Music is a Political Tool

Music can be a political tool. For example, an Australian young woman living in Rangoon put together the first girls’ singing group in the country called the Tigger Girls, who include political messages in their songs, shown in a video about them.[i] An international rap protest video titled “Multi_Viral” includes a Puerto Rican rap group singing in Spanish “The State fears us because we’re at once 132 and 15-M.” The eclectic group includes US guitarist Tom Morello, Arab-Israeli protest singer Kamilya Jubran (the only woman) and spoken word by Julian Assange, with video of a Palestine boy who chooses to play music over violence.[ii] The video references uprisings in Spain, the Arab Spring, the Occupy Movement and Mexico’s YoSoy132. Some of the lyrics were solicited from fan tweets. Assange says, “From Cairo to Quito a new world is forming, the power of people armed with the truth.”

Female rappers like Angel Haze attack sexism in the US, although she describes herself as a “real-ass bitch.”[iii] The Swedish group Femtastic produced tracks like “FATTA” to expose stories of sexual violence and rape. Other advocacy music videos in 2015 are collected online, supporting Black Lives Matter (Russian Pussy Riot punk band’s song “I Can’t Breathe”), immigrants (M.I.A), prevention of sexual assault (Lady Gaga) and domestic violence (Melanie Fiona), LGBT rights (Jennifer Hudson), and Macy Gracy’s advocacy for health care, gun control, and ending global warming.[iv] Meghan Trainor’s 2016 song “No” encourages women to assertively say no to unwanted attention from men, as repeated in the lyrics like “my name is no, my number is no.”[v] The widely watched Eurovision talent contest in 2016 was won by Jamala, a Ukrainian young woman who indirectly attacked Russian annexation of Crimea by singing “1944” about Russian deportation of her Crimean ancestors. Russian media and politicians criticized the song for being political and anti-Russian.

[i] Miss Nikki and the Tiger Girls, Global Voices, 2014.

http://www.itvs.org/films/miss-nikki-and-the-tiger-girls

[ii] Sarah Doughterty, “Millions are Watching this Puerto Rican Rap Video,” Global Post, December 17, 2013.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/131216/multi-viral-calle-13-julian-assange-rage-against-machine

[iii] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7BeH2PC1Hc

[iv] Samatha Cowan, “6 Powerful Music Videos that Tackled Pressing Social Issues in 2015, TakePart, December 27, 2015,

http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/12/27/music-videos-2015

[v] http://www.directlyrics.com/meghan-trainor-no-lyrics.html

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