It might be an obvious statement to make, but difficulties and hardship inspire artists to produce some quality material. Popular music, just like other forms of expression, sometimes goes beyond heartbreaks or mundane problems, to tackle more serious issues. Folk music among the popular genres, for example, has the richest history of standing up to the man through out the decades.
As we are living in interesting times, there’s little wonder musicians are taking a stand against or comment the current situation in global politics. This theme hangs over this month’s selection but does not drag it down fortunately.
Arcade Fire have teamed up with soul legend, Mavis Staples for “I Gave You Power”. ANOHNI (who is making a solo protest with “PARADISE” also included here) joins the folk sisters, CocoRosie for “Smoke ‘Em Out”. Austra’s “Future Politics”, from the album of the same name, tackles the social inequality. LA’s favourite bearded bard, Father John Misty offers some words of dry wisdom and irony on three new songs heralding his third solo album. On the other side of the pond there are also some concerns risen by UK’s Kate Tempest (“Europe is Lost”), Clock Opera (“When We Disappear”) and Young Fathers (“God Only Knows”). The newest single, from the unapologetic troublemaker M.I.A., kicks against all the P.O.W.A. Even rock veterans, Depeche Mode ask “Where’s The Revolution?”.
Leaving politics aside, Depeche Mode are not the only established artists making a comeback this spring. Jamiroquai’s choppy, but strong, Daft Punk referencing single “Automaton” is heading for the Top 10 as we speak. Postpunk legends, Blondie are using their New York connections by teaming up with the crème de la crème of Big Apple’s new scene for the new album. “Fun”, their neo disco single, is certainly the proof that they still haven’t lost their cool.
Whether it is the anger releasing catharsis of the protest song or the comfort of the known and loved, music can help us through the hardships of life. (Oops, another truism!)