Some of pop’s most powerful songs have come out of political protest. Think of Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War” or Bob Marley’s “Get Up, Stand Up.” The world’s current political climate is sparking new anthems of protest or consciousness raising. Whether it’s the Brexit vote for England to leave the European Union or the U.S. election of Donald Trump, there are a growing number of musicians responding to the changing tide. As Raul Malo, frontman of the Mavericks told Rolling Stone: “This is not the time to keep quiet,” adding that “it’s up to the artists, the writers, the reporters, the journalists, the poets, the painters” to speak up. This week, two English bands are leading the charge.
“Where’s the Revolution”
The English rock legends’ first new music in four years calls for change in political or humanistic terms. Over a pulsing, suspenseful synth, singer Dave Gahan tells listeners: “You’ve been kept down. You’ve been pushed ’round. You’ve been lied to. You’ve been fed truths.” The song’s chorus then asks, “Where’s the revolution?” before pleading, “Come on people, you’re letting me down.”
The electronic band, which also includes keyboardists Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher, will feature the new song on its forthcoming album, Spirit, and posted the cover graphic on Twitter, showing people marching with flags.
— Depeche Mode (@depechemode) February 3, 2017
“Hallelujah Money” feat. Benjamin Clementine
Gorillaz, the virtual British rock band created by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, is back with its first new music in six years. Rooted in hip-hop and electronic influences, the song is a dystopian poem that specifically references Trumpian politics. Sung by Mercury Prize winning singer, the lyrics include such provocative lines as, “When we go to bed Scare crows from the Far a-East/Come to eat its tender fruits/I have thought that the/ Best way to protect our tree/Is by building walls.”
Asked why Gorillaz has chosen to return right now, the cartoon band’s guitarist Murdoc tweeted a cheeky response.
Dark times - u need someone to look up to. Me. Here's a lightning bolt of truth in a black night. Now piss on! New stuff won't write itself. https://t.co/tOqYnXqrU2
— gorillaz (@gorillaz) January 19, 2017
Hello! music columnist Nicholas Jennings surveys the pop landscape each week to find the most dynamic tracks to add to your playlist.