With the Congress bringing the almighty U.S. government at a stand-still (you know, except for Congress receiving their own paychecks), we decided to craft a list of the top ten songs to accompany this government shutdown. The last time the government took this route, there were actually some fitting tracks ruling the airwaves: “Another Night” by Real McCoy, “Run-Around” by Blues Traveler, and “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio are just a couple where the title rings all too true. Not to be outdone, 2013 gives us “Blurred Lines”, “We Can’t Stop”, and “Radioactive” to appropriately jam to.
Pop corollaries aside, we decided to make this list for those that are mighty frustrated, and want to rage against this inefficient mess. Not much lighthearted fare on this list, just bombast after frustration, followed by some heavy indictments. Whether this shutdown affects you or not, get your riot gear on and hit the streets (or at least your nearest dive bar). Enjoy, and as always shoot us some favorites of yours that we missed.
10. M.I.A. – “Born Free”
Contrary to the beliefs of the uninitiated, flipping off all of ‘Merica during her Super Bowl performance was just a mild dose of M.I.A.’s anachronistic career. M.I.A. has always had strong views, but her big coming out party for her views may be her lead single for her third album Maya. Accompanied by a shocking video, “Born Free” takes to task the ever more oppressive role of government.
9. Woody Guthrie – “All You Fascists Bound to Lose”
Woody Guthrie wants to “Show those fascists what a couple of hillbillies can do”. “All You Fascists Bound to Lose” is a simple song, but sometimes repeating a simple line or two is the most effective way to get a point across. Go get ’em, Woody.
8. Nina Simone – “Mississippi Goddam”
Nina Simone had to deal with a very harsh reality as a black woman in her era, but instead decided to look at the bigger issues in our country as a whole in “Mississippi Goddam”. It’s a paranoid little piano ditty, and has a profoundly lasting effect.
7. Radiohead – “2+2=5”
If someone told you “2+2=5” would you believe them or question it? Radiohead seems to think people all too often accept this imperfect theorem from the powers that be, and they choose to rail against that reality with a whiny-voiced lead singer.
6. Black Sabbath – “War Pigs”
War will be the end of us all according to Black Sabbath. Ozzy Osborne may have become a cartoonish idiot, but back in the day, the man had some ideas to share. “War Pigs” takes an interesting journey into the mechanisms of war, not just the casualties, and is just an all-out great anthem.
5. Dead Kennedys – “California Über Alles”
Of course the Dead Kennedys recorded one of the few great songs that rages against the “zen fascists”. This song is actually kind of hilarious and terrifying at the same time. Calling out Jerry Brown may not be seen as relevant today, but it certainly was in the time of DK.
4. Gil Scott-Heron – “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”
Musician? Poet? O.G.? Gil Scott-Heron was all of these. The entrancing drum accompaniment on “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” focuses the listener to really hear the greatest political speech of all time. In my opinion, it’s barely a song, but weirdly it’s one of the most important moments in music history.
3. Sex Pistols – “Anarchy in the U.K.”
The Sex Pistols knew how to scare the absolute shit out of some people. Why say you’re an anarchist when you can say you’re the antichrist on top of that. Put your dainty tea sets away and cover the ears of your old lady monarch, because the Sex Pistols aren’t messing around.
2. Public Enemy – “Fight the Power”
Chuck D and the gang always knew how to get you moving while also getting some very poignant ideas across. “Fight the Power” is the cream of the crop from Public Enemy, and almost 25 years later hasn’t lost any part of its anti-establishment luster.
1. Rage Against the Machine – “Sleep Now In the Fire”
Who is more anti-establishment than Rage Against the Machine? No one, that’s who. When constructing the pool of songs for this list, we came to the realization that just about any Rage track would fit, so we went with group favorite, “Sleep Now in the Fire”. This track demands that we wallow in the hell that we have made for ourselves, which is a little dramatic for a government shutdown, but hey, we’re allowed some dramatics.
Todd: TV on the Radio – “Dancing Choose”
Leave it to TVOTR to record a dance-friendly ode to the crushing results of living the utilitarian lifestyle of materialism. Under the veil of masterfully crafted layers of sound, Tunde Adebimpe schools the listener on the emptiness inside all of us.
Wes: Beatles – “Taxman”
Wes, ever a slave to the classics, of course gets some Beatles on the list. The Beatles “Taxman” is really perfect for our list though, spiraling against taxes and the powers that be implementing them. It may not be the sexiest thing to go against these days, but no one likes paying taxes.
Austin: Flaming Lips – “Free Radicals”
This is hands down my favorite Flaming Lips song. The song has been said to be about anything from their Beck being a dickhead to George W. Bush being, well, a dickhead. I see it in more broad strokes as calling out those that pretend to be anti-establishment to eventually be taken in by the majority. Almost like an anti-anti-establishment song, at least when radicalism is done for the wrong reasons.