kiersten, “you can’t have a political songs list without ‘Dear Mr. President.’” Pink has been known for speaking her mind, especially when the topic’s controversial. She penned this song to President Bush, criticizing him on topics like gay rights, war and homelessness. It’s pretty chilling.
What kind of father would take his own daughter’s rights away?
And what kind of father might hate his own daughter if she were gay?
I can only imagine what the first lady has to say
You’ve come a long way from whiskey and cocaine.
John Mellencamp – Our Country
Imagine a world where everyone felt like they belonged, and everyone respected their neighbor’s opinion? Sadly, it probably won’t happen in real life, but that shouldn’t stop us, or John Mellencamp, from hoping.
I can stand beside
Ideals I think are right
And I can stand beside
The idea to stand and fight
I do believe
There’s a dream for everyone
This is our country
Lupe Fiasco – Words I Never Said ft. Skylar Grey
The song that preceded the “Obama is a terrorist” statement from Lupe Fiasco. The rapper is known for his socially conscious lyrics, and this song sees him taking direct jabs at President Obama, Rush Limbaugh, the school systems and the war on terrorism. Interestingly enough this song was originally written by Skylar Grey for a deceased loved one.
If you turn on TV all you see’s a bunch of “what the fucks”
Dude is dating so and so blabbering bout such and such
And that ain’t Jersey Shore, homie that’s the news
And these the same people that supposed to be telling us the truth
Limbaugh is a racist, Glenn Beck is a racist
Gaza strip was getting bombed, Obama didn’t say shit
That’s why I ain’t vote for him, next one either
I’ma part of the problem, my problem is I’m peaceful
The Black Eyed Peas – Where Is the Love?
The Black Eyed Peas’ first major hit dealt with the injustices of the world and the effects it has on society. The social critiques landed the band a Grammy nomination for record of the year in 2004.
Overseas, yeah, we try to stop terrorism
But we still got terrorists here livin’
In the USA, the big CIA
The Bloods and The Crips and the KKK
Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On
Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” is one of those timeless songs that everyone can relate to. The song was originally inspired by police brutality following a protest in 1971, but it can just as easily be relevant in today’s society as well.
We don’t need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today
Public Enemy – Fight The Power
Originally created for Spike Lee’s ‘Do The Right Thing,’ Public Enemy’s “Fight The Power” quickly became the black anthem for fighting social injustices and abuse of authority.
We got to pump the stuff to make us tough
from the heart
It’s a start, a work of art
To revolutionize make a change nothin’s strange
People, people we are the same
No we’re not the same
Cause we don’t know the game
What we need is awareness, we can’t get careless