Since the dawn of time, music has been used as a form of expression. People use to express feeling of love, lust, happiness, sadness, hatred and… discomfort in the world you live in. People have been writing songs about discomfort or disgust in the world or society they love in for so long that some of the greatest and most influential songs ever made have been political. ‘God Save The Queen’ by the Sex Pistols and the whole punk movement itself; ‘Hurricane’ by Bob Dylan; hell even ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ by The Specials. But does there seem to be a distinct lack of protest music or political in our music today? Or even in any sort of pop culture? It can’t be that people are happier than when the punk movement commenced in the 70s or when people wanted peace in the 60s. I mean, look at this year alone, we’ve had the Ukraine/Russia conflict; the Gaza/Israel conflict; the ongoing Conflict with IS; Scotland wanting Independence; The constant threat from North Korea; Protests are recently starting in Hong Kong, and feminism is on the rise again due to the fact that in 2014, men and women still aren’t treated equally. What have we had from the music world in terms of discontent for any of this? Not a lot, especially in more popular music.
Music used to be an important way of making people (especially younger people) aware of issues that concern them and obviously I’m not saying there is nothing going on ever. At this year’s Reading festival protest band Enter Shikari took to the stage and as they broke into their new song, front man Rou Reynolds starting talking about how ‘David Cameron and his cronies are trying to privatise the NHS’ and although I got the feeling that most of the people around were there to throw their bodies around in mosh pits, it felt good to see so many people… listening. It just feels like most music out there seems to be doing the complete opposite of this and is in fact helping to keep people ignorant to what is going on around them.
A lot of the people who ARE in fact making at least vague protest music seem to be doing it purely as a marketing strategy. They are in fact taking advantage of what’s happening for their own benefit. Beyonce for one example. Beyonce’s brand of feminism absolutely reeks of cash and hypocrisy. Especially considering she’s the woman trying to be at the forefront of feminism yet last year denounced the word ‘feminist’ for being ‘Too strong a word’. She’s also part of the problem she’s trying to fight as she’s responsible for making millions of girls round the world feel like shit for not having her body/image. You also have people like Morrissey calling for revolution without making any sort of attempt to let people resonate or connect with their music. It’s reasons like this that it feels like it’s been so long since people have had a popular figure that people can truly believe in and look up to.
What do you think? Has our pop culture become so dumbed down that even if people were offered the chance to stand up for something they would reject it? Do you personally connect with any of the protest music that you can find at the minute? Am I wrong and there is plenty of music out there standing for something that isn‘t too vague? Let me know.
As Public Enemy say ‘What we need is awareness, We can’t get careless’