To what extend is popular music an effective medium of political discourse?
Popular music is a term for music of all ages that appeals to popular tastes. It reflects the features and events of the time period. That is, society affects the music and music reflects the social climate. When we look at the importance of music for society, it has political contents and political aims inevitably. Music has been voicing people’s concerns for many years. When we take this feature of music into consideration, we can not escape the effect of music on political discourses since political discourse is the talk and debates of politicians or political events and it is basically the basis of democracy that interests all people. If we consider the power of music that can inspire and mobilise movements, popular music is an effective medium of political discourse for two reasons; it raises people’s awareness of political and social issues and move them; and it makes people feel united.
The connection between music and politics is seen as political expression in music. This expression can use protest themes which includes anti war content and criticism of the current policies. Many events that happened in the past and happening now have been reflected in songs. And also, there are many musicians who are really care about world’s and people’s problems. They try to attract people’s attention to these problems by questioning current policies. There are lots of things to say against war, and musicians have a word to say anti war ideas of people. For instance, Frederic Weatherly’s song, Danny Boy, is about a boy who was serving in war and a person, his girlfriend or mother, who has been waiting for him. This song make people more aware of brutality of war and impact on people who serve in war and wait for servers. Many songs include anti war content like Eric Burdon’s “Sky Pilot” asked how pilots could bomb and kill and ignore the horror of their actions. (McMasters M., 2003) Music encourages people to be aware of political issues and can inspire crowds and move individuals to react against political problems that causes wars, which caused the death or psychological devastation of thousands of people.
In recent times, many artists have written songs to depict political and social problems. Musicians who are aware of the social and political problems want to react against a political systems and problems and also they want to make all people aware of these issues. For example, Pink had written a song, “Dear Mr. President”, about social and political problems in American life. Pink's most political song, "Dear Mr. President," is an open letter to George W. Bush. (Vineyard J, 2006 January 3) This song is such a good example to show the connection between music and politics. Pink is questioning current policy of American politicians by criticizing George W. Bush. This song has been listened to by many people and attracted people’s attention on the social life of American citizens. In addition, her father served in Vietnam and she knows the brutality of war and the failure of war on families. Pink’s attitutes against war and her song is really effective to raise people’s awareness of political and social issues. Nevertheless, we should know that Pink is only one example, there are many singers who are truly conscious to people’s problems like Pink.
The recent invasions in Middle East and in other less developed countries make musicians more concerned about world affairs. For instance, Turkish singers made a song about American invasion in the Middle East in 2003, ”Savaşa Hiç Gerek Yok”. 8 singers who are from Turkey sang this song and it has been listened to by many people. The war has been talked by politicians and citizens in media or in street but just talking about the war doesn’t solve this problem. Actually, through these kinds of songs the awareness of all people is raised and they make...
References: McMasters, M. (2003). The Politics of Music in Wartime. Loquemur honors Journal 2003.
Williams, R. (2009, April 10). Is Popular Music an Effective vehicle for Political Discourse?
Cloutier, J.P. (1987). Music and Politics
Vineyard, J. (2006, January 3). Pink Pens An Open Letter To President Bush On New Album. Singer says she hopes he hears her 'Dear Mr. President. ' Retrieved on 2 December, 2011 from
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(2005, February 15) Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Thirty-second session, 10-28 January 2005
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