Sounds political: Should artists express their political views?

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Political expression in music is hardly a new concept, but it does seem like artists are choosing more and more to be open about their political leanings in their songs.

Artists like Bob Marley, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell released iconic music that really seemed to shift and shape the political outlook of the younger generations of their times.

P!nk is another artist that has written about her political views in even more explicit terms. Her song Dear Mr President calls out then-President George W. Bush on his attitude towards the Iraq war, and the severe class divide in the United States. More recently Lana Del Rey and Eminem have written songs against current POTUS Donald Trump.

What I find fascinating is the fact that most popular political songs tend to lean to the left. Is this a reflection that most people in creative industries tend to have more liberal views? Or, is it that songs attacking welfare benefits, supporting the class divide and the extraction of oil just aren’t that marketable?

Popular music heavily targets a younger audience, it’s interesting that those who are exposed to this kind of material are also more likely to vote for left-wing policies and parties. In the 2017 general election, 66% of 18-19-year-olds voted for Labour, compared with just 19% of over 70s (YouGov).

I think it’s important that artists continue to express their political ideologies. Some might argue that politics has no place in music, but I believe it allows more people to take an interest in the subject. Younger generations are becoming more vocal about their involvement in politics (The Financial Times states that the youth vote of 18-24-year-olds in the 2017 election was at a 25 year high). Listening to artists who express their political views can make politics seem less daunting and easier to talk about.

I think it’s great that people express their political views by whatever means they see fit. Public figures have a responsibility to stand up for what they believe in and encourage others to do the same. For this reason, I think that politics has a firm place in music, and artists should continue to write about their values and get people more interested in politics, rather than focus on the countless vapid subjects that plague the charts of today.

Will writing a song about your broken heart change the world? Probably not. But writing about your political views just might.

Words by Shelby Storey

Saya and Hope are your lifestyle editors.

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