Let’s start with the obvious; it’s been one of the most explosive, divisive and unpredictable political years that our lifetime will probably ever see. If you’d told us all a couple of years ago that, in the space of just a few months, Britain would Brexit and Donald Trump would be boxing up his things and moving into the White House, we’d probably pop a tinfoil hat on your head, call you a conspiracy looney and move on.
This mind-boggling year has brought politics to the lips of almost everyone, even people who have never really engaged in political issues before because they thought Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg was about as exciting as things got. Among those we’ve seen chip in bands have been at the forefront, whether it be in interviews, on social media or in their music, and perhaps hearing more people use their voice for politics is the best thing to come of recent events.
Green Day, known for giving governmental and societal commentary in the past (who knew American Idiot would be yet again so relevant 12 years after its release?), have regularly commented on all that’s been going on. But they made their biggest statement on stage at the AMAs when they changed the lyrics of single ‘Bang Bang’ to “No Trump / No KKK / No fascist USA!”, speaking out to literally millions of people on live TV. A pretty bold move, right?
Aside from the obvious, artists back here in the UK have also rolled up their sleeves and got stuck into the world of politics. You Me At Six’s Josh Franceschi has recently began an online petition and even spoken in parliament about ticket touts and what laws can be put into place to protect fans against them. It might not be a global headline, but it’s musicians taking their industry into their own hands and shaping it into what they believe it should be, not just for themselves but for their fans as well.
It’s amazing to see artists really throwing themselves into issues that matter; it’s not about going viral, it’s not about Twitter followers or Instagram likes, it’s about things that can really make a difference and that’s so refreshing to see. It makes us feel like there is still some real authenticity left in the music industry, in between all the YouTube videos and X Factor stars, with people who got into music because they felt something inside that just needed to be said. And they’re saying it.
We’ve seen from the recent American election that celebrities showing their support doesn’t always get the result they want, so maybe they can’t sway people (and that’s probably a good thing!). But bands and artists can tap into the younger generation- who make a habit of being no-shows at the election booths and polling stations- and make them realise that they have a voice. If your favourite band is making a stand, you’re more likely to listen, to do a little research, to get involved. And that’s what we really need more of.
No, they can’t make up our minds for us. They can’t make us love politics, and they can’t make us get involved. But when bands use their platform to speak about something that matters and try to make a change, they could make just one or two kids realise they, too, have the ability to make a difference. People, whether it be rockstars or teenagers, speaking out about politics is exactly what we need more of.