As I write this I don’t know the result of the American election. As you read this, you still might not know the result. Either way it goes I feel that I need to be more politically engaged than ever. Issues like the surging white supremacy, the endangerment of civil liberties for marginalised communities, and climate change will not just go away. Not to mention the pandemic we are living through. Some of the finest music has been generated in similar adversity. Be they frank discussions of the state of the world or motivational calls to arms. So here’s my top 10 political songs.
‘Smoke ’em Out’ – CocoRosie feat. ANOHNI
A whole-hearted rejection of the incoming administration following the 2016 election
‘Mother’ – IDLES
“The best way to scare a Tory is to read and get rich”
‘Ghost Town’ – The Specials
This really catches a mood, reflecting the urban decay and resulting race riots in England.
‘Fight the Power’ – Public Enemy
As with several of these songs I was not aware of the impact at the time of release. But after watching Do the Right Thing as a teenager this really hit home. An anthem.
‘Formation’ – Beyonce
Watching this at the Super Bowl felt like a massive moment.
‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ – Sam Cooke
So soulful and maybe the most optimistic track on the list.
‘Idioteque’ – Radiohead
‘Ice Age coming’. A bleak outlook on the climate, both musically and lyrically.
‘Alright’ – Kendrick Lamar
A core anthem for the Black Lives Matter movement. Sensational and innovative.
‘Killing in the Name’ – Rage Against the Machine
“Some of those that work forces are the same that burn crosses.” This goes hard.
‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’ – Gil Scott Heron
This spoken-word piece is just masterful.
I am also going to hand out an honourable mention to ‘This is America’ by Childish Gambino. It’s a good song, but that video was on a different level. But what else is missing from my list? Let me know in the comments.
Words by Matt Paul