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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 20 years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, and B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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Why I Didn’t Write About Your Political Song
Friday, August 14, 2020

Way back in 2016 – which seems like a million years ago – the presidential election yielded a result many were unhappy with. As soon as the new president was announced on election night, and I do mean literally the second the results were in, my inbox was inundated with anti-Trump songs. Publicists and artists alike had just been waiting to hit send.

The emails kept arriving throughout the night, and into the next day. Many were by artists I’d never heard of. Although traditionally I’m on the lookout for new talent, the sheer glut and redundancy of the songs led me to simply delete them all.

Eventually I responded to a few publicists just to let them know I wasn’t passing specifically on their artist’s anti-Trump song, I was passing on all of them, and I explained why.

One publicist, clearly disappointed, replied that they thought music had the power to change the world.

When I mentioned this to a buddy, his response was perfect – “Then why did they wait until after the election to release the song? They had months to try to make an impact.”

It was a great point, and one I’ve been thinking about a lot recently as various political movements have made their way to the forefront of the national conversation, and into music.

Some of you who are longtime readers may be thinking – “Adam, I call bullsh*t! You’ve written about political songs, and political musicians in the past.”

You know what, you’re absolutely right, I’ve featured a litany of artists that could be deemed political – artists like Substantial, Toussaint Morrison, Rabbi Darkside, Hired Gun, Rue Snider, Birch, and Rebelmatic. What they all have in common, however, is a long history of sharing their opinions on political topics.


I’m not saying an artist can’t be having their political awakening right now. Heck, it would be hard not to be having one. That said, when I get sent a political song there’s an important distinction I feel needs to be made

Is this artist using their voice to raise awareness of a cause?

or

Is this artist using a cause to raise awareness of their voice?

Far too often this year, much like right after the election in 2016, it feels like it’s been the latter. It’s similar to what happens on social media when enough people start tweeting about a cause, others who don’t have nearly the same passion for it will start tweeting about it, as well, in an effort to get re-tweets, and, they hope, popularity.

I know this may sound harsh, but if you weren’t talking about a cause when nobody else was, I’m not all that interested in hearing your song about it once the cause is front page news. Of course, if you’re still talking about a cause after the news has moved on from it, then I’m going to be interested in what you have to say.

I’m all for those who consistently rage against the machine, and I’ll continue to support their music, I’m just not impressed by artists who only rage when it can help them, and when it’s clear it’s the popular opinion.

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posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:00 AM  
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