Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Music and Politics (Issue 1)

Music and politics seem to go hand in hand. Often mucisians will use their songs as vessels to put forth a given agenda or idealogy. From hardcore punk bands like BLACK FLAG to more mainstream acts such as REM, U2 or BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, political issues often find their way into song. Additionally, some artists use their fame to expose an issue or bring people to a cause. Avenues such as "Rock The Vote" have given artists the opportunity to connect to the youth and bring about change. These days, musicians are sought on for council by political leaders in areas of race and economic disparity as a way of showing that they are more in touch with the pulse of the nation than their predecessors. President Obama has listened to Jay-Z, Bono and other musical heavyweights on a wide range of topics.

Now we can argue the merits of this sort of blurring of the lines between entertainment and power till the end of time. We can question whether it is better that LADY GAGA is the most viable voice for the gay rights movement than someone with a more nuanced approach to politics. Sometimes to get movement on an issue a little shock value goes a long way. The goal of this post (and the subsequent ones I think will follow) is to highlight lesser known politically tinged songs and try to make some sense of the connection between these two powerful forces.

THE RADIO DEPT. are a Swedish band that makes pop music that is similar to the GO BETWEENS and THE PERISHERS. They deal in the swirling guitars, sunny melodies and longing for lost love lyrical arenas. However, they do have an opinion about the current state of Swedish politics which in some ways mirrored what was going on in the US in the early part of the century. They have made their latest song a free download in what I presume was an attempt to galvanize support behind the leftist part of the Swedish political spectrum. It's a really good song and has a very interesting take on the politics of fear and how mainstream politics can often warp a message to meet it's own needs.

Reallocating property
We engender transformation
We’re not concerned with poverty
Just the rebirth of a nation
No time for hesitation
Not even on occasion
This will be our legacy:

A vengeful population
It’s part of our conspiracy
And our motivation
And who needs integration
When we’ve got isolation?
It’s the rebirth of a nation
The rebirth of a nation

We don’t mind democracy
We have our ways around it
This new improved hypocrisy
Will help us to impound it
An old school education
Will show this generation

Download the mp3 here. While you are there you can get lots of other goodies from the band. They are well worth your time.

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