LET’S GET POLITICAL.
It’s a myth that the protest singer, so well-associated with the 60s, 70s, and 80s, is a dying breed – many modern artists are using their voices for a political purpose, and in today’s uncertain climate they are perhaps more important than ever. Not all of these songs fit the traditional sound of the folksy, acoustic protest singer, and perhaps not all of them were written with protest in mind, but each of them carries a strong political message on issues ranging from immigration and the LGBT community to a broader anti-establishment sentiment.
We begin with the only self-described ‘protest singer’ on this list, Grace Petrie, a British lesbian folk singer who laments the mainstream media’s failure to recognise modern-day protest songs in I Wish the Guardian Believed That I Exist. In truth, I could dedicate an entire playlist to Petrie’s work, and she’ll almost certainly make an appearance in other lists for this column – check out Farewell to Welfare and They Shall Not Pass for more examples of her protest songs. Next are three louder, rockier songs, all with politics at their core; while perhaps best known for American Idiot, Green Day’s Holiday carries a similar message with a broader application. Ezra Furman, a perpetual favourite of mine, addresses the lack of diversity in politics through Lousy Connection, and M. I. A. satirises conservative views on immigrants in Paper Planes, before we conclude with two quieter pieces focusing on both oppression and repression.
Solidarity forever to all those fighting on the left against discrimination and capitalist policies, and a huge thank you to the modern protest singers who contribute to and soundtrack our fight.