I couldn’t believe my eyes. Ever since the results of the elections were announced, it seemed almost comical to think of Donald Trump as the President of the United States. But then, on a cold and bright London day, my phone flickered with a notification that said that Donald Trump is now the most powerful man in the world. And my eyes went dark. A person with noticeable ego problems, an attention-hungry bully, now rules over the most powerful nation on earth and commands (among other things) a nuclear stockpile of 14,000 warheads. The fate of our planet—our fragile, beautiful, diverse planet—is in the hands of this man. And his reign brings forth the cold shadows of uncertainty, and the fear of regression, and the horror that all progress we have achieved so far (in the fields of social rights, gender and race equality, conflict resolution—just to name a few) will be lost.
However, not all is dark. I look to my friends on both sides of the Atlantic and the amount of good they have done in the past few months—forming groups, organizing rallies, supporting friends and loved ones. I look to the hundreds of thousands, and perhaps millions, who will march today all over the world to protect rights that were earned in blood, toil, sweat and tears. I look to the artists, musicians and entertainers who risk their popularity and release anti-Trump songs, or collaborate and raise funds for human rights organizations, or who will perform at the anti-inauguration party or at the women’s march, or those who refused to normalize Trump’s rule and play at his inauguration. It all reminds us that we can still change the tune. That we can play our music louder, music that will amplify the cry of the disenfranchised and will mask the scream of hatred. That’s why I will march today.
I have assembled below a short list of tracks that were released this past week protesting Trump inauguration. A mentionable track that did not make the list, as it’s more a marching chant than a protest song, is Fiona Apple’s “Tiny Hands”.
CocoRosie—Smoke ‘em Out (feat. ANOHNI)
CocoRosie have always piqued my musical interest. The cabaret-y style, mixed with electronica and hip-hop is not always pleasant, but it’s almost always intriguing. The duo comprises of two sisters, one of who is openly queer and frequently performs in drag. In “Smoke ‘em Out” they have gathered forces with ANOHNI, a transgender musician (formerly Anthony of Anthony and the Johnsons), and recorded a powerful anti-Trump anthem. Instead of writing too much about the song I will let you listen to it, and attach the following statement which the sisterly duo released with it:
“Today, we share a new song to inspire the weary-disappointed hearts of so many crest-fallen citizens. We just started working on a new album, but “Smoke ‘em Out” begged to be turned loose on the world now, as a means of participation during these turbulent yet invigorating times. Joined on guest vocals by our fellow Future Feminist ANOHNI, “Smoke ‘em Out” welcomes the new character who will be occupying the White House with a mob of women and children armed with forks and knives. In the wake of this un-natural disaster, we feel a call to rise, shout, and burn the house down. Included is a poem we have written as a kind of channeling which digs deeper into the subtext of the lyrics exploring the unending end of time ambiance and the idea that “the future is female” and a very necessary force to be reckoned with.”
Green Day—Troubled Times
Green Day released their twelfth studio album in October 2016, about a month before the elections. All the tracks were mastered and finalized long before they knew Donald Trump will become the 45th president of the United States. However, the video for “Troubled Times” was released less than a week ago, and adds more context to this politically loaded tune. This powerful lyrics-video invokes images of the Women’s Suffrage Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, Racism, KKK, Islamophobia, Nuclear War and even some not-so-subtle hints at Trump himself. The video also shows the band playing with the US flag in the backgrounds, as the stars change to questions marks and swastikas.
Arcade Fire—I Give You Power (feat. Mavis Staples)
It’s been almost four years since Arcade Fire released their previous album, the excellent and acclaimed Reflektor. Now they are finally about to release their fifth studio album and embark on a concert tour over the summer. As every single Arcade Fire album makes it to that year’s ‘Best Albums’ lists, and as their concerts are considered amazing spectacles, that in itself is great news for every music fan. Their decision to release this collaboration with Mavis Staples at the eve of Trump’s inauguration makes one love them even more. “I Give You Power” is a reminder—both to the new president and to the people—that the government’s power is conditioned on the legitimization that is bestowed upon them by the people. And if the elected officials will abuse that power, and deny the people their freedoms, that power can and will be taken away.
Gorillaz—Hallelujah Money (feat. Benjamin Clementine)
Gorillaz are one of those bands who always challenge me musically, but I trust them enough to know that whatever they make will be good, albeit unconventional. “Hallelujah Money” does something the Gorillaz do very well in their other politically-charged tracks—it creates a fable, a dark and gloomy fairytale, that reflects on our reality. Benjamin Clementine, being the voice of the demagogue, talks about the wonderful tree that ‘we’ have, and how everybody wants it and we therefore must protect its fruits. “And I thought the best way to perfect our tree // is by building walls // walls like unicorns // in full glory and galore” he asserts. The worrisome 2D (the Gorillaz character that is portrayed by Blur front man Damon Albarn) asks in return: “How will we know? // When the morning comes // we are still human // how will we know?”.
Moby & The Void Pacific Choir—Erupt + Matter
Moby’s new project entitled the Void Pacific Choir is doing the eternal electronica artist a lot of good. It enables him to show many other sides of his talent, including some a bit more aggressive, rough and raw. “Erupt + Matter” is not only a protest song, it’s almost a trance music anthem. It hits hard and shows no mercy, and yet it retains the excellent Moby-esque production value. Released merely two days ago, the video shows various videos from popular protests, and invokes images of various despotic and demagogic rulers such as Bashar Assad, Kim Jong Un, Tayyip Erdogan, Nigel Farage, Marine Le Pen and yes, lest we forget, Donald Trump. The anthemic chorus goes as follows: “We believed your words, but now we see // You just don’t mean, a thing to me // Your power reign was sick and wrong // Your time is gone, your time is gone // And we don’t need ruin and lies // Your touch is death, your heart despised // Your time of reign and dark began // Your time to change is at an end.”
Every week I end my post with five songs that suit that week’s theme and didn’t make the final list of five songs. I would like to make a small exception this week and instead give a partial list of artists and musicians who will either perform at today and tomorrow’s various anti-inauguration events, or will contribute to musical project protesting the agenda promoted by Donald Trump:
A.C. Newman, Amber Coffman, Angel Olson, Angelique Kidjo, Corin Tucker, Doug Martsch, Emily Wells, Grimes, How To Dress Well, Indigo Girls, Janelle Monae, Janet Weiss, Jens Lekman, KT Tunstall, Lila Downs, Mac McCaughan, Matt and Kim, Maxwell, Mitski, Mountain Goats, The National, Neko Case, PWR BTTM, Questlove, Rakim, Samantha Ronson, Sleater-Kinney, Stephen Malkmus, Strand of Oaks, Tim Heidecker, Toro Y Moi, Torres, TV on the Radio, Twin Peaks, Whitney, Will Oldham.