Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

I think most people at this point know that certain songs were written as a result of politics and political environments. “American Idiot” by Green Day is, among other things, a critique of the Iraq War and the George W. Bush presidency, while “Born in the U.S.A.” by Bruce Springsteen criticizes the treatment of Vietnam veterans and the effects of the Vietnam War.

These are far from the only politically-oriented songs though, and some are a bit more subtle about their undertones.

Although P!nk’s “What About Us” sounds like a catchy pop song, the music video begins with a clip of Chris Christie’s Republican National Convention speech, making it clear that P!nk’s references to “broken promises” and being fooled are referring to a larger-scale issue within the current American political system and the country in general.

Almost Like Praying” by Lin-Manuel Miranda featuring Artists for Puerto Rico may seem like an obvious choice on the list as a response to the lack of response (read: financial assistance) to the crisis in Puerto Rico post-Hurricane Maria. However, there are some less overt cues in the song as well; many politicians repeatedly send their “thoughts and prayers” to communities after tragedies instead of proposing effective, lasting changes to harmful policies, and the repetition of “almost like praying” throughout the song echoes this.

Gossip’s lead singer, Beth Ditto, has made it very clear that the chorus of “Standing in the Way of Control” was written to encourage people not to lose hope after the proposal of the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2002, which would have defined marriage as strictly between a man and a woman.

The Australian band Midnight Oil’s song “Beds Are Burning” was written as a plea to the Australian government to allow Pintupi Aboriginal individuals to return to their homelands. Interestingly enough, the lead singer, Peter Garrett, is now a member of the Australian House of Representatives, so apparently his inclination for politics continued through the years.

While many people know the song “Feel It Still” by Portugal. The Man, fewer people know that it’s actually a commentary on the current political landscape and the rhetoric within it. If you listen closely, though, the message becomes a bit clearer, especially if you read what the musicians themselves were thinking through the process of writing the song. Writer John Baldwin Gourley, in reference to the lyrics “It’s time to give a little to the kids in the middle/ But, oh until it falls won’t bother me,” noted that “With all the talk right now, of building a wall at our borders and the Berlin Wall, it was so much just like the image that you had in your head growing up that these people are separated by a wall, and why do we need that?”

Rachel Minkovitz is a senior at Bates College double majoring in Psychology and French and Francophone Studies. She spends a lot of time listening to music, hanging out with friends, reading and writing, advocating for social justice, and looking for furry animals. 
Similar Reads👯‍♀️