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Old 07-22-2004, 02:57 PM   #16
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You're all listing great artists, but how many of them have consistently found success on the radio with songs that clearly express a political opinion? How many have found success illicting change or made millions reconsider their values after hearing one of their songs. Just one? Springsteen, yes: he did with many songs, namely "My Hometown", and less clearly with the quasi-protest song against AIDS, "Streets of Philadelphia" without expressly saying the word "AID's". U2 has never had a hit single or even a SINGLE that dealt with anything aside from love. They qualify as the rare exception; which I why I like them , but their protest rock doesn't get played on the RADIO. I hear people saying, "What about "Sunday Bloody Sunday"?"----Well, unless you're listening exclusively protest, 1980's new wave radio stations, you're not going to hear it.

As for the rest....

Ani DiFranco: Cult favorite, but not mainstream. The key word is mainstream; reaching tens of millions of people. The same goes for Morrissey, anything from the Cure aside from 'Love Song', 'Friday I'm in Love', and 'Just Like Heaven', Tori Amos, and anything besides "Rock the Casbah" and "Train in Vain" from The Clash.

Rage Against the Machine: Yes, they had several successful ALBUMS, but never had a hit aside from Bulls on Parade and that wasn't big outside of college radio and alternative rock stations. Also, how many of us could truly understand most of De La Roche's lyrics? He yells, he's mostly inaudible unless you already know the lyrics. I don't consider this along the same lines as protest rock from pre-1994. The same goes for Pearl Jam and Jurassic 5. If people are mindlessly moshing to "Testify" or "Bushwacker" they're not doing it because they're angry at corporate America or President Bush; it's because they're into the music. Sure, there a few people that listen to the words, look them up online and learn them...heck, I did that. But most people on this planet who listen to Rage aren't thinking twice about the lyrical content.

REM: Protesting in a surrealist, near-meaningless jamble of words, doesn't constitute success in this realm of thinking. They made their success on the radio with pop songs and disturbing ballads of regret. You'd be hardpressed to name more than one hit, protest single that made it to the mainstream...there's that word again. And no, "What's the Frequency. Kenneth" doesn't touch people on a gut level...unless you researched the lyrics (much like RAGE AGAINST...) and learned of their descent. "It's the End of the World As We Know It" was a great song, but not accessible to anyone outside of the fanbase...it's hardly ever played.
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Old 07-22-2004, 03:44 PM   #17
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Clear Channel wouldn't have played Dylan nowadays anyway.
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Old 07-22-2004, 04:21 PM   #18
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Neil Young. Ohio, Alabama, Rockin In the Free World, etc.
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Old 07-22-2004, 04:41 PM   #19
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grass roots level...support local bands who you know have a conscience. The mainstream is so controlled, but you know that already.
John Butler Trio are a great Australian act that are happening right now and aren't afraid to say what they think.
I saw Jackson Browne recently. I was so stoked when he told the story of how his son asked him to start playing this song again
"Lives In The Balance...I want to know who the men in the shadows are...."
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Old 07-22-2004, 08:11 PM   #20
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Travis have quite a few protest songs (against the iraq war mostly) on their latest album...I love Travis, but I have to admit they're all pretty awful...

Direct protest songs usually sound very cliched and contrived - I think subtle attacks hidden in clever lyrics work much better, as U2 have often done.
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Old 07-22-2004, 08:42 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by Danospano
I hear people saying, "What about "Sunday Bloody Sunday"?"----Well, unless you're listening exclusively protest, 1980's new wave radio stations, you're not going to hear it.
Actually, I've heard it on classic rock stations.

Angela
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Old 07-23-2004, 03:27 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally posted by Danospano
U2 has never had a hit single or even a SINGLE that dealt with anything aside from love.
New Year's Day, Pride, In God's country, Please, Walk on.

