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For politically aware songs, the '00s were all for naught
Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Grandmaster Flash and Rage Against the Machine produced era-defining political songs in earlier decades. The '00s gave us Britney Spears.

* DAVID CROSBY and Graham Nash perform for Demonstrators with "Occupy Wall Street" in November.

December 25, 2011|By Reed Johnson and Deborah Vankin, Los Angeles Times

The '60s gave us "Blowin' in the Wind," folk-poet Bob Dylan's challenge to the brutal status quo. The '70s served up Neil Young's "Ohio," an anthem of generational rage against the military-industrial machine. The '80s laid down "The Message," Grandmaster Flash's hip-hop jeremiad about the vicious cycle of race-based poverty. The '90s broke loose with Rage Against the Machine's "Bulls on Parade," a rap-rock rant targeting corporate greed and cultural imperialism.
And the '00s? It's produced some memorably sardonic screeds (Green Day's "American Idiot"), patriotic hell-yeah's out of Nashville like Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue (The Angry American)," and dirges of quiet desperation emanating from "The Suburbs," courtesy of Arcade Fire.

But much of the music that has topped the Billboard charts in the new millennium Britney, Lil Wayne, Lady Gaga might suggest that America has been one big party since 2001, despite the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, two major wars, a wobbly economy and a bitterly divided government. Likewise, the recent popular manifestations of that unrest, the tea party and Occupy Wall Street movements, so far seem to have been largely lost on popular music.
http://articles.latimes.com/2011/dec...itics-20111225

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What I always have to question is who is responsible for what music tops the charts (and what metrics are the rankings based on?) There is the record companies who decide who to sign. There are the radio stations who decide what to play (somehow all generic pop stations across the US and even in many other countries seem to agree on almost the exact same stuff to play) and how much to play it. And of course the fans who decide what to buy and request, but a lot of that will come down to what they've been exposed to or told is good/popular. I've tried to figure this stuff to through googling, but I haven't had much success.
 

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Really, the 60's had a ton of political music, but no other decade has been like that. How many big hits of the 80's were political in nature? I didn't read the article, but did he name more than the one in the quote at the start of this thread, which I've never even heard of, because I'm not into hip hop?

Heck, when I think of political music from the 80's, I think of Queensryche's Operation Mindcrime, but that's just me. And when I think of political music in the last decade, I think of American Idiot, or anything by Rise Against. No, there wasn't a ton of political music in the 00's, but I can't think of a ton of political music from the 80's or 90's, either. I'd say all 3 of the decades since I've been old enough to live through them and remember all the details have had roughly similar amounts of politically charged music.

--Fromper
 

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Originally Posted by cornsail View Post

Right. And I still want to know who decides whether a song becomes a "big hit" or not, if anyone as an idea.
Billboard rankings used to be based on record sales, when physical records were the heart of the music industry. Not sure how it's done in the internet age - I'm guessing they take paid downloads into account now.

--Fromper
 

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This wiki (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billboard_charts) is semi-informative. It seems the way of calculating billboard chart rankings has changed a few times, but it's always included radio airtime as one of its factors as far as I can tell and at one point (1998-2005) seemed to only base the rankings on airtime.

My point is the average person has noting to do with deciding what gets airtime or not, so what the chart toppers are doesn't say too much about our culture. Since so many stations are "top 40" format, aren't the station directors just deciding which new songs they think should become popular? In fairness, they've factored internet downloads into the equation since 2005, but again, a song is much more likely to be downloaded if it's played on the radio all over the country 1000 times per day.
 

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Arcade Fire's The Suburbs is an incredibly politically aware album. It changed my life profoundly, which what I hope to find in art. I think Arcade Fire has yet to quite find their voice but they give me hope.
 

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Indeed the patriotic hell-yeah's like Toby Keith's songs made me want to vomit, and I even consider myself to be patriotic. I just really dislike having someone else tell me what it should mean to me to be an American. Being patriotic isn't about being a sheep, it means questioning everything and protesting when my government doesn't meet my expectations. There was simply a lot of money to be made in the 2000's in parroting the views of the administration and it was reflected strongly in much of the music. No wonder the world at large got such a negative opinion of us. I felt the same way after watching the film Independence Day. Good Grief.
 
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