Category Archives: MUSIC

Can Christmas music be activism?

So this is Christmas and I’ve listened to my fair share of Christmas music for the past month (yes I started in November) and this year, especially following the election results, I have been thinking a lot more about how those less fortunate will spend their holidays.

With so much austerity, poverty and inequality still in the world, Christmas can really highlight this for a lot of people. In the movies and advertisements Christmas is shown to be abundant with food, family and warmth which not everyone experiences.

So here are my two favourite protest Christmas songs that touch of some of these issues that cannot be forgotten at this time of year.

    1. Jona Lewie- Stop the Cavalry

This song was originally meant to be an anti-war anthem, which Lewie revealed himself in an interview on Channel 4. The music video is set in the trenches of World War 1 and the song touches on the issues of the time it was released with the tensions between the Soviet Union and western bloc and American’s nuclear settlements in the UK. However, the brass arrangement, the use of bells, and the line “wish I was a home for Christmas” it became a Christmas hit, reaching number three in the UK singles’ chart in December 1980.

2. Band Aid- “Do they know it’s Christmas?”


The Christmas number one of ’84 written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, was BandAid’s reaction to the televised famine in Ethiopia. People all over the UK watched the BBC’s reports on the famine which was named the “closest thing to hell on Earth” and were shocked by the documentary. Both Ure and Geldof decided they needed to create a charity record. And to write their own Christmas song instead of a cover as they would have to pay royalties which would take away from the amount going to charity. They went on to recruit musicians such as Sting and George Michael and the song was born and released December 3rd.

Aside from these traditional Christmas songs, Extinction Rebellion are hoping to reach Christmas no.1 this year with their new release called ‘Time for change.’ They teamed up with the rock band ‘The Jade Assembly’ to create this song all about climate change, which urges people to make a change “before we’re dead.”

Merry Christmas!

SLAM’s Lyric of the week

“Turned away from IVF and B&Bs just because they’re gay” – Grace Petrie 

Taken from her album ‘Queer as folk’ released last year.

‘Farewell to welfare’ is her contemptuous and brazen rant at the conservative government for numerous reasons.

Grace Petrie is on her soapbox for this one, addressing benefits for single mums, being in a recession but putting “more money into the monarchy and a millionaire in Downing Street.” But someone’s got to foot the bill, how about the “disabled and the mentally ill.”

It is very clear that she is pissed off at Theresa May for being ‘archaic’ for thinking that “honest people really should be turned away from IVF and B&Bs just because they’re gay.”

She dreams of a country where she can bring up kids but would settle for a country where she is ‘allowed’ to bring up kids.

#GRIME4CORBYN 2.0

 

Screenshot 2019-11-25 at 16.06.54
Snapshot of Grime 4 Corbyn 2.0 website

Grime 4 Corbyn has RELAUNCHED today with Grime 4 Corbyn 2.0 and it’s huge.

In the past 24 hours, as we lead up to the General election on 12th December with registration closing tomorrow, you may have seen this hashtag trending and circling social media. Many musicians are tweeting this #GRIME4CORBYN, but what is it?

The Live Stream event which is happening this Friday 29th 7-11pm hosted by Grime originals requires a sign-up to see grime artists performing in aid of Labour.

sign up here

This is a movement that was launched two years ago with the pro-voting campaign called Grime 4 Corbyn.

The campaign followed a huge wave of support for Labour in the grime scene, originating from the MC Novelist, who shared messages of his membership to the Labour Party.

Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party leader has been supported by more and more grime artists since the 2016 referendum including STORMZY. Corbyn’s snapchat even featured a takeover by JME where he told people to register to vote.

In a video by iD, MC JME meets Jeremy Corbyn in a cafe to have a conversation. The two talk about why young people don’t vote and what that means for the outcome. The main message of the artist being “make sure you register to vote.”

Following all of this, the pro-voting campaign website Grime 4 Corbyn was launched.

The outcome of the following election created an increase of seats by 40% for Labour, but that was 2017.

In the past couple of days, it has been announced that 1.5 million young people have registered to vote for the next election and Grime 4 Corbyn has RELAUNCHED.

This election just got a whole lot more interesting.

 

SLAM Blog’s Lyric of The Week:

“EUROPE IS LOST” 

These powerful lyrics are by one of the most well-known protest singers in the UK right now – Kate Tempest.

Taken from her album “Let them eat chaos” released in 2016, the song “Europe is lost” captures the anxiety of the year.

Between Brexit and the US election, this song addresses terrorism, climate change and David Cameron all in a five and a half minute hip-hop track.

