Sunday, December 25, 2011

Politically Aware Songs Go Missing in 2000s?

So say Reed Johnson and Deborah Vankin, at the Los Angeles Times, "For politically aware songs, the '00s were all for naught":
The '60s gave us "Blowin' in the Wind," folk-poet Bob Dylan's challenge to the brutal status quo. The '70s served up Neil Young's "Ohio," an anthem of generational rage against the military-industrial machine. The '80s laid down "The Message," Grandmaster Flash's hip-hop jeremiad about the vicious cycle of race-based poverty. The '90s broke loose with Rage Against the Machine's "Bulls on Parade," a rap-rock rant targeting corporate greed and cultural imperialism.

And the '00s? It's produced some memorably sardonic screeds (Green Day's "American Idiot"), patriotic hell-yeah's out of Nashville like Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue (The Angry American)," and dirges of quiet desperation emanating from "The Suburbs," courtesy of Arcade Fire.

But much of the music that has topped the Billboard charts in the new millennium — Britney, Lil Wayne, Lady Gaga — might suggest that America has been one big party since 2001, despite the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, two major wars, a wobbly economy and a bitterly divided government. Likewise, the recent popular manifestations of that unrest, the tea party and Occupy Wall Street movements, so far seem to have been largely lost on popular music.

That has left some artists, music industry professionals and listeners pondering how well today's music is serving the restless masses and capturing the essence of times that indeed are a-changin'.
Look, not everyone can be the Bob Dylan of the age, but I'm not buying the lack of "politically aware" songs for an entire decade. And the authors are mostly shilling for #OWS, which is too bad, since it's a really lame movement. Besides, Keith Morris is still jamming. Amazing that the Los Angeles Times overlooked Off! in their own backyard:

Your high social caste
Privileged friends
You lure me in
But I can't be your friend
Hit on Miss Liberty
Under the cherry tree
Drunk on hypocrisy
I'm standing in the shadows
And I'm pissing in the punchbowl
I don't belong
Cocktail party
Pin the tail on the donkey
Icing on my face
But I don't like the taste
Right wing mentality
God and democracy
Red carpet royalty
I'm standing in the shadows
And I'm pissing in the punchbowl
I don't belong