The Intersection of Politics and Music

This unlikely pairing has had an ongoing fling for centuries, with music often reflecting the lifestyle of its flamboyant partner, politics. So when in 2016 have the two had a rendezvous?

First cab off the rank is the Black Eyed Peas with their remake of their 2003 anthem Where Is The Love. The track itself is an ode to this absolute disaster of a year, commemorating the collapse of global affairs, whilst targeting gun violence.  The video features images from the Syrian war, the migrant crisis (including three-year-old Alan Kurdi on the beach) and Black Lives Matter protests. The most distressing part of the video is the appearances from Sandra Sterling, the aunt of Alton who was killed by police earlier this year, Valerie Castile, the mother of Philando who was controversially shot, and David O’Brown, the Dallas Police Chief.

Beyoncé’s Formation has also been dubbed a public declaration of her support of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Whilst there are no explicit ties to the organisation, powerful images within the video tell the whole story. The video shows a child dancing in front of a police riot and a wall spray painted with the words “stop shooting us”. Beyoncé also sinks a New Orleans police car.

Axis Of Awesome’s Jordan has recently come out publicly as transgender and gives some insight into her experience in their cover of Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Since Caitlin Jenner came onto the scene, transgender has become a topical subject on the media agenda. Finally a dialogue was brought to the fore and promoted a new strain of acceptance. This has been vital for lobbyist groups promoting puberty blockers, and to protecting the rights of transgender parents.

Macklemore’s Kevin highlights a lesser known epidemic in America, drug addiction. The rapper tells the tale of a young musician who lost his life under the influence of prescription medication. Many are focussed on gun violence, but in 2014 47,000 people were killed by overdoses – more than were killed by guns, or in traffic accidents. In a year where the news cycle has been dominated by trivial Trump quotes, songs like these are an important reminder that important political issues can be sidelined. Irrespective of a crises gravity.

The last and possibly the largest connection between politics and music in 2016 is Beyoncé’s  entire album, ‘Lemonade’, which was released conveniently in the same year as the US election. The concept album describes the inner torment of a jilted wife, whose husband has had sexual extra curricular activities. After working through the stages of depression and anger, the protagonist finds herself at the point of forgiveness, willing to uphold her wedding vows despite her partners indiscretions. Sound familiar? Oh yes, Hillary and Lewinsky a.k.a. Bey and Becky. One of the biggest stains on Clinton’s campaign was her decision to stay with Bill. People have perceived her as weak because of it. However, Beyoncé is a trendsetter, with many seeing her as one of the most powerful women in the world. If Bey stayed with Jay, then maybe people will stop judging Hillary for her choices.


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