I believe all of those are not about love but are politics related. (as well as non-singles on their albums, SBS, Bullet the blue sky being the best known. Or different to love topics like One, Stuck in a moment, Where the streets have no name)

I think the current climate in US is probably against any political songs (anti-US administration) - remember what happened to Dixie Chicks and now Linda Ronstadt. There are bands who still do it - all being mentioned earlier - but the big labels aren't really interested in that.
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Old 07-23-2004, 03:28 AM   #23
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Originally posted by u2popmofo
I think TOO MANY artists think they have to try to write songs of this nature, and it just becomes cliche and makes the songs sound extremely dated/idiotic a few years down the road.
I agree with you, u2popmofo. I tend not to listen to much music that is overtly sociopolitical in content, as I simply find much of it cumbersome and, well, just plain bad. Certainly there have been and still are songs that are extremely good and extremely overtly political, but I don't listen to music to get my fill of political or social awareness.

And I think that if there is a single brain cell amongst all the pretty pop princes and princesses, they are doing good. That goes for most of the top of the chart acts right now. That's not really condusive for serious issues.

I was just reading an interview with Steve Kilbey today and the very subject came up. Here's a clip from the interview (HS is the inteviewer; SK is, well...kinda obvious, isn't it?):

<< HS: That makes sense, because of the timeliness of some of the lyrics. Sometimes you do make very specific cultural or political references that are definitely current in your songs --

SK: "Shock and awe", you mean.

HS: Exactly. That line in particular I thought was --

SK: I was tricked into that! I don't read the paper, I don't listen to the news, and when I was doing this preacher thing, John said to me "Why don't you throw in 'shock and awe'?" and I naively hadn't heard that phrase before. I thought "Oh, that's a good kind of Biblical thing", and I was surprised a little later on when the phrase was so in-vogue, and everyone was running around saying it.

HS: If you had known before, would you have still used it?

SK: Nah, I probably wouldn't have used it if I'd known.

HS: Why?

SK: Because it is current. Current is good when it's current, but the moment it isn't current, it's unnecessarily pinned down; you've pinned an aspect of it down, when you could have had the whole thing up there and floating forever. >>>

(if you want to read the whole thing it is from
Hybrid Magazine. Beware, it's a huge interview, they talked for two hours! Plus it has my current favourite photo of SK, and there should soon be some examples of his artwork up too. In addition to being a huge fan of his music, I'm an avid fan of SK's paintings.)

Another comment from SK I remember reading or hearing was that he didn't like to be told what to think about issues, and he didn't think the people who liked his music did either. You know, I really appreciate that. Now, I know some of his social/political views from interviews etc. (and I am interested to know them, and generally agree with them), but I am so glad he doesn't beat me over the head with those views in his songs.
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Old 07-23-2004, 05:59 AM   #24
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Many of my favourite artists are those who have a political conscience, many of them are Australian and thankfully we have some great media outlets here like radio and TV who support the non mainstream entities. As Cass mentioned previously the Australian act 'The John Butler Trio' recently went to number one on our album chart and Mr Butler is an extrememly pro-active environmentalist and aboriginal rights exponent and many of his songs deal with these issues. So I guess in Australia, we are getting the messages, other acts who I am reminded of who are politically aware include,

Michael Franti and Spearhead
Asian Dub Foundation
Xavier Rudd

these guys may not be influencing millions, buuuuuuut at least they are making music and influencing a few and one must remember that the nature of the music/money making machine is very, very different these days than from the days in the 60s.....
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Old 07-23-2004, 07:47 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally posted by U2girl


New Year's Day, Pride, In God's country, Please, Walk on.

I believe all of those are not about love but are politics related. (as well as non-singles on their albums, SBS, Bullet the blue sky being the best known. Or different to love topics like One, Stuck in a moment, Where the streets have no name)

I think the current climate in US is probably against any political songs (anti-US administration) - remember what happened to Dixie Chicks and now Linda Ronstadt. There are bands who still do it - all being mentioned earlier - but the big labels aren't really interested in that.
I agree 100%.

I think many educated people got what REM was talking about with It's the End of the World...and it still gets airplay.

I think the same about 'Born in the USA' although Reagan didn't get it.

I think you underestimate what U2 has done their "hits."

