When people in our lives get “political” we usually plug our ears or tune them out, but when our favorite artists speak up, we listen. Earlier in August, three artists put out songs within a week of each other, all with the same goal: to signal for action in today’s world of mayhem.
English pop singer Declan Mckenna released his track “British Bombs,” Philly based punk rock band The Menzingers, released “America (You’re Freaking Me Out),” and other Philly indie rock band, The Districts, released “Loving Protector Guy”. The violence, madness and overall humorous tones in the videos for these songs could be a coincidence, but it also shows that all three artists hope for the same thing: political change in today’s chaotic world.
Of the three songs released, singer Declan Mckenna first put out “British Bombs,” an anti war song to the public on the arms race in Britain. Declan hasn’t shied away from bringing issues seeming “taboo” to light, as he put out tracks that discuss police brutality, religion and sexuality in the past. In “British Bombs” however, Declan gives an outcry to all the madness going on. His yelling vocals demand us to listen as he chants, “Great Britain won’t stand for felons/ Great British bombs in the Yemen.” The upbeat song slows down as Declan comments on the current state of war and violence. The bridge builds intensity as Declan sings, “And if it’s not a fucking war crime/It’s a total waste of your time” and it proceeds again into the catchy chorus.
Additionally, the music video gives the same back and forth motion between calmness and chaos as it shows innocent cartoon characters and comic book visuals on violence.
Similar themes of chaos are found in the band The Menzingers’ track, “America (You’re Freaking Me Out).” Being the first song on The Menzingers’ upcoming album Hello Exile, “America” is an ode to the constant cycle of brutality in our country today. The music video especially pays tribute to the political frenzy of the U.S, using an outside perspective (an alien) inserted in America, experiencing the realities of many citizens. As you might expect, the alien gets slightly overwhelmed when seeing scene after scene of violence on TV.
Singer and lyricist Greg Barnett shouts during the chorus, “With all of my anger I scream and shout/America, I love you but you’re freaking me out” making listeners feel overwhelmed. The lyrics and intense instrumentals get you to feel the same emotions of fear, confusion, and anger on the current state of stress in our country (if you haven’t felt it yet). Greg Barnett comments on the song’s inspiration when discussing their upcoming album stating, “We live in a pretty insane time, where all you can think about every single day is ‘what the hell is going on in this country?’”
Last but not least, indie rock band, The Districts recently released a similarly themed track titled “Loving Protector Guy.” This melodic and laid-back tune speaks on a situation that occurred with a band member’s cousin. As singer Rob Grote describes in the opening, his cousin had a guy “pull out a gun” and “shoot him” but then pauses to say it was a water gun. The band shares a statement about the song on social media, describing that although it was a water gun (which his cousin found funny) it still gives the same fear of what could happen, and what frequently does.
They emphasize that recurring themes of gun violence have made this fear normalized, along with these types of situations when shown on the news or in the media. The song was released in support for the organization EveryTown for Gun Safety, in which they proceed to say in their statement that they “hope for change to come soon.”
Bringing out the fear and anger frequently felt in our overwhelming world, all three tracks speak on the normalized cycle of violence we often witness today. Although each song comments on different scenarios, the same theme carries on in each of them. Overall, the artists all have the same goal: to get people to listen and feel the same passion as they do, while waiting for the rest of the world to follow suit.