Another month, another wealth of Tory bullshit to inspire this month’s musical rage playlist.
This was a tricky one, not for lack of inspiration, more to the lack of trying to narrow down one particular theme rather than just Evil politicians being evil. Do I try to capture the feeling of dread many of the more vulnerable people in our society have at the frankly reckless and suicidal relaxing of covid restrictions this month? Do I try and capture the hypocritical nationalism sweeping the nation proud of a team of athletes they were booing mere days ago because of a symbolic gesture against racism?
In the end, I settled on something that’s gone under the radar thanks to the football mania and preparations for “Freedom Day”. The passing of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, with a worrying clause that potentially criminalizes the mere act of protesting, if the law enforcement deem your protest to fall under the category of “Serious Annoyance”.
Now if you read the gov.uk website on this, they stress that the language of serious annoyance is independent from simply “being annoyed” by something – and they define serious annoyance as the following:
- allowing a field to be used for holding an all-night rave;
- conspiring to switch off the floodlights at a football match so as to cause it to be abandoned; and
- noise, dirt, fumes, noxious smells and vibrations.
But that’s honestly besides the point. Just because legally they have no right to shut down protests, it would be very easy for this bill to be open to interpretation. The vagueness of that last point in particular doesn’t fill me with confidence. Even if we give the Tories the benefit of the doubt that this bill isn’t inherently designed to clamp down on the right to protest, there is no guarantee that this won’t be how it’s enforced in the future.
Not to mention the fact that we’ve seen law enforcement get violent towards protestors over very little. Once the people start defending themselves, that will give law enforcement legal justification in those actions.
Let’s not forget that this was introduced shortly after the murder of Sarah Everard by a cop.
Let’s not forget how the police acted at those very protests towards women in particular. Make no mistake, this bill achieves nothing for the people, and everything for the law and those in power. Maybe I’m wrong, and corruption will play no part in the administration of these new laws.
But we both know that’s not the case.
So this month – to remind us all why protest is a right that we cannot afford to lose, to celebrate the successful protests past, and to inspire future demonstrations, here is a playlist about the Right to Protest – and more importantly, the right to incite “Serious Annoyances” in the name of social justice and industrial action:
“My panther my brother
We are at war until you’re free
You’ll never silence tha voice of tha voiceless
You’ll never silence tha voice of tha voiceless
You see tha powerful got nervous
Cause he refused to be their servant
‘Cause he spit truth
And burned like black churches”
Kicking off today’s playlist with another RATM Classic. Honestly I don’t know where these blogs would be if it weren’t for the existence of Tom Morello. If one of his bands doesn’t feature on one of our playlists, then countless bands inspired by his work will.
Voice of the Voiceless isn’t one of my favourite tracks, but the lyrics really struck a chord with me in reflection of the current situation. This bill, even if you assume the best and that the fact that it could easily be used to stomp down protestors is a bug and not a feature, is a reflection of the nerves of power. Whether it’s someone like Marcus Rashford who has captured the hearts of the nation in his campaigning on behalf of working class kids all over the country, or a group of unnamed protestors disrupting the corrupt police forces and pushing them to show their true colours. This bill is clearly the reaction of a power that is nervous of the people they control.
Don’t get me wrong – this doesn’t mean the rest of the fight will be easy – the opposite in fact. But if the powerful are scared, then we are doing something right, and have to keep it up.
“The people up top push the people down low
And obey every word
Steady getting mine if you haven’t yet heard
Wanna take what I got
Don’t be absurd
Don’t fight the power
Nobody gets hurt
If you haven’t heard yet then I’m letting you know
There ain’t shit we don’t run when the guns unload
And no one make a move unless my people say so
Got everything outta control
Now everybody go
We the animals take control
Hear us now
Clear and true
Wretches and kings we come for you”
You’re all probably sick of this track by now, I include it at any given opportunity.
But honestly, this is probably my favourite Linkin Park track of all time. Certainly my favourite post-Hybrid Theory track at the very least. The entire band is on top form here. The beat is great, the mix is on point, the lyrics and rapping are reminiscent of the golden age of hip-hop and the political sensibilities thereof. All combining to make one of LP’s most politically charged anthems and one of the best protest songs to date.
