This is a famous anti-war song, written during the ear of the Vietnam war. Dylan is highlighting the futility of war and questioning how far it will go before there can be peace. Considering that the US is currently engaged in the longest state of war ever in our history (the "War on Terror"), this song is especially poignant today,
One of the first popular rap songs from the early 1980s, this song highlights the reality of life in many neighborhoods populated by struggling african-americans. When you are surrounded by drugs dealers and addicts, your don't have money to put food on the table, the bank is repossessing your car, it is hard to not loose your mind or to fall into despair or to become a drug dealer just to meet your needs. This song began a genre of music highlighting the harsh realities of life, primarily popularized by rap and hip-hop artists.
It is more unusual for heavy metal bands to use their music to promote issues of social justice and in this song Metalica gives a new take on the anti-war song. They speek directly to the struggles of being in the war zone and the pressure to be a hero. The reality of being a hero comes at a personal price, and an internal battle to do what the soldier believes is right when their realize they are fighting a needless war designed to benefit only the few that are rich and powerful.
Released in 1990, this song was among the first the promote the black power movement and to highlight a need for empowerment in that community. Some saw it as encouraging political violence, however that interpretation ignores the decades of injustice and maltreatment by the very system this sing is working to fight.
No stranger to songs about important issues, Sinead O'Connor raises awareness her about the struggle for people of color in Great Britain. Though this song is almost 30 years old, unfortunately it is more relevant now than ever because it speaks to issues of police brutality and mistreatment of people of color.
Their name alone signals to what this band aims to do with there music. This song in particular points to how the members of this band see connections between those who serve in the US military and police forces and those that have racist tendencies and beliefs. They encourage listeners to listen and question before acting - a message that needs to be heard even today, some 25 years after its release.
Anti-War songs were not new in the 1990s, though this song was a rare voice speaking out against the first Gulf War. The idea of a new world order often scares people, but when a song and video highlight the reasons for their ideas, it can be more compelling to those who want to question the status quo.
This was a top hit for the black Eyed Peas and it continues to be played on pop radio over a decade after its release. This group used their popularity to raise awareness for a litany of social issues such as terrorism, global warming, pollution, and the list goes on. When people like a song, they are more likely to listen to the lyrics, and in the case of this song spark interest in new important issues.
GURU and MC Solar collaborate for this song highlighting international struggles. Though the song is more general in what it raises awareness for, it sparks questions and gets people thinking about what is the good and the bad. Additionally, it demonstrates how widespread problems are.
Gay marriage has been a big issue in civil rights and in this song Maclemore is highlighting his opinion that love is love, no matter the gender of the people in love and that he also believes people should be able to marry whoever they want. The Supreme Court had not yet ruled in favor of gay marriage when he wrote this song, so it likely helped to raise awareness of the issue.
Much like some other sings on this list, Macy Gray tackles a lot of social issue in this song, however her approach is the most easy going and uplifting. Since social justice and current events can often be scary, this lighter approach helps soften the blow and reach new audiences.
In the powerful song and video Melanie Fiona illustrates how it feels to be trapped in an abusive relationship. This is a very real issue for many people, and woman especially, so highlighting this struggle might help someone escape their abusive situation. It also helps to build empathy toward survivors of abuse.
In this song MIA highlights the refugee crisis in Europe. She is herself from an immigrant family, so this issue is close to her heart. I appreciate how she raises many questions in the song, all the while refugees are the consistent theme - much like in the real world. Countries have a lot of problems to deal with and a refugee crisis is one of many, but according to this artist, one that should be prioritized.
The original video for they song helps illustrate the powerful theme of the song, however Run the Jewels uses an excessive amount of profanity. In case it isn't clear from this video, the song is about current problems with police brutality. While I understand that profanity can serve a purpose, excessive use is not appropriate in an academic setting.