Music has always been a strong platform for reflecting what is currently happening to our planet.
Now whilst some people would say: “I just listen to it because I enjoy it,” I cannot argue with that. I am not going to sit here and tell you what you should or should not enjoy. People have their own tastes, mine just lie in punk, metal and political stuff.
Be it the current political climate, the way in which people of different races, sexuality, gender and beliefs are treated or maybe even to highlight the fact countries are being ravaged by war, music has always been on top of the current issues.
I would say recently, but it really didn’t start recently, more music has become mundane, factory-made nonsense, with singers discussing how many “bitches” they have slept with or how much money they make. Is this really a good example we should be setting for younger generations?
I don’t know why but Little Mix’s Shout out to my Ex comes to mind:
“Forget that boy, I’m over it
I hope she gettin’ better sex
Hope she ain’t fakin’ it like I did, babe”
..Is this artistic? I mean, granted, it makes money and creates a fan-base, but what sort of message does this convey to younger boys and girls? Instead of spreading the word of equality and togetherness it is rambling about having to fake an orgasm? I mean, I am pretty sure I could write a song about not taking my socks off during the act (not saying this is something I actually do by the way) and probably get to number six in the album charts, just behind Katy Perry singing about something..not really sure what she would sing about.
Music that matters, music that stands for something is a beautiful thing. Looking back at punk bands, old hip-hop and blues just shows this. In recent months we have had a resurgence of this, most likely sparked by the orange man who has taken up residency in the White House (not naming names), and it is wonderful to see it again. Whilst music doesn’t need to be angry or political to be good, it is a breath of fresh air when compared to, oh let’s say, Kanye West wrapping about doing a model up the jacksy.
That band I always rave about…you know, Enter Shikari, have always been a band you can look to for a social commentary on the world we live in.
“If you stand for nothing you will fall for anything for anything,” is a personal favourite of mine from their song Quelle Suprise.
Or, for a longer insight into their music, here are some lyrics from their song Gandhi Mate, Gandhi from their 2012 album A Flashflood of Colour:
“I don’t think…
the primary purpose of your life, of my life,
and the entirety of the human race
Is just to blindly consume to support a failing economy and a faulty system
For ever and ever
Until we run out of every resource
And have to resort to blowing each other up to ensure our own survival.
“I don’t think…
We’re supposed to sit by idle
While we continue to use a long outdated system
That produces war, poverty, collusion, corruption,
Ruins our environment and threatens every aspect of our health,
And does nothing but divide and segregate us,
“I don’t think…
How much military equipment we’re selling to other countries,
How many hydrocarbons we’re burning,
How much money is being printed and exchanged
Is a good measure of how healthy our society is.”
Now does that not give you an idea of the clear distinction between music that muses on the world around us, instead of focusing on how some guy or girl couldn’t get you off?
Even when you go back further you find so many examples of protest music with such heart that I would find it incredibly hard to believe that people don’t agree that it is important. For example, you have Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A Changin. At the time critic Michael Gray said: “Dylan’s aim was to ride upon the unvoiced sentiment of a mass public—to give that inchoate sentiment an anthem and give its clamour an outlet. He succeeded, but the language of the song is nevertheless imprecisely and very generally directed.”
John Lennon of The Beatles also had the idea, dubbed as a hippy by many, the man knew what he stood for in a very poetic and beautiful way and no one can take that away from him, god rest his soul.
Whilst its direction may not have been specifically targeted at any particular issue, it was how the public felt and it is what they wanted to hear. Maybe the public has lost sight of what is important these days and uses the easily-digestible trash that features in the charts to take their mind off it? Maybe I am coming off as pretentious, but I don’t mind.
The punk movement was a revolution for music across the world, especially in the UK. With bands like The Sex Pistols, Anti-Flag, Bad Brains, The Clash and then crossing over to hip-hop and rap with NWA, Public Enemy and more, it gives me hope that future generations of musicians will stand strong for what they believe in as well as the thousands of fans that do the same.