Music HistoryMusic Industry

The Politics of Anger: Will It Lead to More Angry Music?

If you back through rock’n’roll history, you’ll notice a correlation between the predominant political atmosphere and the state of music. Think back When conservative regimes are in power in the White House (Nixon, Reagan, the Bushes) and 10 Downing Street (Thatcher mostly), rock gets more interesting. Add in 0ther elements of uncertainty–bad economies, war, racism, any number of international crises–the vibe of music changes.

We seem to be entering one of those eras again. America is in the midst of a gruelling election cycle where the electorate faces a choice between a candidate who is crazy and another who is corrupt. Britain is going through its post-Brexit paroxysms.  Meanwhile, Europe is tilting to the right (dangerously so in some areas) and dealing with a never-ending refugee crisis.

There are other things to worry about. Putin’s Russia. China’s muscle-flexing. Terrorism. Zika. P0lice shootings. Racism.

If you’re freaking out a little, no one is going to blame you. And if you’re young, you’re probably wondering why kind of world you’re going to inherit.

Maybe it’s time to speak up. And if that’s the case, music could soon be a lot different that what we’ve been used to for the last eight years or so. From an article entitled “Youth in Revolt” in The Guardian

The year 2016 in music may be remembered for grime going global and Frank Ocean sawing some wood, but it’s also been a year that’s seen young musicians starting to write about the world beyond their bedroom. But while grime has long been a socially conscious genre, but now a new wave of artists across musical styles are ditching yarns of love and longing in favour of wider issues, from gender identity to generational woe.

One millennial upstart, pink-haired rapper GIRLi, is taking cyber-electro aim at asbos, using the Met police guidelines on antisocial behaviour as the basis for her song of the same name. Walsall teen Jorja Smith, meanwhile, started the year with Blue Lights, a future-R&B nugget about unjust policing.

So, the kids aren’t all right; they’re pissed off again.

Keep reading.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ 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.

Alan Cross has 38170 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “The Politics of Anger: Will It Lead to More Angry Music?

  • Using this rationale, Kathleen Wynne is well on her way to making Ontario the fourth cornerstone of the new music industry.


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