Top 10 political songs for our tumultuous times

Angry about the Trump Administration? Feeling strongly about social issues? These are some songs for you

Do you care about political or social issues or need some songs to blast on Spotify as you head to class? Here are some great songs about some of the most important political and social issues of our time.

1. Time Has Come Today by The Chambers Brothers

Left or Right: Left (60s revolutionaries were not a conservative bunch)

Song Topic: The revolutionary activities of the 1960s

Song Meaning: "Time Has Come Today" is a commentary on all that was happening politically at the time; there were constant protests and clashing in the streets concerning civil rights, counterculture and gay rights. "Time Has Come Today" is a call to action of sorts; it is saying the time to change has come. 

Why It’s good: Other than having a slick '60s psychedelic track going, the guitar, vocals and message are really what makes this song. The repetitive use of the word "time" serves its purpose in emphasizing the point of the song. And if you still don’t like it, you can just listen to the shortened version.

2. Take Me To Church by Hozier

Left or Right: Left — the song is very critical of religious attitudes on homosexuality which are more associated with conservatism

Song Topic: The alleged hypocrisy of the Catholic Church, specifically regarding homosexuality.

Why It’s good: The strings and piano arrangements of "Take Me To Church," along with the sparse and dry vocals, make for a haunting arrangement with an important message about the unethical nature of the Catholic Church’s opposition to same-sex marriage and same-sex relations.

3. Won’t Get Fooled Again by The Who

Left or Right: Neither 

Song Topic: Revolution

Why It’s Good: Even when listening to it today, the synthesizer intro to "Won’t Get Fooled Again" still pumps me up. The powerful vocals by Roger Daltrey and the skilled drumming by Keith Moon make for a great rocker with a important message: Revolution is necessary, but make sure your new rulers aren’t as morally corrupt as the ones they replace.

4. Oh Bondage Up Yours! by X-Ray Spex

Left or Right: Left

Song Topic: Female empowerment

Why It’s good: This one is a little bit different because it is not really catchy or musically complex by any measures; it sounds as if it was recorded in a tin can. But the lyrics, which call for female liberation, and the use of screaming in the song captures the anger of women who were (and still are) subjugated by powerful men in “bondage."

5. Bonzo Goes to Bitburg by the Ramones

Left or Right: Left

Song Topic: Ronald Reagan’s visit to the Bitburg Cemetery

Why It’s good: In general, "Bonzo Goes to Bitburg" is super catchy, which is not uncommon for the Ramones. I’m struck by how sincere the vocals are; Joey Ramone, who was Jewish, was extremely angry that Ronald Reagan had visited a World War II cemetery where members of the Waffen-SS were buried, and you can hear the anger in his voice.

6. Glad to Be Gay by Tom Robinson Band

Left or Right: Left

Song topic: LGBT empowerment

Why It’s good: As the title states, "Glad To Be Gay" is a big screw you to all of the people who did things like compare the LGBT population to pedophiles in England at the time (which also happened in America), and it also happens to be a super catchy song. If you've never heard it, play it, and you’ll probably be singing that you’re glad to be gay even if you’re not.

7. Taxman by The Beatles

Left or Right: Right

Song Topic: Hatred of giving taxes, or at least giving a lot of money in taxes

Why It’s good: "Taxman" is delivered with George Harrison’s trademark sardonic wit. It definitely has the right tone for a political song; I don’t just know that this man really hates taxes from the lyrics, I can tell from the sound of his voice. Interestingly, it also references the Leaders of the Labour Party and Conservative Party in England, Harold Wilson and Edward Heath respectively, which is a good British history lesson for us Americans.

8. Plastic Beach by Gorillaz

Left or Right: Left--Environmentalism is undoubtedly a more left-wing thing

Song topic: Environmentalism, especially the amount of things that we pollute water with

Why It’s good: Other than featuring a slick keyboard hook to go along with the lyrics about Casio on a plastic beach, the song really lights up from the vocals from two great vocalists: Damon Albarn and Mick Jones of the Clash. There is also something to be said about the subtleness of the environmental themes of this song and the rest of the "Plastic Beach" album. There are likely people who have listened to it who aren’t even aware that it is political.

9. Makes Me Wonder by Maroon 5

Left or Right: Neither--Against Bush Administration

Song Topic: According to Adam Levine himself, the song was written as a subtle reference to his own frustration at U.S. politics (George W. Bush was president at the time, so enough said) and the war in Iraq in which the U.S. was involved in at the time.

Why It’s good: This might be the only song on this list that you can dance to (especially if you ignore the part about it being part of the Iraq War.) Ultimately it’s super catchy, and also a commentary on an extraordinarily unnecessary and bloody war. 

10. New Americana by Halsey

Left or Right: Left — Although many libertarians support liberalization of drug laws and legalization of same-sex marriage, it is definitely more of a left-wing thing

Song Topic: Rapid changes in America’s social environment, especially in regards to LGBT rights and marijuana

Why It’s good: New Americana hooks you in the beginning with some beautiful vocals and ominously sung lyrics about a new generation of Americans who are, in many ways, far different from any generation past, especially in regard to race relations, female empowerment, LGBT rights and opinions on recreational drug use. We are the first generation where most of us truly strive for equality before the law, and to me that’s what New Americana is celebrating, albeit somewhat tongue-in-cheek.

Like oil and water or burritos and ketchup, some people think great things, in this case politics and music, can never successfully mix. In my opinion, this list shows otherwise; say what you feel and add some guitar and drums.


Reach the columnist at Marinodavidjr@gmail.com or follow @Marinodavidjr on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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