Friday, 1 May 2009

Protest Songs For the 21st Century

After the nth argument with my Thatcher-cheerleader parents about why people can have other people to blame for being poor, I thought having hippie parents would be the coolest thing ever. And then I came to my senses and realised that more localised ranting about how the closest this generation gets to revolution is wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt that was probably stitched by 4 year olds held at gunpoint. But even if ideals have degraded to the point that Akon jingles about being locked up and not let out (for totally legitimate reasons) count as astute political commentary, in an effort to prove we’re not totally incapable of anarchy in the UK, here’s a rundown of the great protest songs of the 00s (minus Akon). It is MayDay, afterall:

Bloc Party – Hunting for Witches
Yep, back in the day Bloc Party lyrics were actually quite good (although compared to ‘at your funeral I was sad, so sad’ anything would be, but still). Add a killer guitar riff to a good old rant against the Daily Mail and everyone, except the neo-Nazis, are happy.

Rilo Kiley – It’s A Hit
There are lots and lots of brownie points for bands that can refer to their ex-President in a song as a monkey throwing his own shit at the enemy. Extra points if they sing as well as Jenny Lewis.

Metric – Succexy
Quite a few songs from Old World Underground are brilliant anti-war attacks on the Bush administration, but apart from its stroke-of-genius video, for once the left-wingers attack themselves for being so passive.

Sleater-Kinney – Combat Rock
The American government were lucky not nearly enough people listen to Sleater-Kinney because they’re more than persuasive enough to incite civil disobedience. A comprehensive attack on wars for oil, consumerist culture, use of arguments involving ‘patriotism’ to silence any dissent and a killer guitar hook on top of that.

M.I.A. – Paper Planes
Sampling/stealing from a Clash song about immigration (Straight to Hell), having a chorus of gunshots and a ka-ching! sounds, and attacking the perception of immigrants?! M.I.A. is a genius.
Green Day – American Idiot
Well, yes, in one way it was selling out, but seeing their cover shot on Q will make you yearn for the good old days of 2004 when 12 year old girls were suddenly ready to burn the good old stars and stripes.

Gossip – Standing in the Way of Control
Even if their 15 minutes of fame barely spanned an undeserved cover of the NME and being used on Skins, their breakout single buzzes with righteous rage about the American ex-government’s abuse of their Constitution by refusing to legalise gay marriage.

Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip – Thou Shalt Always Kill
3 minutes where pretty much everything wrong with the world gets attacked: Coca Cola, Nestle, not liking bands just because they become popular, making generic music, the NME etc.
Ollie Khakwani