Music and Politics in 2016

One of the most important aspects of popular music, is the voice that it gives to the people making it. We all have something to say, many artists reach stardom because what they have to say resonates with so many people.

Most associate politically charged music with the 1960’s, where the folk songs of people like Bob Dylan, the anti vietnam anthems of the burgeoning rock bands and the classic love songs of The Beatles encaptured the ideals of the masses of the time.

But don’t assume that since the 1960’s music is all about twerking and Instagram, music and politics still hold a special relationship that over the past week has thrust itself back into the mainstream, whether you know it or not.

Neosoul singer Charles Bradley released his new single this week, “Change for the World” along with a hard hitting politically charged video. Lyrics like “stop hiding behind religion” with footage of the “Je Suis Charlie” marches, lyrics of false preachers and hate mongers with images of Donald Trump, and footage of the Black Lives Matter protests make the point that we are dealing with many of the same problems as the 60’s, and music plays the same role in speaking the mind of the people.

You can’t get much more mainstream than the Grammy’s, which took place earlier this week. The runaway performance was undoubtedly Kendrick Lamar’s politically driven medley of tracks from his 3rd album. Much like his new album, and it’s 2 Grammy winning predecessors, the performance shoved issues of racial inequality, black identity and violence and inherent flaws in the industrial prison complex into the audience’s face. Ever since the blues music has been used to deal with racism, and the fact that such modern music is speaking on the same issues says as much as Kendrick’s lyrics. Check out his jaw dropping performance if you haven’t already.

From music dealing with age old issues, to events which are still sore in the collective mindset of the music world. Eagles of Death Metal returned to Paris this week to “finish” the concert that they started when the concert hall was attacked by extremists. The concert was held for the survivors of the first, and attempted to not only give some closure to what has been a life changing time for all involved, but in a bold statement of solidarity against hate and the power of music as a positive entity.

So if the notion that modern pop music is becoming a little trivial ever pops into your head, rest assured people from all around the world are still using music to try and affect a change.