Music encourages political activism

Again, an article I wrote for my paper that I thought I'd share with you. Young people these days get a bad rep for being apathetic, and I'm not saying it's undeserving, but I'm just pointing out how some entertainers today are trying to change that.

As political issues begin to seep into the lives of teens and young adults, the regular conventions of popular music have been changing to altercate to this shift in culture. The once sappy “love songs” that implant themselves in the minds of love-struck teenage girls, and the lewd, and at often times derogatory, rap music that define the typical average teenage-male ego, seem to be outdated. These usual conventions in popular music are increasingly being replaced by more politically-charged elements in songs being released today.

The Dixie Chicks are a the poster children of politically motivated artists. They released numerous songs displaying their strong statements against President Bush’s decisions in office, including “Tortured, Tangled Hearts” and “Travelin’ Soldier,” just to name a few. The Dixie Chicks have been featured on many magazine covers, including the controversial cover on Entertainment Weekly, where the girls pose nude with antiwar messages plastered all over them. Starting off with group member Natalie Maine’s criticism of the 2003 invasion in Iraq, the Dixie Chicks, like other artists, have released profound political statements through their music and tours.

Artists such as Beck, The Gorillaz, Green Day, Wilco, Radiohead, and Ludacris have all made profound political statements in their music. Surprisingly, rap mogul Ludacris has now changed his lyrics of lewd “fantasies” into brutal realities. A more, mature side is displayed on Ludacris’ new album “Release Therapy.” A number of his songs are a response to President Bush’s handling of Hurricane Katrina and the general government. Neil Young, a very opinionated artist, released one of his most controversial albums yet, entitled “Living With War”. The album has a track on it called “Let’s Impeach the President”. A veteran to scathing political lyrics, Young’s previous song “Ohio” dealt with the public reception of the Vietnam War. With widespread support, Young continues to rack up an audience with similar protests against war and presidential actions.

Similarly, popular rap artist Kanye West set forth a number of scathing responses, to President Bush’s handling of Hurricane Katrina. His music is even more politically charged, spanning from a commentary on the U.S. government, to global issues. In his song “Roses,” West remarks on the healthcare system, saying “you tellin’ me if my grandma’s in the N.B.A. she’d be ok?” West has made many remarks about the less fortunate, unequal representation and lack of acknowledgment by subsidies by our government. In his other hit, “Diamonds,” he comments on the squalid mining situation in Sierra Leone.

The list can go on and on with the plethora of music that is emerging in pop culture. Not only is music being refined by politics, but pop icons are also endorsing the idea of political involvement through various campaigns such as “Vote or Die,”coined by hip-hop’s trendsetter, P. Diddy. Could all of this political hype be just another “fad” for musicians and celebrities? Or could this be a candid attempt to politically educate today’s youth?
Posted on April 7th, 2007 at 01:25am


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