ELECTION TIME: 7 Classic Anti-Conservative Anthems
Elections in The United States are Tuesday and everyone is pissed! While things are extradordinarily bad here and globally, the rightward drift of the western world has been undeniable for at least 20 years. We love it!
In short: Political conservatism is a cancer that reflects the moral failure of any society that allows it to flourish. Here are some fun songs about that:
7: 2 + 2 = 5 (Radiohead)
Leading off an album named for George W. Bush’s theft of the 2000 presidential election, “2 + 2 = 5" is Radiohead diving headfirst into Orwellian spookiness instead of mumbling weirdly about it for once.
While the total lack of subtly might feel limiting, it also comes from a band known for its fear of computers, transportation, and oxygen, probably. The result is a simmering electronic tension resolving into a rock freakout that questions what, exactly, is real.
This song does lose points for (characteristically) sounding like it’s about cyborg robots coming to fuck us all to death. Which, cool imagery, dudes! But not super related to the conservative project (yet).
6: Americans (Janelle Monáe)
This galactic toe-tapper gets filed under “infectiously fun but actually scathing”. Told from the perspective of a huge piece of shit, “Americans” reads as a fizzy gospel spin on the Footloose song, which would make our narrator the John Lithgow character. Janelle, just let them DANCE goddammit.
The groove has a breezy substance that colors a succinct piece of invective about the American identity in way that probably flies over the head of any right wing dipshit humming along, until the big “fuck you” speech a few minutes in. In other words: “Born In The USA” without sounding like it’s at the bottom of a well.
5: Tramp the Dirt Down (Elvis Costello)
Maybe the funniest entry on this list, “Tramp the Dirt Down” is an astoundingly personal attack on one Margaret Thatcher, who was like the British Michael Jordan of being a soulless political hack. While the lyrics are loaded with great burns, it’s mostly about the titular phrase. Which is about outliving Mags and stomping on her grave. Fun!
The comedy kicks in during (infinity) exchanges with the British press from the song’s release in 1989 to when the Iron Lady finally kicked the Iron Bucket in 2013. It always went something like this:
REPORTER: So that one about stomping on Margaret Thatcher’s grave.
REPORTER: You’re not gonna play it when she dies, right?
COSTELLO: (sneering) Of course I am, why would I write it otherwise?
REPORTER: (flips out)
COSTELLO: (flips out)
Then, in 2013, when she finally went off to break up that big union in the sky, Costello proceeded to play it every five minutes for huge crowds. Imagine waiting 24 years for someone to die so you can sing your ode to them staying dead forever. Heartwarming stuff.
4: Reagan (Killer Mike)
Meanwhile, Stateside and almost 25 years later, the Killer Mike half of Run The Jewels took an “I’m glad you’re dead, bitch” approach to America’s Thatcher: Ronald Wilson Reagan.
Incisive and exceedingly direct, Killer Mike’s trademark what-the-fuck-also-I-did-the-reading verses cover everything from trickle-down economics to privatized prisons to generations of politicans from both parties who carry The Gipper’s sadistic torch. It’s a fire and brimstone eulogy for someone who’s already burning in hell and also great material if you’re looking to ruin Thanksgiving.
Mike brings it home with the conclusion that Reagan was, ultimately, a tool used by a much larger and more powerful establishment–the one that’s controlled every national figure since. But do not despair! He leaves us on an optimistic note: Isn’t it great that piece of shit Reagan is dead? Also Ron is for sure the devil (Ronald Wilson Reagan = 666 keep up).
3: Kill The Poor (Dead Kennedys)
Just a handful of sneering kids distilling the entire conservative viewpoint into a three-word, irony-poisoned battle cry. Good, clean fun.
The Jane Fonda callout is refreshing-if-expected from a group named for famously monied but ineffectual liberals. Overall, this track makes a fantastic enemy out of vaugely well-meaning people who say thoughtful things before getting “dressed up [to] dance the night away”.
RELATED: There aren’t any acoustic protest songs on here because, while many are quite good, that whole sound is too optimistic. Conservatism is gross, it can’t sound like a Nature Valley ad. Also: too many crumbs!
2: Washington Bullets (The Clash)
“Washington Bullets” is a great distillation of The Clash’s sound at the start of the 80s. Over a polished but unexpected mix of marimba textures and crisp reggae/rock rhythms, Joe Strummer spends four minutes attempting to name drop every atrocity committed by the US around the globe since World War II. Fun fact: Four minutes is not enough!
While the expansive condemnation of US foreign policy sent “Bullets” up the list, that approach also creates a Schoolhouse Rock thing where you feel obligated to look up every reference. Hey Joe, if I wanted to take a course on CIA activity in the mid-20th century, I’d go back to community college!
Anyway I’m a Republican now. #2 it is.
1: The Guillotine (The Coup)
You lookin’ for a good anti-conservative anthem? *slaps hood* This baby’s got it all.
Want a nice, menacing background hook that sounds like the bad guy just showed up in a video game? You got it. How about clear-as-day, us-vs-them imagery that depicts long odds, marrow-deep solidarity, and a mission to destroy the system? Boom.
Besides the intense “Fuck talk, let’s act” energy of this track, the whole thing revolves around a perfectly deployed chorus line of children singing to a handclap beat:
We got the guillotine
We got the guillotine, you better run
For once, instead of being like “ohhh creepy kids singing!” it just sounds like a bunch of very-real 12 year olds coming to liberate your bourgeois head from its stupid body. Ultimately, this one reigns supreme because while the prior songs contain plenty of outrage, this is what they’ll play when the guillotine comes out for real.
Anyway, I know Spotifly playlists suck to share but thought this one made for a good listen if anyone can figure out how:
PS: If you see “The Guillotine” on the ballot, do NOT vote for it. That’s Andrew Guillotine, who is racist.