Music and Politics

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*All pictures retrieved from Creative Commons.

As the old adage goes, art imitates life. Music is no exception. It often reflects the politics of the era in which it is made, or the politics and personal experiences of those who make the music. Nearly everyone is familiar with the national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. So moved was Francis Scott Key by the sight of the American flag flying triumphantly over Fort Covington that he was inspired to write a poem that instills that same sense of patriotism centuries later. Of course though, some of the most controversial music is based not on authority, but on dissent. From folk to punk to hip hop to country, dissent is a theme that runs deep through musical genres. Sometimes, we don’t even realize it. “This Land Is Your Land,” a popular song even today especially in primary education, was written by folk artist Woody Guthrie, who associated with multiple communist groups and frequently performed with a guitar that had the phrase “This machine kills fascists” painted on it. However, other artists make sure their political messages are heard loud and clear. Take, for example, the Dead Kennedys, a punk band. One of their most famous songs is titled “Nazi Punks F— Off,” a scathing condemnation of racism and white supremacy in the punk scene. Even pop music can contain revolutionary messages, such as Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” which arguably paved at least some of the way for increased cultural acceptance of the LGBT community in the 2010s. With today’s tense political climate, there has already been an abundance of great music that has arisen, such as “FDT” or “F Donald Trump” by YG. And that song was written before Donald Trump was even elected. It can be argued that Donald Trump is one of the most divisive president-elects this nation has ever seen. One needs only to check Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or any other social media site to see anti-Trump tweet compilations, or articles about the faultiness of Trump’s policies, or footage of protestors blocking off major city streets. Given the backlash that has taken place before he has ever even entered office, it is reasonable to assume that musicians will certainly have much to convey over the next four years, especially given that many musicians align themselves with more left of center politics.    Regardless of your political views, it is undeniable that the Trump era is bound to produce some interesting artistic expressions.

Listen to the podcast version of this post here.

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