Music Hits Back

Kirstie Sutherland /
Jan 27, 2017 / Music

 It happened, folks.

As of last Friday, what we all hoped was just a bad dream became a living, breathing nightmare: Donald Trump is now officially the President of the United States of America. The mind truly boggles. Within days of being in charge of the largest world power, the Donald has already signed away funding for abortions and moved ahead with plans to build his beloved wall on the Mexican border, with several pages on LGBTQ rights, climate change, immigration, healthcare, education, civil rights and the ‘Iran Deal’ mysteriously disappearing from the White House website.

However, in spite of all this, a wonderful thing has blossomed in the form of protest. Not only did Queen Meryl Streep deliver a rousingly defiant speech at the Golden Globes ahead of him assuming office, the day after Trump’s inauguration saw the Women’s March in Washington D.C take place. Over a million people alone came together in the US capital and several other marches took place around the world. The motto was ‘women’s rights are human rights’, with everyone marching against Trump and his cabinet’s archaic right-wing views. Not only this, but the music industry has placed its feet firmly in the ‘dump Trump’ camp. Alongside the First 100 Days compilation – which will see a new track released each day for the first 100 of The Donald’s presidency – a number of artists have released seething protest singles to commemorate the orange one’s first week in office. Believe it: a galore of musicians are reaching for their pitchforks and telling the President to well and truly ‘eff off. Here’s a rundown of of the best so far.

 

Father John Misty – Pure Comedy

FJM is known for his crass yet charming, goofy manner when it comes to his material, but Pure Comedy seems to be taking us down a slightly different path. While it may not sound extreme on the surface, it is essentially a 6-minute piano laden lament on the state of America and its new President, calling it a “horror show”. His lyrics call out the American public for their election choices, marvelling at the situation as a detached persona: “Where did they find these goons they elected to rule them? / What makes these clowns they idolize so remarkable?”. It is a scathing condemnation and a critique on the irony of Trump’s followers; they may want America to be ‘great again’ but they’ve clearly picked the wrong man for the job, and our man FJM knows it.

Joey Bad$$ – Land of the Free

Contrasting old-school style production values with anti-Trump lyrics of the present day, Joey Bada$$ offers us a fairly explicit critique on the Donald and what it will mean for the USA in the form of Land of the Free, set to feature on his latest album A.B.B.A. He essentially tears America’s choice of President apart, mourning the impact his term will most likely have on black rights: “Sorry America, but I will not be your soldier / Obama just wasn’t enough, I just need some more closure / And Donald Trump is not equipped to take this country over…”. It’s an explicit take down that brings black American history into focus, referencing the KKK and police brutality, and essentially telling his listeners that the ‘land of the free’ is now only “for the free loaders”.

Arcade Fire and Mavis Staples – I Give You Power

The repetitive, eerie anthem I Give You Power was the surprising, long-awaited release from indie rock band Arcade Fire, featuring the rousing vocals of Mavis Staples in duet with frontman, Win Butler. The track was released in the final hours of Obama’s presidency and is as unsettling as the new President himself. It is essentially a chant on the concept of power, a rally cry of sorts, demonstrating a whole new side to the band. They attached a statement to the song, urging the public that “it’s never been more important that we stick together & take care of each other.” This sense of unity in resistance to Trump is definitely something that will continue to grow in the coming months, for sure.

Gorillaz (feat. Benjamin Clementine) – Hallelujah Money

After a five-year hiatus, Gorillaz have returned with Hallelujah Money, a collaboration with 2015’s Mercury Prize winner, Benjamin Clementine. His baritone voice is not necessarily the first thing you’d expect to hear on a Gorillaz track, especially one that is full of distorted hip-hop beats and a Spongebob Squarepants sample (yep, not kidding). It is a track all about the delusions of power and makes explicit reference to Trump’s Mexican wall border: “I thought the best way to perfect our tree / Is by building walls”. It essentially attacks this viewpoint of being a better and more perfect nation as ludicrous, with a similar production style to boot.

Fiona Apple – Tiny Hands

Fiona Apple was the soundtrack to the Women’s March this weekend, releasing Tiny Hands especially for the event. The song may only span 59 seconds but my god, it packs a punch. Composed by Michael Whalen, it opens and closes with a sample of Trump’s infamous “grab ‘em by the pussy” quote from Access Hollywood’s exposé, composed of just one simple yet defiant line: “We don’t want your tiny hands anywhere near our underpants”. With simple piano chords and a march-like drum beat, it’s no wonder the people marching in Washington were so pumped up and ready to grab back.

Words by Kirstie Sutherland

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