Yazoo is one of the most unique and powerful acts of early synthpop, and have been a big source of inspiration for me. Vince Clarke’s crisp, melodic synth and Alison Moyet’s powerful voice are a perfect match. Check out their music video for Don’t Go, a nice window into the early 80s, a time when talent mattered more in pop music than fitting into some narrow ideal of physical beauty. If you want to hear more of this style of music, there is a great BBC documentary called Synth Britannia which chronicles the rise of synthpop in the UK, where Vince Clarke and Yazoo are also extensively featured. Last time I checked it was available for free on Youtube.
Rap and Rock are musical genres with a rough edge, which lends itself to political messages. Pop music on the other hand is usually more light hearted, which might explain why love and romantic intrigue in past decades and nowadays partying and sex tend to be regular themes in pop songs. However there are artists who have had great success with political pop songs over the years. I have made a list of my top three pop songs with a hard hitting political message. Let me know in the comments what’s your favourite political pop hit!
Talkin’ ’bout a Revolution from 1988 by Tracy Chapman is one of those songs that keeps inspiring people across generations that there is hope for a better life for all of us, not just the super rich. The hope of a better future is a prerequisite for any positive change in society. Be sure to keep this song in your playlist for when you’re about to loose faith in humanity.
When You’re Gonna Learn from 1992 was Jamiroquai’s debut single. It questions the way we as a species are exhausting the resources of our fragile earth while wrecking it in the process. Politically conscious lyrics have been a common thread throughout their career, exemplified by their newly released single ‘Automaton’ that questions if we are loosing our souls as more and more of our waking lives are consumed by our internet presence.
They Don’t Really Care About US from 1995 by Michael Jackson was the last true super-hit released by the King of Pop. Was it a coincidence that his career declined in the aftermath of releasing such a hard hitting political song? No damning evidence was ever brought up proving that he actually molested any of those young boys. As a comparison, RnB singer R Kelly’s career seems to have taken little harm from the very serious allegations against him, including possession of child pornography and videotaping himself urinating on a 14 year old girl. But then again R Kelly was never involved in the tricky the business of politics.
“Her yer Taksim – her yer direniş” has been one of the main slogans chanted by Turkish protesters over the past weeks, literally meaning “everywhere is Taksim – everywhere is resistance.” It underlines how what’s happening in Turkey is not an isolated event, but part of a global movement, towards true democracy – without an invisible hand pulling the strings of political leaders and forcefully shaping history to benefit the very few who own the resources, control the banking sector and profit from never ending wars. Just as the police violence has been apalling, the courage and creativity of the protesters has been highly inspiring. Below are a selection of fascinating of pictures from the Turkish uprising.
Celeste Boursier-Mougenot is a French artist, trained as a musician and composer. His art installations revolve around peculiarly created soundscapes, where humans and animals interact with their surroundings to create the finest avant garde music (making eccentric composers and sheet music redundant, not to mention orchestras). In this installation from the Barbican Centre in London in 2010, a flock of zebra finches take the main stage, creating music by landing on, hopping around on and thrusting twigs between the strings of electric guitars. They seem to be having quite a good time!