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14 Top Protest Songs

14 Top Protest Songs

With Labour’s recent win in the General Election, memories of their past victory have resurfaced, along with the iconic tune “Things Can Only Get Better” by D:Ream. This track is a testament to music’s power in driving change. From Pete Seeger’s anthem for the Civil Rights Movement to Childish Gambino’s “This is America,” music has long played a role in societal transformation.

Here are 14 songs, one for each year of Conservative rule, that epitomize music’s ability to instigate change.

“Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday (1939)

Billie Holiday’s rendition of Abel Meeropol’s “Strange Fruit” was named Song of the Century by Time magazine in 1999. The haunting lyrics paint a graphic picture of lynchings in the American South. Holiday’s emotionally charged delivery solidified this track as one of her defining works.

“The Times They Are A-Changin’” by Bob Dylan (1964)

In the 1960s, Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin” became an anthem for change during the Civil Rights Movement. Dylan’s message was a call to action, urging government officials to heed the cries for reform.

“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” by Gil Scott-Heron (1971)

Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” has become a staple at protests. The song criticizes bystanders and urges active participation in the push for change.

“What’s Going On” by Marvin Gaye (1971)

The title track from Marvin Gaye’s 1971 album, penned by Renaldo “Obie” Benson, was inspired by police brutality at an anti-war protest. The lyrics call for an end to violence and advocate for the U.S. to withdraw from the Vietnam War.

“Imagine” by John Lennon (1971)

John Lennon’s “Imagine” became an emblem of hope and unity, envisioning a world without divisive boundaries. Despite its optimistic tone, Lennon acknowledges the idealism in the song.

Redemption Song by Bob Marley (1980)

Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” is considered the most influential Jamaican recording by poet Mutabaruka. The song, which deviates from Marley’s usual reggae style, addresses slavery and the racism of the 1980s, emphasizing proactive action in revolutionary times.

“Born in the USA” by Bruce Springsteen (1984)

Often mistaken as a patriotic anthem, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” tells the story of a Vietnam War veteran returning to a society that ostracizes him, highlighting economic hardships and societal issues.

“Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson (1988)

Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” urges listeners to introspect and make changes within themselves for the betterment of society, similar to Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”.

“Straight Outta Compton” by NWA (1988)

“Straight Outta Compton” by NWA offers a raw portrayal of life in a city marred by police brutality and racism. The song’s popularity brought the issues facing Black communities into mainstream awareness.

“Fight the Power” by Public Enemy (1989)

Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” remains a quintessential hip-hop protest song. Written for Spike Lee’s film “Do The Right Thing,” the song’s chorus became a rallying cry against oppression.

“Waiting on the World to Change” by John Mayer (2006)

In “Waiting on the World to Change,” John Mayer captures his generation’s sense of helplessness. Despite the passive tone criticized by activists, Mayer reflects the feeling of being unable to challenge the status quo due to systemic barriers.

“Alright” by Kendrick Lamar (2015)

Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 track “Alright” became an anthem for the Black Lives Matter movement, affirming that music can still be a potent tool for protest. Lamar noted that the song’s message was felt profoundly in communities and protests alike.

“Formation” by Beyonce (2016)

Beyonce’s “Formation” sparked international debates, with its politically charged video touching on themes of Black pride and systemic oppression. The song became a rallying cry for movements like Black Lives Matter and the Women’s March.

“Introvert” by Little Simz (2021)

Little Simz’s “Introvert” features a blend of orchestral and contemporary sounds, highlighting societal issues and internal struggles. Despite the grim tone, Simz emphasizes the strength found in unity and collective action.

These songs underscore the enduring power of music to inspire, provoke, and drive societal change, transcending generations and political landscapes.

Source: Time, Particlenews