5 songs with political messages

By Aliya Zuberi

KARACHI: Art is often used as a means to get a message across to the masses. Over the years, musicians have used their form of expression to get their political grievances heard, without joining the world of politics. Here are some popular songs that are laden with political messages.

Aalu Anday – Beygairat Brigade 

If you want a quick recap of all that Pakistan went through in the early 2000s, this song is just for you. Written at a time when people could get into a lot of trouble for making political statements of the sort, ‘Aalu Anday’ was quite ballsy.

With a catchy tune, the song mocks several key political incidents that took place ten years ago. From the infamous Laal Masjid molvi escaping in a burqa, to the fact that criminals like Ajmal Qasab (mastermind of the Mumbai attacks) and Mumtaz Qadri (murdered Salman Taseer) are treated like heroes and that actual heroes like Abdus Salam are forgotten.

And it isn’t just the incidents that are the focus of the song, the Beygairat Brigade did not spare the political parties either and also poked fun at smaller problems that plagued the country on a large scale!

Laga Reh – Shehzad Roy

To be fair, most of the songs from Shehzad Roy’s 2008 album Qismat Apnay Haat Mein had political undertones to them. But ‘Laga Reh’ hit on a deeper, more personal level for most. The song starts with Shehzad Roy recounting how ever since he’s been a kid all he’s heard is that, “Pakistan tareekh kay eik nazuk mor say guzar raha hai (Pakistan is going through some of the most difficult times in history).”

The song is a satire on how things are clearly messed up in the country but the people are just going along with the wrongs rather than taking an actual stand or that they leave it on God to fix things without making any effort themselves. On a deeper level, ‘Laga Reh’ is Shehzad Roy’s plea to the people of the nation that things need to change.

White America – Eminem

Eminem isn’t one to shy away from political statements. In more recent times, he was applauded for taking the knee during the Superbowl Halftime show despite the fact he had assured the administration that he would not. But even before he took a knee, he was pretty vocal in his songs as well.

‘White America‘ is the perfect example of how the rapper used his music to call out all the injustices that have been taking place in the Land of the Free. The song tackles a whole bunch on issues and the first is the censoring of freedom of speech. The song begins with the lines, “For the rights that men have died for to protect? The women and men who have broke their necks for the freedom of speech the United States government has sworn to uphold….or so we’re told.” This was Eminem’s way of calling out the politicians who sought out to censor rap music for disrupting the moral fabric of society but never called to censor the KKK, Westboro Baptist Church, or GOP: symbolic groups of upholding the white supremacy.

The singer also pokes fun at his own success claiming that because he’s white and blue eyed, he is insanely successful. Had he been black, things would have been much different. And more importantly, suddenly rap became a problem when white kids started listening to it, when the audience was black, they had no issues. The song became even more relevant post Trump when it became clear just how inherent racism is in America.

Waiting on the World to Change – John Mayer

As far as political messages in songs go, this John Mayer track resonates with many people because it touches on a whole lot of issues. The song begins with touching upon the fact that if anyone questions the motives of wars and political injustices, they are told, “They say we stand for nothing and there’s no way we ever could.” And so the people who questioned are forced to take a backseat and wait for change.

While the song was released back in 2006 and was aimed at American audiences during times of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, some of the lyrics are very much relatable today. When Mayer sings, “And when you trust your television, what you get is what you got. ‘Cause when they own the information, they can bend it all they want,” it resonates deeply with larger audiences who see this happen especially in the Palestine conflict, for example. 

This is America – Childish Gambino

America struggles with some of the worst gun violence incidents to date. And so, Childish Gambino took the matter into a very graphic song and music video.

The central theme in ‘This is America’ is gun violence and the music video begins with the singer shooting an unarmed man, who is minding his own business. Black people in America are often targeted the same way. He is then seen dancing happily with school children as violence erupts all around them symbolic of the gun violence in schools in America. He then shoots down a choir, reminiscent of the 2015 Charleston shooting in which white supremacist Dylann Roof killed nine black people in a church basement. All while the line “This is America” haunts viewers.

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