UPDATE: Where are the Donald Trump Dis Songs from Rock Bands? Here’s What People Have to Say.

I posed a question on the radio today: With the prospect of President Donald Trump, where are all the angry rock songs in response? Thatcher and Reagan led to an explosion of material, especially in the form of hardcore punk. Reagan’s legacy and George H.W.’s involvement in the Iraq (not to mention a brutal recession) was a big catalyst for grunge. George W., 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq helped inspire the harder side of the indie revolution of the early 00s.

With all that’s going in the world, why do anti-Donald Trump songs seem to be the exclusive domain of hip hop and rap?  Here are some responses from the audience.

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Your question today posed why are the rockers not writing controversial songs such as the punk days.

What is it you personally feel the generic message from today’s alternative rock is?

I pose that question as maybe there are some  answers that lie there..at least a direction.

Is it that ignorance is bliss? I.e. they could care less, too much?

Everyone has an opinion these days with social media. Perhaps their music is their outlet to now escape from that while social media has now become the replacement for “punk outrage “.

Not saying this is what I feel but rather an alternative  approach at understanding these changes.

Goodluck,

Josh

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Alan.

You of all people should know rock music with meaning and posture does not exist the way it once did. Have you heard the radio…recently? How in the fuck are bands like Wintersleep gonna arrange compositions that hit hone like rage and nirvana. The media doesn’t allow such occurences.

Yeah I’m sure the song Gagnus Khan has such a crime fighting element. I stopped expecting rock music with meaning from happening a long time ago. Have you heard these kids? Zach de la Roch lyrics don’t make sense to ppl anymore because it’s not about texting or the latest smartphone.

I have hope tho. Maybe one day instead of the Lumineers playing a secret show won’t be the “amazing”  part of music. Maybe it will just be about writing good music for the good of the people so that we can open our eyes a little…. I mean I understand Vance Joy has a nice voice. But does he really allow the expansion of a teenage mind? No? Okay so I guess I should keep playing guitar in my room. Maybe someone will hear me and then I’ll create the next rage or nirvana. Even then. I wont be recognized at all. Oh wait this Awolnation song really spreads a good msg. Kidding what the fuck is this. And we expect our kids to be intellectual? This music is exactly what makes them stupid as fuck.

AbsoluteZeroMusic

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Hi Alan, interesting discussion today. I think that the real reason we haven’t heard about protest music from Rock, it’s only that Rock doesn’t seem to embrace social media in the way that hip-hop and other genres have. And it goes back to your discussion went to last week or the week before, when you talked about tweets and Twitter accounts and how there was no rock bands on Twitter and they said they just go hand in hand. I’m sure the music is being made sure we’ll hear about it but they seem to release items on disks not online anymore, so I think that’s the reason why. Hip hop is very much in the now, the same with the pop, they’re very much have an online presence, where’s Rock doesn’t seem too will hear it especially if Trump wins the nomination but just later.

Amanda

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Hi Alan,

I was listening to the Edge earlier today, and I heard your question about why today’s angry music is hip-hop instead of rock, as it usually is. Here are my thoughts on the subject.

The angry, rebellious rock music that we would normally be hearing on the radio during times like these is still there. (You remember SFH’s “Donald Trump Is An Asshole”, right?) There are still people voicing their thoughts about today’s situations through rock music, it’s just not what’s being played on mainstream radio. So now we have another question. Why aren’t we hearing rebellious rock on mainstream radio?

I think the reason for this has something to do with the rise of the Internet, I’m just not sure exactly what. I have a few theories.

One is that there are more hip-hop stars who actively use social media than rock stars. You’re more likely to see, say, Lil Wayne post something angry on Twitter than Jonathan Davis. Why there are more hip-hop artists than rock artists who are using social media at the same pace as most other people, I don’t know. I just know that the majority of society uses social media nowadays, and so people are more likely to be exposed to angry hip-hop than rock.

Another is that hip-hop has been around for less time than rock has, so it’s generally “newer”, and since most of society wants “newer”, they’ll play angry hip-hop on mainstream radio, because it draws in more listeners. Maybe people are just rocked out. (Other people, not me. I still listen to my Linkin Park CDs daily.)

It could also have to do with streaming music services like Spotify. When you think rock music, you don’t think Spotify. You would think of physical forms of music, wouldn’t you? Vinyl, CDs, cassettes… And since more and more angry rock bands are pulling their music from streaming services (at the moment, I’m miffed that Tool only have one song on Spotify), it’s not getting heard by mainstream society.

Anyway, these are my thoughts on the anti-Trump state of modern hip-hop, and why we aren’t hearing anti-Trump rock music. I hope this helps answer your question!

~Hayden

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And now, some tweets:

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “UPDATE: Where are the Donald Trump Dis Songs from Rock Bands? Here’s What People Have to Say.

  • March 31, 2016 at 10:51 am
    Permalink

    Hi Alan,

    Thanks for asking this question. Of course, there isn’t a simple answer but I feel at the end of the day there’s just no popular demand for it. People who need music to reflect the world are listening to Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky, J. Cole, Mac Miller, and the rapper list goes on. These guys are the rockstars of today, and they’re providing the social commentary that we seek as fans of music in general.

    As a longtime fan of rock music, I find myself listening to more hip hop these days because of the social message / relevancy that goes along with it. I turn on The Edge this morning, listen to your Donald Trump piece and get excited, and next thing I know I’m listening to “O-Opheliaaa”. With all due respect to The Lumineers, that song has zero edge, ironically. The folksy turn has really alienated a lot of rock fans (i can’t relate to banjos and harvests living in the suburbs) Meanwhile, guys like Childish Gambino are putting out concept albums about the internet and actually putting the spotlight on how we are affected by it.

    Speaking of concept albums, I find myself reaching back to the music I grew up on, like Our Lady Peace’s Spiritual Machines. THAT is more relevant to today’s world than anything I’ve heard in quite a while, especially with true Artificial Intelligence just around the corner. But you look at Our Lady Peace today, and as much as I love them, few others are interested in what they’re doing anymore. The last rock band to make strong social commentary and gaining mainstream success from it would probably be Rise Against, from my perspective.

    Another observation I’ve made is that rock musicians seem to either try being emotional and introverted, resulting in the indie/folk/hipster sound, or they’re trying to be more like EDM and be something you can dance to. But hasn’t that always been rock’s problem? Being the dysfunctional genre of the family of music? Not knowing where it belongs, being an outlet of frustration and confusion for people who aren’t even necessarily trained musicians? I feel this is happening because rock musicians in general feel threatened these days of being irrelevant, and are focused on making it and fitting in with the rest of the music world rather than owning their dysfunction and remembering what rock music is ‘supposed to’ embody. There are bands that are doing this of course, but very few are really rocking the boat.

    At the end of the day, good rock music is a collaborative labour of raw emotion and urgency, and the best of it comes at the worst of times. These days we’re comfortable, and we’re okay with dancing and loving and that’s all wonderful. But sooner or later, we’re going to realize that we need to fight for what we want. Rock music doesn’t die, it hibernates. And with the world changing to the point that Donald Trump might actually be president, it’s going to shake a lot of people awake.

    My five cents 🙂

    – Rafey Ansari

    Reply

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