Top Ten Anti-Establishment Songs

We at LxL don’t like seeing anyone pinned down by “the man”, so we wanted to repost this list in honor of the current events in Ferguson, MO. This list was originally put together during our governments shut down in early 2014, so it may be more relevant for that type of situation rather than what is currently going on, but we find it fitting for both. As always, let us know what we missed out on:

10.  Kanye West – “New Slaves”
new slave

For being so minimally produced, this track punches a maximal punch. More poignant everyday, Kanye opens our eyes to the government oppression, racism, and civil disconnect that is more prevalent today than anyone wants to admit.


9.  Woody Guthrie – “All You Fascists Bound to Lose”

woody guthrie

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

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”

radiohead 3

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”

black sabbath

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”

dead kennedys

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”

gil scott heron

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.”

evil duo Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious

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”

public enemy

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”

rage against the machine, 90s band, great band

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.


The “Just Missed Our List” List:

Todd:  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.


Wes:  Beatles – “Taxman”

the beatles

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”

The Flaming Lips

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.


Author: Todd

I dig musics ...

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