Seven Deadly: Crap Protest Songs
Protest songs have been around for as long as people have been organised enough for someone to be in a position of power above someone else. There are so many incredible protest songs that evoke the feelings of pain, heartbreak, anger and resentment. There are protest songs that move people to a fundamental change of perspective, protest songs that move people to action and then there are protest songs that make you want to plug your ears with concrete. These are the Latter.
New Party System – We Are
It’s a shame that this is so bad because the cause it supports is a really important one, the whole we are the 1% and we are the ones getting shat on by the other 1% who own everything… It’s like minority violence. Anyway, we are balls deep in the new boring where everything sounds like bland crooning timeless nonsense for smooth radio, making this an apt protest song for our generation. It’s about as catchy as WD40 and sounds a lot like aging rockers from a band who had some moderate success in the 80s who are protesting against the closing of the chiropodist ward at the local hospital, rather than the rallying call of a global socio-economic movement. Which is a shame because the sum of its parts, TV on the Radio and Liturgy, are really exciting in their own right, ok I don’t really like Liturgy but at least it has heart, which this severely lacks.
Billy Bragg – All the Hits
Billy Bragg doesn’t do subtlety at all. Nor does he do metaphor, rhythm, harmony or poetic structure because he is folk to the bone. What he does do is the reduction of politics to a basic them vs us duality, writes a rudimentary speech and then sort of sings it over his rusty old guitar. Then he blames Thatcher. Which is fine because she was (and probably still is) a massive bitch. He’s more or less a whole genre of his own, not so catchy Thatcher hate. So I’m not really picking a specific Billy Bragg song, because they are all quite bad, though he gets top marks for good intentions.
BNP – Don’t Unpack You’re Going Back
The BNP are such an easy target for ridicule. It’s literally like shooting fish in a barrel with a chain gun. It really is bad sport because almost every single member of the party and its supporters lack the intellect to defend themselves, largely because they spend most of their time surrounded by idiots who share the same views as them. It’s a vicious cycle of stupidity and a living, breathing advertisement for the implementation of forced sterilisation upon our green and pleasant land. So this little ditty by Andrew Holders and written for the British National Party, is “Just a bit of a laugh but it’s what everyone is thinking!” LOLZ! In his defence he actually makes good use of the masculine rhyme, which he has remembered well from Playdays. It functions well as a protest song, it’s reasonably catchy, he gets his point across and I can imagine this is a big hit on the BNP office stereo, but since it is factually incorrect on all fronts and my padre was a semtex carrying, dope smoking, tax dodging, benefit stealing, white woman abusing darkie who took all of the white man’s jobs, it makes the list. Soz Andy.
George Michael – Shoot the Dog
Georgios Kyriacos Panagiotou, AKA George Michael dipped his toes in the protest song market with this offering back in 2002. It’s hyper 90s pop that has George Michael written all over it, squidgy electronic sampling all over the place, his undecipherable Bee-Gee like vocals completed by some East 17-esque rap that is drenched in reverb. I mean, for God’s sake man, it was 2002 not 1995. And I have no idea what you are protesting against because, like I say, it’s 2002 and I’m listening to this on the radio, no one has the internet yet so the video, which explains everything, is probably getting rotation on some Sky only channel which I don’t have either. Did I mention that I can’t make out a word of what you are saying?
The Business – Suburban Rebels
No list of shit protest songs would be complete without a nod to punk, the ultimate protest genre. The annoying thing is that I’m so spoilt for choice here, literally every punk band worth a safety pin through their bell end will have an atrocious protest song. Typically they get all railed up by some social injustice or other, string a few chords together and call someone a cunt.
When I was a punk I hated Oi because it was so dumb. I once accidentally went to an Oi show and ended up playing in an Oi band through a series of horrible coincidences. Communists, other punks who aren’t punk enough and the middle classes, who are all communists too; these are all typical examples of the sort of things that everyone at an Oi gig is permanently pissed off about and judging by the state of the toilets everyone had the clap. We get it, all the real punks are in prison and they want their Special Brew back, any punks not in prison are ‘conformists’ and agents of the tyrannical global Marxist conspiracy. Oh and if you have a job you are middle class. You all suck.
Pink – Dear Mr President
One of the first things that should happen when you become a massive pop star is that you have your face stitched shut, you are entering into a contract with the world that you will be sold to us on image, we will look up to you and admire you and even possibly aspire to be you, because you are a false idol, a marketing ploy and in return you will keep your mouth shut. For this reason you forgo any entitlement to opinion on everything ranging from the price of bread to the weight of gravity and indeed the bodies piling up around the world. There are two reasons for this, the first is that we can’t believe anything that comes out of your mouth and the second is that you actually lessen the impact of the cause when you start spouting off. When protest becomes as safe as this, it has no danger or immediacy. In short, millions of people wearing stupid rubber wristbands means a lot less than one solitary man camping outside the houses of Parliament for the best part of a decade. But what really gets me about this is that you would think that after making a song as annoyingly catchy as that Rockstar song (it was like mind AIDs) she could have thought up a better hook for this banal mess.
USA for Africa – We are the World
Last, but my no means least, we come to We Are the World, a classic piece of 80s pop gold. Also a classic piece of self-serving, egotistical nonsense. This suffers from the same problem as Band Aid in that when you get a room full of popstars they will inevitably become severely insecure and do everything in their power to shine in a room full of fluorescent lighting, just look at Cyndi Lauper screaming into the mic trying to drown out the voices in her head that are telling her that she’s the least important person there. Additionally, when you get 30 recording artists in a room each one’s contract is going to demand a few bars in the limelight, and you know, just to show they are REALLY supporting the cause they will go completely overboard with the enthusiasm. Even the whole reason this was made is crass in the extreme, it’s a typically American response to the typically British and typically grey Band Aid, we have Bob Geldof you raise to Michael Jackson. It’s a ‘we can do this bigger and better and louder and raise even more money’ pat on the back. No less than 50% of the song is spent escalating and getting progressively more over the top until you become so overwhelmed by Ray Charles’ adlibbing your brain explodes. And don’t even get me started on the 2010 remake…
Michael Jackson – Earth Song