In context of the rest of this album this track is set in a fictional dystopian event, but the use of Mario Savio’s “Bodies upon the gears speech” at the beginning and end of the track, fully cements the lyrics relevance in reality as well as in the heart of the excellent concept album that is A Thousand Suns.
“All that’s what they want for you to say
To remain silent
Now you have the right to remain
To remain violent”
Another regular on my playlists – this track from the thrash gods that are Warbringer is about police brutality as a whole, but translates particularly to protesting and industrial action. It is especially pertinent as a response to the current policing bill in the UK.
The fact is that despite being very careful to make it appear that this bill is for the good of the people and their safety, all it really does is gives the police a get-out-of-accountability-free card for when they deliberately escalate protests to violence in order to undermine the cause and justify the excessive force they use.
After the point, they then expect you to remain silent, in that well known police trope catchphrase – but also in a wider sense of just shutting up and let these things happen, let the people be abused and oppressed, let the powerful consume more power for themselves, and let the law run rampant under the guise of protecting the people.
“You know the time is right to take control
We got to take offense against the status quo
No way, not gonna stand for it today
Fight for your rights, it’s time we had our say
I say fuck authority
Raised by the system
Now it’s time to rise against them”
This was a recommendation from our very own Thom Bee I believe. This track perfectly sums up the specific forms of corruption being enacted here, and what the response should be from us. This should be a sign that more than ever we need to make our voices heard, not just comply and be restricted to the approved channels that have been designed to satisfy liberals without ever actually having the ability to impact or enact any real change.
“Tell those with power safe in their tower
We will not obey!
Behold the brave battalion that stands side by side
Too few in number and too proud to hide
Then say to the others who did not follow through
You’re still our brothers, and we will fight for you”
So, I have never heard this song or since this movie/musical in my life, but my god I need to see it now. Music by Alan Menken, one of Disney’s best composers, behind such greats as The Little Mermaid, The Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Tangled, and precisely 0 other Disney properties that are less good. Don’t look it up, definitely not the guy behind Pocahontas and Home on the Range too.
No one can be perfect though, and doing the score for Little Shop of Horrors more than makes up for where he slacked.
Anyway, this song, and by extension musical is all about the Newsboys’ strike of 1899 in New York, and is a joy to listen to. Musical soundtracks in particular offer this sense of uplifiting and hope that few other musical disciplines do, and Seize the Day is no exception. And while this is based on a strike from over 100 years ago, the lyrics and story ring true as much today as they ever have.
I particularly like the line “Then say to the others who did not follow through,/ you’re still our brothers, and we will fight for you”, which is a thing that I really admire about any form of social action like this. Sure, the left bickers about a lot of stuff, and there’s a lot of disagreements from different left leaning factions, and even within those factions there are different values and personalities that lead to discrepancies in ideas and decisions. But ultimately, we are all fighting for a common goal, and whether you reject the notions of industrial actions and protests or not, those who fight, are fighting for all of us.
And this is where the left shines. We’ll argue and protect our own viciously – but what we’re fighting for will benefit a large percentage of right-wing voters too. And whether you ever see our way or not, we are standing up for your rights as much as our own. Just not the ones that involve oppressing the rights and endangering the lives of other marginalized groups.
“Now we’re fighting back
We will not be oppressed
Illusion of choice
But I have a voice
Stand up for what’s right
We won’t be denied”
Another Thom suggestion, go Thom! This bouncy Ska track doesn’t hold back on its aggression and rage. There’s a stereotype that ska punk is somehow less serious than its Punk or indeed Ska roots. But despite the upbeat jaunty horn sections, the lyrics and soul behind a lot of the best Third and Fourth wave ska is on par with any of your average hardcore bands.
While this track is more about the broken two party system in America than about protesting itself, it does highlight the need to make your voice heard independently of your voting options. Voting in elections is only one way of exercising democracy. Protests and demonstrations, and standing up for your rights are equally as important.