This is a song you must listen to carefully. Hear the lyrics that hit hard -the ones that illustrate a paranoid youth who feels that her world is being taken away from her by industries, government and careless generations.

 

Loyle Carner protests Boris at sold out Ally pally show

Loyle Carner is a hip-hop artist from London. His music has been described as ‘confessional’ and ‘sensitive.’

Last month he started his European tour and even sold out at Alexandra Palace on 15th November. Carner took this opportunity to shout “fuck Boris” during his song ‘still.’

 

He has toured and collaborated with spoken word star Kate Tempest and is currently touring his album ‘Not waving, but drowning‘ however, due to falling ill has had to cancel some of the shows including Natnes.

He uses poetry in ‘Dear Jean’ among other songs. ‘Dear Jean’ is a letter to his mother, telling her about his girlfriend and that he will be moving out of his home to live with her. He assures ‘Jean’ that he is never out of touch, he is not gone forever. Loyle Carner and his mother found it difficult when he moved out and this song was their reassurance.

Florence‘ is a song about his want for a sister. With partner Kwes, the song was written when Loyle was upset about losing his step-father. He said having a little sister would help and the song was written in a day.

+44′is a rap without a backing track and it sounds just like a spoken word performance about texting a girl he lusts after.

From his newest album listen to ‘not waving but drowning,’ (a poem which explains the name of the whole album) and ‘still,’ as shown in the video above. In this song he addresses  his ADHD and racial heritage.

SLAM blog’s: Lyric Of The Week.

“LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE”- Novelist

This is a phrase you have all heard of before, but this time, its played over a speech by David Cameron.

A clear political message here by MC Novelist in his song titled “Tax the MPs.”

Novelist was once Deputy Young Mayor of Lewisham so is politically active and his songs reflect this.

Just another way the grime scene is becoming more and more politically influential.

Maddie Morris: the queer and political folk singer

Meet Maddie Morris, a young successful folk singer, songwriter who is labelled as a protest singer after finding herself singing about personal struggles and struggles with society.

Maddie, who is from Bedfordshire studies at Leeds College of Music and has earned herself The BBC Young Folk Award.

She didn’t however start her music career off with writing protest music, but instead found herself incorporating her experiences in her life into her music, and this turned into what can be recognised as protest music. This is something which I have found common with a lot of artists and is definitely a basis for a lot of protest music.

“If you’re gay and if you’re a woman, in a lot of contexts, your existence is political.”

From this realisation, Maddie started to purposefully incorporate protest music into her work and started to talk about politics and power structures.

Maddie found through her journey that writing as a queer person and/ or as a woman and talking personally about your life experiences you are automatically being political due to the climate we live in.

If she were to write love songs about men instead of women it would have been a different story.

She also believes that just by creating music it is a political act.

“You’re creating art, and art is inherently political.”

Protest music is around today because people are witnesses atrocities happening in front of them and music is transparent and honest about what is happening. Maddie quotes a phrase that says folk music is for “disturbing the comforted and comforting the disturbed.”

For more from Maddie Morris visit her YouTube and website.

 

What is protest music?

“This land is your land, this land is my land”- Woody Guthrie

“F*ck the government and f*ck Boris” – Stormzy

 

 

From Woody Guthrie to ‘This is America,’ protest music has made itself at home in our personal discographies, but what is it?

Protest music is often associated with social change. The melodic expression of social distress, political unrest and even personal trauma.

A way of releasing emotions of anger, sadness, feelings of oppression, discomfort, bad experiences -all in protest of society.

Some of the most well-known artists have used their platform for social change.

Woody Guthrie’s “This land is your land” is folk music’s answer to the national anthem of America. This song rejects the patriarchal focus of ‘God bless America’ and instead celebrates the land of America and welcomes people to share it. Reminding listeners that it belongs to everyone “you and me.” This is an example from an era where protest music was growing and the lyrics reflect the issues of the times – which is what it is all about.

More recently, Childish Gambino’s ‘This is America’ single is riddled with race and gun violence metaphors. Anyone who watches the artistic and gripping music video can see the references to these issues.

One most memorable moment being the shooting down of a gospel choir.

In the UK, you have Kate Tempest, Grace Petrie and famously Billy Bragg. All artists that use their music for activism and societal reflection.

Key songs you need to listen to that echo today’s protest music:

Kate Tempest: ‘Europe is Lost.”

Yungblud: “Parents,” “Machine Gun (F*ck The NRA).”

The 1975: “Love it if we made it.”

Stormy: “Vossi Bop,” “Crown.”

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