Lists: Top 5 Political Moments in Music in the 20th Century

08/07/2009

There are strangely few lists chronicling the Top 5 political moments in music, and maybe because the task is so daunting and arbitrary. Nonetheless, I have tried to assemble some of the most important political moments, and not songs, which the differentiation should be noted, because it would be nearly impossible to make an argument for songs based on the many factors surrounding their importance. With no further ado, the list:

5. Kanye West’s “George Bush doesn’t care about black people”

During the peril of Katrina, our nation tuned into TV news stations anxious to learn about the damages, and ways in which they could help. During a Red Cross fundraiser telephone drive, hosted by Kanye West and Mike Myers, like many celebrities they spoke about the events, but nothing was more memorable than when Kanye broke from the script to state (Found at 1:35 in the clip), “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.” This type opposition to the President in such a direct and publicized manner was unprecedented.

4. 2 Live Crew and The Supreme Court

2 Live Crew: “Me So Horny”
This was a difficult choice, but its significance weighed heavily on the future of not only rap music, but all music. In 1990, the American Family Association took 2 Live Crew to court for their album Nasty As They Wanna Be, particularly the song “Me So Horny,” because of violations of obscenity laws. In the Florida courts, the judge ruled against the album, temporarily removing the album from music shelves. The group appealed the ruling, and eventually, won the ruling by the Supreme Court. The ruling set a standard for censorship of music. Previously in the UK, the Sex Pistols song “God Save the Queen,” was banned on the major radio stations at the time because it was thought to be anti-monarchy.

3. Madonna Rock The Vote Commercial 1990

To have Madonna campaign at the inception of Rock the Vote was a symbol of the significance of the burgeoning campaign. Today, Rock the Vote is synonymous with the efforts to involve youth to vote, and considered one of the key tools responsible in the growing percentages of youth voter turnout.

2. Woodstock 1969

One would be hard pressed to not include the first Woodstock as a major moment in the merging of politics in music history. During the three day performance artists like Joan Baez, Janis Joplin, Jefferson Airplane, Creedance Clearwater Revival, and more all spread love, music, and their own political message. The major festival spurred many other festivals, including ones with apparent political messages such as the Tibetan Freedom Concerts.

1. Sorry, but there is no number one. I would prefer to get your opinion on what you find to be the most significant political moment in music.


Of honorable mention both in jest and sincerity.

Karl Rove, “I’m MC Rove”

As a politician he is ruthless, but as a rapper he’s worse than Mark Madsen’s dancing (found at :41).

Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie: “We Are The World”

I excluded this because it’s just a song, and as I stated previously, this would be an impossible list to construct. Nonetheless, this song as a fight against world famine was hugely significant at the time, and still, is relevant.

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