I can’t believe I’ve not done one of these on Brexit yet.
Sure, I’ve mentioned it in other playlists before, and it’s arguably way too late to be addressing this as we are far too deep into the bullshit to reasonably prevent any of the damage. Heck, we’re seeing more damage every day, and whilst this isn’t the first month where we’ve noticed Brexit damages, the fact that Brexiteer after Brexiteer are finally speaking out and acknowledging that maybe some of ‘project fear’ was actually an accurate prediction of the easily predictable consequences of a Tory Brexit, this seems like a good a time as any to remind everyone that this is one of the stupidest decisions we’ve been conned into making since… well the general election 1 year prior to the vote where we gave Cameron a majority.
Now that I think about it, this shit happens a lot.
But this time we’ve not just pissed off our own country. We have decided to piss off an entire continent (more or less) by repeatedly punching ourselves in the face while mocking them.
But you don’t need me to go into the ins and outs of every knock on effect this decision and the way our government has handled it has had – many other commentators have already done so far more consistently and coherently than I ever will.
I’m just providing the soundtrack to loudly cry to every time another news story breaks about another severe consequence of Brexit.
Below are just some of my favourites:
“Don’t wanna take my country back
I wanna take my country forward”
Enter Shikari’s music has gotten musically lighter in recent years – but the lyrics hit just as hard as ever. This simple repeated refrain perfectly encapsulates the backwards nature of Brexit as an ideology. In decades time, schoolbooks will be talking about how far back this decision set us in terms of peace relations, as well as technological and climate advances (assuming climate change hasn’t decimated human life by then).
There’s also a hopeful reading of this song, about how we should be pushing forward through thick and thin, which is a nice sentiment. Although it’s worth pointing out that unlike the war, which is so often compared to the current situation for some bizarre reason, that to a greater or lesser extent was unavoidable, at least from a British perspective.
This is entirely a hardship of our own doing, so the rhetoric about “oh it’s happened now, let’s just band together and keep building things better, regardless of the past” is a bit of a slap in the face and missing the point – but I suspect this reading is a bit more of a stretch than the former.
Either way, this song slaps.
“Dear anyone who hears this
I’m trapped upon the island
The natives have gone wild and
They’re making bad decisions
Very bad decisions”
This hopelessly upbeat anthem about our terrifying secluded island was a must for this playlist for this first paragraph alone. While specifically about the Brexit vote, it’s amazing just how much this resonates with any issue living in the UK.
This right wing, arrogant, clueless, racist, transphobic island.
We have gone fucking wild and honestly, if we ever do rejoin the EU – I wish they could just take full control over us and remove all sovereignty. At least in that scenario, our dictators would be somewhat competent.
Nothing Great About Britain – Slowthai
“Life moves fast, roundabouts and swings
Swings and roundabouts, you’re ’round my kid
Grass ain’t always greener where the other side lives
Nothing great about Britain”
This track is a relentless deconstruction of the British experience right now, while also celebrating the few good things left, and reminding the country what we could be if we worked with the world and not against it. I’m not one to relate to any nationalism, even cynical as it is here, but the fact of the matter is I can see why we need this message.
Our country has been co-opted by fascists who portray themselves as a caricature of what everyone hates about Britain. Boris is a pompous twat, Jacob Rees Mogg is a walking Dickensian antagonist stereotype, the Tory party are stereotypes which make us look horrible, but manage to instil a sense of pride in their voters that means they can get away with removing any actual quality Britain had/has while somehow convincing them that they’re making Britain Great again. And of course they’d know, they’re walking stereotypes.
There’s nothing great about Britain.
“Everything is fine really, silly me
Poor kids shot dead, poor kids locked up
Poor kids saying, “This is the future that you left us?”
Stopped up lunch meat, processed, punch from an unclean fatcat
Tasty, tasty poison
Carcinogenic, diabetic, asthmatic, epileptic, post-traumatic, bipolar and disaffected
Atomised, thinking we’re engaged when we’re pacified
Staring at the screen so we don’t have to see the planet die”
I did not know who Kae was until they came out earlier this year (IIRC), and this is the first song of theirs I’ve heard, and fuck it’s a good one. My music tastes have been leaning more heavily into soulful/artsy hip-hop as of late – and while I’m not sure exactly what genre this falls into, it scratches all the same itches as someone like Scroobius Pip or Aesop Rock.
Not solely about Brexit this one, but about the attitude that previous generations have had and the neglect with which they have treated the world to shape the broken, poverty stricken society that Millennials and Gen Z have to somehow impossibly fix. Brexit is 100% an extension of that attitude.
While I’m not of the opinion that older people shouldn’t be allowed to vote as they may not live to be there for the consequences – I do think there is something to be said for Boomers voting purely in their own short term interests and fantasies despite being objectively against the will of the younger generations. This ‘Tunnel Vision’ is exactly why we’re in this entire global mess of politics, environment and economics.
This track is the anthem of this condition, and is one of the best songs I’ve discovered this year. I love it.
“People going ah bloody Poles, comin’ over here, the bloody Poles
Coming over here being all Polish and mending everything
Coming over here fixing all the stuff we’ve broken, and
Are too illiterate to read the instructions for
Doing it better than us in a second language”
If you haven’t discovered this glorious dub remix of Stewart Lee’s infamous immigration routine, you haven’t lived.
