It’s that time of the year when we all take a little time off from work, put on goofy sweaters, and join with friends and family to sing protest songs by the fire. With Grammy nominations announced and digital outlets falling over each other to announce the best record, single, meme, tweet and haircut of the year. So since this is the place for politics, why not take a look back at the most interesting, inspirational and hilarious political themes that were explored through the medium of music.
Cass McCombs – Bradley Manning
Folk Singer Cass McCombs imagines the life of Pvt. Manning leading up to his alleged leaking of classified intelligence documents to Wikileaks. A sympathetic and straightforward story sung without affectation in the traditional American style.
Epic Rap Battles of History – Barack Obama vs. Mitt Romney
In this rap parody things get heated, Fake Romney boasts “I’ll go Bain Capital on your @$$ and restructure your face?” only to have Fake Obama quip that the former governor is, “so rich and white it’s like I’m eating cheesecake.” Just when tensions reach a peak, Abe Lincoln and a bald eagle settle the dispute.
Bruce Springsteen – We Take Care of Our Own
The pundits sure made a big deal about the optics of Pres. Obama’s post-Sandy visit to New Jersey. It may be that hugging Gov. Christie helped his claim to be a post-partisan figure, potentially swaying independents, but Jersey was a lock before the storm hit. This song is why.
Auto-Tune the News – Debate Highlights Songified
The folks at Auto-tune the news have been bringing a comedic and melodic edge to news coverage and political events for a few years now. With this debate footage they lay down a catchy beat with smooth synthesizers, and, most shockingly, actually do a nice job of summarizing the candidates’ positions using clips from the debate.
Tom Morello, Serj Tankian & Tim McIlrath – We are the 99%
On the first anniversary of Occupy Wall Street Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello teamed up with Serj Tankian, vocalist of System of a Down, and punk rocker Tim McIlrath of Rise Against to deliver a call to arms designed to revitalize the social movement.
Killer Mike – Reagan
Killer Mike is based out of Atlanta where he came up with Outkast and members of the legendary Dungeon Family hip-hop crew. ‘Reagan,’ a single off of his 2012 release “R.A.P. Music,” caught some listeners by surprise with its blunt political rhymes like, “They declare the war on drugs like a war on terror / but what it really did was let the police terrorize whoever.”
Pussy Riot – Putin Lights up the Fires
Every jaded hipster who has ever said those three magic words, “Punk is Dead,” had to eat his hat in 2012 when the Russian rockers released a song that hurled vitriol against the Russian president the same day that they were sentenced to two years in jail for “hooliganism.”
Hank Williams Jr. – Take Back Our Country
More than just a token conservative song to add balance to this list, Hank Williams Jr. lays down some tasty country licks while dishing out some pretty hilarious social commentary with gems like “Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Bing, lots of divorces from showing them things…why don’t you mind your own business.”
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Same Love ft. Mary Lambert
Macklemore and Ryan Lewis had a big year with their hit album, The Heist. On this track the Portland MC shows his cards with the opening line, “When I was in the third grade, I thought that I was gay, my uncle was and I kept my room straight.” This unique duet expresses what a majority of Americans now believe, that equality includes marriage.
Just New Productions – Obama that I Used to Know
For months on end fears of an “enthusiasm gap” and worries that young people would not turn out for the Democrats as they did in 2008 preoccupied political strategists. Many on the left had harsh words for the president about drones, debt, and detainees to name a few controversial topics. This wonderful parody combined all those concerns with the song and video of the year.