10 Perfect Rock And Roll Protest Songs

Using Songs as Weapons.

Green Day American Idiot

Not every rock song that becomes a classic is really meant to make you think all that hard. Although critics have had a field day overanalyzing songs by the likes of Bob Dylan, sometimes it’s easier to grab the audience just about celebrating the life of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. There’s a lot more to life than rock and roll, and some of the greatest rock stars of all time have hit a nerve when they started directing their songs outside of themselves.

No matter what kind of social upheaval these songs were written in, you can feel the artist channeling all of their unrest into these songs, going to battle against authority with their songs as their weapons. While not all of these songs are grand theses on what the human condition is by any stretch, you can still hear the anger bubbling underneath it all, as every one of these artists become more and more disgusted with what they’re seeing on the news everyday and needing something to happen.

This isn’t all just Power to the People stuff either. Not all protest songs are made equally, and some of these act more as cautionary tales, imagining a world that depicts what happens when people in power go too far, as society eats itself out from the inside. Rock and roll may not be filled with the greatest scholars in the world, but when you actually start paying attention to what’s happening on the street, there’s a whole lot more to write about.

10. Electioneering - Radiohead

Throughout their entire career, Radiohead were never really known to be the most political band in the world. If you ever were listening to albums like OK Computer, the focus was always on the impending doom that was happening with the rise of technology, as we slowly started to lose touch with the human side of ourselves. We see that dehumanizing in lots of different ways though, and you could see it clearly in that plastic smile of every politician.

Far and away the most rock centric cut on the project, Electioneering is one of the few songs on the record that seems to have a much clearer target than before. Whereas songs like Subterranean Homesick Alien may be focused on general alienation, the pure venom in this song seems directed at those who use their status as a politician to brainwash their constituents into keeping them in power, using the machine of promotion to keep them going and always counting on the diehards to drive their voting schemes.

The chorus does offer a bit of a respite from everything though, with Thom Yorke knowing that one day they will all meet in the middle, as the common man goes forward and the pampered other half continue to fall backwards at every turn. That kind of posh lifestyle can be used as a security blanket a lot of the time, but once we're all on the same playing field, it's survival of the fittest.

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