Monday, September 08, 2008

Where Are The Contemporary Protest Songs?

Some contemporary protest songs (and ones I really love) include "American Idiot" by Green Day, "The Rising" by Bruce Springsteen, "Dear President" by Pink, "Bombs Over Baghdad" by Outkast, "Megalomaniac" by Incubus, "Mosh" by Eminem, "Bushleaguer" by Pearl Jam, "Changes" by Tupac, "Rio Grande Blood" by Ministry, "My Petition" by Jil Scott, " Declare Independance" by Bjork, "Bush Boys" by The Mammals, "Cinnamon Girl" by Prince, and ''Not These Homes" by Decahedron.

Top 25 Protest Songs...
25. R.E.M. "Ignoreland"
24. Sam Cooke "A Change Is Gonna Come"
23. Bob Marley "Get Up Stand Up"
22. Bright Eyes "When The President Talks To God"
21. The Rolling Stones "Street Fighting Man"
20. Crosby, Stills Nash & Young "Ohio"
19. The Beatles "Revolution"
18. John Lennon "Working Class Hero"
17. Bob Marley "Redemption Song"
16. Guns n' Roses "Civil War"
15. Neil Young "Let's Impeach The President"
14. Public Enemy "Fight The Power"
13. Bufalo Springfeild "For What It's Worth"
12. John Lennon "Gimme Some Truth"
11. The Who "Won't Get Fooled Again"
10. Edwin Starr "War"
9. Bruce Springsteen "Born In The U.S.A."
8. Sex Pistols "Anarchy In The U.K."
7. Marvin Gaye "What's Going On"
6. Bob Dylan "Blowin'In The Wind"
5. U2 "Sunday Bloody Sunday"
4. Country Joe and the Fish "I Feel Like I'm Fixing To Die Rag
3.Rage Against The Machine "Killing In The Name"
2. Bob Dylan "Masters of War"
1. Creedence Clearwater "Fortunate Son"

Related Links:
A definition
Rolling Stone's Top 25 Best Protest Songs List
Lyrics to Tupac's "Changes"
80's Protest Songs


Malcolm said...

That performance by Pink was very powerful. You posed a very good question. My guess is that protest tunes are still being written. However, I think they are more rare these days for a couple of reasons:

1. They aren't being pushed by the record companies since that isn't the trend at contemporary radio.

2. Many artists are all about sales and therefore don't want to run the risk of pissing off part of their fan base by recording a protest tune that might not have widespread appeal.

Candy Minx said...

Thanks Malcolm, you are making some really good points about why there may not seem to be very many contemporary protest songs. I think you are on to something about mainstream radio play, and that might be why the protest songs are found in some new punk bands and in rap right now.

I was adding to this post as you were commenting...I was hoping to hear some suggestions of contemporary protest songs...but it seems as if at least among my visitors awareness of protest songs being written right now is not a familiar topic.

That Pink song is great isn't it? So much for the music of little kids pop songs being vacuuous...Pink shows it is possible to attract kids and write a layered pop song...

Janet said...

There are some GREAT songs on there! Fortunate Son is valid for today, you know?

tweetey30 said...

Hey I like most of those songs. I havent heard of some of them but most are good.

Anonymous said...

can't see any billy bragg on that list!!
between the wars - billy bragg
cat stevens - peace train
stand down margaret - the (english) beat
the revolution will not be televised - gill scott heron
running the world - jarvis cocker
the clash - white riot
homebreakers - the style council
little boy soldiers - the jam
illegal attacks - ian brown

okay, i'll stop now! recommend them all, if you haven't heard any.

mister anchovy said...

I'm sure there are still lots of musicians who choose to use songs to protest, or to influence people, or to define themselves by expressing what they don't like. Music can be very powerful.

I think there are plenty of really good songs on your list.

I don't think I have any favourites, although if you asked me fifteen years ago, I likely would have answered differently.

Candy Minx said...

Hey there you are...I knew your computer was a problem when you didn't jump into this conversation for a few days ha ha!

I guess many protest songs, like much of the world...has become "specialized". Instead of just being on the top 40...musicians appeal to different groups of population more so now than even in the 50's and 60's and 70's?

Something I hope to think more about...

Dom said...

Hey I was wondering the same thing about contemporary protest jams. To name a few...

Universal Soldier-Covered by First Aid Kit

The General- by Dispatch

Love Vigilantes- by Iron and Wine

With My Own Two Hands- by Ben harper (Also, one cover of this was done with Jack Johnson for Curious George I believe.)

And then there's always the classic Peter, Paul, & Mary song