The premise of this, of course, being the British attitude of everything foreign being bad despite building an entire culture based off of the inventions and contributions of immigrants and multi-culturalism.
Stewart angrily listing the contributions of these cultures in the vein of your average racist is absolutely genius – and this remix of it is an absolute bop. Go watch the routine if you haven’t seen it, then listen to this track
“Are you lost… in your lies?
Do you tell yourself I don’t realize?
Your crusade’s a disguise,
Replaced freedom with fear, you trade money for lives.
I’m aware of what you’ve done.
No, no more sorrow!
I’ve paid for your mistakes!
Your time is borrowed!
Your time has come to be replaced!”
I think No More Sorrow is Linkin Park’s first attempt at a very unsubtle political anthem (I could be wrong). Bits of Hybrid Theory and Meteora certainly dabbled with socio-political themes – but this is the first track which I think you could adequately call a protest song.
Released in the mid 2000s this obviously has nothing to do with Brexit – but the lyrics are vague enough to sadly apply to most corrupt political movements (spoiler alert, most of them are). “Replaced freedom with fear you trade money for lives” is particularly pertinent.
Brexit is and has always been about enriching a certain sect of the 1% at the loss or detriment of other lives. And despite Brexiteers screaming “Project fear” at the anti-Brexit arguments, the fact is the Government are the ones who peddled Project Fear, and Farage of course.
The whole campaign was delivered out of fear that all of Eastern Europe was going to flood the UK and decimate British culture (which, spoiler alert, didn’t happen). I don’t understand why that wasn’t labelled as project fear, but “Hey, things are going to be really difficult with Ireland” was.
“Told me “go back to my own country”
Said, since we arrived
This place has got so ugly
But this is my fucking country
And it’s never been fucking lovely”
I discovered a lot of new artists for this playlist, I love when this happens! This Bob Vylan track is explicit and very personal. An aggressive takedown of Britain’s racism problem – which in this instance is obviously not Europe related – but the venn diagram of anti-black racists and anti-European xenophobes is effectively a circle at this point.
One of the points this song touches upon is how the white British will blame immigrant families for the problems in the country – despite always being horrible to anyone who is not white and British.
It is unquestionably Tory policy which is making things worse for the working classes of the country, but again, they have somehow convinced them that the Tories are the ones trying to fix everything, and it’s the blacks, the EU, the gays, etc who are the problem. Playing on existing bigotries to let themselves off the hook and sacrifice the most marginalized groups.
Please remember this the next time a right wing party launches into a hate campaign. If they want you to hate someone so bad – analyse why. What are they covering up for? Who do they need to take the blame and for what?
“Just ’cause you don’t know you’re racist
You don’t get a pass when you’re talking your shit
Just ’cause you don’t know you’re racist
A bigot with a check list
Just ’cause you don’t know you’re racist
You don’t get a pass, get a pass for your ignorance”
Another one that isn’t specifically Brexit related – it still absolutely rings true to the attitudes of Brexit voters.
This song is all about understanding racism from an intersectional perspective and micro-aggressions. Most Brexit voters probably don’t think they’re racist. And some of them are less so than others. But there’s definitely a correlation with ignorance and microaggressions, along with people who were voting for Brexit out of a sense of unconscious superiority.
It’s a moot point anyway, generally all white people have racist tendencies and thoughts. This has to be actively worked on to unlearn. As has been said much better than me before, it is not enough to not be racist – unless you’re working to be anti-racist, you are likely being more racist than you realize.
“That one percent that live above us all, kept in power ‘til the blues do fall.
As the rich get richer, and leave the rest to rot, itʼs the working class that foot the bill regardless if they can or not.
They represent the interests of the few, a privileged world view –
austerity to fix a deficit made by the rich but at what cost?
Why must we pay for what theyʼve lost?”
Another non-specific Brexit song – but god it rings true.
The rich get richer off of this, make no mistake, yet it is the poorest who will have to suffer and ultimately pay for it. Many of our problems could be solved by simply eating the rich, I’m just saying, maybe we should try it?
“Despite repeated warnings
Our danger’s up ahead
The captain won’t be listening
To what’s been said
It feels that there’s a good chance
That we have been misled
And so the captain’s planning
To steam ahead”
By far the least subtle track on this list – Despite Repeated Warnings is a prog rock concept track where the parallels between a boat captain sailing straight into certain death despite the protests from the crew and dangers to the people on board and Brexit are just too obvious to miss.
Paul McCartney himself wasn’t that vocal against Brexit into the run up to the vote, but what’s clear in this song is he recognizes now what a stupid move this is, and references this later in the song, but everyone either can’t or refuses to turn round.
Say what you like about McCartney, this song doesn’t fuck about.
“Britain isn’t cool, you know
It’s really not that great
It’s not a proper country
It doesn’t even have a patron saint
It’s just an economic union
That’s past its sell-by date”
And to finish us off it’s good old Billy Bragg. He actually has a song explicitly about Brexit, but honestly I think this one catches the vibe I wanted much better.
A soft folk ballad about how we have progressed past the need for the United Kingdom, and British nationalism is a farce at this point. A dreary song to leave us on, but what could be more British and more Brexit than that?