Songs of protest have always been amongst some of the most powerful ever written. They can be fuelled by a number of emotions and give many who are struggling something to relate to. Whether they be about political, racial or anti-establishment issues, a lot of these songs were able to give a voice to those being oppressed.
With all that has been going on in Charlottesville, this week Music Crowns have looked to the past and present to find the best protest songs ever recorded.
Bob Marley – ‘Get Up Stand Up‘ (1973)
Iconic reggae singer, Bob Marley, penned many songs calling for the overthrow of ‘Babylon’ (Capitalism) and will always be remembered for his compassion for the people. ‘Get Up Stand Up‘ is not only one of his most seminal songs but one of his most powerful. “You can fool some people sometimes, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.“
Pink Floyd – ‘Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)‘ (1979)
No list about protest songs would be complete without Pink Floyd‘s ‘Another Brick In The Wall’. Although not about war, politics or human rights, Floyd’s final number one of the 1970s takes aim at the oppression of individual personalities in schools. “Hey! Teacher! Leave them kids alone!“
Bruce Springsteen – ‘Born in the USA‘ (1984)
In ‘Born In The USA‘ Springsteen paid homage to the hardship of the soldiers, and some friends, serving in the Vietnam War. Although a tribute to the veterans fighting at the time ,the song also addressed the difficulty many suffered on their return from battle.
The Smiths – ‘Meat Is Murder‘ (1984)
The Smiths’ frontman Morrissey has always been very outspoken about his vegetarianism, even to the point where he has cancelled gigs if venues don’t take meat off the menu. ‘Meat Is Murder‘, the title track from the band’s second album, is possibly one of the singer’s most impassioned pleas to stop the slaughter of animals.
Public Enemy – ‘Fight The Power‘ (1989)
Public Enemy‘s ‘Fight The Power‘ is still hailed as one of the greatest protest songs of all time. The single reached number one on the Hot Rap Singles chart and is one of Public Enemy’s best-known songs. This fierce track is a bold roar of anger and unnerved many at the time as it rejected racial integration.
Rage Against The Machine – ‘Killing In The Name’ (1991)
Although pretty much every one of Rage Against The Machine‘s songs is about rebellion and protest, there are some which especially stand out. ‘Killing In The Name‘ was released following the savage beating of Rodney King by members of the Los Angeles police. As many were accusing the LAPD of institutionalised racism, which sparked the worst US riots since the ’60s, KITN compared such racism to the activities of the Ku Klux Klan.
Arcade Fire – ‘I Give You Power‘ (2017)
One of the most recent songs of protest comes from Arcade Fire. Fuelled by a sense of dread following the election of Donald Trump as the US President, the band released ‘I Give You Power‘. The song was released in the lead up to the new president’s inauguration and features R&B/blues singer Mavis Staples. The band shared the news of the new track on Twitter stating: “It’s never been more important that we stick together & take care of each other”.