What better way to gear up for the big presidential election happening in just a few weeks, than by watching some politically charged music videos? Well, come to think of it, there are many better ways to gear up for an election (register to vote, educate yourself on the issues, persuade your lazy friends to get out to the polls, etc.). However, if you’re sitting in front of your computer today and want to watch some quality music videos chock full of of political empowerment, then I suggest the following:
Note: Notice how I didn’t call the below list the “greatest” political music videos of all-time. Whenever you use the phrase “Top 10,” “The Greatest,” or “All-Time Best,” you put your neck on the line. That and you’re always bound to forget one or two. I compiled the following videos, because all of them (whether I 100% agree with them or not) made me critically think about certain political and social issues.
Rage Against The Machine, “Testify”
This is arguably (but isn’t everything?) one of the finest political music videos ever created. First of all, the song is phenomenal, and without a decent track, you can’t have a quality music video (great videos have made decent songs spectacular, but never a bad song good, dig?). The Michael Moore-directed video perfectly depicts the who-do-you-vote-for? struggle that was going on in America in 2000. On Election Day, the “two-headed monster” reared its ugly head once more, resulting in the closest/most controversial election in our country’s history.
Mr. Lif, “Brothaz”
Though the concept of this video is quite simple (Mr. Lif mugs for the camera while various political images and quotes pop up in frame), its effects are quite hair-raising. Never doubt the power of a quote, especially one of my favorites from Dr. Martin Luter King, Jr., “We must live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”
Anti-Flag, “One Trillion Dollars“
During story time, a young girl learns all about how our country has spent one trillion dollars on the war in Iraq. Considering out nation’s current financial troubles, and personally knowing a whole bunch of teachers working in less than ideal conditions (who could’ve definitely used some of that one trillion dollars), this video may really bum you out. Sometimes the truth hurts.
Beastie Boys, “Something’s Got To Give”
The Beastie Boys usually never mix their politics with their music videos, but in this clip, originally released on their video collection Sabotage, the Beasties take one of their chill, slow-tempo tracks and interweave it with images of bomb tests and mushroom clouds. The results are quite powerful. This anti-war, pro-environment video also features the once pistol-totin’, Adam Yach, taking a sledge hammer to his 9mm handgun.
Rage Against The Machine, “Sleep Now In The Fire“
In this clip (also directed by Michael Moore), Rage Against The Machine perform live on the steps of the New York City Stock Exchange. I’ll give you one guess to figure out how the performance ends. The video also features a parody of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, tackling the issues of unregulated big business, poverty in America, and healthcare. Educating, Agitating, and Organizing? This video has all three.
Public Enemy, “Fight The Power”
Yes this video was promoting both a film and a major label hip-hop group, but nevertheless, it does demonstrate the power of an organized protest rally. And you can’t deny the song’s hook, at one time or another who hasn’t wanted to Fight the Power?
Rise Against, “Ready To Fall”
How hard is it for a hardcore band to maintain its edge while singing about the environment? Well, pretty hard, considering many Americans don’t embrace eco-lovers in the same way it does a Quarter Pound-eatin’, SUV drivin’, red-white-and-blue mack daddy. Rise Against come pretty close to pulling it off, although the end of this video harkens back to an after-school-special PSA: We’ve got one planet and one chance.