I can think of a lot of great bands that have done this over the years. I think the biggest issue with this are the media outlets. Today we have Clear Channel and Infinity running our airwaves, back then the DJs had a lot of say, guys who were real music lovers and in touch with what the climate was. I think if there were a band like Midnight Oil or Rage who wrote very obvious political stances then there would be absolutely no way they would get airplay...unless their political message was to vote for Clear Channel's good friend Bush.
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Old 07-23-2004, 07:59 AM   #26
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Quote:
Originally posted by Danospano
You're all listing great artists, but how many of them have consistently found success on the radio with songs that clearly express a political opinion? How many have found success illicting change or made millions reconsider their values after hearing one of their songs.
Call me cynical, but I very much doubt that any song has a power to make millions reconsider their values after hearing it. Songs often ride along a social movement, but IMO they accompany the social change rather than cause it.

Also, when a politically-charged song does connect with masses in a big way, it may not necessarily be because of its lyrics or message. People might just like it because they think that it "rocks" or that it's got a a nice melody. Nothing more.
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Old 07-23-2004, 10:29 AM   #27
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The majority of songs which possess a conscious express the feelings in an artistic manner, but aren't obviously accessible to the masses. This isn't a bad thing, but then what's the point? To a certain extent, why even bother making a statement of politics if hardly anyone will hear it? Are they just trying to please themselves while playing it safe? That doesn't sound like rock and roll, does it?

You all seem to resorting to naming a few examples that prove the exception, but failing to acknowledge that a few U2 songs represent the majority of music in America's present culture. U2's last album only sold 3 million copies (roughly) and that was enough to make it 24th or something on the best sellers of the year list. That's hardly the most popular music in the country, but rather a band selling to it's most dedicated base.

In response to the interview posted above concerning artist being weary of writing lyrics which may be construed as timingly, yet fleeting in coming years: Sure, for every "Subeterraen Homesick Blues" and "Rockin' in the Free World", there are "Wild Wild West" and "Right Here, Right Now"'s. That's IMO a wussy way of getting out of having an option. Those people seem to care more about their ego and less about having an educated opinion and owning up to their choices. Makes me sad.
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Old 07-23-2004, 11:42 AM   #28
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Bad Religion's albums are usually about half political/social songs also.
especially the new album. stuff like 'let them eat war'. or even on the last tour, adding 'all good soldiers' back to the setlist, introducing it as a song about iraq I, and now it's appropriate to play it again...

while i'm all for artists doing that if they have a coherent point and aren't jumping on some kind of bandwagon, i'd prefer not having someone like bono's face plastered all over my newspapers and magazines as some kind of celebrity poster child for a cause. good for them, but...

Street Dogs - Don't Preach to Me

Take your soapbox rants and your politics
Stick them where the sun don't shine
Won't solicit your advice
You're on the red carpet
Espousing your opinions
Why can't you just shut your mouth
Don't tell us how to feel

Don't preach to me, I cannot hear you
Don't preach to me, we really won't care
Don't preach to me, you're so self-righteous
You're a celebrity

They wear views on their sleeves
Thinking that it counts
But we have minds of our own
Sarandon shut your mouth
Just stick to the acting
Films and TV shows
Give us time to think for ourselves
Please give us that much

Yet these stars don't get it
We have minds of our own
We're capable of opinions
Madonna hit the road

Don't preach to me, we're not backin' you
Don't preach to me, we really won't care
Don't preach to me, you're so self-righteous
You're a celebrity
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Old 07-23-2004, 12:56 PM   #29
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Honestly, I've never really been all that interested in what ANY musician has to say about politics. Lets face it, the majority of them arent really geniuses in the field....
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Old 07-23-2004, 01:17 PM   #30
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Not geniuses in the field? What does it take to be a genius in that "field". They are artists, and therefore reflect the attitude of the populace, namely the youth. The youth apparently don't care about political issues, or civil rights, or anything aside from getting laid and satisfying their own hedonistic pleasures.

Bob Dylan didn't reflect the times with Like a Rolling Stone, All Along the Watchtower, and Hurricane?

Creedance Clearwater Revival didn't reflect the times in Fortunate Son?

Edwin Starr wasn't in tune with the times when he recorded "War, what is it good for"?

I could go on, but I think the point that artists don't deserve credit for educating the public is ludarcis
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