Top 25 patriotic protest songs
Wed Jun 29 2011
20. "Holiday in Cambodia" by the Dead Kennedys
Frontman Jello Biafra has always had problem with smug bourgeois suburbanites. He blasted them with songs like "Terminal Preppie" and "Winnebago Warrior," but "Holiday in Cambodia" was the first, best and funniest, because it sends the stereotypical yuppie to the Indochina Peninsula to see if he can cut it under torture and the tight work regimen doled of despot Pol Pot. The absurd predicament framed in this song, which comes from the band's 1980 debut, puts into perspective the rampant hypocrisy, latent racism and entitlement that Biafra felt had become second nature in America.
19. "99 Problems" by Jay-Z
Most protest songs are written from a worldly perspective, but Jay-Z is kind of self-absorbed—so "99 Problems" showcases Hova's personal struggle against the powers that be. In the song Jigga navigates a treacherous environment filled with crooked cops, greedy media bent on exploiting his image, the dysfunctional penal system and, of course, haters. The bombastic song was produced in 2004 by bearded hero Rick Rubin for The Black Album, which has become notorious for not being the swan dive it was promoted as. And that's a good thing. If a guy can build a political song around the the word "bitch" by creating multiple double entendres eight years into his storied career, we need him to keep putting words together.
18. "Fortunate Son" by Creedence Clearwater Revival
In the Vietnam War era, this song struck a chord with all those who felt that the rich and powerful initiated the war but the sons of the poor were forced to fight it. John Fogerty was said to have written it in 1968 after hearing of the elaborate wedding plans for President Eisenhower's grandson and President Nixon's daughter. Imagine Tricky Dick's face if they had played this rocker when Julie Nixon strutted down the aisle.
17. "Say It Loud—I'm Black and I'm Proud" by James Brown
Blacks weren't allowed to flex their egos in this country for hundreds of years. But in the late '60s a new crop of rambunctious figures like Huey P. Newton and Muhammad Ali emerged, expressing great reverence for their own culture in the face of oppression. In 1968, James Brown epitomized that self-esteem shift with this anthem that burst with cultural pride and a sharp proto-rap cadence.
16. "Ohio" by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
The National Guard gunned down four Kent State University students on May 4, 1970, during a volatile Vietnam War protest. Nearly ten days later, Neil Young led CSNY into the studio to cut this scalding rocker lamenting the death of not only those young people, but also of the 1960s optimism that the counterculture could change the world.