Hey everyone! So I looked throughout this site for an appropriate thread to post this in but eventually came to the conclusion that it better suits a new thread.
Basically, I thought it might be interesting to have a place on this site to specifically discuss how music trends have effected the world and vice versa, especially as they pertain to the major music charts and markets of the world (with the closest look being Australian, I'd imagine.) So my idea for this thread is for people to freely ask questions and for others to give their opinions or articles or statistics or whatever else they think might be a valuable contribution to the discussion.
I'll attempt to kick it off, with a disclaimer at the end. To what degree do you guys think world politics has effected and continues to effect musical trends & charts?
DISCLAIMER: I am aware that this site has a policy that leans towards avoiding discussions of politics and religion. For this reason I'd like everyone to keep their own personal political opinions private in this thread and stick to facts & theories and - most importantly - keep the focus of the discussion on music. Thank you, I hope this thread can become useful.
I guess that's what I've been thinking as well but then you turn to history and watch any documentary about the 70's, 80's and 90's and there's punk music emerging and one of the reasons is pretty widely regarded to be a disconnect with people and government.*
I suppose it's harder to see if it's doing anything at all currently since we're living it - but I know before, during and after the cold war there were a lot of songs that referenced nuclear energy and uranium etc. etc.
Then there's specific examples of course as well like any Green Day song or P!nks 'Dear Mr. President' or even Macklemores 'Same Love' - it's all to encourage or protest social change.
*"Another example of musicians polarized against the political class is the punk movement in the 70s and 80s that promoted anarchy and gave the middle finger to the government. Disenchanted youths from a working-class background, like the Sex Pistols, were of the general opinion that politicians were disconnected from the gritty reality on the ground, that the social fabric was breaking down and life was, well, hard. Interestingly, at the time when the Sex Pistols emerged, the Labour Party, the leftmost political party in Britain, was in office. However, the economical difficulties that the country was experiencing led to the Labour Party implementing some pretty spartan salary policies, which yielded results on a larger scale (controlling inflation), but on a smaller scale made cost of living and above all, the quality of life decline drastically. At that time, the lower class probably felt like their Labour champions were abandoning them and really had no other political party to turn to. This may have inspired the Sex Pistols and therefore precipitated the musical revolution that followed."
None have impacted the charts yet but I've already heard so much music about Donald Trump. I expect there'll be many chart hits over the next four to eight years.
Quite a bit of anti-Bush music while he was president, Dixie Chick's Not Ready To Make Nice and the aforementioned examples by Green Day and P!nk come to mind there. Madonna also wrote American Life about 9/11 and the Iraq War, but it did flop lol
Advocacy of Indigenous Australian issues is present in a few classic Aussie tracks, Original Sin by INXS, Beds Are Burning by Midnight Oil and Treaty by Yothu Yindi come to mind.
And who could forget Pauline Pantsdown? I Don't Like It was a top 10 hit and is pretty much considered a classic now, known by many who weren't old enough to remember Pauline Hanson at the time (like me) or who weren't even born when the songs were released.
I freely admit that I'm a cynic who can more easily buy into a cliche love song than a song with a political agenda.
I don't think politics has a huge effect on music trends or the charts. There's probably plenty of politically charged music out there, but so little of it makes the chart (these days at least), and I think that's because it doesn't fit the current musical trend. EDM is feelgood, party music and that doesn't work with trying to make people think. Can't wait for The Chainsmokers' anti (or pro, I dunno) Trump banger in 2018 though!
Most of the ones that have been hits haven't been so for political reasons. Pink and Green Day were/are huge acts and (Pink especially) would have charted with almost any release back then. I Don't Like It was a comedic parody of a well-known figure who happened to be a divisive politician with plenty to mock about her. If the song had been a parody of Alf from Home and Away, and had a similar sound with lyrics just as clever, witty, funny and pertinent, it could easily have been a hit too.
I also don't think music or a song can change the world, or even the opinions of the general public regarding issues. As much as I like Same Love, it didn't really change anything, and at most might have swayed some of the "I don't care" people to a "why not". George Bush didn't hear Dear Mr President and change in any way. Haiti didn't hear "those Haiti things" and be like "oh, let's not have an earthquake". Hopefully some people heard Not Ready To Make Nice and realised they overreacted, but I doubt it because people inherently suck.
Several of the songs mentioned here aren't politically charged anyway. "Those Haiti things" were a charity release to raise money after an earthquake. The Saints Are Coming is a cover of an older song, and again, the proceeds went towards the relief effort after Hurricane Katrina. The song itself isn't political though. Not Ready To Make Nice isn't actually political either, it's a result of the band making some anti-Bush comments and then receiving death threats, being boycotted by country radio and various other idiocies. It's a song about not backing down from what was said, and how ridiculous the aftermath was.
The best thing people can do if they want to write a politically based song is to do what Tim Minchin did and donate the money to the cause they're trying to change; money has a chance of helping, but a song doesn't. I often think people writing "cause songs" are just trying to cash in. Cynic here though, so take a grain of salt along with my words.
I think there's an inherent roadblock in that nearly everyone whether by nature or nurture lives in a political echo chamber wherein nearly everyone in their circle falls under the same banner, which leads to bafflement when an election result comes through and it doesn't line up with the people you know.
Popular music is consumed and created primarily by young people in urban areas, which is a largely left-leaning demographic, and so pretty much any political track that gains traction leans to a left ideal or attacks a right figure. The only time I can think of attacks on the left are tracks from Lupe Fiasco & Killer Mike, but those were more to say Obama wasn't left enough.
You get an overwhelming sense of preaching to the converted, so nothing changes because everyone's already thinking it, and those who aren't, aren't going to be won over either because it doesn't line up with what they want to endorse, or because the statement in general is attacking them directly, and doing so is never an effective way to get someone on your side.
I dread the incoming impact of the political climate into music because I feel like what you'll get is a lot of musicians out of their depth just taking down an 'easy target' (eg why I can't abide that P!nk song) to get attention, but in an age of social media where I can hear everyone's daily take on every politician's daily action, it's hard to make a striking statement to music that feels fresh or powerful.
Politics in contemporary music has virtually become obsolete these days, especially when put in comparison to the 60's and 70's.
Both decades (60's & 70's) were littered with political/protest songs that charted (many top 10's with large sales) and had major social impacts. This though was mainly due to the Vietnam War and the amount of information feed to the general populace through free-lance journalism (war correspondence today is released through the military not journalists; hence less facts reaching the public about the many wars and details of each war since Vietnam). Along with the Civil Rights Movements of the 60's & 70's, socially observant music addressing all aspects of politics became mainstream and popular.
During the late 70's in Britain, the Punk movement arose due to England's political climate with very high unemployment levels and unstable social conditions.
Since then there have been just a sprinkling of political tunes, they come and go. But nothing that has created social movements and musical trends on the scale of the 60's & 70's.
Though that said, todays current political climate just maybe the catalyst to produce another resurgence of politics in popular music.