A Post-Election Playlist to Incite and Soothe You
Sentiment captured pre-election at Riot Fest 2016.
Hey, friends and readers. How's everyone holding up? The events and results of the 2016 election seem to have had an impact on everyone (like hurtling-comet-deep-impact impact), and we at Westword Music — no matter how tight we clamp down our headphones — are not immune. Since Tuesday night, there have been demonstrations, both peaceful and with elements of violence, in communities across the country. On Thursday, November 10, the streets of downtown Denver were filled with thousands of demonstrators representing a wide swath of citizens who feel that their rights or causes are diminished or threatened by the election of the new administration. The march briefly blocked traffic on I-25, but there were no arrests or instances of violence.
On Thursday night, president-elect Donald Trump took to his Twitter account to address these protests:
Westword reported on Thursday night's demonstration in Denver, which was, in fact, organized via social media by a private individual. The gathering resisted labels or affiliations with existing organizations and did not state or enforce a strict agenda. There were members of the press documenting the event, but the claim that any action was "incited by the media" does not appear to be based in fact. But, hey, maybe protests are "incited" whenever someone pulls out a camera these days. Or when a reporter asks for a quote or tries to figure out what's going on and why.
After all, Westword is part of the alternative press, which has long operated as a free-to-the-public service that seeks to "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." (Though the quote originated from an early-twentieth-century newspaper humor piece, the idea has been attributed to the deeds of Eleanor Roosevelt and the poetry of Lucille Clifton.) The line between what afflicts and what comforts seems very fine now. Words, actions and beliefs that comfort one person severely afflict another. Yet many have been moved to speak out and share information in this beginning aftermath of the election, and are finding catharsis for frustration by taking even small actions.
As music journalists, we often turn to songs for catharsis and for direction, so we compiled a list of songs that we hope readers might find useful in these turbulent times. You'll find punk, hip-hop, soul, pop and more represented in these songs. Some of them are overtly political, some are not. The music itself can cause discomfort, but if speaking truth to power requires driving bass lines and the itch to get out of our seats, and if urgent lyrics and catchy melodies can push us forward into progress and peace...well, then crank it up.
In (almost) alphabetical order by artist, we present our "Incited by the Media" Playlist.
1. "Alright," by Kendrick Lamar
Lamar's "Alright" was first adopted as a protest anthem by the Movement for Black Lives, a conference at Cleveland State University that convened Black Lives Matters' unofficial network of activists shortly following the fatal shooting of twelve-year-old Tamir Rice by police. Several tracks from Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly were suggested by our writers, but this chorus in particular continues to inspire defiant hope in the face of despair. — Riley Cowing, Katie Moulton
2. "Noise," by Anousheh
I love what this song says about wanting to do something, wanting to speak up, wanting to make a positive impact, and not knowing where to begin or what your particular contribution is. Somewhere in between apathy and action, but with an encouraging message. It seems to say, "It's time. Let's use our voices." — Lara Ruggles
3. "Anatomy of Your Enemy," by Anti-Flag
"Be sure the enemy you have chosen is nothing like you. Find obvious differences like race, language, religion, dietary habits, fashion. THIS IS HOW TO CREATE AN ENEMY, THIS IS HOW TO START A WAR." Fourteen years ago, with the Mobilize album, politi-punks Anti-Flag wrote a song that should have made every Islamophobe, xenophobe and racist feel decidedly silly. Rather, one of them will become president. — Brett Callwood
4. "Fuck Armageddon, This Is Hell," by Bad Religion
This is my favorite song by the smartest punk-rock group of all time. Even as teenagers, Bad Religion saw the sterility of Southern California and the hypocrisy and corruption of the Reagan Administration and wondered how hell could be any worse. Trump's America needs a band like Bad Religion to give us some intelligent, brutal anthems. — Adam Perry
5. "Revolution," by the Beatles
As the votes were coming in, I put on "Helter Skelter" and then "Revolution" when the result was confirmed. The Beatles are my safe place; my parents used them for their wedding song, I listened to them growing up and all throughout my life. I just kept repeating: "Everything's gonna be...all right." — Dylan White
6. "White Riot," by the Clash
I like "White Riot," by the Clash. The song was written in the 1970s, encouraging white people to stand with people of color for equality. Decades later, and the song is still relevant. — Emily Healy
7. "Nazi Punks Fuck Off," by Dead Kennedys
The ultimate middle finger to what is about to become our establishment, the DK original version is majestic, though the Napalm Death cover is also well worth checking out. The time for healing is later. Right now, we need a safe outlet for our anger, and this song provides it: "The real Nazis run your schools/They're coaches, businessmen and cops/In a real Fourth Reich, you'll be the first to go." — Callwood
8. "Full Communism," by Downtown Boys
— Bree Davies
9. "What It Means," by Drive By Truckers
While this song directly discusses the Trayvon Martin shooting, it also addresses our race issues as a whole and asks what it means. The band doesn't try to answer this question, just sadly laments how far we've slipped as a country. The line "We're living in an age where limitations are forgotten. The outer edges move and dazzle us, but the core is something rotten," resonates even more now, after this disastrous election. — Andy Thomas
10. "Trans Day of Revenge," by G.L.O.S.S.
11. "Black Me Out," by Against Me!
This track by conscious-punk band Against Me!, from its 2014 album Transgender Dysphoria Blues, translates feelings of powerlessness into rage and releases them via overblown threats against oppressors-that-be. Though it seems that many Americans, no matter whom they voted for, might connect with these lyrics — after all, what can you do when the other side doesn't seem to hear you? — it also leads all of my Smash the Patriarchy mixtapes. — Moulton
Read on for eleven more tracks of this post-election playlist.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.