If you happen to find yourself in a conversation about current music with my dad, you can’t avoid the “important issues” rant. It’s the bane of his existence that popular music now-a-days doesn’t discuss anything that matters. I would argue that love and heartbreak matter, but he has a different take.
To my father, important issues mean political issues. He’s right. Gone are the days when U2’s “Bloody Sunday” and Midnight Oil’s “Beds Are Burning” top the charts. In today’s day and age, with an increasing disconnect between popular culture and worldly issues, I doubt songs like those will ever reach a peak like that again.
However, just because you don’t hear important issue-songs 78 times a day on your local pop music station doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Their audience is smaller, but it cares. This brings me to my point- the artist I’d like to praise for its take-action tone and message- Flobots.
About 10 years ago, on May 20, 2008, Flobots released its first studio album, “Fight With Tools.” The first single, “Handlebars,” is a potent song about power and corruption within. It remains the group’s most popular track, with almost 28-million plays on Spotify. The album features songs like “Mayday!!!,” which is about chaos on war fronts, and “Stand Up,” which promotes activism and the power a group of people can have. The entire album packs loaded punches. Take a look at the following lyrics:
All hands on deck to pull survivors from the landfill, Onlookers passers-by shake off that rubble,
Brush off your shoulders,
Break free from your standstill…
We shall not be moved,
Except by a child with no socks and shoes,
Except by a woman dying from a loss of food,
Except by a freedom fighter bleeding on the cross for you…
Each of Flobots’ songs is punctuated with a strong beat, a lovely violin and a call to arms.
“Fight With Tools” was only the beginning. The band has released two more studio albums, “Survival Story” and “Circle in the Square,” and has a third in the works. The band’s powerful lyrics and angry tone creates songs that make you want to Google search the nearest protest or send aid baskets to refugees. I’d say that’s exactly what we need right now. In a world that’s so divided, it’s time to pick a side and do something about it.
They remain a favorite artist and a meeting point for my brother and me. We remain informed, and we remain angry. We jam to Flobots’ songs in the car, and constantly research lyrics and references, hypothesizing what they mean. Most importantly, we apply them to the issues of today. We care.
That should be good enough for my dad. You won’t find “Mayday!!!” on your radio stations nor will you find it on any sort of Billboard Hot 100 list. You will find it tucked in the corners of a streaming app, or featured on the podcast of a teenage activist. But, it’s there. When you do find it, you’ll find people who are disappointed with our world, people who want to make a difference and people who care.
Lucy is a high school junior and avid pursuer of good music and cute clothes. She describers her style as "Mom from the '90s" combined with "Young, confident ,millennial." She values kindness and self-expression.