“Most people think
Great god will come from the skies
Take away everything
And make everybody feel high
But if you know what life is worth
You will look for yours on earth
And now you see the light
You stand up for your rights”
I have a very weird relationship with Bob Marley – while I can only name maybe 3 of his songs, he was definitely one of the first musicians if not celebrity names as a whole that I recognized. Well before I even cared about music, let alone Reggae.
This track is a quintessential protest song. Reggae has a very unique tone that manages to encompass very tricky and complex political points whilst retaining a very calming vibe.
Unlike a lot of the punk and Hip-Hop on this playlist, this isn’t an overtly angry song. It comes from a place of anger for sure, but it’s calm and collected, which I think is a very useful tool in any protest song.
Not that overtly angry tracks are bad – this playlist is full of them! We need songs to help let anger out with, but we also need those reflective and introspective tracks that help process and examine the situation and your own actions and planning.
I particularly like the verse about God not coming from the skies to fix everything and make everything better, but how you should be actively looking to make things better on earth not waiting for a deity to fix it all.
My knowledge of Marley is limited enough that I’m not sure to what extent this was literal and what extent it isn’t. But whether or not you’re religious, the sentiment of waiting for a higher power to fix your problems rings true. Whether it’s a literal deity, or just some human saviour – it’s important to be reminded that your actions are in your control – no one else’s. Having external help is good of course and will be an invaluable asset. But unless you start proactively fighting for your rights, the chances of someone coming to save you are negligible. Stand up for your rights.
“If we don’t have protest
what have we got?
a government regime
if we don’t have protest
what are we?
we’re part of the machine”
What an interesting artists these guys are. Rather than a solo project or an established band, Andy B & The World’s “The First One” is a worldwide collaboration project with 172 unique Ska/punk and folk musicians. The result of this is an album that encompasses a micro generation of musical talent and compositions. This can be a bit jarring, and there’s a lot of variety here, but not a bad thing at all.
This track is particularly pertinent, sounding very modern Britpunk with elements of Ska that make for a delightful anthem against the government, and insight into the importance of protesting.
This is made even more interesting, as it is a worldwide project, and this sentiment applies to the majority if not all of the world to one extreme or the other.
If we don’t have protest, we have a dictatorship. Keep hold of it.
“No, you can’t out-vote ’em
The rules is still golden
Only jewels we holding is if we guarding our scrotum
If you press your ear to the turf that is stolen
You can hear the sound of limitations exploding
Please sir, may we have another portion?
We’re children of the beast that dodged the abortion
Neck placed firm ‘tween the floor and the Florsheim
We’ll shut your shit down, don’t call it extortion
Caution — we’re coming for your head
So call the Feds and get files to shred”
Another familiar track here from The Coup. This is more about revolution than it is protesting – but the latter is an integral part of the former. Revolutions don’t just happen – they start with ideas, demonstrations, and are fed by attempts to suppress us. We’re on that third step now, so you know what happens next.
“Do we sit still
Or do we start pushing back?”
Otep is a great musician – and really puts the riot in riot grrl. With a musical style more akin to Nu Metal than the punk that typifies that genre, I think it’s hard to talk about feminist protest music without bringing up Otep.
Crushing Static-X-esque riffs, harsh vocals, and unapologetic queer femme lyrics. If this track doesn’t motivate you to push back, I’m not sure what will.
“If you look at the benefits of ordinary working people
All the things they’ve achieved in life, is accomplished with strikes
I don’t think there ever be a day in life, when ordinary people can say, ‘I never have to go and strike again’”
Finishing up with this unique indie rock track that samples a few short powerful lines about the power of strikes, the need of protest, and losing trust in the police.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record: almost no social progressions or achievements have been achieved without some form of protest or industrial action. The fact is, we will probably never have a time where these methods aren’t necessary to enact change. At the very least we need a complete overhaul of our political system before that can happen, and the chances of that happening in our lifetime isn’t high.
So in the meantime, fuck the bill, keep causing an annoyance, stand up for your rights, push back, and fight.
And get ready for our show on the 26th July with Team Captains Khalid Winter & Bobbie Jones, along with guests Ela Bambust, Jake Donaldson, Kath Marvelley and Ryan Kenny!