Communism had ‘The Red Flag’, feminism had riot grrrl, the French revolution had Les Miserables – every revolution needs its own soundtrack. I’m not saying there’s one coming, but if there were, I think these would be the perfect tunes to listen to while overthrowing the government, smashing the patriarchy, or putting David Cameron in the bin.
Tracy Chapman – Talkin’ Bout a Revolution
An oldie but a goodie. Nobody writes about the working class experience with as much honesty and hope as Tracy Chapman. Her powerful voice over simple, laconic guitar strumming makes this the ultimate protest song. ‘Finally the tables are starting to turn.’
M.I.A. – Bad Girls
One of the most fiercely political artists of our time, in this song M.I.A. at once creates a massive pop banger and an intersectional feminist anthem. For full effect it must be enjoyed with the video, a kind of girl-power GTA and an absolute visual delight.
Janelle Monae feat. Erykah Badu – Q.U.E.E.N.
A shuddering funk anthem to being yourself, the real power comes in Monae’s rap in the outro. Backed only by soaring orchestral strings, Monae delivers an incredible, impassioned verse, opening with ‘are we a lost generation of our people? Add us to equations but they’ll never make us equal’ and only getting more powerful from there.
Kendrick Lamar – i
With the joyous chorus of ‘I love myself’ over screaming electric guitar, this is the closest Kendrick comes to out-and-out pop, and it is enormous, bouncing and anthemic. Half-way through it breaks down into a kind of black power beat poem, performed a capella over the sound of the live crowd chattering. It encompasses both ends of the spectrum of Kendrick’s work, massive tunes and his way with words, and declares that when the world is against you, self-love is your most powerful act.
Bob Dylan – The Times They Are A Changin’
Dylan is the master of the protest song, and as such his work feels just as fresh and relevant today. From the 1964 album of the same name, this bares all Dylan hallmarks – the iconic, all-American drawl, the Wild West harmonica solo. But it’s the lyrics that make cement this as classic ‘better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone, for the times they are a’changin’’.
[Clare Patterson – @