Best Politically Charged Songs of The Last 5 Years | Article by Indie Accent


Best Politically Charged Songs of The Last 5 Years

Writer Nabil Argya Joesoef

Cover Image from The Stake

From Bob Dylan to Rage Against The Machine, protest songs and political themes have been a staple in popular music, mainly rock and roll. Aside from technical production aspects and certain musical trends, lyrics concerning social and political issues are the best reflections of the era which a particular piece of music came from. The ever increasingly intense political climate of major nations such as the US and England gave way to a slew of fantastic protest music from the artist as diverse as folk singers to house artist. We take a look at a few of the more recently released, politically charged songs that you should listen.


Declan McKenna – Brazil

Declan McKenna has proven himself to be quite proficient in delivering socially conscious lyrics through catchy indie pop tunes. Believe it or not, this Londoner was only 15 years old when he penned his debut single “Brazil”, a track criticising the corruption of FIFA and the shady dealings behind the 2014 FIFA World Cup. In Brazil, the lyrics discuss people’s obsession with the beautiful game, to the extent that they are willing to turn a blind eye on the crimes that occur behind the scenes, as well as to portray the higher-ups of FIFA as demonic creatures. Ironically, two years after the release of Brazil, McKenna’s song “Isombard” would feature as one of the soundtracks of the video game FIFA 18.

Father John Misty – Bored in The USA

J. Tillman, more than anyone else in indie circles, possesses a sharp wit, astute observational skills and a tongue that doesn’t hold back. Best shown in his latest LP, Pure Comedy, in which he lays it all out on both his nation’s current political climate and humanity’s longstanding ills in 13 tracks. Interestingly enough, Father John Misty’s most biting commentary came from his more romantic, optimistic album, I Love You Honeybear. In between the love songs contained in Father John’s sophomore LP, Bored in The USA stand out. The quiet, dreary piano ballad delves into the mind of the “average” American man as they question the value of their lives. Reflecting on the empty promises of the much glorified “American Dream” and it’s failure to give actual meaning to its citizens. Father John, known for his sense humour just as much as his intensity, inserts a laugh track in the bridge as he sings about the struggles of the common man-- perhaps to highlight the helplessness of their condition.

Arcade Fire - I Give You Power

Perhaps this particular song does not explicitly mention any overt political statements, but Arcade Fire’s I Give You Power was released on the 19th of January, 2017, just one day before the inauguration of Donald Trump. With it’s simply repeated lyrics, and chanting quality, perhaps this electro-rock tune could be interpreted as Arcade Fire’s attempt in making a demonstration anthem.

Cold War Kids – Locker Room Talk

There was a time when being a high-level politician means that you would have to be careful with every sentence that you say. Any misplaced word could potentially end your career. Some might feel that specific political figures are immune to such norms. This is the subject matter behind “Locker Room Talk”. This bluesy track is visible to diss at the current POTUS, Donald Trump, attacking his tendency to twist any negative information on him as false shamelessly, and his own careless, often poor choice of words. The title track itself is a reference to recording in which Trump is caught describing crude acts he would do to a particular woman.

Moby – Trump Is On Your Side

The erratic, graceless behaviour of President Trump makes him an obvious target for more socially aware musicians, but the veteran electronic musician, Moby, offers a different perspective of this phenomenon. In the track “Trump Is On Your Side”, Moby explores Trump through the eyes of his supporters, which are made up significantly of poor and lower class citizens. Moby sympathises with their hardships and understands the mindset of a hopeless man that looks for a prophetic figure to save him but also pities the sad irony of a billionaire attempting to relate to the working class. While this song criticises the illogical mindset of his followers, it also views them in a somewhat empathic way and could be interpreted as a commentary of a political divide. In which during election years, one side could deem the other as evil or stupid, killing the potential of an honest debate.