Music has always played a huge role in pop culture. MTV set the standards for what was cool and trendy in both fashion and activities for decades. Much of today’s slang came from lyrical phrases in songs. People view music as a way to define generations an cultures. With so much power, it is no wonder that artists choose to use it to criticize the government and society. Protest music has been driving change on a global stage for years.
The first song that comes to mind is “Imagine” by John Lennon. Written during the time of Vietnam protests, the impactful and somewhat-radical, lyrics still echo throughout pop culture today. Although the song was written more than thirty years ago, ask anyone and they will have heard of it. In fact, part of the reason the Vietnam War Protests were so successful were because of the music trusts generated during it. Nothing brings people together like music does. Music’s versatility through time also makes it a great tool for protest.
Now, we are once again faced with a similar political climate filled with extreme tension. Once again, musicians are rising to the occasion. Eminem’s release of ”Revival” in 2017, a rap dissing Donald Trump, reached the top of the charts. Death Cab for Cutie wrote a song titled “Million Dollar Loan” about Trump. While not every protest song has to diss the president, many released in the past year do.
What I like about protest music is that it shows what music can do. Many people view music as a form of entertainment, and see musicians as frivolous. However, musicians can be drivers of change. They can peacefully express discontent and positively impact communities. Most importantly however, protest music gives the oppressed a voice and hope to continue to fight.